I started this site to talk about work stress, and what I perceive happens to people during their employment. This is a post-retirement view based on new learning. I see hope on the horizon.
I want to make it clear that since I worked for that place people viewed me differently than before. I was very pretty and so naive. I had great friends and we had a lot of fun. I was viewed as normal happy teen, and young adult until I was stigmatized a age 25. I recognize I would have perhaps been in trouble without the job, but work is where I was stripped of my illusions.
I grew up around adults who were not responsible with themselves and with others. The family was quite dysfunctional, abusive, and I was needy for positive attention. I often wanted to be someone else.
I married a guy my mother thought I should because I became pregnant. She spent her life savings on that wedding. It was for her a justification of sorts. So, when the marriage was cracking, due to my being beaten – because I was the only breadwinner – and because I was the sole caregiver for my son, I found it difficult to get my mother’s emotional support for a divorce.
My coworkers and boss were very aware of my situation, and I could see that they were concerned about my behavior which was bizarre as I remember it. I fought to keep the job knowing I had no other place to go. When the harassment started I couldn’t cope.
Many years passed where no one would tell me much of anything to give me a clue what to do. The people around me had little hope for me, and they said so. Some people gave me clothing for my son, or went out on playdates with us. Most of my friends had been coworkers and they just stayed far away.
I sought help, and my worrisome nature earned me a clinical diagnosis. I do believe I was depressed as a child, and certainly not emotionally healthy growing up. I did well in school when teachers took an interest, but I had poor self-discipline and would “space out” frequently when left to my own devices. I feel that my inability to grasp algebra was due to anxiety and neglect. I received more neglect at work and in relationships. The basic building blocks to become a functioning adult were not there. I was criticized for this lacking. A doctor said I was disadvantaged and I felt a great relief.
I knew I had come to the end of the road to ever succeed as I had wanted to. My son grew up with me working nights, weekends, and holidays. My schedule was all over the place.
I would obsess about what people thought of me, and that my boss said I was on street drugs and that I was thinking of men instead of work. This was profoundly wrong. All I could think of was work and I started to feel like I was experiencing battle fatigue at the young age of 25.
I got help and I made it through enough college to be able to tell the difference between my failings vs. others’ failings. I took prescribed medications at work to make me not feel so much anxiety. This is the thread I followed as I developed a healthier outlook largely on my own. I made a lot of mistakes but none of them – hurting people as I had been hurt. I would always be amazed at how people could be so cruel. Now I know that many people have no idea what they are doing.
Other than raising a great son and marrying a smart and sensitive man, I felt I had nothing really going for me. But I loved music! I picked up a computer for my son and I and I stopped going to college. I lived online for many years picking up skills in design and networking. I was too sick to create new employment opportunities from it. I took classes online for all those years; some college courses were among them.
I just knew it was a healthy activity. My son taught himself his first job skills on the computer. He is 36 and he still does very well in the tech industry. He and his wife are going to have a baby.
I am retired, but I first had to come to terms with my emotional deficits for the first 5 years. I am starting to understand what really happened to me. I still do not process emotional pain well and I struggle to communicate it in an efficient way when I feel in my bones that something is not right. But I am strong and confident now. I have found my “mojo”. I also still dabble on the computer, but not as much. In an earlier post I wrote that I was to become an artist. What I didn’t know then was that I do not have enough background to do so, and I am trying to photo paint which is is painting over a clone of a photo. I am a pretty good designer, but art requires much symmetry unlike doing precise measurements via Photoshop tools.
I demand that people in my life do not treat me with prejudice and stigma. So much so that I pick the big fights only and win. My once estranged family may not be perfect but I am every bit as engaged as they are, if not more. I have the ability to see issues objectively and now we get along. I go to meditation and art groups and meet people. I am careful to just make small talk.
I have noticed there are few good books on the topic of stigma, and will write one someday when I finish reading a thick textbook about stigma meant for a psychology class. I have described stigma in detail to many family members, as I have experienced people stigmatizing me. I focus just on the behavior and not the intent which I do not know. It will be a mini book on how to approach stigma, and people who treat us differently from other people. This goes for any minority. My nephew is struggling with depression and I want to write it in his honor. I believe I have stopped people I know from stigmatizing me in a profound way. Enough about that.
As I said I do not handle describing or dealing with my emotions well if I have a lot to lose. I now find myself sickly and 60, going on 61. I have given speeches to people who are in pain, about my experiences, to give them hope. I have read books with stories which cannot ever rival my own. All because I was taught to view others in a certain way which explains why they behave as they do. Thanks to Mr. Hare and all my studies. I believe I have something to offer in this niche of stigma. However, I know doing this task will be difficult to make time for, as well as to execute.
By not being allowed to have important discussions about what others see vs. what I see in my vision is worse than having people lie. What I mean is if someone is leaving me out of conversations, they may have a reason for doing so. I can never ask those questions of most people though I perceive the behavior just the same. That is my reality vs. theirs.
People rarely own up to their behavior toward me if it is how they get away with damaging someone without speaking to them. Yes, that is possible. I’ve developed astute observational powers. I need to learn to harness this and to not scare people away with it. I can sense hypocrisy, and quite honestly, I often cannot smell the flowers because it is so obvious to me. I must learn this skill before writing the book.
Other than that I am coping quite well having had discussions with my families, in a way that was clumsy, I admit, but it did get the message across just the same. The results are evident. There is peace and harmony much of the time. Just because I communicated my burden to them, of noticing attitudes without words, and correcting those attitudes with pleas over simple misunderstandings which endured for years. Much of our warring comes from misunderstandings alone.
Could I have made this type of change happen at work? No, I do not think so. I have not reached that level yet. And for those out there who want relief, I recommend the study of people in work groups. I would be happy to lend a hand in finding great resources. I believe my company decided that shunning was the way to treat me – which incidentally – hurt their bottom line in the long run. It hurt mine as well.
I’m grateful to have had a job for that long, but I encourage people to flee for their lives the minute a situation goes so sour that they find themselves boxed in with no way out. I’ve suffered needlessly. If you find yourself undereducated and overwhelmed with people running you over you, you are not alone. Something can most likely be done.