There were moments when I felt relationships were just a waste of time, I did not feel like talking to a single person, I felt lost and confused. I was always a socially active person and this withdrawal from people was a change that left me alone on weekends and many times just made me feel like there was not a soul who would understand. It did not help when I resorted to my parents because at times I felt they were responsible for my isolation, at other times I felt I was a burden on them. I felt like life was a burden and everything that was mundane was a weight to carry. There were moments when I wanted to just stop and cry and cry and cry, I did cry myself to sleep at times, or just burst into tears during the day. I did not stop the tears or bottle them; they were vents to the deep-seated turmoil in my head. My head was full of ideas yet I felt that every time I wanted to give up, there was a force that held me back.
Strong women like me do not break down; at least that is what everyone says. Last year I was in an organisation where a lot of things went wrong and looking back in retrospect I realized they could have been avoided. I had created situations unknowingly, that led to unpleasantness and problems since I was caught in the middle of power play and politics. There was a certain person who did not like my presence and made sure he did everything to make me leave, my resignation did not surprise him at all. He created an impossible, toxic environment of hatred, manipulation and negativity and chose to disarm my confidence and my faith in myself. It took a month of continuous ploys and planning for him to break me and rip me apart emotionally. One day I burst out in the washroom of the office and had a breathing attack, because I had cried so much and thrown up. That was the day I decided I had enough and would resign. The person came from a small town and was immensely insecure and fragile emotionally and chose to hide behind his power and position and dominate me. The minute he realized that there was more to me than just a headstrong and opinionated woman, his patriarchal nature took over and he created an atmosphere of chaos for me. The sad part to this story is that there was a person I trusted immensely who gave me advice that was not correct since he/she only got one side of the narrative and that ultimately led to my resignation. I saw a side of him that I would have never otherwise seen, it was shrewd, ugly and manipulative, hypocritical. This person was a friend’s partner and I had known him since 2007 before they started seeing each other, but even then I had not found him to be kind or gentle and I realized nothing had changed. I trusted in the wrong person and being let down was a shock that took me a lot of time to recover from. I was let down by a friend and I started thinking how I ended up with wrong people as friends. It made me question my own self-worth and caused me further heartache and trauma. My mum did not know all of this until very recently and was as shocked on hearing my entire narrative. I know I did not imagine some of the reactions; they were triggered and created to destroy my confidence and self worth. Also since I am a non-smoker I was not privy to the gossip in the smoking lot and the team chose to discuss most important things there and I would remain clueless about them.
I did not have a job or a back-up and started approaching people who had approached me earlier and managed to get find one after some negotiation. There was a common friend who I would be reporting to, I had not met her since plus two. The owner heading the social media agency was someone I had many mutual friends with, so I was looking forward to the entire experience. It did not take me long to understand I had walked into another trap. The common friend was the social media team leader and a nightmare to work with. She would not give clear briefs and was extremely impatient and had a severe temper issue. She would come erratically to the office and expect work to be done perfectly and keep changing the rules. I was working for big clients but would get nothing but stinkers from her and complaints on how I was not obeying her. She and the creative lead were a team and they would gang up against me to create impossible situations and make sure my work was badly represented. I started getting back ache and headaches with all the stress and everyday there would be ugly fights or a scene since she could not control her temper and an outburst was evident. Her partner was my Calcutta family friend’s daughter and in terms of the word small world, the circle was definitely close. There were two times I really cried badly at my workstation and had to go home. The other ridiculous incident was there was a water shortage in the office beyond 6pm in the evening and there would be no water in the washroom, this was a regular phenomenon. On a one day particular things got really bad, there was no water from the morning and we had to trek across to Alliance Franchise for using the washroom, it happened on the next day as well, apparently there was an issue with the pump. Mentally I had noted this as a flag and was on a hunt to look for better employers. Basics could not be compromised with or negotiated beyond a point. Employers had to ensure that their employees were comfortable considering that we spend a large chunk of our time at office.
Finally I decided I had enough and applied for jobs elsewhere and left when I got an opportunity that I liked. It was another toxic environment which would not be good for my resume or my mental health. I had been through a lot in 2013 and in 2015 I needed a safe, comfortable and empathetic workplace. A job that I had applied for in July showed up and I cleared all the rounds and jumped on board. I had managed to get rid of the toxic people and workplaces yet I was damaged and hurting. Like I mentioned in my earlier post I am a sensitive person and that works against me, I get affected by bad behavior and it impacts my ability to perform and do well.
Work wise by the end of 2015 I was in a better place after my second switch and felt safe. I did not vent beyond my point. August 5 2015 was when my father had a heart attack and we were racing between hospital and home and there was tons to do and no time for me to feel depressed or sad. My emotions were labeled and left on a shelf; little did I know I was creating a monster of the worst kind. It was at time I met someone who became a good friend and I was in a mixed space personally.
The point I am putting out there is there are many times when things go wrong and not as we imagined, we always have a choice to react, to act or even choose to stay in that situation. It is up to us to choose to walk out of toxic relationships or avoid them to ensure that we remain sane and can function well in our everyday jobs. I chose to avoid feeling sad and focus on my work and embrace possibilities despite being let down by people who I had implicit trust in.
Do not let life break you, find someone who you can vent to, if you cannot find someone then make sure you write it or share it in a space that is safe. It is important to get toxic emotions that have affected you out of your system. It affects my creativity and I will always choose my creativity over toxic rubbish. My creativity gives me a chance to express, share and enrich lives of others, whereas toxic relationships only lead me down-hill.