Monday, July 15, 2013
Trauma Doesn't End after the Job Does - It Just Begins
Ahhhh ... Monday mornings, how sweet the sound. A new week is beginning in all its freshness, its anticipation. Yet for me in that workplace - and even after the end came, Monday mornings did not bring with them a sense of freshness and newness. I would wake up feeling like I was being dragged up from the depths of the netherworld. Heavy. Feeling like there was an elephant sitting on my chest. A very heavy one. I would feel like my breastbone was sinking all the way down into my spinal column. I would wonder what day of the week it was. Finally, feeling a lot of dismay I would realize that it was Monday morning and I not only had an entire work day to get through but an entire work week ahead of me. I would feel unequal to the task. I would get up wearily, exhausted even after a night's sleep, dragging myself into my clothes and down the stairs feeling like my bum was bumping along behind me on each stair. Bump. Bump. Bump. Bump.
Such is the life of a person who is going through workplace abuse. The sense of isolation. Heaviness. Weariness. Dragging. Dread. Darkness.
No light. No joy. Just an overwhelming sense of doom and dispair.
These feelings were always with me. Always present. Never ending.
And then the end came.
There was nothing easy or compassionate about the ending.
I looked into the dispassionate 2-up's eyes. No sympathy for me. No empathy. But then, from her point of view why should there be?
I was what? A nuisance? Or was I worse than that? An insect to be dissected and destroyed perhaps? Not quite human. Not deserving of common human decencies....
I've never really figured out exactly who was the cause of the abuse in that workplace. I had always assumed - until after the end - that it was solely my 1-up supervisor. Her perceptions. Her assumptions. Her personality. Her read on life - and people. She was an IT person. And a very good one at that. However, in my (rather limited) experience, I've noticed that IT people are generally lacking in people skills. Strike one against an IT person being promoted into a supervisory role in a customer service department without adequate training.
Since at the end, our work stations (her's being a large cordoned off section with high walls and privacy, mine being a small cubicle) were positioned next to each other, I could hear many of her conversations. I had overheard her talking about a sports league/team she had been on. How they didn't really like one member so they simply disbanded the team for one year and then quietly restarted it the year after.
This gave me a rare glimpse into a side of her that was anathema to me. Red flags should have been raised big time. BUT.... I was unwilling to see these things. Or maybe I was unwilling to consider how this would translate to her relationship with those she supervised. What she was capable of. That side of her that was capable of being sneaky and underhanded in her relationships. After all, if this is the way she treats those who consider her a friend, what is she capable of in her other relationships. Relationships with people like me? People who are under her in a work setting?
Think about it.
Afterwards, though, I began to wonder how much of the scenario was caused by the 1-up and how much was caused by the 2-up? Did the 2-up have an agenda from the beginning? Did she instruct the 1-up to find cause to either force me to get up and quit or, if I didn't get the hint - which I didn't - to get rid of me?
Again, I'll never know what went on behind closed doors.
This is a glimpse of my mind at work - even after eight years - logically trying to analyze the situation. As I've been walking through - and working through - this series on workplace abuse - and my first instance of it, I see things differently. More clearly in a way. I realize more and more that it wasn't my fault. I was, in all likelihood, a cog in a wheel. Perhaps, I was just one person in a long line up of previous employees and/or co-workers both past and present who had been victimized in the workplace but either one or both of these people.
I realize now, after all these years, that I was truly abused at this workplace.
What about you, dear reader? Where are you at in this spectrum? Being presently abused in the workplace but wanting to deny it? Still having hope that things will work out? Out the door and into the desert? Working through step by step on recovery? Or are you the friend or relative of a person who is or has been abused in the workplace and trying to get a grasp on the situation? Let me know. I welcome any and all comments.