I ruined dinner last night – twice. I put the aluminum foil over the lasagna the wrong way, so it cooked at the edges and stayed frozen in the middle. I discovered that when I went to pull it out. So, I turned off the stove, checked the lasagna, threw the foil in the garbage and the food back in the oven. I reset the timer.
So, it was when I went to check the second time, that I realized that I hadn’t turned the oven back on.
I was so hungry as to be near insensible, a bad thing for a diabetic, because the emotional control weakens at high or low blood sugars.
I prepared a tide over snack of cheesey toast and headed to the dog room to watch more of Xena season four with The Spouse.
But I couldn’t face her. I felt so stupid for delaying dinner, for not paying attention. I was so distressed that I almost didn’t take a minute for inventory.
Inventory is a practice I’ve developed from trauma counseling.
I pay attention to my posture, breathing, any sensation anywhere. Breathe calm and just pay attention. What’s going on? What thoughts change it? Does it change as you make yourself calm.
I realized that I was not standing up straight, my head was bowed as where my shoulders. My breathing was distressed and my stomach was boiling acid. My knees were shaky, also bent.
My whole body wanted to supplicate itself on the floor and accept whatever punishment was going to be meted out for having delayed dinner to an unreasonable hour. I was beside myself.
The Spouse and I have never lifted a hand to strike the other. We’ve fought with raised voices and the occasional slammed door. But never violence.
I stood in the doorway, in a state of high anxiety for having dropped the dinner ball.
I realized that I expected to be punished and that whatever the punishment was, I deserved what ever I was going to get.
I took a deep breath. I had to dig, because this was crazy thinking, so outside of our relationship norm that I knew it had to be from somewhere else.
And it was.
My workplace conflict has Pavlovian trained me to expect punishment for anything that I do. It’s not rational, reasonable or acceptable.
The end result of the three years of being bullied by co-workers and bullied by management in their denial of the allegations against my co-workers and bullied by management in their attempts to shut down my grievances into being a quiet and obedient employee.
I have had to deal with an extreme cognitive dissonance of knowing what I bring as an employee and being told that I am the problem, and not the people who’s conduct I reported as bullying, conduct management couldn’t or wouldn’t stop; combined with my raising awareness for the lack of work for the number of employees that we had and other management issues that were long overdue to be dealt with.
I wanted to do meaningful work that was a full day and at my pay grade, not below.
I wanted to streamline the inefficient work and not perform duplicate or by policy definition, unnecessary work.
Instead, I ended up with three grievances, a federal human rights complaint, a Canada Labour Code Part 2 refusal to work and a complaint to the BC Police Commission.
All because I wanted to work and wouldn’t be quiet about it.
My employer – between the co-worker abuse, management’s inability to curb the employees inappropriate behaviours, the lack of work, the amount of busy work, the amount of make work that wouldn’t have been needed had the work been done properly or with any care from the start or over the past decade, that the program was winding down, with less work than ever in the program’s history, but for unclear reasons, with higher staffing levels.
These are the questions that I asked. For this, instead of being recognized for having identified a lot of cost savings, I am instead blamed for all the wrong doing and labeled as the problem.
Management then is able to continue forward on the basis of whatever understanding they have of the workplace, reality and evidence and facts had no bearing.
I live in an evidence based reality approach, I had no chance of safety being under the thumbs of people who did not consider evidence or likely probabilities, given the realities of the situation.
Management fell back on the tried and true – deny, delay and discipline.
Even one of the psychiatrists that I was sent to said “People like you end up back in the job.”
I never understood what he meant, but I can only think that what he meant was, People who can be broken.
I am bent at terrible angles, but I am not broken. I was an oak, now I’m a willow, and I can bend.
I realized last night that my employer had conditioned me to be unable to predict how people will react or respond and they had conditioned me to expect punishment, regardless of what I have done or said.
I stood in the doorway, looking at my spouse and cringing in terror of a beating that I felt I deserved – when there has never been anything approaching that kind of dynamic in our relationship.
But that’s what being bullied does – it isolates you from those you love the most. It takes you away from them and takes everything good away from you. Like a Dementor in the Potterverse, being bullied means you feel like you can never be or find happiness again.
To everyone who’s been bullied: You didn’t deserve it.
To all the bullies: If you could feel how you make your victims feel, you’d never bully anyone again, and as terrible a person as you are as a bully, I actually don’t wish these feelings on anyone.