I Believe In Belief
I believe in the power of being believed in. I don’t think I ever had a full concept of what that feels like until I went to work for the Austin Police Department Homicide Unit. The unit was not too keen on hiring me as their administrative assistant in October 2000. I was older than the average applicant, I had already retired from a former professional career, I appeared to be a meek and mild sort of woman, and no one would have ever guessed that I had a single vulgar word in my vocabulary, or that I had the capability of even raising my voice. I had no prior law enforcement experience. I had only seen two dead bodies in my entire fifty-plus years of life, and those were both from peaceful, natural death. The Homicide Unit took me on with a wing and a prayer. They needed some organizational help. I found out that I needed them just as much as they needed me. It has been there that I discovered the empowerment of being depended on and believed in.
A series of past events had placed me on the cusp of launching myself into a new set of circumstances when I applied for the job with Homicide. I had managed to get myself and my two daughters safely out of a long-term, abusive marriage. I raised both daughters as a single parent with no child support. My youngest daughter had just begun college far from home. My mother was about to forget who I was due to transitioning from dementia to Alzheimer’s disease. My father had died in the past two years, and I had abruptly retired from 27 boring, but steady years of state government service. My childhood had been spent in self-doubt and overshadowed by an older, more vocal sibling. My favorite childhood book was The Little Engine That Could. It was the story of a little train engine that couldn’t quite pull its own load, but it always told itself, “I think I can….I think I can.”
When I went for my job interview with the Homicide Unit, the sergeant asked me why I had applied, and if I really thought I was up for the demands of a job that requires constant exposure to death, much of which is violent. I replied, “I think I am.” And he believed me, bless his heart! And he has been believing in me ever since. Sometimes I have moments of self doubt, but I overcome that through the entire unit’s belief in me. I talk about this to my grown kids every chance I get because belief can change the world. Belief creates boldness and power. Belief can turn a little engine into a steaming powerhouse. Belief is something we can all offer to each other. It costs nothing but a little bit of our time. The feeling of being believed in is a precious gift I treasure.
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