Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Post Workplace Abuse: Triggers: What brings up the yucky stuff?

There are many facets of recovery post trauma.

One of them is that forgiveness is not always a completely "done deal".

We feel that we have moved on.  Come to terms with parts of the past.  Yet, these ugly memories have a mind of their own.  They come back at inopportune moments when we least expect them.  They rear their ugly heads.  They don't whisper; they don't shout.  They scream for attention.

Triggers.  They bring up the "yucky stuff" when we least expect them.  They bring back all the feelings of anger, rage, helplessness, voicelessness.


None of us are immune to this phenomenon.  I believe we process things as much as we can at any given time and then we feel that they are laid to rest forever.  But they're not forever dead and buried.

Partially because they're stored in parts of our brain like my photos are stored on Picassa.  There ready to be retrieved when the time is right or, in the case of trauma victims, ripe.

Partially because there is more processing, more recovery yet to be done on the road home.

A wise friend of mine recently told me that she thinks that some things never completely go away.

Some things never completely go away.  Trauma is one of them.  The memories are stored in our brains waiting to resurface when the right trigger comes along.


For the last few weeks I've been struggling with the resurgence of a lot of "yucky" stuff which has thrown me off-balance more than once.  Making me exceptionally vulnerable to triggers which bring up all the "yucky" stuff.

It began with the blog posting entitled Surviving Workplace Abuse:  My leaving story - part 3:  When bullies take control posted on September 8th.  It was probably the hardest blog I've ever written.  It took me three days and left me reeling in it's wake.  Struggling to breathe through all the toxic fumes it brought up.  All the helplessness I felt.  The voicelessness.  That all my power and control had been forcibly stripped from me and given to others.  Others who probably could have cared less - at least about my well being.  All these things came back in force.

That single blog summed up my experience with workplace bullies, their tactics, the toxic atmosphere in the workplace and how it spreads to others.

That single experience in the donut shop was perhaps the most crushing blow I experienced.

I could not even leave the toxic workplace on my own terms.

And yes, I've suffered from the repercussions, the shock waves of that single incident ever since then.

I think writing that post was both good and bad.  Good because it finally got my experience out in the open.  I've come out of the "closet" of being bullied as an adult in the workplace by other adults.

Yet, at the same time it has left me vulnerable in ways I could not have expected.  Vulnerable to triggers I had not yet identified in my journey towards recovery.

Take a few incidents that happened just last week for example:

I've talked in recent blogs about my need for routine as a coping mechanism.  One of my routines is to watch TV series either on the net or on DVD.

On Tuesday I keyed in a TV web site I've used hundreds of times in the past only to discover that it had been blocked by Bell who happens to be my internet service provider.  The frustration I experienced was overwhelming.  After four days of not being able to get into this site, I finally contacted Bell.  After more than an hour with several different people and departments most of them not very helpful, I came away very frustrated.  The frustration escalated to anger.  There was nothing I could do about the situation.  I would have to get Bell to be my service provider for my TV.  Problem.  I Do. Not. Own. A. TV.  Nor have I for the entire 34 years of our marriage.  I. Cannot. Get. A. Service. Provider. For. TV. Without. Physically. Owning. One.  The Bell representatives could not understand this simple concept and it left me feeling helpless, voiceless, with no control over my life.


I felt like I was in the grips of a huge, uncaring monolith that only wanted what it wanted and was determined to get it at all costs.  Paid TV subscribers.  No more "freebies" as in internet access to this particular TV website which Bell apparently has some connection with.  In other words, I felt helpless in this situation once again.  I felt voiceless.  I felt like shit.

I realize that this is a very little thing in the lives of others who are going through other struggles in the world.  Yet, it loomed so very large in my small, isolated, world.  It prevented me from using my coping techniques.

If that wasn't enough, later in the afternoon of that same day, we found a notice in our mailbox that our carrier had complained about "safety" issues in our neighbourhood arising from our street being used as a detour route during a construction project on another street in our area and that our home delivery was being suspended until further notice pending their "investigation".  I felt then - and continue to feel now - that Canada Post is unlikely to realize certain aspects of the situation such as it being a temporary situation which has been on-going for five months now and has approximately one month to go.  So why a complaint now resulting in a cessation of service when the end is in sight? 

What triggered me in this situation?  The lack of power and control.  The helplessness.  The voicelessness.  The fact that there was nothing I could do to change the situation.

It brought up all the "yucky" stuff from my workplace where one individual who didn't want to do the job she was paid to do went to I don't know how many people and got them all to feel that she was the victim here because I wanted her to do her job.  She seemed to know all the right buzzwords to get everyone in the office to become allied with her.  That was my trigger.  In my mind, I am perceiving a Canada Post employee who may not like her job, knows all the right buzz words to use to everyone on her side to deprive an entire street of mail service.  Just. Because. She/He. Can.

The word "investigation" in itself is a huge trigger to my already vulnerable psyche as I've been through several "investigations" during the bullying scenario at work.  I've seen how investigations can be completely subjective and biased.  How they can be manipulated to get the outcome the investigator wants.  In short, I have no faith in any organization to do a fair and unbiased investigation.

This incident fed into all the wounds which I thought had been closed and healed.  Apparently, they're not completely closed or healed.

Again, I felt helpless, voiceless in the face of this monolith called Canada Post.  It doesn't matter what I say.  They're going to do what they're going to do irregardless of any facts based on one person's complaint.

Brain fog has ensued.  Lethargy.  Itching all over from the inside out.  The scalp.  The eyes.  The skin.  You name it, it's there.

And then, the final kicker?  I've applied for life insurance and was turned down.  The company claims it is because of my history of anxiety which is due to the workplace bullying.  Sigh.  At this point, there is no fight in me left.

I'm tired.  I'm discouraged.  I'm ready to lie down and give up.


Yet, there is hope on the horizon.  The last person I talked to at Bell the other day was able to help me figure out a workaround to the block.  In addition, the block appears to have been lifted by Bell the day after.

We're still not receiving home delivery of mail; however, it appears that the Postal Service has heard from many people on our street who have been affected by the delivery stoppage.  None of them happy.  Most of them expressing their displeasure rather forcefully.  Canada Post is indeed looking at a permanent solution for a temporary problem - which I am not happy with.  They are planning to rush through the installing of a Community Box so we will get our mail again.  However, I feel that this one person's complaint has fed into Canada Post's ultimate agenda:  to suspend all home delivery with the implementation of Community Boxes.  

I hate agendas.

And the life insurance?  That is still pending; however, it appears that another provider has been found.


I've worked these last seven years with a fair amount of success to identify my triggers: however, this past week, I got blindsided by a few I had not yet identified.

Once identified, the same triggers will not have the same power over me.

I hope.

Until tomorrow....

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