Growth takes time. It takes serious self-reflection, assessment and an understanding of not only who you are as a person, but where you are in life. It’s been 3 months since my last post because of this.
I’ve begun de-cluttering my life. At work, I’ve made a list of all the peripheral projects I’ve been working on and made hard decisions on what I should keep and started finding individuals who can replace me on those things where it’s time I move on. At home, I’ve started thinking about where I’m spending my time and how that is adversely affecting my life. I’ve asked myself a simple question: Is what I’m doing making life better for my family? If the answer is no then I’ve started distancing myself from it. I’m also thinking about how I want to spend my free time in the future. I’ve identified projects or potential hobbies that my family will enjoy but can also be spent in isolation as well when I feel the need to do so.
Last year I read the book Emotional Survival For Law Enforcement by Dr. Kevin Gilmartin. After finishing the book and attending a class on the topic, I wished that someone had made me aware of it earlier in my career. I found that I could relate to the book regarding isolating myself from everyone and slowly but surely doing nothing while off-duty. I had become very distant from my family. I totally related and understood the word “hypervigilance” and how that was affecting my well-being. Most people do not understand what really happens when you are always hypervigilant but it wears on you. I became a problem for myself over the years and I did not even know it until now. I’m thankful.
After working and especially on weekends, we simply want to sit and engage in meaningless activities, such as video games (preferably the “first person shooter” type), internet, and sleeping. Gilmartin calls it sitting in the “magic chair.” We all have that familiar place in our homes where we gravitate after work. We occupy this place (sometimes a chair) and decompress. What’s happening is that our brains are on overload. These so-called meaningless activities actually serve the very important function of releasing steam from our heads. We can, if left to our own devices, do these post-work activities for many, many hours. We feel the tension in our heads begin to dissipate. Then we go to sleep.
My “magic chair” has been in front of a computer mindlessly searching the interwebs and running a knife group. It has become the way I decompress. This has lead to isolation from my family. I checked out until it was time to check back in and go to work to deal with other people’s problems.
As I look back on all of the things I used to do (but don’t anymore because of years of cumulative stress), I understand how I found myself in a hospital bed in November 2016. I had no idea how really bad I felt. So now, here I am after three stents and months of trying to figure how I got myself into this predicament, making a list of things that “I used to do” or things that I’ve “always wanted to and put off doing.” I’m thankful for many things to include this wake up call. As I make a list of the things I used to enjoy doing:
- Selling off my knife collection to fund these new outdoor adventures
- Embarking on shooting sports
- Researching kayaks as part of a plan to step up my photography game
- Getting back to fishing on our beautiful coastline
Stay tuned as there is so much adventure here on my doorstep and I plan to share it here!