Monday, July 28, 2014

Post Workplace Abuse: Working through and processing events

My safe room.  It may not look like much, but it's a place where I feel comfortable, where I have all the "comforts of life" (more or less), where creativity happens and, mostly importantly, where healing happens.

Needless to say I was not only in a world of hurt when this staff member from my church left my home that day, but also badly in need of processing what had just transpired in my safe room.

Processing for me is where recovery begins.  I've been accused of being over-analytical and analyzing things to death, but at the same time this ability to analyze and process things has been one of the major strengths my therapist has discerned in her walk - and work - with me.  I analyze and process things so that I can pull back and look at the event(s) from a distance.  To distance myself.  To get a better grip on it.  To diffuse the incredible hurt and emotion involved.


Processing doesn't always occur in any order.  It just is.  So here are some of the thoughts I've processed since that visit:

One of the most important things I've learned throughout the post-recovery from workplace abuse and post-aftermath of loss of a loved one journey(s) combined, is that people don't always stay in one category i.e. "safe" or "unsafe".  They can change categories at any given time based on their own circumstances.  A person who was once safe and supportive cannot be expected to stay at that level when they themselves are going through their own traumas, their own issues i.e. a sibling who is also going through the loss of the same loved one, etc. 

People have their own assumptions and perceptions which they are most likely totally unaware of.  Because assumptions and perceptions simply are.  They're part of us.  Most people have not had their assumptions and perceptions thrust at them as something bad so that they haven't had to really look at what assumptions and perceptions are in order to break free from lies.  In short, most people are not me and are not working through all the lies, the hurts, the misperceptions, etc. that I am. 

People are not mind readers. I thought that because my thoughts were so loud, almost screaming inside my mind, that they were so loud others could "hear" them, i.e. pick up on them.  I have had to learn that that is not so and that I have to use my words even with those closest to me like hubby.

Most importantly, I analyzed that day that the staff member who came into my home had no knowledge of trauma.  What it is.  How it affects others.  She was looking at me and my behaviour from what she and others who have not been wounded by trauma would assume and perceive.

I internalized that day that although this person had badly wounded me, she had done so through ignorance of a major issue in my life.  She was not a "bad" person.  She probably didn't intend to do as much damage as she did.   In fact, to this day, she still may not understand the incredible hurt and damage she did.  She simply didn't understand the basics.  In short, she was the wrong person to come into my home that day.  She didn't have the tools she needed to build a foundation with me.

I also realized that she had no idea of what my background in the church had been.  That when I had started attending six years prior, I was totally a basket case due to what had happened in the church prior.

How I started out trying to be a shadow.  I didn't want to draw any attention to myself.  I didn't want people to notice me or talk to me.

I had done all the "right" things in my former church.  Attending faithfully.  Volunteering.  Going to small groups.  Praying.  Giving. At the time, the lead pastor came to our door furious with me, I was even almost single-handedly feeding a family of five.

In the end, none of that mattered.  The only thing that mattered was that I had thrown my Bible on the floor in the church library in front of someone whose classification still remains a mystery.  The lead pastor originally classified her as a visitor but since she was in the library to "job shadow" me that day in order to volunteer, I would wonder about that.  When I voiced my concerns about that classification to the lead pastor, he quickly amended it to being new, very new. Whatever.  *shrugs shoulders*

I had worked hard for six years regarding trauma, PTSD, etc.  I had had significant recovery in those six years by working hard with my new therapist, by being consistent, by researching, reading.  It cost me time and money.  Money for gas.  Money for continued therapy.  None of which was covered under any existing health or benefit plans.  I did it because it was important to me.  Because I didn't want to stay stuck.

You name it, I probably did it.  As regarding this particular issue with my former church, eventually I forgave all those involved which was a long process.  As regarding the issue of feeling comfortable in a different church, I had eventually liased with the then interin pastor who has since go on to the mission field and is still in contact with me to this day.  He and his wife were invaluable in the process of being able to call our new church a church "home".  When he left for the mission field, another staff member took over.  We both saw his role as giving me the Biblical perspective.  He was not there as my therapist.  His role in my life was also invaluable.  He attended a session with my therapist and myself about trauma and we could both see how he was trying to wrap his mind around concepts that were foreign to him.  He too left the church after a few short months.  His replacement was supposed to take over that support role.  A role he never embraced which led us to this meeting in my home with a staff member who had no clue.

In the aftermath of that meeting in my home, my safe room, that day, I realized that all that knowledge was gone.  None of it had been passed on.

In the six years I had been in that church up to that time, I had joined a small group.  I came in afraid of my own shadow and slowly began to feel safe and build up relationships.  The group ended.  I guess I assumed that when the former leaders of the group found another small group, they would invite us in.  That didn't happen.  I discovered inadvertently one day that there was another small group which met on weekends and had included the former leaders of our small group in their small group.  Maybe I had at long last found another small group home.  I verbalized as much - and I saw the mask come down over the eyes.  It turns out that this group was by invitation only.  They had to know you.  They didn't know us.  Discussion closed.

These were all things this staff member who came into my home with her own judgements, perceptions and assumptions had no way of knowing.  She had no way of knowing where we had started off from.  She had no way of knowing that we had indeed been affiliated with a small group which had stopped and had never been reconnected to another one.  She had no way of knowing that I had regularly attended the women's meetings nor the seniors' luncheons.  She had no way of knowing about trauma.  She had no way of knowing anything that transpired after the one minister left.

She had no way of knowing.


And this is where I end for today.  I am emotionally and physically exhausted with the effort of writing this post.  Every part of me has been screaming to leave it.  To stop typing.  To stop thinking.  To lie down.  To do something else, like watch a DVD, pick up some knitting.  Whatever.

Yet, I know that if I do that I may not start again tomorrow, or the next day, or the next.

At the writer's conference in June, one nugget I learned was to be consistent in my blog.  Since I've started writing five days a week to continue that way.  Also, to be consistent in the time I publish my blog - which since I write it after waking up in the morning and have been sleeping in lately has not been consistent.

I ask you to bear with me as I both walk the path and write about the journey at the same time.

Here is a pictorial view of what my path looks like at the moment.

Grab your hiking boots and come with me.

Until tomorrow ....

Road construction in my "hood"

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