Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Post Workplace Abuse: Continuing the story: Why I lived to tell the tale

Continuing the story ...

I had been signed-off on short-term disability by a specialist with the verbalized intent to separate me from my toxic work environment so I could heal.  His words.  Which translated means, so I would not go over the edge and commit suicide.

Then the phone began ringing with Call Display showing that the call was from my supervisor.  Calling from her home to mine.  At night.  When neither of us was at work.  ?

At that point in time, if I had had to say how close I was to committing the ultimate act, I would depict a clock with the hour hand at 12 and the minute hand at one minute of - or even closer.  Very close.  Too close.  It wasn't going to take much to push that minute hand past the point of no return.  I was actually at the point where I had decided to start looking on the net to find out fool proof ways of doing it.  I was in a black, hopeless pit of despair.

I never did do that net search.


Not only did my chief support and encouragement i.e. hubby refuse to let me pick up the phone and refuse to let me access the voice mail, he whisked me away for the weekend.

His method of helping me through these crisis times may be unorthodox ... but it worked.

He packed me - and my camera - up and took me to Niagara Falls for the weekend.

The destination could have been anywhere.  The point was to get me away from the source of the stress, away from unsafe people to a place where they could not reach me.  He put my camera in my hands and let me shoot away to my heart's content.

Somehow, he knew instinctively what would help me make it through that night, that weekend.

He also gave me the gift of control for that weekend.  Where I wanted to stay, what I wanted to do, the whole gamut.  If I said "turn right", we turned right.

This may not seem lot a whole lot to a normal person, but workplace bullying is perceived by some as a form of workplace violence because it is about power and control.  Gaining power and control by any means possible for the abusers; losing power and control bit by bit for the targets.  At that point in space and time, I felt stripped of all power and control over my life, my destiny.  Hubby gave me back some semblance of power and control over my life with those simple actions.

My one and only view of Niagara Falls at night.  Notice the huge chunks of ice still at the base of Falls even though it was mid-April
He was giving me a huge gift, as our personalities are so different.  He likes to have a purpose when he goes places.  A destination.  You go directly there, you see what you came to see and you go directly back to where you started from.  Me?  I like to wander around and just see what happens, especially what photo opportunities present themselves.  We couldn't be more different in that way.

Normally, we would have checked into a hotel and then stayed there for the night.  But I was restless, I needed to go out.  I needed to feel the air against me.  I needed to see life through the lens of my camera.  I need to explore.

And hubby, wonderful hubby, accommodated me.  He was tired.  He had worked a full day of work in a physically hard job and then came up to find his wife in crisis.  After working all day, he drove several hours to Niagara Falls.  Because he loved me.  And he wanted me to stay with him.

He stopped walking whenever I stopped walking and patiently waited for me to aim the camera and fiddle with the controls for the best shot.

In addition, he listened to me for hours and hours and hours essentially saying the same things over and over and over.  I'm sure in retrospect that he must have gotten tired of hearing the same things over many times and also helpless because there was nothing he could do to change the situation for me, but somehow he knew that I needed to "tell the story".  I needed to verbalize these things.  I needed to somehow put things into some sense of order.  A sense of order which defied logic, so never came.

That night, I got some of the best pictures I had ever taken before.  I saw life from a different perspective in a way.  From the night view of a place I had been to many, many times before, but never seen from this perspective.  I was enthralled with all the lights from the coloured lights illuminating the falls to the lighted sky wheel to the lights outlining the carriages and, finally, to the lighted up casino across the river in New York State.

Shot across the Niagara River of the Casino in Niagara Falls, New York, U.S.A.
Going away that weekend, didn't change the situation in any way, shape or form.  I still was in the throes of a second stress breakdown when I hadn't fully recovered from the first.  I still had a manager who for unknown reasons to me at that time was calling my home after hours.  I still was in a world in hurt.

But ...

... the break, gave me just enough of a respite to continue on.

I've talked to my medical doctor many times about the affects, the difficulties I continuously face walking through this.  She has been monitoring me regularly from during the first abusive workplace situation and, therefore, the second and after.  Once she told me that going away is the best thing to do.  Getting out of the situation for a brief time.  She told me that formerly they would put a person in the hospital for a few days just so they could get away from the stressful situation.  We both felt that my way was the better way.

When I came back from that weekend, I still faced a huge, uncertain journey ahead of me.  I was still employed and had to figure out what I was going to do about that.  And how.  During that weekend away, I realized that going back was not an option for me - unless I wanted to die.  During that weekend, I decided I didn't.

At that point, I didn't know just how bad things had gotten in the workplace.  It was the following week that I finally accessed my employer's emails and found out about the alleged ethics violations.

However, at that point in time, I had pulled back enough from the edge - or ledge - that I was no longer interested in seeking out foolproof ways to do myself in.

I may have been down for the count but I was still in the fight - and investing in winning it.

Until tomorrow....

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