Monday, August 4, 2014

Post Workplace Abuse: Friends - The Importance of Healthy Relationships


Where are we now in our journey through surviving and recovering from workplace abuse?  I almost feel like we're back at the Head of Trails pictured here at Cypress Lake National Park, Tobermory, Ontario.  The main, most popular, trail leads to the Grotto where there are steep cliffs and good swimming.  However, there are many side trails available to walk - some longer than others, some which reconnect to the main trail and some which don't.

I've noticed that on the road to recovery, I might be following many paths all at the same time.  The main one being the on-going focus on recovery.  However, as I've mentioned before, workplace abuse and, therefore, its many affects is complicated.  It affects many areas of our lives concurrently, and I end up working on all of these areas in give or take the same time frame, although not all with the same intensity.

Currently, in my daily journey towards recovery I am actively working on debunking the lies of "perceptions and assumptions" while at the same time working on socialization i.e. relationships.

So today, we're taking a "side trip" into a path that has cropped up lately in my journey and which is causing me to do a lot of analyzing and thinking.

The path of friends and relationships.  Healthy relationships.  What do they look like?  Is everyone a candidate?

So today, we take a side trip into another part of the story.


*******

Lately my thoughts have been turning to friends. Not specific people though.  But what that kind of relationship looks like.  What it's all about.  Especially among adults.  I mean we're no longer children here.  In my 60s I'm not going to have the same kinds of relationships I had in my early childhood years.  Nor will it resemble those I had - or rather didn't have - in my adolescent or even university years.  "Mature" people need mature relationships.

In my journey through my two experiences with workplace abuse, I abruptly lost two sets of relationships which, at that time, were very important to me:  first, when my contract ended at the first bullying situation and I was escorted out the door; second,when I threw my Bible on the floor of the church library and incurred the wrath of our senior pastor.  Because of his anger, I didn't feel I could return.  In neither situation, did anyone feel that they could contact me.  So at two times when I needed relationships the most, they simply weren't there (except of course for my family - and that's a whole other side trip).

Wait a minute, you might say.  What about three sets of important relationships?  What about your most recent experience with workplace abuse? Didn't you lose contact abruptly with those people too?

The answer is yes, I did lose contact with those people in that now former workplace.  But the answer is also, no, because I held myself aloof from those people after my first workplace abuse experience ended so abruptly and badly.  I did not allow myself to get close to these people.

Why?

Because I didn't want to be hurt again.  Because I think part of me realized that these people might well be another "transient" population in my life journey.  And also, because like the situation before, this one was not permanent - at least originally.  I was on a maternity leave contract.

In the first situation, I wanted desperately a full-time, permanent position, and my employers kept holding out the proverbial carrot attached to a stick which kept being just out of my reach.  Unfortunately, hubby and I realized after the fact that the stick with the carrot had been attached to my tail so to speak, so it would always be the same elusive length head of me and it would never be possible for me to catch it.

I realized that way too late.

So, this time I went into a temporary situation with a completely different mindset.  I would do my best to keep this position operating efficiently so that this person, on her return, would have a well-running desk to return to.  I didn't allow myself to even think of this position becoming permanent UNTIL the woman whose position I was filling took on a different job within the company.  At which time, the maternity leave vacancy became null and void and I was either going to be out of a job immediately or hired to fill the vacancy.

I got the vacancy and being a permanent member of the team.

BUT, the damage, the hurt, the sense of violation from the first experience was still very raw.  Still completely unhealed.  I was walking through a desert experience.  A dry and thirsty land where there was no water, no understanding of what I'd been through and, therefore, no understanding of why I wasn't able to "let go" of the experience, why it was still with me every minute, every hour, every day of my waking life from the very first moment I opened my eyes in the morning until the last moment at night when sleep finally - with great difficulty - claimed me.

Because none of us really realized that that experience constituted workplace bullying aka workplace abuse, none of us realized the impact of trauma and PTSD.  The damage.  The injury.  Not even the therapist I was seeing at that time.  Especially not her as she became abusive.  She not only had no understanding of what PTSD was, which meant that she also had no background in trauma, she felt that even if I did have PTSD it would not change the dynamics of her therapy model.

Thus, she not only didn't help me, couldn't help me, but she damaged me further.

This is not to say that I didn't have people around me, but I built such a wall around my emotions, that all my interactions were kept at arm's length.  I may have had quite a few acquaintances, but I had no real friends.

It was not until I discovered my new therapist, that the on-going journey of recovery began.

*******

It looks like the deranged mind has rambled, hopefully temporarily, onto a side path that will at some point reconnect to the main path of trauma and how ignorance of trauma hinders those who are attempting to walk with the survivor (or victim) of workplace abuse.  

Until the below collection of physical trails in a Canadian national park which are neatly laid out, those trails the survivor of workplace abuse follows are not neatly laid out and whereas physically, it is only possible to access one trail at a time, emotionally us survivors may be working on any numbers of "trails" at any given time concurrently.

Looking closer in relationships has been a huge part of my journey in the last few months which is why I'm turning aside on this blog for a short time, to look at it a bit more closer.

I have a feeling we'll be jumping back and forth between relationships, perceptions and assumptions i.e. lies and trauma quite a bit in the posts to come.

Until tomorrow ....





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