The Empowered Employee

The Top Ten Things That Sucked Most About Workplace Abuse Recovery

I’m often asked about my recovery and what it took to find that illusive treasure chest filled with peace. And while many of my blogs have touched on different aspects of my recovery, the lack of a clear path can send even the most determined target on a goose chase for closure.

You won’t find me rocking any rose-colored glasses of hindsight in this blog. I go straight for the jugular of recovery.

Yes, parts of recovery really, really sucked.. and here’s the top 10 things that were the worst:

(The below list is in no particular order. They were equally difficult, depending on the stage of grief I was in, and my ability to accept the truth of each at the time)

1. I Had To Admit I Was Bullied… Even Worse, Abused

It was essential that I correctly named what happened to me. Finally discovering that name was both shocking and distressing. Learning that I’d been bullied in the workplace was a hard pill to swallow, but one I needed to digest if I wanted to understand my injuries. This also helped me seek the specific tools needed to ensure progress in healing and not further harm.

2. I Had To Accept I Would Never Have All The Answers

Much of the Who, What, When, Where and Why of my story took place behind closed doors. If I wanted to end the constant rumination, I needed to find some answers. I did this by researching workplace bullying, using the information to fill in the gaps, and writing my story from the perspective of a victor and not a victim.

3. I Had To Believe In The Unbelievable

With every fiber of my being, it felt like life as I’d known it was over. That my new hyper-vigilant, suspicious, and fearful state of being was now a permanent one. And as hopeless as it all felt, there came a time when my inner being longed for a way out of the darkness. It was in this moment that I clung to hope, even in the complete absence of it.

4. Recovery Takes An Unfamiliar Village

Unfortunately, this trauma couldn’t be overcome with the usual pep talk from a good friend, advice from a popular self-help book, or a few visits to a therapist’s office. Recovery from workplace abuse required the help of multiple experts, developing a curiosity beyond my circumstances, implementing many new life practices, and the courage to keep going in the face of overwhelming obstacles.

5. I Had To Forgive Myself Even Though It Wasn’t My Fault

I had to forgive myself for not knowing what I didn’t know. That included letting go of actions I took that escalated the situation. Putting up with behaviors I normally wouldn’t have. Pushing my body too far, fighting for too long, and refusing to accept the reality of my situation. Forgiving myself released the hold these regrets had on my recovery.

6. I Had To Move Past The Injustice

Moving past the injustice is by far one of the worst deals in recovery. But the undeniable fact is that very few targets ever get justice for their mistreatment. In the U.S, Workplace Bullying is still legal. Companies overwhelmingly side with bullies over targets. And the current legal system favors employers, not employees. To find peace, I had to stop fighting and start searching for ways to reduce the feelings of bitterness and anger.

7. I Had To Do Things I REALLY Didn’t Want To Do

And I mean, REALLY didn’t want to do. I had to learn to “forgive” the unforgivable, be grateful for things I never wanted, and explore options for my life I never planned on. I needed to think positive amid overwhelming negatives, and face fears most people spend a lifetime being able to avoid. None of these things I wanted to do… but what I knew I absolutely couldn’t do was allow a bunch of bullies to ruin the rest of my life.

8. I Had to Take Responsibility For My Healing

There was only one person who could decide when enough was enough. I had to say when I had hid away for too long, cried too much, and had too many sleepless nights. No one else could prioritize my recovery for me. This would be something only I could do. 

9. I Wouldn’t Be Myself Again For A Really Long Time

It was petrifying to go from healthy to sick, carefree to anxious, fearless to fearful, social to anti-social, and happy to depressed. I missed my old self dearly. The interesting paradox I discovered was that while my body was the first to tell me that something was wrong, it was the last to assure me I was better. My body needed additional time to return to full equilibrium.

10. I Couldn’t Control My Healing Timeline

Every single aspect of this multifaceted abuse had to be faced, felt, and processed. Some areas of my recovery took days, others weeks, still others, months. Some struggles came and went, but most kept returning, some even after I’d already claimed victory over them. Accepting that recovery was not linear helped me be kinder, gentler and more patient with myself during the process.

 So, Recovery Sucks…That’s It?

Thankfully, no! Turns out, the parts of recovery that are the hardest yield the highest return. Those seemingly impossible feats lead to incredible transformations and life lessons. We develop a stronger belief in ourselves, and find our lives once again filled with meaning and purpose. 

I have seen in others, and now in myself, how resilient the human spirit is. The ability to rise again, even after facing the most challenging circumstances, resides in each of us. 

Someone else’s heroic recovery story doesn’t have to be something you just read about. You CAN overcome just as valiantly. 

Are you ready for your own heroic ending?

Wherever you are in your career or recovery, I wish you success, peace, and most of all, good health.

Janice XO

If you’re new to my writing, you can visit me at The Empowered Employee to read more of my blogs and find the resources I found helpful. You can also join me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.



  • reply


    Thank you for your insight into the recovery process..

    April 22, 2021
  • reply

    Janice Harper

    Excellent piece, and each topic is worthy of a longer discussion. Bullying can strip us of our dignity, security, income and friends, but it can only destroy us if we let it. Refusing to be destroyed, but instead empowered and changed for the better, is healing.

    May 18, 2021
  • reply

    Melody Gonzales

    Thank you, I needed this. I work at a place where I’m bullied at. And it’s not fun, I feel like I’M back I JR High School.

    February 16, 2022
    • reply

      It can very much feel that way. So glad something in the article resonated with you. I hope you are taking good care.

      July 18, 2022

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