Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Post Workplace Abuse: Consuming Fear of Former Co-workers - A Bit More of the Story

A walkway I found in Salem, Massachusetts during our wanderings there.  Sometimes my journey through workplace abuse resembles a walkway like this rather than an open road or path.  Sometimes it resembles a maze.  Whichever, it's the path through that ultimately leads out that is the important part.

Yesterday's blog explaining why I felt so much fear of my erstwhile co-workers for so long was hard to write as, I'm sure, you can well understand.  Not only did it bring back the situation and the feelings surrounding it as though it had just happened yesterday, it also brought back the fear.

What if, especially now that I've changed this blog to my real name and my real picture identifying myself for who I truly am and not just some fictitious person who likes stuffed animals, one of more of these people somehow finds this blog and recognizes themselves in it?   Since I am now using my real name, it would really be a no-brainer for them to recognize themselves in yesterday's post IF they were intentionally bullying me, just as they did with that seven word status on my Facebook years ago.

It was bad enough to be in the emotionally shattered shape I was in, not sure if I was going to survive, but to have management calling me at my home at night and then sending emails threatening to discipline me made the experience so much more harrowing, so much harder to survive.  Although none of these people on the "other" side - the people I call the adversaries - was aware of it, I was very much in a fight for survival.  I was way too close that night to giving up, giving in, letting the waves of despair wash completely over me and sink me to the bottom of the ocean. i.e. suicide.  I was way too close.  Which was why my specialist had written me off work to begin with.  He was trying to save my life.

Would I even be here to write this blog if I had answered the phone that night?  If It had listened to the voice mail?  If I had called my supervisor back that night?  Fortunately, hubby knew best and whisked me away for a bit, away from the situation, away from the phone calls.  Away.  But that is another story, another blog posting.  Maybe tomorrow?  Since today's post seems to have a mind of its own.

Getting back on track, since these people somehow got the notion that it was not only OK but appropriate to search out my Facebook profile and then to recognize themselves in that seven word posting and run to management who would immediately pass it on to HR claiming an ethics violation, what would they be prepared to do now at this point several years later if they realized that I am now openly writing about what happened to me?  There is no management or HR to run to now.  For several reasons.  The most important of which is that I'm no longer there.  I never returned after the second back-to-back stress breakdown.  I've spent the intervening years recovering from all that happened. But this they wouldn't know as no one was in contact with me then when they got on my Facebook and ran to management with their conclusions about my brief post and not one of them is in contact with me now.

They had no clue then of how badly I was doing then and they have no clue as to how hard I am working to recover now.

But there is another reason there is no one to run to in the workplace now.  The workplace no longer exists.  The building we worked in is still there, but empty now.  The plant that produces the product we shipped out is still operating - but not for much longer.  Several months after I was forced to leave the workplace, the parent company announced that they were closing that facility and building a new one in a different location.  The building I worked in was the first area designated to close.  To the best of my knowledge, the building is now closed.  Just an empty shell of the place it used to be.  Inhabited perhaps by shadows and ghosts but not by real flesh and blood people.  They have all either had to find new jobs and go into the netherlands of retirement.

Hopefully, these people have not taken me - or rather the memory of me - with them to their new places of employment wherever they may be.

Hopefully, they have let go of the past - of their perceptions and assumptions of who I was - and are living in their present.  Hopefully.

Looking back at what happened, had management and HR not been so frustrated with the situation and had been looking at things more objectively, if they had called in an outside service to look into the allegations, the outcome could have been much different for all of us.

Over a year after the experiences I am relating now which ended in my forcible resignation, I ran into a man who I learned was employed in HR in Ottawa by the government.  I admit, I shamelessly picked this poor fellow's brains.  I told him about the incident with the Facebook posting and he, like others, felt that it could be construed as a criticism against my workplace ... but ... he felt there were far deeper issues here:  What were these people doing on my Facebook in the first place?  Then there's the when and where issues.  Where they searching out a co-worker's Facebook on company time and company equipment? (which brings up all sorts of issues in and of itself)

He basically said that while those seven words could be construed as a criticism of the workplace, the workplace had far greater problems then little old me.  His first reaction was that if these unnamed, unidentified people saw themselves in that terse, seven word posting and complained to HR and management about it, then they were admitting that they saw themselves in the posting.  They were, in effect, admitting that they were actively engaged in the act of bullying me.

And. No. One. In. HR. Or. Management. Saw. It.

They were too frustrated, too close to the individual trees to see the forest - the overall picture.

As I end today's post, I come back to the my original question.  The one that haunts me still.  If one or more of these people reads this blog and sees themselves in it - even though neither they nor the workplace are named, even though we've all moved on during the intervening years, the question remains:  If they did those things do with impunity then, what are they prepared to do now?

And so I come to the end of another blog today.  Another small piece of the whole of my experience.  Another step further out of the self-imposed closet of surviving workplace abuse.  Of dwelling in the shadow lands of exile.  Of recovery.

Until tomorrow ....

From a shadow to a real, live flesh and blood person, I've come a long way, baby.

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