The idea for this blog post came when I was in a Yin yoga class - specifically, in shavasana. I seem to be driven by signs at the moment, and the feeling was strong enough that I need to write this. It might get messy and emotional so please bear with me.
I have been the victim of workplace bullying.
Words cannot explain the shame that typing that sentence evokes. Over time, I was made to feel worthless. I was told repeatedly about all the things that I couldn't do well, how I needed way more support than anyone else - things that I had been doing well for many years.
Over time, I've done a lot of reflection, received a lot of counselling and it helped me to understand several things...
This wasn't about me
It was NEVER about me. I think that this is important to acknowledge, it's also one of the hardest things to wrap my head around. My counsellors (several), doctor, loved ones and friends all told me this - repeatedly. But in my own mind, of course it had to be about me - otherwise why go after me? I have no idea what made me a target for so long, but I know I wasn't the first and I won't be the last.
The bully needed to feel power and control
They needed me to know (in their opinion) that I wasn't as 'good' or clever or as important as they were. Silly me - I didn't even know that we were in competition! They needed to feel that they had more power and control than I did. The best way to get power and control over me, was to take away my autonomy, my self-esteem, my reputation. By taking my power and control - they increased their own. Maybe it made them feel better to see me red-eyed from crying or lack of sleep, unable to concentrate or take part in conversations. I don't know how it made them feel, I only know how it made ME feel. Shitty. It made me feel shitty. About everything.
How bad was THEIR self-esteem?
I could get into the psychology of it all, but I don't want to, I've done it too many times in order to try to understand why. When I'm feeling generous, I wonder how bad is THEIR self-esteem that it can be boosted by treading so heavily on someone elses? Never in my life had I experienced someone walk taller when they were leaving a room where they had just belittled someone. Never had I experienced anyone who would twist the knife over and over, all whilst smiling. I used to try to build them up, stroke their ego, be kind, pleasant. I tried to understand what was going on from their perspective, I made excuses for THEIR behaviour. I tried to pretend I was ok and that it didn't bother me. Spoiler alert - it did. Every single day.
But you know what - it doesn't matter how bad their self-esteem was or is. They do not have the right to take away mine! NOBODY has the right to do that to another person. I'm recovering, I'm building myself up and I've come a long way. Should I forgive? I've tried, but I don't know how long it will take for me to get to actually think "I forgive you".
Please - if you are experiencing bullying at work - get help. Use any and all the tools at your disposal. Get yourself a great counsellor and talk it through and make an exit plan.
Check out Alberta Bullying Resource Centre for great information and help