I’m going to be a mentor; I’m going to be the kind of officer that a younger officer can look up to, the kind of officer who inspires others, the kind of officer who challenges others, the kind of officer who encourages others; I’m going to be the reason that someone decides to hang in there, I’m going to be the reason that someone decides to push through, I’m going to be the reason why someone decides to try again; I’m going to be that person, but I didn’t always feel this way.

I have not been promoted for the last 10 years. Do you know what that does to someone? Do you know what that does to a man’s self-esteem, his self-identity, his self-confidence? Do you know how demoralizing that is? Do you know the kind of questions that I ask myself alone at night when sleep eludes me, the kind of questions I have no courage or desire to share with anyone else – wondering whether I’m not good enough, smart enough, disciplined enough? Do you know the kind of strength I need to have to still hold my head up high when talking to my peers, the kind of authority I still need to master when leading my family even though I feel as if a leader is the last thing that I am? It’s incredibly painful.

You can imagine how this has affected my work. Yes, I still wake up and show up at work, but my steps are a little slower, my hands are a little less steady, my back a little less straight. I think twice before I speak because I’m not too sure whether I should be speaking in the first place. I keep my ideas and opinions to myself. The question, why me, is all that I can think about. Why me?

So, when I was selected to attend Wellbeing and Resilience sessions, I was furious! Wellbeing? Resilience? Did I need any help with that? What will they say that I could possibly apply? How can I, with my work history, be expected to achieve wellbeing? What of resilience -can’t they see just how resilient I already am by the mere fact that I’m still working? Is this someone’s idea of a bad joke?

So, I just sat there, stone-faced and stern, staring at the facilitator with all the hostility I could muster hoping to scare her away from trying to engage me. I looked at my fellow participants in disdain wondering what on earth I had in common with them.  I couldn’t begin to imagine how on earth I was going to last for the five days that the sessions took; this was the very last place I wanted to be.

But can I surprise you? I’m a changed man, a healed man, a transformed man. I’m no longer the angry and bitter man who started these sessions – I’m now at peace, optimistic and incredibly hopeful; I’m no longer bitter with those I felt have hindered my progress at work; I’m no longer bitter with those I expected to treat me with fairness, and they didn’t; I’m no longer bitter with those I expected to support me, and they didn’t – l have made my peace with the past.

Learning about stress and trauma, the different kinds of trauma, the different causes of trauma, the positive ways we can handle stress and trauma, has been life changing for me. I realized that I had been suffering from trauma without my knowledge and this trauma has been affecting my outlook in life, my relationships with others, my work and all other aspects of my life. I have dealt with my own trauma which is why I say that I am a healed man.

I now look forward to helping others in my family and especially in my workplace deal with stress and trauma in their own lives. I particularly have a burden to reach out to those who might have suffered injustice at work – I plan to help them let go of bitterness which is extremely damaging, forgive those who might have wronged them and have an optimistic outlook towards the future.

I’m a changed man and I can’t wait to show the world my new colours.

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