ANNIVERSARY BLUES

John "Jay" Wiley

 

No, I’m not talking about wedding anniversaries, or birthdays, or  anything pleasant like that. Almost everyone I know that is a combat  veteran, firefighter, EMT, or law enforcement officer has at least one  of those anniversaries. I’m talking about the date on the calendar that  brings up difficult, upsetting, painful or sad memories; anniversary  blues!

Alive Day

Many  have an “alive day,” a date where they were nearly killed. Many of  these people came close to death and received life long devastating  injuries. I consider it an honor and obligation to listen to anyone that  wants to tell their story about their “alive day.” One of the emphases  for the Law Enforcement Today Radio Show, is to provide a platform for  these heroes.

I’m talking about the date on the calendar that brings up difficult, upsetting, painful or sad memories.

There  are dates when a brother or sister was killed in the line of duty, like  many law enforcement officers, I’m sad to say that there are far too  many of those. There are dates when we handled a particularly vicious  crime, as is the case with almost everyone that has spent a career in  law enforcement, there are far too many of those too. (I’m very lucky; I  have purposely done my best to forget those dates, but can’t forget the  incidents).

It’s in the Past but Affects Today

Even  after all these years, over three decades there is one date that always  has an affect on me. No matter how hard I try it still has an impact on  me. The reason why, or what happened on that date, is not the point of  this article. What is important to me is how we handle these dates and  the effects.

I hadn’t really given much thought to today’s date,  and then slowly throughout the day I found myself getting agitated and  short tempered. From the outside I almost always appear to be happy go  lucky, even when the insides don’t quite match the outsides.

Today,  as I began to get increasingly frustrated, irritated and angry, I just  became very quiet and withdrew from people. And then I realized why, the  anniversary is coming up in three days and then it all made sense.

Many  have an “alive day,” a date where they were nearly killed. Many of  these people came close to death and received life long devastating  injuries. I consider it an honor and obligation to listen to anyone that  wants to tell their story about their “alive day.”

For more than  three decades this date has caused me some degree of upset, it is  definitely better now than it was years ago. That is more than 30 years,  where for 3 – 5 days surrounding that date that I’m not my usual happy  self. That means a total of about 150 days have been ruined to some  degree because of this date.  I know, it’s not the date itself; it’s the  uncomfortable emotions and feelings that accompany that date.

When these days come I have learned to do some or all of the following:

Make  a mental effort to recognize this for what it really is, just another  day. It was the incident all those years ago that is upsetting.
Focus on being as quiet as possible.
Minimize  interactions with others; I’m not talking about being a hermit. I found  it is best to distance myself from negative people when I’m feeling  like this.
Tell my spouse, so she doesn’t think it is something she did.
Pray  and meditate. No, I’m not talking about advance Zen practices. It is as  simple as trying to make an effort to not think. (It sounds much easier  than it actually is).
Distract myself, get busy doing other things,  physical tasks, or tasks that occupy my mind; or doing something like  watching a movie, to get away from my thoughts.
Keep telling myself, “that was then, this is now.” And focus on something that is in my present situation.
I’ve  found for me that talking about it doesn’t help. It did in the early  days, now it just brings more of those feelings caused by the incident  to come to the surface.
And last but not least, be easy on myself. I don’t beat myself up for feeling a bit off.

What do you do when those uncomfortable anniversaries come up?

About The Author
John "Jay" Wiley

John  J. "Jay" Wiley is a retired Baltimore police sergeant and host of the  Law Enforcement Today Radio Show and Podcast. Additionally he is a music  radio DJ on a popular FM station in the Florida Keys and has many years  experience in Internet marketing and advertising. You can contact him  by email at jay@lawenforcementtoday.com..

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