Abusive relationships leave scars. Whether or not the abuse was physical, thus leaving visible reminders, all abuse causes emotional scars. In some ways, these can be the harder recovery; they’re harder to see, harder to treat. The biggest, toughest scar to my mind is the damage caused to one’s ability to trust; it can poison all future relationships if not carefully addressed.
I’ve only recently realized that I am still recovering.
The damage to my trust wasn’t caused by a romantic or familial relationship, but by a professional one. At a previous job, I had an irresolvable personality clash with my boss. That’s putting it nicely. By the time I quit that job, I was regularly breaking down in tears on Sundays at the thought of having to go to work the next day and deal with that boss, who…
- Micromanaged while denying being a micromanager.
- Had an attitude toward breaks that verged on breaking the law.
- Backtracked on previously given instructions.
- Changed policies.
- Rarely said anything positive.
None of my co-workers were comfortable with that boss.
Like I said, I’ve only recently realized I’m still recovering from that experience. And I realized it because of my current temp gig, where the people are friendly and the atmosphere more relaxed than that old job. Where the boss…
- Trusts us to do our work without standing over us.
- Let us set our own schedules: when we arrive and leave and how long our lunch is (within reason).
- Is reasonable and approachable (“personable” comes to mind).
- Allows some flexibility, like letting us temps work longer days during a holiday week to make up hours lost to office closures.
- Expresses appreciation and thanks us for our effort (as do others in the office).
That last one is huge. And I have to say, it’s also one of the many positives of my copy editing position; my bosses there helped me start to get over the “bad” boss simply by being appreciative of my work, making me feel listened to and valued.
Thanks to these current positions (either/both of which I’d be quite happy to hang on to for the foreseeable future), I’m regularly being reminded that there are pleasant, positive, affirming work environments in the world. I was fortunate to have a few others around the unpleasant situation; if that had been my first ever job, I shudder to think how much harder it’d have been to recover.
I’m learning to trust again. I’m relearning that it’s okay to make reasonable requests, to ask questions, to enjoy the job, to relax into my work and get it done without constantly looking over my shoulder, to take a little initiative, even to offer input. And I’m remembering what it’s like to be treated like a responsible adult.
This is a Very Good Thing™.