To me, though, it was much much more than a specific day or event. It was a another victory on my road to recovery.
One of many. Some small. Some bigger. Most not recognized. Especially by the lay person not touched by trauma. To them, to be able to go out and about and smile and be happy is just another day in their life.
But those who know me and have walked with me know what a victory this was to be able to go outside in public to a group of people largely unknown to me and interact with them - like normal people do. The smile. The sparkle. The mischievousness. They're all coming back. In spades.
It was a victory to be savoured.
And hopefully repeated.
A huge step on the road to recovery.
The picture is a graphic representation of me. The me I was before the work place abuse escalated so badly that all remnants of me disappeared - at least for the duration. The me that is finally coming back to the surface after three years hiding somewhere under the surface of my psyche. Lying dormant, but not dead.
The happy, smiling, exuberant "me" that you see in the picture above is the me that had come to be during and because of what I now call Phase 1 of the recovery period: Sept 2006 to roughly June 2010.
During that period of time, I worked regularly with a counsellor basically "reinventing" myself. Not by design, but that is where the recovery process led - to a whole new, emotionally healthier and happier me. A me whose life had been bound by fear of many things throughout my entire life was slowly becoming transformed into someone who was confronting her fears and besting them. Altraphobia. Claustrophobia. Two of my biggees now lay in little whimpering piles at my feet.. Their power over me over. Destroyed. I stared them in the face - and came out the winner.
Life was becoming fun. Life was good.
There were times when I could hardly wait to see what was coming next around the corner.
Relationships had been reinvented. Restored.
I saw life completely differently than I ever had before.
And then came the retaliation from the bullies, the adversaries, and the bystanders.
It became one against .... I'm still not sure who all was involved, how they got involved and how far they got involved. However, when I came into the office all conversations stopped. No one said hello. I was ostracized and excluded. I sat in my corner and when not busy starred at the wall with my iPod in my ear (given special permission by my supervisor for that one small concession). That alone would have been unbearable and stressful enough.
These people didn't stop there. They weren't content with completely isolating me and cutting me off from all normal interaction in the office environment.
They were out for blood. My blood.
I began to be called into the supervisor's office for all sorts of things. Every single mistake, most of them minor and caused by the severe stress I was undergoing, were pointed out to management. Every word I said was magnified, distorted and held up for public discussion (I think. How else would so many people who had so little interaction with me have become involved?)
And then they began going to management for anything real and/or imagined. During that time frame, while I was still hanging on, barely I must admit, I went to a Highland Games in a nearby community and saw a t-shirt whose slogan has stayed with me all this time. It was a distortion on the miranda rights you hear on the tv all the time: "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be twisted and used again you." I realized that that was what was happening in my workplace.
Then there were the lies which I mentioned in the last post. The ones aimed at the very core of my being and who I am.
By the time I had the two back to back stress breakdowns, the effervescent me, the one who was normally happy, who found life not only good but great, was totally down for the count. I was just struggling to survive one day at a time. One shift at a time.
It's been three years now and counting since I left the workplace. Three years of continual, steady work.
Three years of therapy and step by step progress on the journey back.
Welcome back me. I've missed you.