Monday, May 27, 2013

Surviving Workplace Abuse: The danger of suicide

Note:  This is a hard post for me to write and a hard post for people, especially those close to me, to read.  Yet, I feel it is necessary at some point to address in any blog dealing with workplace abuse the ugly spectre of suicide.  It happens.  It is a real consequence of the heavy duty abuse I, and many others, have suffered in the workplace or in other places such as school.

We saw this sign at Lake Casa Blanca International Park in Laredo Texas in 2010.  My husband asked the clerk in the hotel if there were snakes in the park.  The worker said "no" it was too early in the season for them.  While we were in the park, we met people who told us to be careful and watch out for snakes as they had seen some just the other day.  Upon leaving the park, we saw this sign.  Yes, there were snakes.  The clerk just hadn't wanted to let us know for whatever reason.
I've often heard it said that prostitution is not a victimless crime.  The same goes with workplace abuse.  Because we leave, one way or another, on our own steam or not, workplace abuse is considered to be victimless.  Partially because once we're gone, we're gone in the eyes of HR, management, the union, the co-workers.  In fact, the word "victim" is actively disapproved.  By HR.  By management.  Even by those of us who are experiencing it.  For whatever reason, either external or internal, we feel compelled to use the softer word "target" instead.

However, workplace abuse is not victimless.  At least, not to the target.

Someone asked me the other day upon reading my blog, did those who did this to me know what they did?  Do they know the severe impact they've had on my life?

The answer is no.  Probably not.

Yet the real question to me is:  Do they, i.e. the bullies, care?

Again, the answer is going to be:  No, probably not.

Because workplace abuse is NOT about the target.  My perception on this having experienced it and seen their faces when confronted - or even when they thought they were confronted - is that it's not about the target.  It's about the bullies.  Their feelings.  Their perceptions.  Their lives.  Their hurts.

I just happened to be in the way.

I was too naive to realize that there were snakes in my workplace.  Not the slithering, rattling kind.  The human kind.

Personally, I would rather deal with a snake, a real one, because I know instinctively what they are and what they are capable of.  Not so with humans.

As I said earlier, I was incredibly naive.  I lived in a world where good triumphed over bad.  Where knights on white horses showed up just in time to rescue the damsel in distress.

Doesn't happen in the real world of the workplace.  At least not for me.  After all was said and done, I lived in a world of hurt for a very long time.  Even with consistent counselling, there were times when it was all I could do to get up in the morning.  Sometimes even that didn't happen.

Coming close to suicide during a very difficult period in the journey, I decided to access the net and google sure ways to commit suicide.  I didn't want to do a half-assed job and I felt it was pointless to continue going on.

At that point, I was giving up the struggle, the battle, the on-going walk through all the junk left behind in the aftermath of workplace abuse.

Many people say that suicide is a "choice" with the implication that the person who commits it rationally chooses to kill themselves.

But that has not been my experience.  My experience has been that I feel like a tsunami or tidal wave has washed over me, pulled me into its grips and is pulling me down, down, down.  To a place where there is no means of escape.

To a place where there are no more options.

To a place of total devastation.

The times that I've come within a hair's breath of committing the ultimate act, have not been choices.  They've been reactions to a seemingly endless tidal wave of abuse, recriminations, secondary wounding, people not understanding what I'm going through.

One of those times, which I feel ready to reveal at this time, was the last time I left my former counsellor's office.  The counsellor I later realized was abusive.  I was devastated.  Crying.  Unable to drive.  Unable to do anything but cry.  The session had been brutal.  My daughter was driving that day - which was a good thing.  When we got home, I crawled onto the bed and just laid there crying, crying, crying.

I was ready to give up then.  After all, if this counsellor who I'd been seeing for years turned on me like this, I must be hopeless.

Helpless.  As in beyond help.

As I waited for my daughter, just a block off a main artery in our town, I felt a pull to go to that road and walk in front of a car - or truck.  It was almost irresistible.  It took everything I had in me not to move.  To wait for my daughter.  To this day, I don't know what would have happened if she had not had to have the car that day.

That was not the only time I came that close.  It happened several times after that especially in the first one to two years after I left - or rather was pushed out of - the workplace.

At one time, I was so close that I decided to seek out ways via the net to do it.  Ways that did not involve guns, which I don't have access to, hanging since even though I was a girl scout I never learned how to tie a good knot.  Pills?  Which ones and how many?

I accessed a forum.

One post in particular spoke to me.

I can't remember who posted it or all that was in the post but the gist was that suicide is a permanent solution for a temporary problem.  The writer then went on to use scripture verses from the Bible.  I don't remember which ones he (or was it a she?) used.  I only remember that this post spoke to me where I was at that moment.  And caused me to back down.  To stop.  To think.

Because after all, suicide i.e. death is permanent.

Whatever contributions I could have made would never happen.  The prayers for others.  The knitted gifts.  The writings.  The blog that is happening now.  None of that would ever again be possible IF....

That post made such an impact in my life that the tsunami washing over me, pulling me down, receded.  In its wake there was a glimmer of hope.  Much like the emerging dawn

Not quite so dramatic but there.

As you can see, I lived to see another dawn.


And so I am continuing to survive.  To live another day.  To walk another pathway.  To experience another victory.  To write another post.  To experience more on the road to recovery.

Join me again tomorrow. 

You never know where this blog is going to take you as we travel the path together.

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