I just want someone to know. I want someone to understand. Even though it doesn’t matter. Even though no one really cares much. I need to say it. I need to paint the picture.
I was an abused child. Sexually, physically, emotionally abused and neglected. Rejected. It hurt me. It changed me. It damaged me. I had to fight hard to get to the point where most people start their life.
It took a lot out of me to remain in my home situation long enough to graduate from high school. I left home two weeks after graduation.
I worked menial jobs to make it. I worked my way up. I read books. I paid attention. I was smart. I did everything I touched to the very best of my ability. My home life growing up made me hyper-vigilant and hyper-responsible. I was promoted. Given raises. Given more responsibility.
I took some college classes, but I couldn’t afford to really go to college. Later, when I could afford to take a couple of classes at a time, I was working such long hours, I didn’t have the energy.
I didn’t have the energy because of working long hours. But I also didn’t have energy because I was holding back a tsunami of emotional damage from childhood. And I was married to someone who didn’t love me, who let me know I wasn’t loved and didn’t measure up. He didn’t want to hear about what was going on inside of me. He wanted me to be perfect and smile. Hide the ugly stuff. Just like I had to do all during my childhood. It took a toll. But I swallowed hard, pushed it all down and went on as best I could.
As a result, I didn’t get a higher education. I tried to tell myself it didn’t matter. But it bothered me. Always. Still does.
I lived this life for decades.
Realistically, I did fairly well until my life totally fell apart. I was numb before everything came apart at the seams. I wasn’t happy. But I was functioning with a fair amount of success.
Then I wasn’t.
My mother died 10/2002. Not a huge deal, overall, considering the childhood abuse. But it marked the end of any hope of ever having a parent / child relationship that was fulfilling or that vaguely resembled something that was healthy. Not that I had any real hope, truthfully.
Shortly thereafter, my husband (the one who didn’t love me) left me after 22 years because he fell in love with another woman. We were divorced on 9/11/2003.
Two weeks after he made his final decision to leave me and not try to salvage our relationship, the pastor of the church I had attended for 14 years disbanded the worship team I had been part of for 13 years. He told us we were insincere. And old. And we needed to find another place to serve. So I lost my church at the same time I lost my marriage.
Then I lost my job. Because I refused to withhold pay from people the division president disliked and wanted to hurt. He demanded I do so in spite of clear laws that made this illegal. But I was terminated because it was “evident you and the division president will never have a healthy working relationship.” So they “felt it was best” I move on.
Then my furnace stopped working.
My dog died.
I couldn’t find another job. Every time something looked promising, my old employer gave me a poor reference. They were still trying to hurt me. And they were succeeding.
I ran out of money. Cashed in my 401(k). Ran up credit card debt to try to keep from losing everything. My brother loaned me $2500, but refused to help me beyond that. I had nowhere to turn.
I lost all hope. Tried to take my life. This was December of 2006.
I took 300 20 mg. Adderal pills. The most anyone had taken and survived prior to my suicide attempt was 60. I forever changed the bell curve. Though I don’t think they believed me. But I truly did take 300 and they were in my system for 11 hours before I called my counselor to apologize for being the first patient he was going to lose to suicide. I wasn’t thinking clearly…obviously. They pumped my stomach, I spent 3 days in ICU and was then released to the psych hospital for an enlightening weeks stay. Oh, joy.
April 2007, I finally got a job. I was excited. It seemed like a good opportunity.
Quickly learned there were many limitations to what I would be allowed to do. Everyone talked about making the company the best of the best, but it was largely just talk. That was discouraging. Disappointing.
There was a department head who liked to undermine and attack her co-workers to make herself look good. Making them look bad took the focus off her own deficiencies. My boss, who was also her boss, did nothing. Even seemed to favor her. Morale was low. This was also discouraging. And demotivating.
Then I had some health issues. I had to have a hysterectomy because my cervix was covered with severe dysplasia. A year later, I had a mass in my right breast that had the appearance of being a fast growing cancer. It had to be removed. The next year, I had a massive sinus infection, one that was so bad, it created an asthma-like condition and ate away my sinus bones. It took two surgeries to get the infection cleaned out.
I no longer had the energy to hold back that tsunami of emotional issues that had been pent up since childhood and beyond. And, to top it all off, I became enslaved again to an eating disorder. Anorexia. Restricting. Then anorexia with bulimic tendencies. Binging and purging. Still underweight. Still depleted. Was taken to the emergency room a couple of times because of severely low potassium and / or sodium. They wanted to hospitalize me (inpatient), but I talked them into allowing me to go through the outpatient program. I had to see a nutritionist, a counselor, a psychiatrist. Weekly. This required time off work. FMLA. My job, the one I was so thankful for, though discouraged over, was now in jeopardy. I was penalized for my FMLA absences. So I dropped out of most of the outpatient program to save my job. But I still had to go to the counselor once every three weeks and the psychiatrist once every 6 to 8 weeks to avoid involuntary hospitalization. It was a difficult balancing act, especially considering the physical issues and the high stress.
Ultimately, it all cost me my job. My boss was very unhappy about the fact that I had to take FMLA leave, period. He didn’t like the fact that I missed work for the hysterectomy, even though I worked a great deal from home. I was only out 3 weeks to recover from the surgery that removed the mass from my breast, and again, I worked from home. Each sinus surgery only required that I miss a few days afterwards. But the FMLA intermittent leave for the eating disorder was ongoing and that was totally unacceptable. I never shared what my actual condition was. Knowing he would NEVER understand and would totally blame me for choosing to do something so stupid. None of it sat well. The ongoing leave situation to see the counselor and psychiatrist, even though I didn’t miss that much total time and even though I was working 9-1/2 hours a day on the days I didn’t have a doctor’s appointment, it just wasn’t acceptable. I fell into extreme disfavor. I grew highly fearful. Started feeling completely worthless.
There were a few incidents that hurt me as well.
The company was sold. The HR director from our new sister company in Houston seemed to be out to get me from the moment she laid eyes on me. I was scared. I was thankful I didn’t report to her. But in the end, it didn’t matter.
The safety coordinator from Houston lied about me, saying I refused to provide information when all I did was tell her I couldn’t get it for her right at that particular moment (I was in the middle of our first payroll after the sale of the company and was having massive problems with the set-up of the new company with our payroll vendor). My boss came down to my office after she reported my “lack of cooperation,” yelling at me in front of my assistant, asking me what the hell did I think I was doing by refusing to provide information to the “new owners.” Even though she was just another employee who had supposedly been sent to our location to help us acclimate to new requirements. I began to feel doomed.
I wasn’t sleeping well because of the stress. At one point, I got about 3 hours of sleep for a couple of nights in a row and then 1-1/2 hours the next night. I was grumpy and short that next day. Told my assistant I probably shouldn’t have come to work. A couple of engineers complained when I wouldn’t hold their hand and tell them how to fill out a form. They went to my boss. Who dressed me down severely. Heaven forbid that they actually talk to me! It wasn’t like this was normal behavior…and it wasn’t like I told them to take a flying leap. I just didn’t treat them with kid gloves, the way I normally would, because I was so exhausted. Did it ever occur to them to ask me what was wrong?
This has always been part of the problem. My boss loves to be the guy everyone goes running to. He encourages it rather than trying to get people to talk to each other and work things out. This tattle-tale mentality permeates the organization and it’s like a cancer.
And then there’s the fact that I was not supposed to work more than 40 hours a week. I do. Or did. But the doctor doesn’t want me to because of my health. I worked from 6 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. without taking a lunch almost every day (my assistant worked the later shift). No, I didn’t work 55 to 70 hours a week. I physically couldn’t. I didn’t work weekends. I crashed and burned on the weekends, literally. That’s what it took to get me to a point where I could get up and go again Monday morning. My boss tended to not count the hours I worked before he arrived at 8:30. But how would he feel if I didn’t count the hours he worked after I left at 3:30? What if I only recognized him as working 5-1/2 to 6 hours a day because I didn’t actually see him after I left? That’s the mentality I was working with.
Then there were the complaints to the HR hotline.
One employee who filed a complaint with me (that I was in the process of investigating) called the hotline and said I told him the person who made discriminatory comments (he alleged) probably didn’t mean it. Claimed I downplayed the incident and didn’t take him seriously. In reality, he was the one who stated that the person probably didn’t mean it the way it came across. I told him that might be the case, but it still wasn’t acceptable. This employee has a track record of not living in reality. But who is going to believe me? The HR director in Houston who hates me? Who is out to get me? My spineless boss who has never once stood up for me?
And then there was the second hotline complaint about a floor lead. The one who I’m “best friends” with…so they couldn’t come to me about the problem because I wouldn’t do anything about my best friend now, would I? I’m not friends with them. But again, who would believe me? It’s a total lie. But I couldn’t fight it.
Besides which, no one cares.
I’m also old. I heard our big-shot French transplant make the comment that a certain employee in quality we depended on could drop dead at any moment…because he’s old. We’re the same age. In quality, they want to make sure they get someone in the department who can carry on should this person keel over. I guess in my case, they just want me gone.
Have I missed work…yes. Mostly FMLA, but that doesn’t matter. My immune system is weak, largely because of work and life stress issues. That has caused me to get everything and anything that goes around. But those absences were infrequent and short lived. Toward the end, with the extra stress, they were more frequent. Since I found out I was losing my job. That seemed to sap my last bit of resistance.
Did I made mistakes? I’m sure I made my share. But nothing gross. Nothing major. Nothing negligent. Nothing that should cause me to be relegated to the “your fired” list. Just normal human errors like everyone makes.
I am a disabled individual, an aging female, who has struggled, but who did my job. At times, functioning took every scrap of fortitude I could muster. I’ve barely been able to hang on. I’ve barely been able to get through the day. But I did my job.
Not that it matters.
I’m unemployed now. Desperate. I don’t know what I’m going to do and I’m terrified. Broken.
Now, I just want someone to understand. I just want someone to know why I have finally given up.