Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Surviving Workplace Abuse: Today's challenge


There is really no other day than today.

The one we are currently in the process of living.

I've heard it said that today is what you make of it.

I only agree partially with that statement.  Today is partially a mixture of all the things that have gone before that have influenced you to be who you are today.  It is also partially a mixture of what your routines, your patterns are.  For example, if you're working; if you get up at a certain time; if you listen to the news first off, etc.  Today is also partially what gets thrown at you during the day.  Good things as well as bad things:  things that throw you off balance.

Today, though, is 100% of how you handle all the things that pass by you during the day.

I know already as I woke up this morning that today will include my once-every-six-weeks trip to see my counsellor in Stratford.  It will include a summary of all the things that have happened to me in the last six weeks, focussing on the problem spots, the spots I need some help, some direction with.  It will definitely include a retelling of "The Great Poultry Pageant", having a meltdown on Christmas and sleeping through most of it, the lingering lethargy.  And the lies.

The lies that I internalized in both workplace abuse situations, especially the first one, which linger on.

I've already told how I've been dealing with the biggest lie:  assumptions and perceptions.

I guess that dealing with the biggest lie, essentially the cork that bottled all the rest in, has allowed these other lies to come out of the bottle they were stored in and clamour around in my thoughts, demanding attention.

The two which are currently causing me grief are closely related:  I'm not good enough;  My best isn't good enough.

As I've read and researched about workplace bullying, I read in one article how the target (victim) feels that if they were prettier, if they were smarter, if they were younger; if they worked harder; if they were better, if they did this or did that it wouldn't be happening.


That's exactly how I felt in the first situation.  The one that was brief, "only" six months or so, but intense, very intense.

That litany went through my head constantly.  Ironically, the only one of those statements in the litany that may have applied was "if I were younger", as the company was removing older employees and hiring young employees.  I, myself, was replaced by someone they had hand chosen who was very young, in her early twenties.  The rest didn't really apply.  I am intelligent.  Even in my 50's (at the time), I wasn't bad to look at, I worked hard.  In fact, I had been described by my supervisor as being "amazing".

Which leads to the second lie:  my best is not good enough.

If amazing is not good enough, then what is?  Being amazing, being extremely good at my good, was simply not good enough.

These two lies have raised their heads at random times during the journey, but never so much as during this just past pre-Christmas period.

The extreme sense of loss I was feeling at "The Great Poultry Pageant" (see the post about Loss and Laughter if you don't know what I'm talking about), was initiated by being asked to leave my church because they felt I was too "needy" due to the trauma I'd experienced.  I'd worked hard for recovery.  Going every two weeks to a destination 45 km from my home to see my counsellor.  Extraordinary things were happening.  Sometimes slowly, but happening nonetheless.  I had just gotten my pre-workplace abuse personality back which was a major victory.  For the first time in more than a year, I felt able to try to go to a church function.  Another victory.  I had something positive to share.  A third victory.

But there was no place for me in the inn ... er ... I mean table.   The cliques were set.  Just as they had been in the workplace.  No newbies were admitted to the sacred confines of "their" (whoever they might be) table.

I got upset and more and more depressed, more tired as table after table rebuffed me.  Even a table I was usually welcome at.  Even one with only two people sitting at it - and six empty seats.

And then the pastor asked me to leave the church ... because no one would give me a seat at the table and I was upset about it.

I left the church that day feeling that my best was not good enough.  No matter what I did, how dedicated I was to recovery and counselling, how much of my own money I spent on getting better (the church never gave me a dime towards counselling even though they knew our financial situation was bad nor did they offer.)  Nothing I did was good enough for them.

My best in that situation was not good enough.

My best at the work situation was not good enough.

I was already in counselling and recovery during that time recovering from the first workplace bullying experience.  I had made great strides in recovery.  I no longer thought that if I were this, that or the other, things would have been different.  I realized that it had to do with the people I had been involved with.  There was nothing I could have done to have prevented things from happening.

What I didn't realize was the attitude my current employer would take.  Once in a meeting with HR, the Union president, two supervisors and one bully, I pointed out that I alone was working towards wholeness through dedicated counselling.  The Union president's reaction shocked me:  "You fool!" she exclaimed loudly.  "You fool!", she repeated.  "You're paying for something you could be getting free" (i.e. EAP, the Employee Assistance Program).

The others felt that they couldn't force the bullies, the aggressors, to go into counselling.

The message to me:  my best was not good enough.

Spending thousands of dollars on long-term counselling, travelling to another community regularly to access this help, reinventing myself from the ground up ... none of this was good enough in their eyes.

I read in a recent Twitter posting that "You need to stop listening to your inner-critic, that hateful voice that tells you you're not good enough. It's wrong!!"  Bruce Van Horn

This is my challenge for this period in my life.  Starting today when I visit my therapist.

To stop listening to that inner voice.

It's wrong.

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