A Journey Towards Acceptance
“All I ever wanted was to feel validated and accepted”.
I am Simon Osamoh, I now live in America, but my life is very different from what it used to be as a Thames Valley Police Officer. It was an amazing job where I did a range of different roles, from detective investigations to burglaries. I have a wide variety of other work experience. I work as a counter terrorism manager in charge of security at Mall America which is a large shopping and entertainment complex with over 40 million visitors a year. I am an author, run my own podcast an entrepreneur, a husband and a father of beautiful boys.
My life didn’t always start off with success. I am mixed race, with my dad coming from Nigeria and mum white English, but I have never met my father as they separated when my mum was 8 months pregnant. I had a working-class upbringing in Reading, in an area that was predominantly white middle class with only one or two other mixed-race families. My mum fostered children, so I had two ‘step’ brothers to go along with my two sisters, but we all grew up together in very humble surroundings. I grew up never feeling different because of my ethnicity, but more so due to the affluent local area. The have’s vs the have nots! I was jealous. About both money and family. My friends would have their dads at football matches watching, and it was challenging as it was not something I could work harder to achieve or overcome, it was just a hard realisation that there is nothing I could do to change this circumstance!
My mum scarified everything to provide for us! With an absent father, I grew up wanting to be noticed. I wanted money to do this. It was my main motivator from 14 to 21 years old. I didn’t want people to know I was poor, so I turned down free lunches at school and starved myself all day to save the embarrassment. I joined the Police at 19 and later that year purchased my first property, and by my late twenties I had a property portfolio where I was judging my successes in life based on financial gains! I would be out in London until the early morning partying, before completing a long day shift at work, which led to me beginning to take stock of what the meaning of my life was about. I had money and did not feel any more fulfilled.
Having recently joined the Police, I was first on scene at an incident where a woman would go on to lose her life. I can remember arriving, having to process what had happened to her before providing the emotional support she needed whilst she was drawing her final breath. I can recall reassuring her that “it’s going to be ok” as I stroked her hair. I could see the shock and emotion in her eyes. I have seen a lot of good and bad things throughout my time in the Police, however this was the one and only time where I could not sleep at night following this incident. I had a stark reminder that there is no ‘do over’ in life and that you only have one opportunity. What is the purpose when it can end so quickly?
Following this incident, I reflected on what had happened and realised that I was good at reading situations and that I was compassionate. I began to change my perspective on life over a period of time. The police force was a family. I had complete trust in my colleagues, and true friendship with the people I worked with every day. But was the role enough? Was earning £35k a year for a job that didn’t fulfil everything what I wanted for the rest of my life?
I was given a detective’s case on career criminal Michael Long, someone that would stop at nothing to get what he wanted. Throughout the case he would use intimidation, threatening me and my family, to disrupt the investigation. He had found my mums home address and threatened to hurt her. This just spurred me on more! We managed to get him convicted and sent to prison for 5 years. Following his release, he continued the cycle of arrests, and would frequently have my home address written down in his pocket when he was searched post arrest. In 2016, I had left the police and was over in the USA, when a friend from the Met sent me a video of Michael converting an old bus into a shelter for the homeless. He was at it again! What scheme had he drawn up now to make some quick money?
With him being my nemesis, I was googling this thinking what is his angle? Did he plan on stealing the donations? I found his phone number online and called him up. However, rather than assume the worst I decided to give him a second chance. I told him that I was proud of him, for changing his life around and focusing his attention on doing something positive! A few moments later, I could hear the crackle in his voice and rubbing of eyes, and he said how humble and thankful he was that I had got in contact! We spoke for 30 minutes, and at the end of the call I got a text saying, “Simon can you forgive me”. He apologised for what he had done and wanted me to say sorry on his behalf to my mum, but this was a very profound moment. Michael had spent nearly 20 years of his life in prison, during which time he had written a book. He asked me to read it for him, and the first line will stick with me forever, “All I ever wanted was to feel validated and accepted”. Although we had led very different paths, all we wanted from life was the same thing.
In 2018 I came back to England with my family, and messaged Michael to see if he wanted to meet up. We had a drink in the hotel where he met my wife and two sons, and he was so shocked that I had the trust in him to allow him to meet my family. Everyone deserves a second chance. He is a 40-year-old man who has never been trusted or managed to build positive relationships based around personal accountability.
I have nice clothes, a vintage car, a good pension, savings, numerous properties but it is only now that I have allowed myself to be vulnerable. By telling my story I hope to show people that you can achieve anything you want through putting your heart and mind into it. I was given nothing and everything I have achieved is down to myself. If not me then who? I want to inspire children. I want them to achieve whatever they want. Some kids I speak to have never been told what potential they have.
Some people will say that I have been lucky. I disagree. I fall forward. If I fail at something, I reflect and look how I can improve myself. Life now is trying to take the skills and experience that I have learnt to help make me, my family and friend’s better people. I want to inspire my family to think about how we can spend better time together and make a positive impact on the local community and the world. Adversity is a gift, and I can re write that narrative with my two sons which is something I am proud of.