Fifteen years. That's what I keep thinking...fifteen years. I have tried to remember what I thought about when I began my career as an Adult Protection investigator all those years ago. Did I think I could save people? Did I want to help? Did I simply want to do some good in the world?
I honestly don't remember.
As I reflect, however, it's hard not to wonder if I accomplished anything at all. In the past few weeks, I haven't been able to sleep - flashes of people and places keeping me awake. Court cases. Garbage houses. Police raids. A gun shot. The thrill of righteousness. The learned helplessness that comes from walking away.
In the end, perhaps the only thing I ever really did was bear witness - to be that one person to say to someone, "I believe you", "I understand", "I am sorry".
Did it matter? Was it enough?
Today I am handing in my badge and walking away one last time. I don't know how I feel. I do know that I am a different person than I was 15 years ago, different because the job changed me and different because times changes us all.
People keep asking me, "What are you going to do next?" and I don't really know.
A colleague once told me, "You don't need all the answers. More will be revealed." It was the best advice I got on the job and it seems fitting now.
Yes, more will be revealed.
For now, I am saying goodbye to a large part of who I have been but I am leaving with more stories than I can carry.
Maybe the good will come of that.