The Truth

They say that the truth is good for the soul, and this is my truth. The horrific tale of how I was bullied so badly in the workplace that I actually contemplated ending it all, and how I came out the other side.

They say that truth is good for the soul. I am not sure about that, but I know that sometimes it’s an incredible weight off the shoulders or amazing catharsis.

I woke up this morning and decided that today was the day I would be sharing the unaltered and un-glamorous truth about my last job. This includes the real reason why I was actually relieved that I was made redundant.

I was on the verge of quitting!

Yep, with nowhere to go and no plans in the pipeline, I had written a resignation letter and had nearly handed it in at least a dozen times.

I know that many people have had that one job they hated more than any other. The one job that made them question themselves, their abilities, and everything else about what they were doing with their lives. This job wasn’t it for me. What this job actually was, was hell on earth!

The atmosphere was suffocating, the people were just mean (see my earlier post about micromanagement), and the owner of the company was an out and out bully.

I have to be honest, when I was initially applying for jobs just over 12 months ago, I was very cautious about the one I ended up accepting. I had a few other fish in the fryer and would have much rather had one of them. This job started out sounding amazing; a brand new role, many options for growth, and a small company that wanted to get bigger. I still wasn’t overly interested, but time to find something new was getting closer and closer, as the maternity cover contract was close to ending, so when I was offered the role I ended up with and the role I really wanted fell through (actually ended up being a non-existent role), I had to accept, even with all the doubts in my mind about the office (which was at that point a building site), the Boss (who seemed more interested in money than stability) and the fact that he wasn’t quite sure what my job was going to be…just that he felt that he needed more staff (he really didn’t).

From day one the place was a little bit odd. I was the first of three new hires starting that week, and the fifth new-starter in the space of just three weeks. There was no HR department (just a consultant who came in every few months), no sickness policy, no holiday policy, and the fiction of working from home was just that (though this I didn’t find out until much later).

Within a month of being with the company, two people had been ‘let go’. No notice, just one minute they were there and the next minute they weren’t. Then one of the new hires who started with me started to just not show up for the day, call and say he was working from home and then eventually we were told that he wasn’t coming back. Not long after that I was asked to take on more responsibility and was given the password to the ex-account manger’s computer. They were so lax in security that I had access to all his mail, including his resignation letter – which said a LOT about how he felt about the company, as did the response from the Boss…which consisted of a lot of 4-letter words.

I can’t say that I wasn’t concerned. I would go into work every morning with a feeling of dread. You never knew who would be called down to a meeting and let go, then slagged off for months afterwards. They say that women are bitchy…well, seriously, they have nothing on a room full of little boys who don’t know a) what hard work is and b) how to fend for themselves (one still lives at home and his mum brings him breakfast in bed every single morning…he’s 28).

After the account manager left an operations manager was brought in to ‘help’. She started a process of micromanaging everyone. Which is fine, if you like that sort of thing…I had been under the impression that I was doing okay and that people were happy with my work.

I was disabused of this impression the day before I had my first day off in 6 months. I had been speaking with a client while completing a handover document for my week out of the office (I had planned doctor’s appointments, a day out with an old friend, and some relaxing). I had some feedback from the client so I went to speak to one of my colleagues and 10-minutes later the Boss called to me (his desk was in the middle of the office) and proceeded to call me an “EFFING USELESS C***” loud enough that the entire office could hear.

Perturbed and wishing I didn’t need the money, I went back to my desk after being told to get out of his “effing sight before I throw you out”. I carried on writing my handover, and the day continued.

I went home that night wishing that I could just quit, but I stuck it out. The next week I was diagnosed with diabetes, told that I looked exhausted and that I needed a break. My GP even offered to sign me off, however, the company doesn’t pay sick, so I couldn’t afford to.

After my holiday I was given a verbal warning because I hadn’t filled in something (which I had, I still have the evidence), and made to feel like crap. The Boss continued to mumble things around me, talk to me like shit, and generally made me dread getting up in the morning.

Towards the end of my time working in my previous job, I actually reached a point where I quite often wished I was dead. I would stand at the bus stop waiting for my ride to work and contemplate standing out in the middle of the road and just letting a truck/car/van hit me. Anything for it to be over.

The day I was made redundant was the happiest I had been for a while. I didn’t say goodbye to anyone when they were acting all ‘fake tears’ and “We’re so sorry, what are you going to do” I was smiling and thinking about the fact that I didn’t have to go back again. I was relieved that the boss (the asshole as I have come to think of him with gritted teeth) wasn’t there, he didn’t have the courage to show up and do the deed himself.  I walked out of that office and laughed. I had been living in fear of losing a job that made me want to kill myself – and as someone who takes very strong anti-depressants, I have to say that it got bad enough that the pills I was taking weren’t making a difference. I would get home from work every night and cry, often for a long time, then contemplate any number of ways to end it all, just so I didn’t have to get up and go into the office the next morning.

I guess that the moral of this story (the unvarnished truth about my last ‘nameless’ employer) is that you shouldn’t have to put up with this. There were loads of warning signs, I didn’t exactly ignore them, but I was so scared of unemployment (and the hideous job market) that I didn’t want to face up to the fact that I worked for a narcissistic bully who instilled fear in his employees while mocking those who had been sensible enough to leave, or lucky enough to get out before it all turned to dung.

The company is now in big financial trouble and while I feel for the people who work there who haven’t yet left, ultimately, I want to see the asshole and his side-kick crash and burn. If only because I want them to know how horrid it feels to be treated like shit.

If you are in a situation like this seek help. Speak to someone. You might not be alone (I know now that I wasn’t). You might find that someone else can offer you a coping mechanism that works (I wish I had). Don’t let it fester, don’t let it get to the point where you wish for extreme measures to end it (like I did). Ultimately, a job might help you financially survive, but if it drains you of the will to live it’s honestly not worth it.

Please, if you find yourself in a place where you are being bullied like this – or like anything else – PLEASE talk to someone. They might not have an immediate fix, but getting it off your chest can help.

 

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