A year ago today, I was called into the boardroom at work and fired.
No warning, no procedures followed, this was simply the culmination of a terrible year of systematic bullying which began shortly after my disclosure of MS. According to my employers, MS had made me a liability in the office and I was told to leave.
Looking back over that horrific day, I can see just how far I have come. I am no longer that cowed, bullied, humiliated person who got in her car and drove home in a daze, stunned by what had just happened.
This all took place during my MS diagnostic process, itself a torturous time of relapses, waiting, scans and more relapses. So not only was I facing up to a new life with a degenerative illness and all that entails, I was also at my lowest ebb from the relentless bullying meted out by my colleagues.
At first I was too tired to fight back. Bullies are clever. They slowly dismantle your self-esteem bit by bit. Undermining you, they make you doubt yourself and your capabilities. They shift the goalposts so often you can’t keep track. When that doesn’t break you, they will ostracize you, spread lies about you, snigger as you walk past or suddenly stop talking when you enter the room. School yard tactics maybe, but incredibly effective in the workplace.
Fast forward another few months and my employers settled out of court after I launched tribunal proceedings. I’ve been asked many times why I have never named the company or sector I worked in. I’m under no legal obligation not to do so, but I am not a malicious person. To do that would mean sinking to their level, playing them at their own tactics. Why bother? I have walked away with grace, with my head held high.
Instead, I now campaign for MS and employment rights and I try to help others going through similar situations. Isn’t that a better use of my energy than holding on to bitterness and regret? The few times I think about my ex-employers, I feel saddened that these people felt it necessary to bolster their own fragile egos by deliberately inflicting pain on me when I was in such a vulnerable position. I needed support and help back then, not merciless bullying.
That which does not kill you can only make you stronger? A well-worn cliché maybe, but so very true.
Shame on them and well done you!
I have wondered who they are, but the fact that you haven’t named them says a lot about you. I admire your attitude and your writing. x
Thank you Julie, that’s a lovely thing to say!
I feel very proud of myself that I didn’t sink to their level, however tempting it would have been. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to hold my head up high.
Not a truer word has been spoken, they are like blood hounds sniffing for there prey, but not only work, sometimes people around you, give that look, the look that says, here we go again, fight it, well SORRY, tell my body that, my mind is willing but the body wants something else.
Absolutely! Bullying is just plain nasty, in any form. It makes my blood boil.
Grrrr. This story makes me angry. It’s incredible that people would be so horrible. Maybe they weren’t individually awful, but taking the lead of your employers? Like a pack mentality? I’ve definitely experienced that (to a much, MUCH lesser degree and not because of my MS). A former boss liked to mock my political views in front of his toadies, who would chortle and play along. It was infuriating. Nothing nearly as dreadful as what you went through, but my point is that the toadies were okay people until my boss led the charge. Then they fell right in line with the inappropriate remarks and egged him on. Lovely.
Nasty! Sadly, I worked in an office with only three other colleagues, including my boss. So there was no HR department to take my complaint to. They were the HR department. So I had absolutely no recourse with regards to the bullying. So thankful it’s all history now. Terrible dark days.