Part 3 – A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words… of Hope
“How long does it take to recover from workplace bullying?” I asked.
“A lifetime,” He replied.
As I look back on that workplace bullying expert’s words, and an older blog post where I struggled with that very question, I now fully understand just how easily my workplace abuse experience could’ve consumed the rest of my life. But, today, I have a very different answer for fellow targets.
Welcome to my final blog of recovery!
The one where I share for certain that targets of workplace abuse CAN claim victory over this event in their life. That there IS life after workplace abuse, and it can be beautiful, meaningful, and even richer than before.
What inspired my final message of recovery? Interestingly enough, the same thing that first sparked the hope needed to recover in the first place…
It was early 2018 when I would be at the height of my pain after my workplace abuse event. I was deep in rumination and grief, and hopelessness had set in. I searched workplace bullying forums obsessively, trying to find others that had lived through this experience and survived it.
And then it finally appeared.
A photo of a target of workplace abuse and his wife actually enjoying a vacation. His caption?
“Those that hurt us are at work today.”
That photo represented the first ray of light I had seen. Could I actually return to enjoying life again like he had? Could I end up better off than those who were still where I should be?
The hope that photo provided that day would jump start my healing process.
Fast forward 2 years and I would find yet another photo that would prove just as powerful for me.
This past February, a beautiful, talented actress named Caroline Flack committed suicide. And although I hadn’t known of her before, her death created a deep curiosity within me.
While I could never know her past, the depths of her pain, or what had finally pushed her to make that final decision that day, I was relating to a few of her recent circumstances and I wondered:
Was it the sudden and devastating life-altering changes that had consumed her?
Did the shame from a past experience become too much to handle?
Was it the sudden loss of a job she had loved and dedicated herself to?
Or was it the isolation she found herself in that became too much to bear?
I knew all too well that any of these possibilities can be traumatizing, leading to chemical changes in the body and brain that can have devastating consequences – the most tragic, of which, is suicide. In fact, 29% of workplace bullying targets experience suicidal thoughts following their abuse.
But there was something even stronger emerging from her photos. I was feeling a message trying to come through – what I would hear was filled with hope and endless possibilities.
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words.. of Hope
As I logged back onto Caroline’s Instagram page, I gazed at each photo, all showing a life of beautiful moments. But it were the photos that would now be missing that would have the biggest impact on me. And that got me thinking…
What if someone could have shown Caroline all that life still had in store for her?
What if she could have seen a photo where her future was filled with just as much joy as she had known before? Perhaps a new fulfilling job, a new relationship, or traveling to a place she had always dreamt of?
Would it have changed her mind that day?
So, I began to look through my own photos. Photos taken after my own dark days. These are the moments that I couldn’t have imaged back in 2018. Moments that would’ve been stolen had I not reached out for help and started the work necessary to feel whole again.
I want to share some of these precious moments with you.
Because just like Graeme Raine’s photo sparked my hope on a dark day in 2018, and Caroline’s inspired my full recovery in 2020, I hope that somehow one of mine will give someone else the strength to hold on just one more minute, hour, day…just one more year.
Because they aren’t pictures of just what was possible for me… but what’s absolutely possible for you, too.
The Future of The Empowered Employee
I started this blog back in 2018 as both a personal healing tool and to let others know they’re not alone in their pain. That there are resources and options for their current situation. Just 2 1/2 years later, the EE has turned into so much more than I could’ve ever imagined.
I am the cofounder of ReDefine, the leader of a Dignity Together peer support group, the co-host of Two Targets Talk, and am working diligently to help pass the Dignity At Work Act. I have connected with countless targets and experts.
But, most importantly, I have found my way out of the darkness and back into the light.
Please don’t wait another day. Begin the journey of healing right now. Reach out to find the resources I have that can help you. Because I know for certain that you, too, have so many more beautiful moments to capture.
And I absolutely can’t wait to see them.
Where ever you are in your career, I wish you success, peace, and most of all, good health.
If you or someone you love is thinking about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255
As I close this chapter on my healing, I would like to thank all of those that have helped me in my journey. And while the list is long, here are a few of the biggest ones: My husband Matt, my ENTIRE family and so many friends, Carolyn, Monika, Janine, Joan, Sophie, Graeme, Deb, Robin, Jane, Linda, Jerry, Gary, David, Janice, Vicki, Heather, Julie and to each of you that have ever liked, shared, or supported my work. I wouldn’t be where I am without you.
I am forever grateful.