I was reading that resilience comes from talking to people about your troubles. Sharing the moments that scare or confuse you. That the act of talking it through is in itself a decision to be resilient.
This year I experienced an extreme act of professional bullying. It wasn’t just aimed at me, it was aimed at everyone in the business, slowing ebbing away any semblance of independence and confidence. Micromanaging bullshit and game playing that eventually ended up in me leaving in a manner that meant I spent the evening on the phone to Lifeline, pondering my pain and self-worth. Should I stay or go?
In an act of desperation, I wrote about it on Facebook, asking a few close friends if I was what he said I was in our last meeting. A deeply personal accusation that bordered on cruelty.
I’m not usually that person who puts up the sad sack post on FB but I needed help. I was drowning. It played over and over in my head. I couldn’t stop crying. I was sick to my stomach. My children cried watching me cry. My husband was furious and helpless. I didn’t want anyone to feel that way because of what happened to me. So I asked. Am I what he said I was? I had been misunderstood and I was punished for it. I was punished for being myself. For the way I wrote, and the way I expressed my enthusiasm.
The love and support I got was amazing. The care and kindness. People called me to tell me I matter. People met me for coffee and talked about their own experience with this tyrant. I got job offers. I gained an amazing new client from it, and I felt so deeply loved, that I cry as I read this. I asked and I received.
I talked to my psychiatrist about it and she said that our support networks are our lifeline. Sometimes it’s okay to be vulnerable and say, ‘This happened and I’m in a bad place.’ Because those people will remind you that they got through similar and worse, they will have advice, and the act of talking it through helps your brain make sense of it, and you can begin to practise options for recovery and coping.
I am not someone who shies away from emotion. I am okay with the ugly cry. I am okay with the rawness in life. I can talk about death and suicide, and mental illness and grief. The dark waters don’t scare me anymore. But being frightened by someone else does. I was frightened. I was traumatised. I was in shock.
I asked my doctor when other people would find out what sort of a person they are, and she said, when they open their eyes enough to see the bigger picture. Emotional intelligence isn’t something everyone has. Sometimes they avoid the behaviours because they are getting something out of it. The greater good doesn’t always play out in the world.
We live in a society where excuses are made when people’s bad behaviour is overlooked because they might give us something. Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, Michael Jackson, Louis C.K, Bill Cosby, Donald Trump. We can forgive anything if we are getting something out of it. But can you ethically and morally separate the art and artist or the boss and the bully, especially when their behaviour traumatises people?
You cannot excuse them just because you enjoy their work or they make you money. The long game means that many will eventually end us losing. History tells us so. One law suit. One review. One person says something and soon the others come. The truth, just like the moon, cannot be hidden long.
But the lesson isn’t about that. That will sort itself out.
My lesson is that it’s important to share when you’re struggling. Talking helps you makes sense and decide. That great friend’s and loved ones are your safety net, and that you will be the same for them or have been. It’s called love. So work hard and be nice to people. It’s easy if you try.
* Graphic Design -Anthony Burrill