Have you ever been in the room when someone is talking about you? They might be talking in code but you know you’re the topic of the conversation…
It has to be one of the most soul crushing things for a sensitive person. Yes. That’s me. I was having a reasonable day last week. If I’m being honest the ‘person’ I’m having issues with at work is someone I would label as a bully or as I like to refer to them, a ‘Bergen’ (tell me you’ve watched trolls?!)
In an open plan environment, you try to block out the noise but some people’s voices just seem to carry further than their desk and when you know it’s about you it’s extremely hard to block it out. My heart literally sank and I felt this horrible nauseating feeling in my stomach. Perhaps she didn’t do it on purpose but I’ve unfortunately had many run ins with this type of personality before and I do feel like these ‘people’ know exactly what they’re doing. Sometimes this is the only way they can get to you when you cut yourself off from them.
I don’t speak to her unless I have to now. I’ll arrive at work and she’ll literally look right through me. She despises the fact that I get along with everyone and I feel like it’s almost territorial. We are very different people. I’m very much who I say I am. I will go above and beyond to help you; I am kind to everyone unless you do wrong by me. If I don’t like you, you’re basically dead to me, there is no communication and I will almost ghost you to your face except for the standard pleasantries. I acknowledge that I am extremely sensitive but certain people prey on empathetic people. They see our “feelings” as a weakness and they use this to their advantage. Sure, you might call how I am cold or bitchy in how I handle things but when I see that someone is ‘who they are’ and they don’t take ownership of their actions or try to better themselves then I don’t waste my time. They are not my people. I am also conscious of how people act and I pick up on a vibe when I meet someone. This particular individual I was proud to pick out straight away. You know the kind who’s really nice to your face but the second you turn around is stabbing you in the back? Yes, she’s that kind. And if this “experience” has taught me anything it’s that I need to trust my intuition ALL the time.
There were a number of incidents that lead me to breaking point. For one I was working full time when I had previously only worked part time so my exposure to her behaviour was no longer 2 days a week. Let’s be real here, sometimes people are tolerable in small doses. I also became much closer with my team and some of them had confided in me about how they were feeling about how she was treating them and how it was affecting their home life with their family and their overall morale. When I heard her being a bitch and making mean comments, I would laugh it off and just get on with what I was doing. As the weeks rolled on though, I felt like an enabler because I heard the horrid things she said, I was witness to what she did and heard about them from her “targets”. When I went to help them, she went off at me. I literally walked into the office and she was waiting to verbally attack me about the fact I prepared a “stationery order” for one of our team who was in a different location. Her ego was out of control. I had bent over backwards covering every shift change and one Monday I was so furious because she tried to blind side me. One of our team members works till 6pm each day. They were away and I had been covering the shifts in the previous week but on a Monday, I need to start early because it’s payroll day. For that one day she should have covered the shift and I was under the impression she would have. She was discussing it before I came in and never said a word to me about it. 4pm came and she packed up her bag to leave. I knew she would do it, and leave me in the sh!t. Let me paint a picture here: she is second in line in the food chain in our team structure yet she doesn’t like to do anything out of her nominated tasks which includes her standard 8am-4pm working hours. She has no kids. No obligations. Nothing to rush home to. But don’t ask her to sit on reception because that is beneath her. It’s very hard to articulate sarcasm when I’m writing but I feel like you’re getting the gist?
As she was walking out, I asked her who should I call when I leave because no I was not staying till 6. (I have 2 children to go home to and if she’d been up front with me earlier, I would have made arrangements but not under these circumstances. I was livid. And no, I said none of this to her). She played dumb and pretended she forgot. She called our boss who then thought it was her fault that she forgot to organise a replacement. I was rolling my eyes as my blood boiled. She then went to ask our site manager if we could let one of the other offices look after the security. I was internally overjoyed when he said no and that someone needed to stay. That ‘someone’ was her. After I left, I made the decision that enough was enough. My boundaries were set and I was officially done with her. Dramatic I know but it takes a lot for me to get to this point and this was just the tip of the iceberg.
The next day I went to my car so her eavesdropping ears were nowhere to spy on me (because that’s another one of her wonderful personality traits – and yes, that comment also has a sarcastic undertone). I called my boss and I unleashed. I told her everything that had been happening while she was working from home over the last few months. She was shocked. I was shaking as I confided in her but she appreciated my honesty and although I explained I was more than happy for her to let this be she told me she needed some time to think about how she would handle the situation.
The next day they had a phone conversation, which resulted in said “bully” crying and leaving work. She had a number of days off over the next few weeks and from then on, the air between us has been like ice.
Little did I know our boss would confront her and then backtrack weeks later. She was awarded with a nationally recognised company award for her outstanding contribution to the business and our team. Everything I had complained about – she was praised for. The compliments were sickening. One of my co-workers showed me the email notification when she saw it come through and then proceeded to pretend to gag because she was so disgusted. Our whole team was literally like what. the. f@#k. just happened?!
How did I feel? Like someone had just slapped me in the face. Literally. I couldn’t hold back the tears. I cried most of the way home that day. I couldn’t understand what had just happened. Her, she couldn’t have been prouder of herself. She had gotten away with it.
We had a team meeting and she was congratulated by our management team and our boss told her how well deserved it was and I just couldn’t fathom what had happened in the last 2 weeks to change this. Needless to say, I had made myself the target in speaking up. My anxiety going to work had reached an all-time high, I felt sick to my stomach every day. I was experiencing chest pains and I was holding in so much of what I wanted to express. I went to see the doctor who told me I was fine so I booked in to see Helen for a reiki session because I was about to break and unfortunately it always seems I need to get to this point before I realise, I need help. I put a lot of pressure on myself because Luke hasn’t had full time work since March and on top of working full time, I was still trying to keep up with everything else I do at home, prioritising the kids, my extended family and dealing with all the emotional baggage. I was emotionally/physically burnt out.
Reiki is the best form of therapy for me. She removes the evil eye; she offers me guidance and she literally heals my body and my soul. Every message I received intuitively through my angel cards and random messages and feathers placed in my path were that I needed to use my voice. I knew holding back would only cause me more anxiety and impact my health.
I drafted an email to my boss to explain how I had been feeling and I was so raw and honest with her about my opinion on how she and her successor had handled everything. It was in no way complimentary to her or her management style but I said what I needed to. I felt a wave of relief after I did. Her response the following day was another stab to my heart. It was cold and had a no f@#k’s given vibe. Apparently, I should have just been grateful for the extra hours she had offered me with Luke not working and she hoped I felt better soon. That was it.
From that day I stopped working extra hours. When they asked me to help I said no. I’m still working there. I go in and I do my job and I go home. I’m not the kind of person to sabotage my work based on my feelings but I don’t go the extra mile anymore and I know they have noticed the change in me. When she asks me if I want to talk, I politely decline. I stated in my email I don’t feel like it’s a safe space for me to be open and honest and that is how I genuinely feel. I’m not a malicious person.
I need time to forgive her in my heart but for now I’m still hurting and for me I need some distance to help me heal. I need to accept that not everyone sees the world how I see it. When I see a wrong, I want to make it right. Most people just want to put a band aid on it. Again, they are not my people.
Everything happens for a reason and I need to learn my lesson from this ordeal. To some it may seem trivial but I feel things on a whole other level than most. When you hurt me, you hurt me to my core. That’s not their fault, that’s just what makes me, me. One day (hopefully soon) I’ll look back and this will all make sense but for now I’m just going to sit with it for a little longer and feel the feelings until they pass.