Thursday, October 2, 2014

Surviving Workplace Abuse: Joy in the aftermath

Workplace bullying is just that:  bullying.  It differs from schoolyard bullying in that the perpetrators have grown up - at least physically - and have developed new skills.  They're not as likely to be overt and in-your-face like they were in the schoolyard.  They're more likely, especially if they're female, to cloak their bullying as "personal".  I just don't like you.  If they're even that overt.  They're more likely to destroy their target's reputation through backbiting, gossip, slander, etc. - covert measures - than they are to attack the target physically with fists.

They attack the target's soul rather than his/her body.

So, in the aftermath where even years later, recovery still seems like some sort of a pipe dream,  a fantasy of my imagination, what brings me joy?  What transcends me from the bitter and brutal past memories to a more stable place in my mind?  To a place of joy?  To a peace where peace rather than turmoil reigns?

I believe that for each person it is something different depending on their passions and interests.  Therefore, in this post I speak only for myself.

Flowers, bright colours, my garden - especially the one I planted in memory of my mom after her death two years ago - and photography.  All of these bring me joy.  And sometimes, if I'm lucky, I can find them all wrapped up in one nice little packet.  Literally in the case of the zinnias below which were started in my very own living room window by seed.

This one plant far exceeded any expectations I had of it.  My hope was that it would survive and maybe I'd get one or two blooms out of it.  But no, this one had other ideas.  Once it started blooming, it just won't quit and has grown increasingly sturdier and bigger.  It is now October 2 as I write this and this picture was taken just three days ago.  He is a survivor.  He does not want to quit - and won't until frost comes.  Just like I refused to quit until the stress breakdowns began.  And still refuse to give up and quit on my journey towards recovery.  Some day, I hope to resemble this sturdy plant.

The hibiscus pictured above and below has a totally different story and place in Mom's garden.  On the first anniversary of her death when I was still in a very difficult place emotionally and missing her terribly, hubby and I went to a garden centre and picked out a few additions to her memorial garden.  Mom had never had any hibiscus in her garden so I wasn't really receptive to the idea of introducing this plant in her garden, yet hubby really liked the large bloom.  At first I thought this plant had not made it through our hard winter, yet eventually spikes came out of what had been a barren space in the garden.  This plant has been a very late bloomer waiting until the very end of September to finally open.  Yet, it has been well worth the wait.  I can see this huge white circle in the very back of my over 200ft lawn from the kitchen window - and it gladdens my heart.  Just the sight of it brings me joy.

I could go on and on about all the individual plants in my garden, yet I want to move on as other things bring me joy:  nature, canoeing, water, taking pictures (duh!). As you can see photography is a constant joy-giver in the process.  Since I'm a visual person, the pictures allow me to graphically share my adventures with others as well as allowing me to go back and revisit those places where I felt whole, alive and at peace with my world.  The series of pictures below portray one such experience which brought joy, peace and a feeling of well-being with my world.

This fall hubby had an unexpected three days off in a row, so we took advantage of that opportunity.  The objective of the exercise was to promote healing for both of us.

Thinking hard about what brings me joy, I immediately thought of three things: water, canoeing and camping.  We ended up having to ditch #3 as I realized that neither of us what up to the physical challenges of erecting and taking down a tent plus all the work involved in such an adventure.

So, I changed item #3 on the list above from camping to familiar places.  We chose a town we had been to many times and a motel which was both affordable and familiar as we had stayed there many times before.

The canoe was relatively easy.  We booked one at an outfitters which again we were familiar with and had had previous good experiences with.  The result?  We had what can only be described as an idyllic time away.

It wasn't without it's challenges to be sure.  Life never is, but at the same time, this time away doing what brings me joy allowed me to centre my sometimes turbulent emotions - and brought peace.

Even looking at the pictures as I write this post, brings back the feelings of peace I experienced out on the water.  Just hubby, myself and God.  Oh yes, don't forget the canoe!

Lastly on the list of things that bring me joy in the aftermath of workplace bullying is:  creative endeavours most usually carried out with knitting needles although sometimes with other things like crochet hooks, beads, words, even cooking.

Seeing things come to life beneath my fingers such as this afghan above brings me joy.  Hearing the delight of the person who received it also brings me joy.  Knowing that I have unique talents and abilities brings me joy and a feeling of worth-worth.

What, dear reader, brings you joy?  A simple question, yet not really an easy one to answer.  So let's rephrase it, if you could do anything at all in the world right now, what would you choose?

Ahhhhh.  Now, that's fodder for another post down the line.

See you tomorrow....

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