When people ask, I try to consider. I try to consider how one comes to ask the question and, more importantly, why. We need not simply look to the psychologist to understand ourselves, our flaws, and our states of being if we only stop to consider others’ questions. Some weeks ago, our dentist asked if I ground my teeth or clenched my jaw. In the preceding years, having visited this same dentist, I have never been asked it. So, my answer was honest and… true? I meant what I said when I said I did not, and yet, I was lying without realizing it. They were also identifying my stress and anxiety without realizing it.
In the days and weeks that followed, I pondered the question. I considered the sensitive teeth I had never experienced before. I thought about the TMJ acting up. My locked jaw from time to time. I began to consider that I found my teeth violently clinched together day in and day out. I realized, our dentist had identified my state of affairs through a simple question, without realizing it.
It is interesting what we can learn from others–when we stop and wonder, stop and consider, when we stop and listen. I meant what I said when I told them “no,” but I lied without realizing I lied. The truth is… I have sat on my ass for over two years, facing illegitimate criminal charges, based on a personal vendetta. My wife is about to depart for a military obligation. I am faced with the unknown of a new district attorney and the prospects of returning to a department I am not sure I want to return to. So, maybe I am facing a lot of stress and anxiety. And, maybe yes, I am clenching my teeth.
Jake Smith is a law enforcement officer and former Army Ranger with four deployments to Afghanistan.
As the Voice of the Veteran Community, The Havok Journal seeks to publish a variety of perspectives on a number of sensitive subjects. Unless specifically noted otherwise, nothing we publish is an official point of view of The Havok Journal or any part of the U.S. government.