This is a departure from my normal style. It is an open letter to you, dear reader, from my heart to your heart as we both work towards the ultimate goal of healing on our individual journeys.
What are your passions and interests? You've heard about a few of mine: writing, photography, knitting, crocheting, etc. and how I've used them at various times on the road to recovery.
But what are yours? What things give you pleasure? Help you to forget, even for a little while, what happened to you in the workplace?
What makes you get up in the morning?
A doctor asked me that question last Fall. I answered: I get up to make my husband coffee.
That was not the answer he was wanting to hear. But it was the truth. At that point when I could barely function and nothing made me smile, when I felt like giving up, that simple act of getting up to make my husband his morning coffee and see him off to work was enough.
And sometimes enough has to be ... good enough - at least for the moment.
What gets you out of bed in the morning? Is it to make coffee for your husband - or yourself? If it is, then applaud yourself for every morning that you get out of bed and make the coffee. It may not be a big deal to anyone else, but it sure is to you - and probably your husband as well.
Or is it something else?
I know there are lacklustre days when all you can see are various shades of dull grey - usually for me it's battleship grey. But look beyond the immediate, the numbing, the depression.
Before you were targeted by your supervisor, your co-workers or both for "special" treatment, what did you like to do? What floated your boat?
And then, I ask: "If you could do anything in the world at all, work towards any goal, what would you do?"
I ask that because you may not be a creative person like myself.
The idea of transitioning to a writing career may not excite you in the least, but what would?
If you could transition to anything from where you were, from where you are now, what would it be?
And then the next thought is: "How would you go about doing it?"
For me, I've discovered that I can take courses on-line which works well as I'm still not ready either emotionally or physically to drive to a classroom setting and sit there for x amount of time, take notes, drive home (safely) and then be expected to not only remember the lecture but apply it and do homework! At this point, that is not going to happen. But I can sit in my safe place at my computer and access the world from there.
Concurrently with my passions, interests and possible long-term goals, I've just purchased a good camera. One I can grow with. I need though to learn how to use it. As in I need photography lessons. With my challenges and altered abilities I need to find a way to accomplish this task. I can take courses at the community college which are three hours one evening per week - on a campus across town. Since my ability to sit still and remember things mirrors that of a two year old and since it is across town, driving is not an option - yet. Maybe in the future if my energy levels start to restore themselves, but not yet. So what are my other options? Private lessons is an option. So are some on the net. Or even buying a DVD course. There are options. There are ways of pursuing our dreams - even in the midst of trauma. There are always ways. We simply have to look for them and find them.
We are not alone. There are many of us across the globe standing disunited in our trauma, in our belief that we were the one who was the wrong-doer. In our belief that we have no right to tell our story. So we stand - or rather lie in heaps on the floor in some cases - alone. Afraid. And that impacts our recovery. Our ability to reclaim our lives. We don't reclaim our lives because we don't believe we have any right to.
As I've talked with people. People who look normal. People you would not believe have been through workplace abuse, I've discovered that there are others out there rebuilding their lives.
One such lady followed her dream and her passion and opened a bead store. Another lady took a low-stress, part-time job at a local family-owned restaurant where she says she is much happier. A friend of mine, who has not to my knowledge been bullied, loves to sew and has a home-based business sewing for others. Someone else, a male, again who was not bullied but opted for retirement when the company he'd worked with all his adult life had severe financial problems, a man who is definitely not on the creative side, is starting a new career in his 60s as a home inspector.
There are options out there for us.
So again, I ask: What are your passions? What are your interests?
How can you use them to help you as you walk through this journey of recovery day by day?
How can you use them to work towards a new career?
What is in your hand? And how can you use it?
What is in your hand? And how can you use it?
Recovery takes many forms. There will always be challenges on our road to recovery. Recovery is never a straight forward linear movement. Sometimes it seems like I step one small step forward and two giant ones backward. But I take them. I lean into the moment. Into the pain.
And now at times like last weekend at the writers conference into the joy, into the victory. Savouring both the moment and the memory. Stocking up this major victory for replay when things seem stalled or bleak or whatever in the future. Every blog I post is both a challenge and a victory.
And so, dear reader, I ask you to allow yourself a moment of victory today and stand up with me and proclaim:
My name is (insert your own name) and I AM A SURVIVOR OF WORKPLACE ABUSE.
Be proud of yourself for the very act of surviving. For being alive to salute a new day - and read this blog.
I congratulate you.