Back of the Book
Living with childhood trauma
May 5, 2022 By Jas Kainth
As a caution for the readers, the topics I will be brining forward could be triggering: child sexual assault, childhood trauma and my own darkness.
I have been an officer for 22 years, and while I’ve had a few lows, there have been hundreds of highs thus far in my career.
In 2006, I was transferred to what was then called the Child Abuse Unit. I should have waved the proverbial “help me – white flag”, but I didn’t. I put on my social mask and forced myself to show up everyday, convince victimized children that I was a safe person, and they could trust me enough to tell me their darkest secrets. During that time, my own unresolved darkness compounded. I dissociated during every child interview and suspect interrogation and “soldiered on” in silence. I didn’t want to give anyone the opportunity to think or say I was weak or less of a detective or police officer in general.
I was six years old when I was recurrently sexually assaulted by an extended, non-familial, casual contact. Among physical repercussions, the psychological impact of the sexual assaults resulted in living my life with constant pangs of guilt and shame controlling how I made decisions. I felt like I wasn’t worthy of being loved, not worthy of being paid attention to or cared for.
I’m sure that we can all relate to this kind of emotion at some point in our lives. I harboured these feelings every single day for over 40 years, and it made my existence very lonely and cumbersome. To overcompensate, I tried hard to make other people feel valued because I knew what it felt like to feel worthless of anything good, and I didn’t want anyone else to feel that way. I was scared to ask for help. When I hit the street in 2000 as an officer, the head of Psych Services for the department was referred to as “Dr. Bonkers”, and medical leave was referred to as “stress leave” or “off duty crazy”. As a result, I bottled up my darkness, tighten the lid and stuffed it way down.
The darkness is still present in my orbit but it’s further away and some days it can’t even touch me.
I encountered a ferocious trigger, became scared and finally sought treatment in 2020 for insomnia, nightmares and anxiety. In April 2021, I was diagnosed with Complex PTSD. As a person who was susceptible to being hypersensitive, I found the excuses of time and distance that allowed me to feel that the treatments were not affording me the proper care and attention, which then made me feel like I wasn’t important or worthy enough to be helped. I allowed that negative rhetoric to become real. Then I did what I did when I was six years old to cope: fight, flight or freeze. My primitive and basic instinct of flight initiated itself and I ran away from the treatment.
I grew to believe that I was a nuisance, a burden, an inconvenience and a pain to the people who cared and loved me. I never made myself important. I was great at putting on a happy face, but I could never take off my backpack of stress.
I became desperate and wondered how life would be if I wasn’t a part of it. I had to take drastic action; I rang the alarm and said I needed intense help, rather than one hour a week or once a month. I did what I thought I would never do in my career and I took that necessary medical leave.
In October and November of 2021, I participated in a one-month Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) at The Newly Institute, involving the use of Ketamine. I had major concerns about using Ketamine. To provide perspective, I have never smoked a cigarette in my life, let alone consumed marijuana or any other drugs, and I have never consumed an entire alcoholic drink in my life. I was so desperate to get “better” that I went from zero to 60 instantly.
I’m certain that one of the reasons that I’m alive today is because of IOP at The Newly Institute. I’m not cured but I’m feeling much better. The feeling of not being in a constant state of fight, flight, or freeze is new to me. The darkness is still present in my orbit but it’s further away and some days it can’t even touch me.
The next time another member is being disrespectful, dismissive or indignant towards you, take five seconds to ask yourself what that member could be projecting. More than likely, that member’s behaviour is not meant to be directed at you but is maybe just a front for underlying issues or trauma. The projection cannot be used as an excuse, but it might provide you some insight and allow you to empathize. I know that I have been that disrespectful, dismissive and indignant member and I have had the privilege of being afforded the courtesy of other’s giving me the benefit of the doubt, and thinking or recognizing that maybe I had something going on in the background.
I urge anyone feeling the way I did to reach out. The words you are reading are proof that you are not alone. Don’t hesitate to give me a call or send me an email. I’m now ready and more than willing to share with anyone.
Jas Kainth is a Staff Sergeant with the Calgary Police Service. Prior to becoming a police officer, Kainth was a correctional officer with the Correctional Service of Canada at Mountain and Mission Institutions in B.C. As a police officer, Kainth has worked in an array of work areas such as child abuse, intelligence, sex crimes, patrol, anti-corruption, respectful workplace office, professional standards, and the office of the chief. For anyone wishing to obtain more information, contact email@example.com.
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