The unexpected side benefit of attending the Unified Police Department’s Citizen’s Police Academy is that it has opened a place for healing from old childhood wounds. I have not been able to write anything about the police academy since the active shooter scenario. My mind started processing, bringing down walls to an otherwise inaccessible part of my past, an emotional part of that past I had tried to put behind inaccessible walls. These hidden emotions did find ways to escape, though it was mostly through unconscious means.
I am 11 or 12 perhaps younger / older I do not know. My father has come home for lunch. He has parked his motorcycle directly behind my mother’s car. Having a dentist appointment, my mother and I get into the car. She either forgets or does not know that the motorcycle is parked directly behind her car. Backing into it she knocking over the motorcycle. Momentarily we both look at each other in horror as we realize what had just happened and knowing what is about to happen.
My father running out of the house quickly makes his way the driver’s side door of the car. A scuffle ensues as my father tries to force the door open as my mother is trying to re-shut lock the car door. Being stronger he soon forces the car door open and begins to drag her out of the car while hitting her. Amongst all the screaming I hear her yell ‘lock the doors and stay in the car’.
Soon my father drags her around the car and onto the lawn. My mother curls up on the lawn with her hands wrapped around her head as my father continues hitting her and yelling.
I found myself sitting in a locked car watching helplessly as my mother was being beaten by my father. My mother eventually escapes, running off to a neighbor’s house. My father tied to get into the car but I am too scared and refused to unlock the doors. I was terrified.
Eventually my father picked up his motorcycle and drives off.
Within minutes a county sheriff officer arrives, walks up to the car, knocks on the window and ask me if I am ok.
He was a tall man as seen from the eyes of a child. I still see him clearly in my mind, all but the details of his face. Even that is probably stored somewhere in my memories.
Most if not all of my memories of police officers as a child involved them arriving to my house just after a moment of extreme violence. Their arrival was the indication that all was now momentarily safe. The violence had ended for the day.
For the last ten weeks I have spent every Wednesday night and one Saturday morning surrounded and interacting with police officers. At the end of each of these classes I have climbed into my car and started crying as I have drove myself home. I told Detective Bennett, one of the COP officers, a few weeks ago that my interaction with police officers as a child was as a result of them responding to domestic violence at my childhood home. This last Wednesday night, which also happened to be the last Citizen’s Police Academy class, one of the scenarios we did was responding to a domestic violence call. I found myself acting in the role of a police officer responding to a domestic violence call. The actual scenario was non-violent just a lot of yelling, though it was enough to destroy any and all remaining walls I had encased around those childhood emotions. After running the scenario I mentioned to Detective Malm, who is in charge of the Citizen’s Police Academy, a similar thing that previously most of my interaction with police officers was through responding to domestic violence calls as a child.
Wednesday night I might have slept on and off for three hours and by Thursday morning the barriers to all those emotions were finally gone. I am now finally in a place with my life where little Keith feels safe enough to unlock the car doors and come out. I have a better understanding that some of the emotional, psychological and physiological reactions I experience when interacting with a police officer has been rooted in an emotional past that until now I had been unwilling to fully acknowledge and deal with.
What started out as an intent to better understand the life of a police officer has turned into a better understanding and integration of myself.
[note: My father is a good person with his own issues like everyone else. As adults we do have a good relationship. I am sure that I will have more to say on this in a later post.]