Horrible Boss Flashback

It never goes away, does it? The involuntary visceral constriction when someone reminds you of a terrible episode in your life. Did the person with whom you imagined yourself building a life break your heart or did you break theirs? Did someone you loved dearly suddenly permanently pass from your life? Did a trusted friend unforgivably betray you? Did you have employers who inappropriately inserted themselves into your personal life? I’ve experienced these situations, and more, that have sometimes made life more difficult than one wishes it to be. However, the incident of which I was recently reminded was the inappropriate treading into my life, which my last employer felt they had the right to do.

I ran into someone recently, whom I had the pleasure of working with on a project for a short time, not long before I became ill almost four years ago. Lucky for her, she did not have to bear the same degree of pain, humiliation, and strife I did to cut ties with our former horrible boss. Hearing the name of the company where we used to work made me cringe. Since the end the legal action I had to take against the company, I’ve done all I can to limit contact with anyone who worked there so I can maintain my peace of mind. Especially those former colleagues who blindly supported my former horrible boss without knowing the truth about what I was subjected to.

My former horrible boss tried to deny me access to my disability benefits when it became clear that I couldn’t return to work after my hospitalization at the onset of my illness. She demanded answers to embarrassingly inappropriate questions about my health. She later terminated the part of my extended health benefits that paid for the many expensive medications I take to function daily; and even worse, she terminated my employment without notifying me about a year into my illness in an attempt to strip me of my long-term disability benefits. On top of all that, she launched a campaign of misinformation within the company to explain my sudden then extended absence. The stress of trying to cope with all of this and my poor health and constant pain was, at times, too much to bear.

The person I ran into knew the crux of the situation because she had heard details from a mutual friend. She expressed her sympathies that someone, anyone, could have done any of what our former horrible boss did to me; especially because the early period of my illness was when my doctors had no conclusive answers about what was happening to my body and I was truly fearful for my life. Instead of being able to direct my focus on my health alone, I was forced to cope with the added stress of an employer who felt they could insert themselves into the most intimate parts of my life. When I refused to share what was happening to me, in part because I truly didn’t know, but mainly because it’s against the law for an employer to ask. It set in motion the series of events I listed above – and much more I try never to think of – that I still sometimes can’t believe. The right to protect my health and personal information caused a protracted legal case that thankfully vindicated me and ended my former horrible boss’s persistently violent prying into my life.

Even though all of that happened, the best thing about this flashback, about any flashback, is that it’s no longer part of one’s current reality. It may be difficult to be transported back to a particular moment when something devastating happened, however, that living moment is gone. Better still, I know I have the protection of the law and the emotional and psychological tools to bolster me if ever the smallest thoughts of that situation resurface in my life, and if any do, I don’t have to stay with them or delve beyond the surface of those memories unless I choose to do so. In this case, where anything involving my former horrible boss is concerned, I choose not to delve deeper than necessary to describe how she attempted to intimidate and deprive me of what I needed to care for myself. I choose not to allow who she was, and probably still is, affect me beyond a momentary tremor in my subconscious because I survived and beat her attempts to harm me during a time when I had to dig deep just to keep living.

 

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My Horrible Boss: It’s Settled

This is the last time I ever have to write about this issue and knowing that makes me feel good.

After nearly three years of aggravation, anxiety, sleepless nights, and constant worry, the battle with my, now former, horrible boss is over. Last week I went into court dreading having to see her or any of my former colleagues. I slept little the night before, which didn’t help with the amount of pain I felt that morning – or my nausea. Even so, I arrived at the courts early to meet my lawyer and get settled in for what I feared would be an ugly few days. When I entered the courtroom, I didn’t make eye-contact with opposing counsel and as my former colleagues, whom I once held in high esteem, filed into the room my body tensed up. Then she came in: the woman who started it all, she who refused to let me have a moment’s peace to focus on my still very poor health.

Shortly after everyone arrived, the presiding judge came in to the courtroom and the hearing got underway. Things didn’t go as I expected. Opposing counsel had taken a very aggressive stance, but once the judge gave her introduction and discussed her preference for the proceedings they toned down their position. Instead of immediately jumping to arguing motions and hearing witness testimony, they agreed to the judge’s recommendation to try another round of mediation – which they had minutes before made clear to my lawyer they had no intention of doing. I was stumped by what felt like an abrupt about-face.

The judge separated us like a group of small children and sent us to different rooms. The judge then moved between the rooms attempting to curtail the proceedings and make us accept a judgement that neither party would walk away from feeling completely happy about – as is the intention of most hard-nosed negotiations. At the end of about three hours of back-and-forth we arrived at a point that made both sides bristle somewhat, but meant that my three-year battle would end, without any further delay. It took close to another two hours to complete the paperwork and the precise language of the binding terms of the settlement, but it was over.

I have to admit that I shed some tears. Most of it was anger over what this person believed was acceptable behaviour for the past three years. She felt that it was okay to intrude in my personal life and put my health and recovery at risk because I chose to guard my privacy. She felt that it was okay to vilify me and turn my former co-workers against me – most of whom to this day have never bothered to find out how I am. And she refused to accept responsibility or atone for pushing this issue to a level it never should have reached, during a time when I am very vulnerable, or what this unnecessary battle has cost my health.

This situation has caused me to lose a lot of the faith I had in people who profess to work for the good of others. It has made me rethink what I will do with my life and career when I am well enough to return to work. It also dimmed some of the gloss through which I used to view the world because I needed to believe better things existed to make some of the more terrible things in the world a little easier to bear, so we don’t burn out or become jaded too quickly. Now I’m not so sure if that wasn’t just me still being naïve and refusing to accept that there are people in the world who do terrible things or abuse their power, just because they can. I’m not even sure if any of this matters now.

What I’m certain of is that this is over. I no longer have any necessary connection to my former horrible boss or the company. And most importantly, I can redirect and devote all the energy I’ve had to put into fending them off them for three years, into taking care of myself. I can truthfully say that I already feel a big difference mentally and emotionally; and I hope that any physical changes will soon follow suit.

 

Gary Jules – Mad World

 

 

My Horrible Boss: Bearing False Witness

I head into court later this week, on the opposite side of the table from a group of people I once considered friends and trusted colleagues, including my horrible boss. I’ve heard so much negative tripe about who they claim I am that it’s been hard not to buy into any of it. I know that when people have their backs against a wall they will do what they feel is necessary to survive or save the thing they love. However, the level of character assassination I’ve been subjected to because I decided to shield my privacy when I became ill and fight for my long-term disability and extended health benefits, would be enough to make the Dalai Lama lose faith in human beings.

Opportunity & Loyalty

The thought of going through this, on top of the amount of pain I’m feeling, makes me feel even more sick. While preparing for the hearing with my lawyer a few days ago, I cried when he read me some parts from the witness statements of the people I used to work with so closely, talk about life with and some I even socialized with outside the office. I’ve been told not to take any of it personally because they are scared and probably desperate to hold on to their jobs.

But here’s the thing: Integrity is integrity. No matter what day of the week it is because telling the truth in tough situations says a lot about a person. Not to mention, how terrible it is taking the opportunity when someone is at his or her most vulnerable to stomp on them some more.

My anxiety is rising, which means that my pain level is rising. All I can do now is trust that telling the truth will deliver a just result, and that I’ll be able to calm myself enough not to land in the ER again this week.

 

Eric Clapton – Tell the Truth