Over the past nine weeks, I’ve had some amazing opportunities to share a message of hope and strength to over 5000 people around Ontario. From the Annual General Meetings for Municipal and Provincial agencies to motivational comedic talks in the Downtown core in Toronto. These have all been amazing events and I have connected and built network relations with so many people whom I’m humbled to have even been in the same room as. None of them compare to the experiences I have had with the Ontario Provincial Police. Yes!! You heard that correctly!! The O.P.P. Something I thought I would never say, and it’s incredibly gratifying to say. Since May 17th I have been working along side some influential humans within the community safety services division. We have travelled over two thousand kilometres in everything from a city bus to a greyhound to a cruiser to 9 seat plane over lake Superior. I couldn’t be any more grateful for these experiences to travel around this beautiful Province with what would end up being friends and family for life.
This journey hasn’t been linear. That’s an understatement to say the least. Some may know I grew up with a father that was an O.P.P. constable. This was always a paradox for myself as a young kid. I loved that my father was a police officer, but hated him for never turning off the badge. Some days I just needed my dad, not the cop, not the ex military guy, just my dad. In these speaking engagements with the O.P.P. I have tried to carry that message that we are all human, and not super humans. We all have feelings and we can all feel pain. Its okay to hurt, and its worth it to get better. I couldn’t imagine working on the front lines as Police, and I’m extremely grateful for them doing their jobs. But as humans in any profession, if we don’t deal with our issues, be it, physical, mental, spiritual, they will deal with us. We are all worthy of recovery and there are so many living testaments to guide you in the right direction.
Another side is being in active drug and Alcohol use, I can say I have had a few interactions with the O.P.P. nothing major, mostly telling me to “get your drunk ass home Paulie”. One of the most intense interactions with the O.P.P. would have been making a phone call just before midnight on September 19, 2006, A phone call that would change lives around the world eventually. After being sexually assaulted and making that phone call to the police my life flipped and spiralled down faster than I ever knew would be possible. After finding recovery and through resilience and getting enough strength to gain opportunities to share a message of Strength From Pain, I still couldn’t have imagined I would have such a positive connection and relationship with the O.P.P. I can say that these people are my family, they support I’m 1in5, they support me personally, they have unconditional love and their generosity is beyond measure. I couldn’t be any prouder to aligned along side them in this fight to smash stigma.
Monica, Robyn, Rochelle, Jennifer, Raj & Rose, I am forever grateful for you in this wild journey of happy unknown destinations.