By Sean Riley
Yes, I have to admit it. I had a torrid, sensual and illicit love affair. It lasted for 23 years and I thought it would never end. At the beginning it was so incredible, so romantic and so sensual and towards the end it was so hard to conceal and cover up with lies. My love affair ended up destroying my marriage, my children, my career and my life. I will explain more later…
So you’ve read this far, you must be interested… There are many studies out there that indicate that first responders have a much higher divorce rate than the general public. I always have to ask myself why is this??? You truly are healthier than the general population when you are hired, you are vetted out to be so. Somewhere along the line (usually the 7-10 year mark) studies and my experience tell me that there is the potential for us to start to lose our way. As I travel the country I find it very interesting that there is so much help for the first responders and how to “love” them and how the family learns to adapt to their new jobs. It just amazes me, why does the family system and dynamics have to change for the first responder? Who made up that rule? Talk about reinforcing dysfunction.
One definition for a love affair is “a romantic relationship or episode between lovers”… Oh I had this incredible affair for so long and I thought it was wonderful. It wasn’t with a woman, it was with my job and addiction (alcohol and pills). She was a seductive mistress and I fell hard for her and the attention she gave me. As I got more and more into my life as a “Cop” and detached from my family I attempted to fill the void of my inability to have healthy interpersonal relationships with those I supposedly loved. I had great superficial relationships with those that I worked with and had their backs. Actually looking back on it, they were all pretty fake relationships. But the job and the drugs fed my ego, they loved me and they were always there for me. So I thought…
All the studies were right I thought and just like they told me at the academy, you’re more likely than not to get a divorce. It’s normal, they told me so. Reflecting back on it, that’s the biggest piece of bullshit advice I’ve ever been given. I still hear it at academies today in their family programs and I challenge anyone out there in the first responder community to engage me on this subject and make sense of why it has to be this way.
To continue on with the story of my love affair with my job and with drugs I have come to determine over the years (and this is embarrassing) I was really incapable of loving myself. The job and the drugs made me feel good, they were always there for me… Until the end when they turned their back on me and crushed everything I knew about being a human being. Not their fault, it was mine. I never gave myself the chance to work on myself and learn what healthy, open, honest relationships look like with healthy boundaries. I’ve now taken that journey and will continue to do so every day. It’s pretty exciting to learn to live a life, learn to have a healthy and loving relationship with myself so I can have one with others.
I’ve finally realized that I was told by the world that the family needed to change to love me differently because I was a cop and due to my job. That was all backwards, I needed to learn how to love them in a way they deserved and to be a cop at the same time. Stay safe out there and take the time to learn to love your family because I do know one thing, at the end of the day they do love you!!! #ArmorUp #changethenarrative
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