Normal. What is that, exactly? By simple definition, normal is : “the usual, average, or typical state or condition” of something. Normal used include conversations where, when someone asked what my husband did for a living, I’d say ‘he’s a police officer’. They’d be impressed, or at least intrigued, express some form of gratitude, I’d feel proud, and life would go on…like normal.
Now, however, things are different. We can’t deny it, the climate has changed. Our heroes are no longer the heroes of the rest of the world. I’m no less proud, mind you. Not.One.Bit. Furthermore, I believe that collectively, none of us are any less proud of our L.E. family members. What’s different now is a wariness, a reticence that has become the new normal. I find myself gauging the company I’m in. I’ve become alternately a master of evasiveness becoming quickly a noncommittal conversationalist when the talk turns ‘iffy’, and encyclopedia of stats and facts, ready to argue any disparaging/anti-police comments.
Truthfully? I’m a fighter. I want to argue and verbally beat down anyone who talks trash about the men and women who do this thankless job. I want a big fat Thin Blue Line decal plastered across the back of my car, wear my “Proud Police Wife” t-shirt wherever I want, and I want to brag. But my husband, my police officer husband, who is equally but humbly proud, and is a an exemplary model of everything a police officer is meant to be, has asked that I not. Why? For my safety. Let me write that again for dramatic impact: for my safety.
Wow. Just: wow. Let that sink in. We live in a time where showing your love for the protectors of our communities, the people who keep the darkness and evil at bay, the men and women who run toward danger and not away- is dangerous. My husband fears for my safety when I speak and write pro-police words, and while he is grateful and proud that I do, there is a part of him that wishes I wouldn’t. That is that saddest part to me. That a man who has dedicated 30 years of his life to the service of others, deservedly received numerous awards, commendations, has climbed the ranks, persevered, survived- he won’t talk about any of it in mixed company. And by ‘mixed company’, I mean civilian vs police community. This is The New Normal.
As you can see, I’m not good at being quiet. I can’t. I won’t. Don’t get me wrong: I am scared. My heart does a little dip and double when I see there’s a comment in the queue. I wonder if it’s going to be something hateful or threatening. I’ve had to block people on social media. I’m hyper vigilant when I’m out. I have a permit to carry. I can defend myself, need be. I have to be able to. (We all do, regardless of our partners careers, in my opinion.) Ultimately, it is what it is. This is the reality, this is the climate. I can’t believe it, I’d never have imagined it, but here we are. Welcome to the new normal.
Hang on, though. Hang in there. I don’t know when it will change back to the way it should be, but I know that it will. We’re down, we’re getting kicked, but we are sure as hell not out. I know that I might be preaching to the choir here, but I’ll say it anyway: Police family life is not for the faint of heart. By matter of course, we have a thicker skin than most. This seemingly anti-police social atmosphere is not a true reflection of all of society. This all may be daunting and even (understandably) off-putting to those of you new to this life. It’s okay if it’s not for you, really. But if you do step into this incredibly welcoming community: we’ve got your back. This ‘new normal’ is not the true normal, trust me. It will get better, because we will make it so.