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Tuesday, January 26, 2010


When I was a child, like many others, I loved "heroes". My attention wasn't captivated so much by Superman and Wonder Woman or the Wonder Twins or Aquaman as it was by CHiPs and the guys of Code Red and the paramedics of Emergency!.    As much as I was a dreamer, I was always, it seems, a realist, and as I got older I didn't seek out fantasy writings, but rather, real-life stories of real people who had something to say about everyday survival.

In high school and college, I read many books by police officers and firefighters because I was drawn to the fields and wanted to really KNOW the truth about their lives. What did they see every day? What was the stuff that Hollywood overdid or refused to show? I knew the world wasn't glamorous, so I read in order to get the "dark side", the stuff I needed to know in order to survive.

I wanted to be one of those people. I wanted to be a "hero", but most importantly one that was real, not something fabricated and built up to cartoonish proportions. I wasn't looking for power or adulation; I was looking for a way to make a real difference in an out-of-control world. And there, in the pages of those personal anecdotes, I found what I was seeking.

I compared those books to the life I was living, and on one hand, I think it fed into a coping mechanism common to children in severely dysfunctional families: I was both the mascot and the hero in my family, to some degree. But I wanted to be a real hero.

During my Senior year of high school, (age 17)  I had "run away" from home (to avoid  Mom's random screaming and other random flying objects at 3 am, among other things), and had found refuge with my best friend's family. Initially they didn't understand why I was there and encouraged me to try to solve things quickly. I really DID want to reconcile with my Mom, and my "host family" was obviously interested in the same thing, such that I did not want to wear out my welcome and lose a place of safety.  So one evening, after phone negotiations with Mom, my best friend drove me "home" and waited outside in case I needed a quick escape.

Hostage Negotiations

When I walked in the door, Mom was cooking dinner and told me to sit down as though nothing was happening. Our arrangement via phone was that I would be coming over specifically to talk to her about whether I could return...or not. Mom took a more manipulative approach: "I cook dinner and talk to you on MY terms and timeline."

In a normal family, that would be healthy. In my family...not so much.

 I was done with Mom's "terms" because they were NEVER rational. The woman was out of control, and tended to cause random and often very sharp objects to become airborne or shatter suddenly when she was struck by one of her usual rages. I was NOT willing to be in a room where she had access to knives and hot liquids or other dangerous objects!  You may call this "disobedience" if you'd like, and yes, it was. But it was ALSO, and more importantly, pure, basic survival.

Now, given the subject of deadly objects, while Mom had never tossed those items at others, I believed the day would come and I didn't want to be in the way.(Actually, that day DID come, but it's a different story.)   I was still at that point of my life where, if I was going to die, it was going to be at my own hand, not Mom's. But I digress, if only a little:

That evening, I did agree to go into the basement with her to help her fold the laundry as a vehicle to our negotiations. While there, she begged me to come home. I refused. I told her she was irrational, I couldn't live with her, and I WOULDN'T. She revealed she was still reeling over the "sudden" revelation that I planned to become a police officer. She asked me why, how could I do this to her?

I looked her directly in the eye, the first time in a long time, and told her very bluntly, "Because I want to be able to help people like you. I want to be able to come into an out-of-control situation, and protect others from people like you."

She reacted as though I'd struck her.

I'd meant what I'd said, but realized I'd said too much, and I'd been too brutally honest. Yet, it was the truth...God's honest truth. I saw my Mom as being dangerous. And she herself and to others. And I was completely helpless unless I could escape her awful grasp on me.

To my surprise, she let me go. She hugged me, I hugged her back, more out of a desire to forgive her and be reunited than any actual sentiment, but both of us were crying, and I walked out the front door without looking behind me. I went back to my haven, to the family that had taken me in, and would continue to take me in until it was safe to return home, whenver that was.

It was actually quite clear that what was supposed to be "home" was really a dungeon of destruction, and I knew I couldn't be there anymore.

I think I went "home" a week later...because even though we want to escape our families, even if we need to, we also need to be with them...and know them so that we can save others from a similar fate.

In looking back a the situation, though, I wonder if maybe that's what it comes down to: I grew up in an out-of-control situation and my solution was to protect others from such a life. I needed to be a "hero" because I didn't have one, and no one should be without a hero. No one should exist without a Savior.

No one should have no way out.

I really think that's why I gravitated towards Law Enforcement, and worked so hard for that personal "Holy Grail."

It was the writings of  cops, the real people who drew me to them, because they didn't mince words. They told the negatives, they shared their hearts,  and some of them had also come from terrible home situations, too. They gave me hope, and through their writings, I was inspired to become something completely contrary to my true nature: a Cop.

On one hand, that's a bad thing; on the other, it's the best thing I could have done, for that brutal track brought me closer to God. It took me through the Pride of feeling like I had to do it all on my own, to realizing, today, that He has done it all. Every single step. Every bit.

We are often changed by the things we read. Our eyes, they say, are windows to the soul, and they can also be doorways. When we read the words of others, we allow their thoughts to penetrate our own souls.

I will not say that the things I read were bad; they were real, and they gave me an education I needed, and Hope. It was unknown men and women who inspired me to overcome some incredible weaknesses...because they had done so before me.

For that reason alone, to me they were Heroes.

All of us are affected by the lives of others, and when they tell their stories well, it makes us realize that we don't have to settle for the status quo. We don't have the look into the mirror and be satisfied. We can be inspired. We can consider new avenues. We can realize that whatever we are facing, or whatever discernment we are undergoing, others have gone before us, and they have told their stories. Or are telling their stories now.

It's not facts and figures and general information that brings us into taking the next step for God; it's the experiences of others who encourage us to follow them, follow the source, seek what (or Whom) is calling us.

Words carry a huge impact. Stories, at the service of the Holy Spirit, cause conversions and bring about results.

In the end, we are called to live our lives, tell our tales...and let everything we ARE reach the hearts of others. God can use our mistakes and our triumphs in powerful ways, if only we have the humility to step back and let Him take center stage.

You know,  I always wanted to be a hero.

I'm glad I don't have to live up to such a profile, though. It's better to be a  mere stepping stone...and let God be the Savior.

*** This very convoluted post was written back in 2008 and edited only a little tonight. It says a lot without saying much at all...or does it say little while saying a lot? You decide. 


Melody K said...

Was there any one thing that tipped the balance, and caused you to know that you weren't meant to have a career in law enforcement?

Adoro said...

It was never in question. I was miserable pretty much from day 1 on the Job.

Adoro said...

Melody here's the full story:

Melody K said...

Thanks for the link; what a bunch of jerks! You stuck it out way longer than I could have. If there's a lesson for me in that story I think it is that there is a ripple effect in our actions; I have seen the damage that a hostile work environment can cause.