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.

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