Monday, November 16, 2015

When the posts stop - Part 2

Not all stoppage of writing is due to processing.  Or the recurerence of symptoms, doubts, fears, etc.

Not all experiences along the path of recovery are bad ... or troublesome ... or problematic.

Sometimes the writing stops simply because I'm busy doing other things.

Namely things with my hands.

Things that not only occupy my hands, but also my mind.

Things that help with the healing.

Right brain things.

Like knitting ... and crocheting.

Creating beautiful things out of yarns.

When I start creating, my imagination starts to run wild with colour combinations, etc. ways I can change the pattern, make it different.

These are the good times.  Very good times.  Times when I watch something take form and shape beneath by fingers.

When one project is finished, I start another.  Sometimes I have several things on the go at the same time.

These are the good times.  The times I rarely write about though.  I don't really know why.  Maybe because it is the good times.  Or maybe it's because I have a separate blog for knitting called The Naked Knitter which I haven't written in for ... a very long time.  Or maybe because I cannot write and knit at the same time.  But knitting ... also crocheting ... are a huge part of my recovery process.

For the last month or more, I've been in the middle of another important step on the road to recovery.  I've been getting ready for three (not one, not two, but three - count 'em!) craft shows coming up in November.  I took a big step both last year and the year before when I did one craft show (in different locations) both years.  This year, I'm really pushing the envelope by signing up for three - all in the month of November.

Hence the busy fingers.  And mind.  Both busy with creating something out of virtually nothing using a string and implements.  Implements being either a crochet hook or two knitting needles.  Also a pattern.

I'm now proficient in both.  So I call myself "bistitchual" which is a phrase coined by Mikey of the Crochet Crowd which I loved and have taken as mine.  It simply means that I can both knit and crochet.

Doing three craft sales is a major step on the road to recovery because it signifies that I'm ready to push the envelope a little bit further.  I'm ready to go out more.  I'm ready to challenge myself by voluntarily getting into what might be a stressful situation.

A situation where I voluntarily put myself into an unknown situation.  A situation where I cannot control who will be there or how they will react to me.

After my doctor put me on short-term disability after my second back to back stress breakdown because I had suicidal ideation, the adversaries didn't stop.  They Facebook stalked me and went to management about what they saw saying I was violating ethics issues by writing "Bullies 100; Suzanne 0.  Off work again."  Management didn't respect the fact that I was off work for valid reasons and called me at home.  Management became angry when I didn't return the call.  Then Management emailed me and told me I would be disciplined if I did not remove those posts.  I remember not only being suicidal - which is why I was off work in the first place - but also very confused.  What was objectionable?  What was my supervisor talking about?  And why were these people viewing my Facebook account?  None of them were my friends on Facebook.   Which meant they had to deliberately seek out my account.

She made it clear what the offending posts were by sending me screen shots of them which she had accessed at work from my personal Facebook account.

Which brought up more ... sludge.  More feelings of worthlessness.  More upsetment.  More ....

Well, let's just safe I not only felt violated but I felt very unsafe.  Fear came in and because my companion for years after that.

I spoke with someone who is very savvy about all things information technology and learned that I could make my Facebook account private thereby assuring myself some dignity, privacy and protection during this very delicate time.

Which made Mangement angry.  Because I had effectively cut off the on going soap opera in the office.

But things didn't stop there.  The adversaries then drafted a petition claiming that they had a right to a stress free work environment (I could write an entire blog post on that one statement alone) and that I was the cause of major stress in the workplace.  It was signed by all but one person on all three shifts.

I was eventually presented with a document giving me an exit package in return for resigning.

At that time, I expressed to the union official assigned to me, the vice president of our small local union, that I was afraid of these people.  Of what they were capable of doing.  He assured me that nothing would happen that I did not initiate.


All of this to explain why voluntarily going out into public, into a situation which I cannot control, is a huge step on the road to recovery.

I have reached the point in my journey of recovery where I am no longer live in fear of these people.  Where I know who I am.  Where I am sorting thru the lies.  Where I am reclaiming my value and Who. I. Am.

I am woman.

Hear me roar.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Recovery Post Workplace Abuse: When the posts become sporadic or stop altogether Part 1.

... is when life gets fuzzy - like the shadow picture of hubby and me above.

The problem with writing a blog about recovery while actively involved in the process of recovery is that recovery sometimes intervenes with the process of writing.  There are times when I can do one or the other.  But not both at the same time.

Workplace bullying is, in and of itself, complicated.  Yet we expect recovery from workpkace bullying to be quick, simple and painless.  Not so.  Not so at all.

Recovery, it seems to me, is as complicated as what caused the injury itself - the bullying.

And make no mistake, it is an injury.  It is called psychiatric injury.  It is not a mental disorder.  It cannot be cured with pills.  Maybe magic wands.  But there are no magic wands.  It usually takes years of dedicated work to recover - with a competent therapist.  Recovery just doesn't happen (usually) by itself.

It takes work.  Hard work.

And time.  

Years, in fact.

The problem is that workplace bullying itself is not well understood - even for those who are in the process of being bullied in the workplace or for those who have been bullied in the workplace.  So why should the process of recovery be any different?

I experienced two back-to-back occurrences of workplace bullying.  The first lasted less then six months.  It was brutal.  

BUT ... I didn't recognize it as such.  I had no idea what was occurring in the workplace.  I couldn't understand why when I did such a good job, it was never enough for my manager.  Why I seemed to be singled out for "special" i.e. different treatment.  If one of the other employees made a mistake - even a bad one costing the complany thousands of dollars - she would be caring and compassionate.  Me?  I was told that this and that and the other was wrong with me.  I shed a single tear once during a highly stressful situation - and never heard the end of it.  I was loud once  

In short, I was not allowed to be human.  

Let alone make mistakes due to overwork and lack of training.

But others were allowed to make mistakes.  

I was on a series of contracts - each one beginning with the promise of another extension or - even better - a permanent job.  The last contract was pure hell.  My supervisor wouldn't talk to me or share information with me.  I was ordered to tell no one that I was on contract.  The manager and HR refused to tell me if this was my last contract and I was forbidden to ask.  As the end of my contract was approaching, I was on pins and needles.

Always hoping for that miracle, that recognition, that never happened.  

The stress was brutal.  When the last contract ended, I was walked out.  I was devastated.  I'd seen several contracts end during my two plus years in that workplace.  Never had I seen one end like mine end.  Never had anyone been walked out.  Denied being able to say good-bye to those they had worked with.  Some even had a farewell party.  One was allowed to stay in the office unsupervised, use his email, tidy up loose ends, say goodbye.  

Not so with me.  I was walked out as though I was guilty of something.  As though I was being fired with cause.  I was not allowed to touch my computer.  I was not allowed to say good-bye.  I was not even allowed to go into the washroom to compose myself.

I was allowed to give the supervisor a manual I had written up on how to manage the job which contained information about specific clients and their needs and procedures we had adopted to meet them.  That information, the information that was in my brain and only I knew, was the only thing I was allowed to impart.

In retrospect, I realize that they wanted the information but not me.

Afterwards, I tried everything I knew to "get over" the hurt, the devastation.  But nothing worked.  I couldn't understand it.  Why I couldn't seem to put what happened in the past - where it belonged.  Why I couldn't "get over" it or "move on".  Even after weeks had passed, it still felt like it had happened yesterday.  There was still that feeling of immediacy which I couldn't shake.  No matter how hard I tried.

Not only did I not understand what was happening to me, but most others in my life didn't either.  While my immediate family sympathized with me, they didn't know how to help me.  They felt as powerless to help me as I felt to deal with what had happened.

If the people closest to me were at a loss, imagine how others more on the periphery of my life such as my acquaintances and friends at church were not equipped to help me.  These people would listen for a short period of time and then tell me to move on.  To get over it.  Then they'd turn around and walk away.  Mission over.  They'd "solved" my problem - they thought.

But they hadn't.  They hadn't at all.  They'd left more wounding in their wake.  Something called secondary wounding where more pain is inflicted on an already badly hurting person.

It's called the "fix it" mindset.  As people, we want to fix things.  Problem is, not everything can be fixed.  Sometimes we just need to sit "shiva" with someone.  To listen.  To hug.  To hold hands.  To realize that we cannot fix anything.  

But the one thing we can do is share in the sorrow and pain.

I was left in such confusion.  First of all, I still couldn't understand why this had happened to me.  I'm a good person.  I was a good, competent worker.  I didn't deserve what had happened to me.  On top of that, all the coping techniques I had used in the past i.e. forgiving those who had hurt me, didn't work and I couldn't figure out why.


So what does all this junk - this junk from the past - have to do with the present day?  

Because even now I'm still working through the events that happened.  Its been in the last year that I've realized that I was bullied in the first scenario and how that lines up the material I found while researching my second, latest experience in the workplace.  

Because recovery is a process where bits and pieces of the puzzle come together to form a whole.  Where we recover as we are able to with our current understanding at any given time.  Later as more understanding is revealed to us, we revisit those places and fill in the gaps.

Recovery is a fluid process.

I have become fond of saying that life doesn't stop just because we've been traumatized.  Life continues on.

And we have to deal with that too.  And that becomes a part of our recovery process.

I've come to realize in the last few months that in God's economy nothing is wasted.

Even when we feel as though we're a bird rest(room) like the statue below.