It’s not always easy to handle a bully, but when the bully is your boss and your workplace is your social life, the pain is immediately profound.
Two years of pain. Two years of me blaming myself, feeling (mistakingly) that I could somehow do better and the bullying would come to an end. I was brutally unaware that the their behavior never had anything to do with me. There is nothing I could have done that could have ever changed their minds.
This sort of conundrum faces more people than we would like to admit. According to workplacebullying.org, 1 in 5 experience it. The victim is often portrayed as the perpetrator. Lies are told and rumors are spread to justify the behavior of the real perpetrator — the bully behind the veil. Toxic people portray themselves as the good guy at the cost of you and your reputation. You sink, and you did nothing wrong.
Two years later, I finally gathered the courage to put an end to it. During that moment, I was labeled a bad person, falsely branded a drug addict, and tagged with stories and humiliations that never were true. In the end, the only explanation they ever had was that it was because I was “super laid back, and people couldn’t keep up with me.”
My heart sank.
Lessons were learned in that moment. And the most profound lesson of them all was that nobody can mistreat you without your permission. If you allow it, they will do it. Bullying never has to do with you. It has to do with the narcissism and insecurity of the bully.
I began a new job at a car dealership and became full time after leaving my previously toxic situation. I was embraced with open arms, well respected, and treated right. I was amazed. After years of being beat down like a tree in a hurricane, I felt peace. I felt accepted. I was complimented for hard work and dedication towards my job. I was treated like a person – one with feelings and with a purpose.
These toxic people from my previous job still try to bring me down. In a sense, they won. Justice isn’t guaranteed in this world. They got their way, and ruined my reputation.
But I won too, and I won by doing better for myself. I won by finding people who deserved me in their life. I won by gaining the courage to put an end to it myself.
Bullying never has anything to do with you. It’s only a reflection of the insecurity that the bully cannot unfeel.