Friday, October 17, 2014

Surviving Workplace Abuse: Where I'm At Today

For those of you who are wondering where I've been and why I've not written anything lately, I assure you that I have not been on vacation.  I haven't been anywhere nice, exciting or fun.  I've been holed up in my little safe room.  Down - again - for the count.

It seems to be a pattern.  I seem to be making real progress and then life hits me where I'm most vulnerable with something new.  Something unexpected.  Something I have absolutely no control over.

I've been in the midst of one of the most severe relapses I've had for a very long time.  In some ways, I feel like I'm right back in the middle of the abusive situation at work.

I've started I don't know how many blog posts in the last week, but none seemed to go anywhere.  Getting words out - both verbally and written - has been very difficult.

I've not been sleeping or eating.  It's been hard once again to follow directions either verbally or written which makes it difficult to engage in my favorite right brain therapy - knitting.  Or writing.  Or even reading.  The mind has shut down.  Gone on strike.

So I've decided to write this blog just as though I'm talking to an old friend, explaining the situation.  What's going on my life that has triggered me so badly.

To others this may seem like small potatoes but to someone like me who stays home a lot, routine and consistency is important.

So is safety.

As is the feeling of power and control.

All of which got ripped out of my hand by someone(s) who don't even know me.  They've never met me.

We've been in the mist of a major road construction project.  Actually, my area is riddled with them.  In Canada, we seem to have two seasons:  winter and road work.  Guess which season we're currently in which thankfully is winding down now that we're close to the end of October - we hope.

I live three blocks inside the city limits in an older community.  Actually, its kind of mixed as there are older homes and residents who've lived most of their lives here along with newer development in patches where there once was a field or park or even a drive- in theatre.
If traffic is not going one way ....

My street is also, and has been for many years, a pass through to go out of town. We have had an increase in traffic since late spring when our street became the detour and thus the major route into and out of town due to construction.

The traffic as well as the lack of sidewalks has never really been an issue.


We got a new postie who I've been informed wanted this route.  Whether she wanted this route or not, she apparently was not prepared for what she found.  Which with my logical mind doesn't make much sense.  If she wanted this route and specifically asked for it, didn't she know what she was getting into?  Apparently not.'s going the other, kind of like a picket fence
She stopped our mail delivery.  We had no inkling this was in the works.  After all, we'd been in the construction and detour situation for four months already by this time with approximately one month to go.  We were all just about ready to give a collective sigh of relief when the traffic pattern went back to normal.  Or so we thought.

This women decided our neighbourhood was not "safe" for her because of the increased traffic due to the detour.  She also threw in the rate of speed of drivers coming into town and the lack of sidewalks for good measure.  (In case you're interested, our street is part 2 of the construction project scheduled to start next year.)  We'll be getting the sidewalks.  The plans have been in the works for years.  In fact, in most areas of our street, including our home, there is a wide area fronting the street which actually belongs to the city for the purpose of putting in the sidewalk.  Which again, and I know I'm repeating myself, is scheduled for installation next year.

Apparently, though it's going to be one year too late.

As a neighbourhood, we were blindsided.  This closure came out of left field, catching all of us off guard.

Especially me.  As we've tried to liaise with the supervisor who did his own "investigation", we find ourselves more and more powerless, voiceless, faceless.

He - and the postie - have all the power.  She has a powerful union on her side.  He, as the supervisor, has the same union on his back.  If he does one thing wrong, he can get into trouble with the union.  As we've talked, the huge imbalance of power has become more and more evident.  Like a teeter totter with a  huge man at one end and a tiny child on the other.  Who's gonna be stuck permanently up in the air?  You got it.  Not the person with all the weight.  He (or she) has complete control over the youngster stuck at the top.  That person isn't going anywhere until he says so.  And he (going back to the supervisor) is not prepared to let the youngster get down and off.

This situation, this lack of power and control, has triggered me badly.  So badly that I've had a recurrence of anxiety related problems.  At times. I've been unable to eat or sleep.  Unable to talk coherently or track a simple conversation.  Yesterday, I worked the same row on a cabled headband I'm knitting several times.  Since this is headband #3 in the same pattern in about a week, I've got the pattern down pat in my mind.  But my mind isn't working.  It isn't contacting the fingers.  There's a distinct break.

Personally, I'd like to lie down on the bed, curl up in the fetal position, drag the covers over my head and stay there.

I'm so tired of fighting.  I'm so tired of working so hard to recover.  I'm so tired of having no control over my own life, my own path.

I'm so tired of supervisors who do subjective investigations.  Of supervisors who only pretend to listen.  Who talk over you.  Who threaten to end the conversation because "we're not getting anywhere".  I'm tired of people I perceive as bullies or as incompetent impacting my life.  I'm just so tired....

I think the situation would be different, more bearable, if we had had some participation in the process.  But that's not how it works.

The last time I talked with the supervisor, he dissed me over and over.  I can say whatever I want to, but it has no impact on our situation.  His decision is apparently made.  Canada Post, apparently, has a three year plan to eliminate all home delivery putting up community boxes in place of home delivery.  Which might be OK, IF everything was done in a professional, planned manner so that there was a smooth transition from home delivery to community mailbox delivery.  The community mail boxes are installed approximately one city block apart.

The problem is, because of the postie's complaint, there is no plan to resort to, to implement sooner.  They can't install the boxes until we get the sidewalks - which as I've said before are scheduled for installation next year.  The postie can't walk on the grass - union regs.  Because the safety card has been played, under union regs they cannot ask another postie to take the route.

He refuses to entertain the notion that this woman might be toxic i.e. a bully.  I mentioned this several times in our last conversation.  The last time, he simply said "I don't agree."

Power and control.  Big time.

I've said many times that I don't think he did a thorough investigation.  He has made no effort to slow down the traffic by having the police involved.  He has made no effort to look at statistics to see if there has been an increase in accidents on our street in the last four months.  However, he counters that he did "due diligence".  What, pray tell, is due diligence in this case?  At the moment, I'm waiting to hear from Ontario Heath and Safety what due diligence means in our situation.

I am angry.  Very angry.  At a woman I've never even seen.  At a woman who came into my neighbourhood to do a job and within days, shut us down.

I am so tired of being powerless.  Of being faceless.  And most of all - of being voiceless.

Sometimes, recovery just doesn't seem worth it.


I usually try to leave on a positive note.  Something upbeat.  Something encouraging.

Today, unfortunately, is the exception to the rule.

Until next time - whenever it may be....

This picture was taken a month or so ago on the street undergoing extensive road work.  It's almost ready to re-open.

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