My experience with Chapter One, “Work Abuse”, “Thank God It’s Friday”.

After reading the first paragraph of Chapter 1 of “Work Abuse: How To Recognize And Survive It” , by Wyatt and Hare, again a fourth time, I was re-awakened to abuse I had experienced, and abuse I was experiencing at the time.  The opening chapter says a lot, but right away, what caught my eye this time was the first paragraph:

“In a supportive work environment, you and your fellow workers treat each other with respect.  You take part in decisions that affect how you do your work, what  you will work on, and when you will do it.  Those below and above you in the hierarchy resolve conflicts exhaustively as well as fairly. You feel safe enough to speak about your limits as well as your abilities”

Of course this workplace model was not like the ones I experienced.  I didn’t identify with that experience.  Does that sound utopian?  Well, “…fewer than one in twenty workplaces are fully supportive.  The rest are unnecessarily abusive, which means that, instead of the conditions described above, you find yourself in a situation where work is an endured hardship.  Blame, scapegoating, and denial (pretending to yourself that injury is not happening) form the fabric of your relationship with bosses, co-workers, and those who report to you.  Instead of being enlivened by work, you find yourself becoming numb to the situation, living only for the end of your work week.”

Some people say, “”What’s the big deal? I live with the same headaches and I don’t go to a counselor for help..””  “All of these reactions are understandable.  Given the inescapability of abuse in the workplace, you, like most people, have learned to adapt to self-centered bosses, and turf-conscious co-workers and even take them for granted as “”the way things have to be””.  “You and your coworkers have to hide their inner lives from each other to appear “”normal.”  This fabricated “normalcy” isolates everyone in their experience.  It may make you feel wrongly, that you are weak or inadequate when difficulties you may be having are common to everyone.”

I certainly identify with all the above.  Only my personal life spread around my workplace like a wildfire, and there was no escaping it.  Reading all that really helped me to see; however, I was in denial about a lot of facts.   The first several chapters of “Work Abuse”, as Mr. Hare calls it, are in place to help us break denial, as well as to tell.  Many people do not see that their expressions of their childhood patterns as adults, and their present living situations get impacted by “work abuse”.

My feelings and thoughts are validated by this book.  What I was experiencing was not all in my mind.  Throughout the years, because of my diagnosis, people would tell me certain things were all in my mind.  Some probably were, but this wasn’t, and I eventually found out the difference to a large extent.

The trouble I eventually had the most, is with “turf-conscious coworkers.”  Managers would occasionally bark orders at me in a condescending way, or make verbal value judgements of me.  As time went on, that morphed into a wolves-guarding-the-hen house scenario.  Turf-conscious workers would take over the workplace.  I learned to pet them as if they were animals in a zoo.  This helped me a lot.

This first chapter also has case studies of real people and the experiences they went through.  One of these documented case studies was about a woman who had been sexually and verbally abused.  There are parallels between work abuse and abuse in the home. The people who abused her have also been abused.

My feelings and thoughts were again validated, as I read all the case studies, and the rest of the chapter, which I will cover in more detail later. These are my interpretations only of what happened to me, and how I read the book.  Wyatt and Hare warn: “In reading the following chapters, it is important that you break denial of work abuse safely, to protect yourself against potential incidents of major abuse.”