As I write, it is dreary out and my sun lamp is going full blast.
So here’s my story…
In June, I quit my job of 6 years. What had once been a fun, stable, learning, growing, environment started to crumble around year 2. The charismatic, big-picture boss left and his neurotic, emotional, misogynist underling (let’s call him Mr. Potbelly) was promoted. He, in turn, hired a passive aggressive nightmare (let’s call her Ms. Greasy Hair) for his replacement.
And so, things began to crumble.
By year 4, HR was involved because Mr. Potbelly was describing maternity leave as “One Man Down” and telling staff members things like “Indian women would find it a compliment to be called a cow. Well at least in certain castes” (shit you not).
Ms. Greasy Hair meanwhile wasn’t dealing with the fact that a co-worker was sleeping on the floor during the day, showing up high and had thrown packages at me because she didn’t like that I had taken her off a project.
Like any bad relationship, I believed things would get better.
The bad times were so bad but the good times were so good. I loved my co-workers and I enjoyed what I was doing. And we were fighting to make things better. Things would get better.
But they didn’t get better. My stress levels were reaching new heights. The phone ringing made me jump because I didn’t know if it was Mr. Potbelly or Ms. Greasy Hair calling to make my life miserable in a new way.
In year 5, I learned that the two of them, either by incompetence or sheer malice, had lied to me about my career growth opportunities over the years. I had several time made requests for promotions of one kind or another and had been told on each occasion that HR had said no. So when I finally went to HR myself, I was informed that no request had ever been made. It’s a truly dumbfounding experience to sit across from an HR officer and have them say, “No, no one ever asked us about that and if they had, we certainly wouldn’t have said no.”
Or so I thought. I sat down with Potbelly and Greasy Hair and confronted them about what I had learned. Potbelly turned red, stammered and denied. Greasy Hair was silent and then left work for the day.
Only guess what? Nothing changed.
They never apologized and they certainly never made any changes. In fact, they started to retaliate. Now they were nitpicking my every move and calling me out whenever they could.
If you’re familiar with U.S. human resources, then you know “retaliation” is the mightiest word of all. You cannot retaliate. And I worked for a company with a large HR department. Large enough to be scared of that word.
Ok seriously, THIS TIME, I’ve got them. I’ve caught them in their lies and when I brought it to their attention, they retaliated against me. I could take this to HR and finish them off.
Only when I did, nothing changed.
That’s right. HR wanted to handle the matter “privately” which apparently means not dealing with it.
Are you screaming – WHY ARE YOU STILL AT THIS JOB GIRL? GET A NEW ONE!!!!!!!!!
I couldn’t. At this point, I was so broken I couldn’t. I had put in so much and it seemed SO UNFAIR that I would be the one to leave when THEY are the problem. THEY should leave.
And where would I go? I was so burnt out when year 6 rolled around that I had reached survival level and was just trying to put one foot in front of the other. I couldn’t think about looking for much less applying for other jobs.
And so one day, after Ms. Greasy Hair told me that since I had complained about other people’s mistakes I needed to learn that I made mistakes too, I realized, I had to quit. I had to just…quit. I couldn’t wait for them to change and I couldn’t start something new in my broken condition.
So in June, I did.
Seriously now. THIS time was different. I thought that as my parting gift I would really and truly get them. They needed me and I left during the busiest time. FINALLY they would crack under the pressure and be seen for what they are.
You’re not going to be as surprised by this as I am. Potbelly and Greasy still haven’t changed. In fact, from what I’ve heard from my friends still there, they’ve dug their heels in deeper.
Everyone says that they will get their comeuppance or that being them is punishment enough.
Do you know what’s not comforting? That.
This isn’t the first or worst thing that’s been done to me. But it continues to hurt because it seems like a reminder that shitty people can just go on being shitty and their punishment is just…being themselves?
Unlike when I was a child, this time I had a voice. I was able to speak up for myself. And I tried to do it adulting style. I tried to do the right thing and go through the proper channels. And in the end, they won. Or so it feels.
I know that holding on to hurt isn’t helping me. In this case, it’s basically like I’ve quit my job and yet I’m still working there for free.
Kesha’s Praying has been on my playlist this week. I want to get to a place where I can let it go and just hope that their soul is changing, instead of hoping they get what’s theirs. It’s hard when you’ve been hurt so deeply so many times.
Do you know what I mean? Is this something you’ve experienced? How do you quit? How do you quit the toxic people and then quit the hurt? Any adulters out there who can share their wisdom?