Sometimes the only thing you can do to feel okay in certain situations is avoid facing into the facts head on. I’ve been attempting to practice avoidance for months with my workplace harassment case, unless forced into action by my lawyer. I have deliberately not written about any of the progress because just thinking about it causes me great anxiety and physical upset. My body, quite pointedly and painfully, tells me that compartmentalizing the issues and hiding them away for a while longer isn’t a big deal. However, the momentum is picking up as the trial dates approach so avoidance is becoming less and less effective.
In my effort to consciously face into this, I’ll start with how ridiculous I feel when I think back to how concerned I was about the work connected to my job not getting finished when I first became ill almost three years ago. How simple-minded I was to think that I should try making myself available, regardless of my immeasurable pain, to whomever they assigned to fill in for me while I was on sick leave. When you’re a Type-A, perfectionist with a work ethic bordering on workaholism, this is a normal reaction to any issue that might keep you away from your work for an extended period – including a vacation. Feeling this way when I became ill felt right, but the stress and added worry probably caused me more harm than I realized then; and now, years later, the stress of a prolonged legal battle with my employer continues to take its toll.
When all of this started, just shy of three years ago, it never occurred to me that lying and deceit would be the tactics employed by my horrible boss to avoid doing the right thing. In the mediation session we had some months ago it was made clear to me that she, and the other leaders of the company, had no intention of doing the right thing by settling this case instead of continuing to drag it out, as they have done for almost as long as I’ve been ill. It was impossible for me to see any of this coming because, before my illness, I was a committed employee who believed that the company I worked for and the people I worked with had noble beliefs about what they contributed to and created in the world. My past perception is so far from the truth it makes me look like the most naïve person who has ever walked the face of the earth, while shining a bright light on the devious underbelly of a company praised for doing good works in the world.
In a few weeks, I will be heading to court for the final standoff against my employer. My illness triggered a cascade of increasingly bad – meaning void of compassion and empathy – behaviour from my horrible boss and some members of the staff, which made coping with my illness and pain a lot more difficult than it had to be. There were times I wasn’t sure I would have an income and others when I didn’t know how I would afford the mounting costs of my medications. Now, at a time when my income is fixed at a fraction of my earning potential, I’m strapped with legal bills generated because of the need to fight this intrusion into my life, and any potential court ruling will barely land me above breaking even. However, the financial cost to me is insignificant when I think about the fallout that will occur, for my horrible boss and the company she represents, after securing a legal ruling against them.
I know that the added stress from the final push of preparing documents for court contributed to my most recent pain flare up that landed me in the ER. I also know I needed to invest the energy I did, to give all the information I possibly could to refute the lies and inconsistencies presented by my horrible boss. And I know that the statements my doctors provided in support of how negatively my health has been affected by the appalling behaviour of people I once regarded as respected colleagues, bolsters my case. Still, it hurts – more than the physical pain I feel daily – when I think about how much one person’s intentions and actions can make others suffer. I’ve had to cope with unnecessary, external stressors because of my horrible boss in recent years, but hopefully, in a few weeks the court ruling will gift her with a fractional insight into the pain she has visited upon my life.
John Mayer – Gravity