About a week ago I received an email from a former colleague, from her personal email account, asking about my new job. We emailed back and forth for a bit and she finally told me she’d been asked to contact me to see if I’d talk. Someone high-up was interested in speaking with me about my experience at the company I’ve just recently left. It wasn’t until I realized how completely freaked out and panicked I was about this request that I understood just how bad things had been over the past year.
I’ve mentioned before (on several occasions) that I take issue with injustice. Not just global injustice, but the small things that happen in our daily lives, and I have a deep need for injustice to be fixed. I’m never more frustrated than when people behave badly, skirt the blame, and will never understand the wrong (and the damage) they’ve done.
Since I’ve been young, I’ve spoken out when I felt people were being treated poorly. I’m not the kind of girl to sit by and watch as others suffer. Well, I wasn’t that kind of girl, until this past year. It didn’t happen overnight, it was gradual, but before I knew it I was in the midst of a bullying scenario. Every single week day. It was late summer when I finally was able to identify it as bullying. I hadn’t been able to put my finger on it, and one day Googled “workplace bullying,” and it was suddenly blatantly clear. It wasn’t happening to me, it was happening to my colleagues, but I was looped in and it was horrible. The day I left my job for the last time, instead of leaving with glee, I left with a pit in my stomach knowing my colleagues would still have to go back the next day. The guilt I felt was almost suffocating.
In the days that followed the request, I was nervous, and wasn’t sleeping well. The evening before my scheduled discussion, I was out running errands, and was sure I saw the culprits in the parking lot of my spray tan salon. At least 30 miles from their normal stomping grounds. I hustled in to tan, looking over my shoulder, and hoping I was wrong. That night, I woke up at 2am, and I couldn’t get back to sleep. I’m not a worrier, but I was desperately concerned that I wouldn’t remember all the points I wanted to touch upon, and so I sent myself a number of emails from my iPhone. If I was going to go through with this, I wanted to be prepared.
I thought there would be specific questions for me to answer. A guided discussion in which I would simply corroborate information that was already known. Instead I was asked where I wanted to start. I didn’t know where to begin. But once I started, I couldn’t stop, and I talked and talked and talked for more than an hour. And the person to whom I was speaking gasped, and exclaimed “no!”, and said “oh…Carrie.” Before we concluded the call, I was asked to do it all over again, this time with HR. I agreed and hung up. When I got off the phone I felt like I had said too much, or like I’d been a blubbering idiot, or like maybe it wasn’t all that bad.
But as the day went on something happened. Bit by bit, the weight of the situation started to fall off my chest. It still felt icky and gross but as the hours passed it felt less so. By the next afternoon, when the second call was to take place, I was feeling much better. Expecting this person to have been briefed, I again thought they would ask questions, and I could say yes or no and elaborate when necessary. But just like the first, I was asked to explain what it was like day-to-day. This time I felt much more prepared and organized in my mind. I started from the beginning and talked it all through, point by point. Because this was my second call, I was better able to listen to what I was saying, and I realized how sad it was. How much fear I had endured each day. How much guilt I still felt for my colleagues. And just how bad it had actually been. My stories were once again met with disbelief and profuse apologies. I made it clear that I was just happy that this was happening, that it was a good thing, and that I was willing to do whatever it took to help in the process.
And then, obviously, I went to happy hour and drank a good amount of wine to shake it all off.
So the point of this post isn’t to make anyone feel bad for me…I feel bad for myself and can admit that I was much more affected by it all than I’d known at the time. I can now take a little time to mourn that and move on. And the point isn’t to write a post that’s rather vague to be mysterious or irritating. The point is this.
Telling the truth is really really important.
In the past five years my husband and I have been witness to a great deal of lying, deception, and bending of the truth. We work really hard to make sure our girls grow up in a home in which honesty is not only encouraged but is absolutely mandatory. My husband and I do enough therapy, and have been through enough, that we trust each other is telling the truth. Always.
Sometimes telling the truth is tricky. It has the potential to hurt feelings, it can be scary, and it can be far from the easiest thing to do. As I’ve told the truth…the very ugly truth…over the past several days, it has solidified my belief that hiding the truth can be so very detrimental. To all involved. If I’d just jumped into my new gig, never looking back at the last one, and pretended none of it ever happened? It would continue…for possibly years. The thought of that, the thought that I could have let that happen just to escape it myself, is horrifying.
So today I can sit back and know that I’ve done my part. It’s been a challenge and it’s dredged up some really icky stuff. But I told the truth. The whole truth. And I can rest easy knowing I have integrity and character and I’m doing what’s right and good.
TODAY: What if honesty really is the best policy when it comes to being good solid human beings?