Getting Over It

I don’t know that there’s ever a getting over an event that results in Post Traumatic Distress Syndrome – especially if it’s a series of related traumas, one after the other with no respite or recovery in between.

Just a never ending escalating conflict wherein your values and ideals are destroyed, distorted and damaged, and nothing you can do, nothing you can think and no one to protect, guide or salvage you from harm.

Being bullied in the workplace is far more destructive than bullied in the schoolyard. It seems worse as a younger person, but that’s because of the innocence of the world, school bullying makes your world as bad as bad can be in the context, but as a child and teen – you have parents who can go to the school board, you have a buffer zone that you don’t have an adult.

As a child or teen, you haven’t had as much world experience to know anything other what what’s normal for you, what’s the average normal for your peers and what’s normal for a few other individuals who seek to impose their will upon everyone else – the bullies.

As a child or teen, you maintain the illusion that the adults have the means to set things right.

So imagine being an adult, and knowing that adults ignore the means that they have to set things right, in favour of imposing their will and norms upon a workforce, where the current economic situation is that moving careers or jobs is difficult and your mortgage and well being is dependent upon being a contributing and productive member of the workforce.

But the workplace bullies won’t let you do meaningful work, just duplicate busy work so they can have enough work as managers to manage their staffing levels; without regard to work to worker ratios and without the well being of said staff as a consideration.

It seems to me that we know much more than we admit that we know in society. Organizations are like people, they have personalities, the whole of the sum of employees – from the senior-est management down through the ranks to the lowest of the low.

How the levels interact with each other; this is the heart of the corporate culture, in what ways are people supported and in what ways are they undermined. How much productivity is generated, given all the corporate culture problems, versus where we could be productivity wise, if the corporate culture was better.

So why aren’t we looking at the human resources statistics more – turnover because of employees leaving vs employees being promoted. The number of complaints filed against management and the mix of one time complaints versus repeat complainers – because this are the people who are pointing out the areas of serious corporate culture problems.

Think of it like a politican – if a person sends an email to complain vs writes a letter vs sends in a petition vs hundreds of people writing about the same issue – it takes a lot to motive a person to go above and beyond their job – so anyone who actually files a complaint, needs to be listened to, because they are upset enough to stick out their hand or neck and get it slapped or cut off to tell you what’s wrong.

A person shouldn’t have to repeatedly make the same complaint over and over before they get listened to – their claim considered at the lowest possible level to be sure – but if it’s the lower level getting heard is the problem – then senior management needs to be paying attention and not ignoring the trends of complaints or repeated complaints.

This means that the employees are trying to get your attention – and ignoring that complaint process, not giving employees a fair hearing is only telling the employee that the corrective process is defective by design – it’s like the button that shuts down the assembly line, it’s there so you never push it, not intended for use.

So employees beat their head against the corrective process wall and bide their time until they have the means to leave, or they give up and become part of the corporate culture that ensures the problems continue.

In any event, people fall through the gaps in the processes that are supposed to help and are hindered at every turn.

So it’s little wonder that there is so much discontent and rage, wanting a change, needing a leader, a champion to say what that change should be.


How to know when…

It is a difficult thing to stand outside of or against a group who, if not standing united, are at least standing as one and, as if, the group is right. A convoluted, might makes right stance at the very least.

Any one of a group who advocates change is standing against the larger group who is resistant to change, because they either benefit or at least, is not harmed by the status quo. The larger group who can, if not behind the status quo, are at least willing to go along with it because it meets their needs.

It is easy at first to stand alone if you are harmed by the status quo, to advocate for inclusiveness, for change.

But when change is resisted firmly or even violently, it becomes harder to continue to stand alone against the group. But once started, you can only stand your ground or fold in the face of opposition.

It’s a difficult situation of a rolling boil, to continue to stand and demand equality or to fold, cave in, be crushed – denied not only equality but the ability to seek and obtain it. It’s more than being denied equality, it’s being disallowed even consideration for equality. It’s confirmation of your outcast, less deserving or undeserving status.

This is partly when picking and choosing your battles comes into play – if you can live with inequality conditions, it’s sometimes best not to stand and be subjected to sanction or mobbing by the group.

If you take a stand to stand against, you are committing yourself for the long haul and it is vital to pick your causes as being worthy of the cost of standing up for them. Because groups resist change, even when the change is beneficial.

That is what you must hold onto to keep upright, to fight the good fight. For good.

Because how do things get better if the good people all leave or don’t try?

When a workplace is entrenched conflict between management and employees – how can they get better when the people most passionate about work simply leave for better or,  at least, other workplaces. How do societies shed discrimination, repression, inequity if no one stands and demands equality and fair treatment?

If instead of people standing up and saying “Not only is the emperor not wearing clothes, but he’s nekkid and butt ugly on top of it;”  – they just left or said nothing – there is no hope of ever improving and only steadily worsening for people who are unable to – or worse, less and less able to over time – move or to speak out against injustice.

If people don’t speak out, the (corporate) culture continues to become incestuous and the rate of decline increases until even hires at work or new generations in society are trapped in the black cesspool of diminishing return and increasing conflict. An increase which only invites dangerous and desperate actions, depending on the context.

For this context, I will say that I am experiencing what I have come to call a meta-existential crisis of extreme stressors and have lost any sense of magnitude – because post traumatic stress will do that to you.

Aside: I say meta-existential, because a regular existential crisis is just facing your own mortality, and in the meta-crises, you realize that your civilization will also die out – so what purpose can there be to individual lives compared to the collective death of the end of civilization?

It’s very easy to beleive that life has a purpose when life is going well – it’s much harder when life isn’t going well – so finding a purpose when life seems most hopeless would seem the path to finding said purpose – you can determine when all things are equal, which is what the loss of a sense of magnitude is – and nothing is hopeful – to find that strength to continue on no matter that there seems to be no purpose. Life is its own purpose perhaps…

While the purpose of our own lives is whatever we find that keeps up putting one foot in front of the other regardless of the ultimate destination or there not being one at all.

It’s a Keats idea – the Romantic poet or maybe it was the Cavalier poets – who’s philosophy was that it was easy to be depressed when the weather was crappy and things were bad, but it takes a professionally depressed person to feel that way when the sun shone and the flowers bloomed, because we know that it will rain and the flowers rot – so there’s melancoly even in the most glorious of days, to the Athlete, dying young – best to die at your peak, so to never know failure and despair

But I think, the truth of life lies very much in that direction – because living well is the best revenge, and forgiveness is more about unhooking yourself from your tormentors and living well despite their best efforts to prevent you……

After all, what does it matter if I am going to die, when whole civilizations rise and decline and often disappear from history with barely a shard of pottery as a reminder.

There’s just over 7 billion people currently living on the earth, and estimates that in all of history, there’s been 104 billion humans – but then, what do humans matter when there’s been mass extinctions of most of the life that’s been on the earth. The earth will continue on, without or with humans, never mind any particular human.

For most of the 7 billion humans on the planet, life is a hard scrabble existence to get enough food and safe shelter, getting by day by day, with nothing less than survival as the daily goal.

There is no grand purpose to be attained with that kind of existence – and the moaning about not having a purpose in life is something left to the people for whom the daily struggle to continue surviving is forgotten, too distant from their existence. Moaning about a purpose a false way to mirror the genuine crisis state of less fortunate people

The modern Mea Culpa of white Liberal guilt for having it so much better than other people, but I think this is often why it’s liberals who place so much more emphasis on equality and fairness – they aren’t comfortable having so much while knowing others have so little.

The very opposite of religious people who are looking forward to heaven, even knowing and believing that others will be in hell. As if, heaven couldn’t be enjoyable any other way.

People being bullied, discriminated against, repressed and terrorized offends my sense of fairness and justice. It offends my sense of the social contract of what it is to be Canadian, which is a social contract where there is a social safety network, where people aren’t supposed to fall through the cracks – not because there aren’t cracks, but because no one is supposed to be ground down into them.

Often, the only way I can remain upright in the face of almost overwhelming opposition is to remind myself that while I am primarily standing up for myself – there is a line of people behind me who are also bullied in the workplace, who maybe aren’t as capable as I am to stand up for myself – who are not used to standing apart and in opposition to “the system”.

In many ways, being an atheist and a lesbian has been good training to stand alone, against the social norms, against the majority – because being mobbed is being bullied by the majority. So being bullied is not that different from suffering individual because of systemic discrimination against the group you belong to. Something that in a workplace where diversity is supposed to be valued, in a country that promotes itself as multi-cultural – shouldn’t be subjecting people to systemic discrimination. Yet, discrimination remains ghosted in the machinery of society.

Being a lesbian involved in the grassroots political movement to seek equality and legal recognition of said equality has taught me that the system can be changed to be inclusive. In the early 1990’s it was legal to be fired if your employer knew you were gay – and I was fired twice in the private sector when my employers found out I was a lesbian – and I had no legal recourse.

By 2004, not only was it no longer possible to fire anyone for being gay, but there could be no denying promotions, housing, military service was possible and so was marriage. In my lifetime, I grew up with rights, lost them when I came out as a lesbian and slowly over a decade and a half, got the rights back.

So it boggles the mind on a level to think that my employer expects me to allow them to trample these hard re-gained rights. It boggles my brain that I have acted in accordance with the workplace policies and reported wrong doing, reported how I have been impacted – and instead of correcting the situation, the situation has been entrenched, escalated and worsened by management’s tactic of deny, delay and discipline; me that is, not the people I’ve reported.

It boggles my mind that the manager whom I have filed the grievances against is permitted to be the manager who hears the grievances, as if only the appearance of a conflict of interest is to be avoided, while actual conflicts of interests are apparently normal operating procedure.

It boggles my mind that following the rules of the workplace and the procedures of the corrective processes fail to end the bullying or correct the situation. My policy wonk tendencies are traumatized and I have no other fallback means of working through the situation. Emotional and logical approaches provided no relief – so what options do I have?

It is difficult to be homeless and agoraphobic.

So I stand and I fight the good fight, no matter the cost – because there is no living under the alternative.

My purpose in life, reveals itself, in the context of my life. Nothing less than the good fight for equality.