A Powerful Experience and Important Life Lesson

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When I have moments of doubting my inner-strength, or when I feel that I am not completely in control of a situation, I think back to a moment in my life that makes me feel strong and proud. This is the day I stood up to my bully and came out on top. It was also the day that I answered back to my manager and stormed out of my workplace.

The bully was, of course, my manager. She was not the only bully in my place of work, but she was the one who stood out to me as being the most vindictive and manipulative of them all. She and four or five other members of staff spent a year making my life a misery. They concocted situations to set me up to fail, built up a case of fabricated evidence against me to use as ‘cause for dismissal’ and gradually knocked me so low that I ended up on anti-depressants and absolutely hated myself.

They had taken away everything I had worked for and by doing so, had turned me into a scared, nervous, paranoid individual who was no longer capable of performing my duties. I was told it would get worse unless I demoted myself. So I did. Then I was told that my new position was being made redundant. That was the last straw.

The fight had left me up until this point. But as soon as they had accomplished their goal (of arranging my official leaving date), their bullying behaviour eased off. This gave me the freedom to watch them more closely and witness them using similar tactics on other members of staff. Many of these staff members proceeded to quit. I watched and I waited. I wrote things down. I built up a case. I spoke to my colleagues and listened to their sides of the story. I identified a pattern in the abuse that the manager and her followers were inflicting on their colleagues. Another thing I noticed was how they were successfully moulding my replacement (in the supervisor position I had been in before demoting myself) into a similar version of themselves. It made me sick.

Two weeks before my official last day, my manager seemed to remember my existence again. She took me somewhere private and attempted to assert her authority over me again. She used scare tactics and tried to make me feel small and stupid and insignificant. This time, it didn’t work. I had grown stronger in the short time that she had forgotten to terrorise me. That was her mistake.

Whereas in the past, my face would go red, I would fight tears and admit my (imagined) failings and agree with her that I was a useless waste of space; this time I stood tall and proud. I lifted my chin and looked her in the eye. I did not back down. I was assertive, tactful, polite and diplomatic. I was the master of my emotions. My manager, seeing that she had lost control of me, proceeded to lose control of herself. Before my eyes, she unravelled, becoming apoplectic with rage. The words she uttered were disgraceful and her body language was threatening. And through it all, I affected indifference. She was giving me gold; she was giving me a reason to report her.

Then, in the middle of it all, she said something which made me realise that she still had power over me – “Now get back out there and DO YOUR JOB!”

She was my manager. She could make me do whatever she wanted. She could make me return to my duties (after an upsetting ordeal), where I would be expected to scrape and bow to her every whim, and she was free to go back to her cosy office and laugh at me with her supporters. She was abusing her power – I knew it and she knew I knew it. She also knew that I would never question this, as I was afraid of the repercussions…

Except, this time, I wasn’t afraid. I had finally come to accept what my friends and family had long been telling me; she was only a person. One person should not be able to control another person. My life belonged to me.

After all, I was leaving in two weeks and had no job to go to. What difference would it make if I left two weeks early? No, I might not receive my redundancy pay, but then, it was a measly amount anyway. Why sell my integrity for money? Why allow this woman to destroy me? What job is worth that?

So I looked her right in the eye, said goodbye and proceeded to the staff room to fetch my bag. My manager visibly panicked and threatened to report me to head office. I told her that was fine, because I would be speaking to them about how she had bullied me for the past year. She tried to argue, but it made no difference. I had decided to separate myself from a toxic situation.

Where before there had been no tunnel, now there was not only a tunnel, but an explosion of light at the end of it. I walked out of the door without a backwards glance. In that moment, my manager realised that she had lost and I had won.

She no longer had any control over me.

I am now bathing in the light that was at the end of that tunnel. And, you know what? It’s bright out here.

 

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