Monday, July 21, 2014

Post Workplace Abuse: A side trip into how others' perceptions and assumptions impact the process

As you've probably guessed i.e. perceived and assumed by now, this one phrase took a huge toll on me and became part and parcel of who I believed I was.  No good because I thought.  I perceived.  I assumed.  This phrase was with me day and night - and in some ways still is - until I started realizing it for the lie it was.  And even then, even now, I'm still in the process of realizing it for the lie it was - and still is - and that it's not only my lie, this lie about perceptions and assumptions is part of all of us.  We all perceive.  We all assume.  And sometimes our perceptions and assumptions are not based on what we have seen or heard or felt for ourselves, but rather what someone has told us.

That is the other side - the flip side - of assumptions and perceptions.  What others think of us and, therefore, how they behave towards us, based solely on what they've heard from others.  This is the continuing saga of that three month period of time immediately after my mom died. 


I started to become bitter about my church family.  Especially as when I did make it to church and looked at the church bulletin, I would see thank you notes from this family or that family thanking the members of the church for theirs cards, letters, meals, flowers after the death of a loved one.

It made me feel worth less than other members of the congregation.  

Why did they receive and I not?

What was wrong with me?

I continued to work towards recovery as best as I could given the situation, the injury, the grief, the aloneness.

My family was going through their own grief, their own issues.  They were in as much need of support as I was.  They too had lost a very important someone in their lives.  They too had had the long trips to another country.

Most of my socialization at that point was through computer as I felt safest in that mode. Also, as some of those who did their best to support me as best they were able were in other parts of Canada and the U.S.

These people did their best but they were simply not in a position to offer the physical, practical help I needed at that time.  It's kind of hard to email a meal.  And cyber hugs while a good thought just seem to lack something in their execution.

I continued my bi-weekly therapy even though it usually meant finding someone to drive me.

I continued what I call my "right brain therapy".  Knitting and crocheting.  Even when I could only manage to knit six stitches one way and six stitches back over and over, I continued to do so.  The result?  

 A room full of fashion scarves which became presents.

A happy cat nestled on a prayer afghan given to a man I'd never met who had cancer.  FYI:  On the  back of the chair is the red prayer shawl I made for my mom with chunky yarn during a sweltering July heat wave for what turned out to be her last birthday.  I was told I was nuts to make such a heavy item during such heat, but nuts or not, I continued on - sweating all the way - and finished it in less than three days - in time to present it to her for her birthday!  Now it's mine to enjoy.

The finished "prayerghan" I had started for my mom in the last days of her life.  Purple being her favorite colour.  I hadn't finished the first colour segment when she left us.  However, I continued working on it bit by bit, not having a clue what I was going to do with it when finished.  When a dear friend I'd known for decades called with news that he'd just learned his mom had terminal cancer and was having trouble dealing with it, I knew who needed this afghan more than I did.  He has told me many times since how much it blessed him to receive it.

A second shot taken during this time frame showing the various items I made.  The colourful scarf went to a little boy and his mom in Northern Ontario.  Some I still have.  Some I wear myself. Some were given as gifts.  One or two were sold.

For all practical intents and purposes, this was me during that period of time.

A time of intense pain and loneliness.  Yet, a time of productivity as well.  Perhaps silent productivity, but productivity nonetheless.  Where there was giving and outreach.  A time where people got blessed even though I was down for the count.

A time that happened within the quiet confines of my "safe" place, my "safe" room.  A time my church community had no idea about.  

Because. They. Had. No. Communication. With. Me.

They had no clue.  And I felt like they didn't want to have a clue.


This is as far as I can emotionally go today on this segment of my journey.

As I reread it this morning, I realized that there are people who have joined with me in the journey and were walking with me during that time.  One thing I had internalized from the book by H. Norman Wright Helping Those Who Hurt:  Compassionate and Practical Ways to Offer Comfort is that people who walk with people like me need to look at what they can - and cannot - do without burning out.  Walking with people like me is not a short-term thing.  It continues on for a long time.  It's not a straight line.  It fluctuates and goes all over the place.  Burn out for encouragers and supporters of people like me is a real danger.  These people need to protect themselves, to set boundaries so that they do not burn out.  This was probably in hindsight one of the neediest parts of my journey.  I chose to ensure that those who were walking with me at that time stayed in their roles.  The roles they were comfortable with.  The roles they were good at.  The roles that were such a blessing to me.  One such encourager and support through many parts of this journey is especially gifted in what I call the spiritual realm.  The realm of offering comfort and insight through the Bible.  She stayed with me in that realm faithfully throughout this entire time.  She drove me to therapy when I needed it.  She drove me to the hospital for appointments when my arm was in a cast and I couldn't drive myself.  She did many things.  Hubby too.  He took on all the household chores - even cooking - at that time.  I'm sure there are more people whom I am forgetting to mention at this time.  There was one woman who I've never met who chose to encourage me through the internet.  Who was there via cyberspace when I needed her.  There was the pastor way off on the West Coast of the U.S. who called every so often to encourage me and ensure that I was okay.

I was not completely alone.

Even though I felt I was alone at that time, I. Was. Not.

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