How I Survived Workplace Mobbing In Aviation
I love the song, “I’m a Survivor” by Destiny’s Child (2001). It’s especially moving for survivors of workplace mobbing.
There’s something so powerful about it. From the first sound of that helicopter barreling towards the shoreline to that chorus where they fiercely claim victory over their darkest hour, you can feel it touching on something primal.
It’s the anthem of hope, determination, and of ultimate SURVIVAL.
Little did I know that 17 years after it’s release, it would serve as my marker of healing.
You see, I loved my job… and then I lost it… and it was devastating.
I really do have to say it again…
I. LOVED. MY. JOB. I loved everything about it. The industry, my company, the people I worked with. I loved the crazy customers and even the ridiculous work schedule. I led teams, started new initiatives, and won awards.
I’d made a name for myself and built a strong reputation. All of those things provided a great sense of fulfilment, accomplishment, gratitude….and security.
I had found my place.
I was a LIFER and everyone knew it, and no one more than me.
It wasn’t until about a month after I left that I found out there was an actual NAME for what happened to me….and it was shocking…
WORKPLACE MOBBING (which is like workplace bullying on steroids).
Honestly, I hadn’t heard the word bullying outside the context of the schoolyard and wasn’t aware of the term workplace mobbing at all. It’s not that I was naive, or inexperienced.
I was educated, a 16 year industry veteran, and had been in the workforce for 27 years. I had my share of difficult bosses, employee misunderstandings, and had worked through changes of management. Up until this point, I had survived them all, learning from each one and becoming a stronger leader because of it.
What I had never experienced was the unrelenting barrage of covert antics for such an extended period of time, which ultimately started to affect my health. I was left with two choices…try to stay and retain my benefits or leave everything I loved and worked for in order to survive.
I Chose To Survive
To my surprise, hundreds of thousands of people shared my story – the sudden aggressive conversations, the false accusations, the unwarranted discipline and low evaluation….the lack of acknowledgement, the discrediting of the work that was once praised and the attack to my character and reputation (the absolute most painful aspect of bullying for me).
I became obsessed and I had to find out why mobbing happens, how it escalates, and what the outcome is.
All the aspects of my experience were there in the research I did. Every last painful detail explained in bizarre exactness.
This brought a mix of emotions. First I was so relieved to finally have some answers; to realize I wasn’t going crazy or taking things the wrong way. I also learned that I had no control over workplace mobbing or the outcome, and that certainly helped.
But it also opened up the floodgates of realization that led to crippling, uncontrollable emotions. As I read about the betrayals, the lies, the red flags that I missed or ignored, I could see more clearly what took place and it became too much. I would weep hysterically at a drop of a hat and suddenly felt myself withdrawing.
I was overwhelmed and my body finally began to respond to what I had been though. All the strength that was required to fight my battle for the past 9 months was used up and suddenly released physically. For the first time in my life I was dealing with full blown anxiety. A sense of how unsafe the world was and an intense sadness at the loss.
So, even if you take out the benefits and monetary losses, what really hurt was the meaningful stuff like the loss of my career, friends, dreams and goals, the loss of my reputation, of control.
But the hardest hitting was the loss of my belief that truth and justice wins in this world. I still struggle to hold on to this last one. Letting it go would require denying one of the things I love most about myself: My ability and desire to believe doing good matters and being truthful and fair is a virtue worth having.
I’m determined to move past this experience and to fully embrace all of the special gifts life gives to those who experience hardship and trauma. Many of the things spelled out in Destiny’s Child song: To come out stronger, have more laughter, become wiser, smarter and the ability to be back ON TOP.
Therefore I find myself almost 5 months into recovery, sitting at a computer, finally writing my story.Until this point it had been too difficult to do. However, I knew I had to hear MY VOICE again. For so long, all I have heard were the voices and actions of those that hurt me and those that did not understand what this experience was like.
“I’m A Survivor” is currently on constant replay for me. It will be until I have conquered this unfortunate event in my life.
I want to be clear: instead of this song delivering a message to my abusers, it’s a message I’m delivering to myself. They didn’t care if I’d be weaker without them (they just wanted me gone).
The truth is…
“I’m a SURVIVOR
I’m gonna make it
I will survive
Keep on survivin’ “
“I’m a Survivor” – Destiny’s Child (2001)
Fore more information about workplace bullying, visit Free Spirited Me.