People are surprised when they find out I was in the police. I get told I don't look like a police officer (what does that even mean?), they exclaim it must have been an exciting job (occasionally, but it was often mundane!) and I then I get the question, 'do you miss it?'
The answer to that changes.
Sometimes I do.
Other times I really don't.
I know that I am doing what I should be doing now - and that being a police officer isn't on the table. I try not to have regrets as I believe everything that has happened had to happen for me to be where I am now. But sometimes I'll see the cases my old colleagues are working on in the news and there is a tinge of wishing I was there, wishing I could be involved.
What I miss is the camaraderie - you are part of a team, and one of the 'good guys'. I miss my friends who are still in the job. I miss the funny stories I'd have after going to a strange job. I miss being able to turn on my blues and twos and have a fun, if somewhat risky, drive to a job. I miss the opportunity to fulfil that fantasy of being a DCI in charge of a huge murder investigation and solving the case with my team who back my cavalier but effective investigative techniques!
I don't miss the culture. I don't miss the hierarchy. I don't miss my life being completely absorbed by the police service. I don't miss following the letter of the law when morally I disagree with what the law says. I don't miss cancelled rest days and not being able to attend my brother's wedding. I don't miss the unsafe practices like all the times we were expressively forbidden from going out double crewed on nights due to shortages. I don't miss seeing the very worst of society day in, day out, and feeling like I can't make a difference not matter how much I want to.
What I love about my life now is the freedom it gives me. I am free to be myself, to have my own thoughts, opinions and voice. I see myself as equal to others - not at the bottom the ladder. Finding an identity outside of my job or career has been very important to me - it's about who I am as a person and not the brand or image I should be portraying to others. Some people can do this and be in a public service position. I couldn't. I gave myself fully to being a police officer and that took over who I was, what I thought and how I acted.
I am grateful for my time in the police. The experience opened my eyes to the world. It taught me invaluable communication and problem solving skills. It forced me to take charge in difficult situations. I am even grateful that it led to me suffering with anxiety and PTSD. Living with mental health conditions has taught me more about resilience than I could ever learn elsewhere! They allowed me develop a level of empathy that I didn't have before.
In answer to the question, 'do you miss it?' the honest answer is no. Saying I miss it would mean I regret leaving, and I don't. Leaving was the best thing that ever happened to me - and I mean that without malice. I am glad I was a police officer. I am thankful for the lessons it taught me and the experiences I had. And I am happy I left when I did so I could find a new path where I can be myself.