This is something I’ve written about, an account of how my life has changed in various ways over the past year and a bit. Some bits of it you may have gone through, be going through now. Either way this is my story and is something that’s happened to me so feel free to have read. It’s a count of anxiety, hardship and bullying endured in the space of just a few short months… Here goes
This time last year my life took what felt like a sudden U-turn, a month ago to this year I found myself leaving a steady job that I had had for over 10 years. I had been working for a very well-known British retail establishment. I had made many new friends during my time, gained new confidence through my many years and learnt about how to deal with various situations and communicate with people especially with many, many people who I did not even know. The job took me through college, university and eventually into post-graduate life. I got to know people who were similar to myself, had similar problems to myself and were generally good people to know. Sadly however, as the saying goes “All good things must come to an end”. My time did eventually come to an end, but not as I imagined it. Like many others in similar positions who wanted to make the leap from one of employment to another and I always believed that mine would basically go a similar way. Go on to pastures new and everyone wishes you well for wherever the next stage in your journey takes you.
Sadly, for me the reality was completely different… With new faces came new attitudes and sadly not all of them pleasant, understanding, caring or willing to listen to what you might want to say. Bitter treatment, false accusations, harsh words, preconceived notions, words and actions taken completely out of context and bullying in disguise brewed-up within the following weeks and months that were to come. What many do fail to realize is that when things like this happen to people it hurts them, upsets them and makes them second-guess themselves. The pain that they carry isn’t physical but is one where it cannot be seen, in your mind, weighing heavily on your emotions and continuously going round in your head. But you disguise it by using your facial expressions and calm voice. You begin to put on a calm outlook so as not to let people know just how hurt you are on the inside and you pace yourself from your peers so as to not let on that your superiors have just come down on you like a ton of bricks. In your mind the warning that your job could very well be on the line if you don’t watch your step plays heavily on you. You reflect back on your time spent with your superiors who seem to spend hours quizzing you in a very gruelling manner, being made to feel like a criminal.
A while afterwards you been to reflect on past situations which cause you to reflect on your behaviour, words spoken and you begin to second guess yourself. You also remember the harsh words said by your superiors which basically boil down to “Look, far as I’m concerned this did happen, why don’t you just admit it”. Yet deep down you know that what’s been alleged didn’t happen, anything else didn’t happen in the way it was said and words written in one way are twisted to appear in a different way. Other words directed at you start to weigh on you “Well I’ve got 3 other people all saying the same thing, claiming that this did happen so I’m going to have to go along with it”. You fantasize yourself saying to them that the only reason they are going along with it is so that they don’t have to believe what you’re saying so they can prolong grief and mental torture even further. You ask your superiors if you’re allowed to inform your family of the current situation and what’s going to be happening. They let you know that you can but they do it in a way that’s insulting and down-right patronizing “You need be very careful of how you tell the story”. They might as well of just said to you ‘don’t forget to inform them of all the facts because I know what you’re like’, basically they think you’re incapable of telling the truth. After more time passes more accusations follow, you eventually come to the realization that your superiors, for whatever reason, just seem to have it in for you and are basically trying to force you off the cliff-edge. The more it goes on you begin to wonder if they are trying to wear you down to the point where you just feel like walking out the door and never coming back or gear you into a position so that they can give you the boot.
During your gruelling meetings with your superior’s, you mention to them if they’re actually aware of your problems which partially explain your behaviour and why it is the way it is. They look at you in an arrogant manner, almost as though they don’t really believe what you’ve just told them. They ask for proof despite it being on the records for your duration of employment. Eventually you come to the only conclusion that it left; jump before you can be pushed. You make the decision to leave your job. During a conversation with the parents about recent events along with allegations along with yet another situation in which things were taken out of context and exaggerated a decision was reached. A suggestion is made, and you can still remember the words very clearly in my head “Maybe it’s time you thought about moving on”. With those words said by one parent and backed by another you begin to look back through all the memories you had of the workplace, colleagues you’d got to know, laughs you had shared, the banter which helped you get through some long and occasionally tedious times. It had all come to a sudden end. Another talk follows and this time with your siblings both of whom backed the decision claiming that was probably for the best and your superiors clearly weren’t nice people. In those moments you begin to look over your entire time there and you continually assess your time there.
In the moment of that one suggestion, it’s as though a massive weight has been lifted right off your shoulders, like someone has given you a get-out-of-jail-free card. The only difference is that you’re genuinely innocent and you wonder why your work superiors have spent all that time treating you the way they have. Basically, bullying you.
For over ten years you have shown nothing but dedication and loyalty to the work force. In many ways this takes a massive weight off your shoulders knowing that you wouldn’t have to put up with accusing eyes from the superiors, all waiting for you to make just one ill-footed move giving them all they needed to strike.
On what is unofficially your last day you drive to your workplace but by this point your mindset is one of “do you know what mate; I couldn’t give a flying f**k”. Basically, if they fire you, you couldn’t give a stuff. You go for the start of your shift and just try and get through it as best as you can before another gruelling meeting happens. Or in other terms another one of THOSE sorts of meetings where your boss will either keep you on or kick you out the front door.
You have plotted how you’re going to escape the hell of your bullying bosses and now you get on with the escape.
Eventually a sick note is handed in declaring two weeks off and right there between those two weeks you hand-in your letter that you’re leaving. After two weeks the day had officially come; you are out on your own. You cleverly hide the tears that you had shed just a few days prior, the upset, shame, embarrassment and anger to mask away my pain. You remind yourself that you didn’t do anything wrong and that the real problem lies with your very soon to be former-superiors who not only seem to have some sort unjustified problem with you but don’t seem to object to twisting the facts.
After over ten years in the job you leave, embarking into the dark world of unemployment, wondering what to do next and how you would manage and what you can do next.
It finally happens after two weeks; you wake up in your bed. It’s 8am and you choose to stay in, not bothering to get up and opting to stay in bed a bit longer. After all, you officially don’t have anything that you need to get up for now. You look at your bedroom clock and notice the time, your colleagues, well former work colleagues now, would be up and about at work doing this and that. In a strange sort of way, it feels like a sort of over-due freedom, the sort you get during your school days when everyone in your class and at school and you were the only one off. For a while you revel in it. Such beautiful freedom, but you know deep, deep down that it cannot last forever but you want to enjoy those last few moments a bit longer before you heard out into the job-world again.
The next two and a half months that follow feel like an eternity, and after over a decade being in a steady work-based routine. And then there you go, into the world of joblessness. Not long afterwards you realize that you don’t have much option but to sign-on, a decision you thought that you would never have to make but with no income what other choice do you have. Also, you realize that your savings, regardless of the number, won’t last forever. The fateful day comes when you go to the Job Centre and you take a few minutes to look back at where you were that time last year and look at where you are now. The words go around and round in your head “how could it have come to this?”. The saying ‘here today gone tomorrow’ couldn’t ring any truer in your mind. You are now back at the bottom of the ladder, a place you hadn’t seen since you entered the job-world and thought you would never have to see again.
Now you’re back and wondering how to get back up again, or if you even can or if you could how long would it take you and would any of the odds be stacked in your favour. You recall a light-hearted comment that you were told by a friendly face prior to being there, “once you go in, you’ll never feel clean again”.
In the days that follow you begin the process of looking for work, but this time you begin to look for other jobs that are completely different to what you’ve been doing before. You decide to use your own experiences to help others in their lives. In go the job applications, hoping that someone will take note of what you and of your achievements as well as your own experiences and take a chance on you. What you lack in terms of professional experience you know you can more than make up for it in personal experience. Eventually interviews come in, not jobs but interviews, and whilst they may not be actually offering you any work, you’re filled with hope that you’ll get it. After all, the job is the next stepping-stone after the interview. You go to endless numbers of job interviews till you get the point where you joke with your family that if you could get a job where all you have to do is do continuous interviews, you’d practically get the job hands-down. Sadly, after the first you get your first reply ‘After much consideration we have decided not to pursue your application’, this coming along with ‘Unfortunately you have been unsuccessful with your application’. It turns into what feels like a gushing stream of ‘After much consideration we have decided not to pursue your application’, ‘Unfortunately you have been unsuccessful in your application’ ‘After much consideration we have’, ‘Unfortunately you have not been’, ‘After much consideration’ ‘Unfortunately you have’. Basically, it’s no after no, after no, after no.
All those no’s and afterwards you begin to question your employability, how employable you really are, or if you’re even worth employing, or if you really are destined to live on the bottom line.
You contemplate whether you might be better just going back to work for your previous employer whom you left before, you shudder at the thought but it slowly dawns on you that you might not have much choice. Thoughts go through your mind that even if you went to another branch the reasons why you left the previous one would be brought up, something you just don’t want to even think about. Another thought that also dawns on you is to return to the same working environment, but to an establishment that rivals the one you used to work in. It’s probably not what you where wanting but it dawns on you that you might have to and you remember the infamous saying “beggars can’t be choosers”.
Any ideas about going in to where you used to work are put to the back of your mind until further notice. Basically, till you’ve got another job. One of these is because you don’t want to face your former work friends and colleagues and, in not so straight forward words, admit that since you’ve left you haven’t got another job yet and you’ve signed-on. It is a potentially embarrassing scenario you just don’t want to find yourself in, so you choose to put it off until you are back in the job-world.
One day, and after seemingly endless days of job-hunts, interviews and rejections you get the offer of two job interviews, both on the same day. You attend them both and you come out with a positive feeling from the two but remembering that your luck could still go either way with either of the two. Your bad luck is confirmed when you get the reply from one saying that despite your good efforts the answer’s no. The blow is made even more depressing is that it came the same day of the interview, just a mere few hours later. Days pass and you don’t hear anything from the other one and you begin to wonder if you’re actually going to hear back from them at all. Eventually that day comes, however, there is a twist of fate. You are informed that you weren’t successful in getting the job you originally aimed for; however, however, fate seems to be somewhat nicer to you as you are offered another one, either way you take it and without a second thought. After all, it’s a job and there are possibilities of progression. You realize this means you don’t have to remain sign-on anymore. Eventually you start the new job, it’s been a long struggle but either way you’re there, you embrace your new job and the possibilities that could follow. In the days that follow you begin to pursue other interests outside of your new job whilst forever grateful that someone took a chance on you and now it’s your time to demonstrate they were right.
So here I am and this is the story of how my life changed in only 14 months, and I couldn’t be any happier. Life is starting to look positive again now.