|In several articles and videos here on PoliceOne —such as this one — Dr. Alexis Artwohl has exposed the myths that so many police officers believe about themselves and the profession. Those beliefs are continually reinforced by the entertainment media and as a result a lot of cops believe them and end up living those lies.According to Dr. Artwohl, the divorce, addiction, and suicide rates for police officers are about the same, if not a little lower than the “normal” population. In response to her article, some readers vehemently argued that her facts were incorrect. One responder basically said she was wrong about alcoholic rates among police because on the department they worked for, everyone drank heavily. In this situation I think we have a case of the officers buying into the “cultural” stereotype created and propagated by the media and the police culture itself.If you believe the “cultural” stereotype, you are living a lie and setting yourself up for failure. To quote an old cop saying, “This ain’t the movies and you ain’t John Wayne.”1. The solution to your problems will never be found in the bottom of a booze or pill bottle
Self-medication will result in a failure to improve your situation. If you need help, go get it from a professional. Your buddies don’t have the expertise to help you. If they did, they wouldn’t be urging you to go out and tie one on to solve your problems.2. Making a marriage work takes work
Sorry to break the bad news to you but a happy marriage requires a lot of effort on your part, just like your profession. All officers need to ask themselves: “What is more important, my job or my relationship?” Where you decide to put the majority of your time, effort, and energy has a major impact on the success of each.
You should be trying to be the best cop and spouse you can be. If you are spending all of your time working and give little or no attention and effort to your relationships, don’t expect to them to last. Look around at the cops you know that have good marriages and ask yourself, what are they doing that makes them successful?
If you want your relationships to be successful, use these colleagues as your guide; maybe even seek them out as a mentor. Open and honest communication is an absolute must, so the image of the cop who never talks about work with their spouse is not the example you want to follow. Kevin Gilmartin’s “Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement” is an excellent book that both you and your spouse should read.
3. Admit when you need help
“I’m a cop, I don’t need anyone’s help.” Bullshit. Every day you go to work you spend a large portion of your day helping others, what makes you different than anyone else? Everyone needs help from time to time. If you need to talk to someone about what’s bothering you, talk it out with your significant other, a trusted friend, or partner.
The longer it takes you to acknowledge and deal with a problem, the bigger and tougher the problem becomes. A situation that gets talked out in its early stages doesn’t fester and grow into a bigger problem later. A warrior understands that he is human and needs to be physically, mentally and spiritually sound.
4. Remember this ain’t Hollywood and your life isn’t a script
Hollywood isn’t real, but your life is. In the movies, the good guy always wins in the end — and lives happily ever after — because that is how the script is written. What do you need to do to write your own successful family and career script? Shouldn’t you start doing that today? If your choices in your relationships or lifestyle aren’t what they should be, remember, your personal script can be rewritten at any time.
Being honest with yourself can be difficult, but it’s required if you want your life script to end the way you want it to. You are the author of your life and your legacy, write it and live it with honor, integrity and truth.