What They Don’t Know

I recently started a new job down in South Carolina, working along side the Anderson Co. Sheriff’s Department in the 911 Call Center and Dispatch Office. In the first couple days, I was witness to some of the struggles and turmoil that comes from being a part of the family that is the thin blue line that stands together. As a position that is shielded from the physical trauma of every day disasters, dispatchers are on the front line of the emotional and spiritual trauma.

On one of my first days of training, I was told that (most) everyone who works in the dispatch office was medicated. I was told that some receive professional help, while others self medicate. When I stated that I don’t drink, I was told that, eventually, I will.

I’ll pause for a moment to state that I enjoy working at the call center. It is challenging, engaging, and draining, but at the same time, it is a place where I have the opportunity to grow and succeed with individuals who already support me. I love going to work each morning and look forward to each 12 hour shift because the people I work with are amazing. Crazy and insane, but all good, supportive individuals.

But I didn’t tell them the words that were pulling at my heart when they said that I would need some type of help, some type of medication, to handle the stress and vicarious trauma that comes with the job: You don’t know me.

I didn’t tell them that I still have nightmares where I hear a mothers cry. I didn’t tell them that I still see the child dying of malaria in that room. I didn’t tell them that I have been paralyzed by fear in the past, and I carry that fear with me every single day. I didn’t tell them that I have seen the darkness within me and I have risen above it.

I wanted to tell them that they do not know me. They don’t know who I am, what has shaped me. They don’t know the fears and events that give me strength each and every day.

At the same time, I know myself well enough that I understand there are times when I will not be able to make it on my own. I didn’t get through the dark times alone. It was through the support of family and friends that I have had the strength to overcome the dark events of the past. It was my faith that allowed me to see that these events happened for a reason. And it was through the process of expression and understanding that I discovered how to make these tragedies, these fears of mine into some of my greatest strengths.

They don’t know me. But I hope in time, they come to discover who I have become.

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