I love people. I always have and always will. I like to be amongst life, doing things with people and I thrive off chaos and being busy. I’m sociable, chatty and totally hilarious.
I am also however; sensitive, fragile, hot-tempered and insecure. Because us human beings, we are complicated creatures with varying personalities made up of intricate layers. Now these seemingly unattractive traits are often the ones that we want to be kept hidden from the outside world. We hide them behind jokes and plenty of pictures of us having good times and all the vino-induced LOLs with our friends.
School was fairly average for me, despite going to an all girls school, my experience of bullying was always from the outside. I managed to escape fairly unscathed with a few close friends and only a few misdemeanours. Fast forward to adult life, and sadly it is something I have encountered too frequently. Because the mean girls at school grow up, and become the mean mums at the school gates, the mean women at the office, and the mean family members.
My recent tale of woe is a case of classic, narrow-minded, work-place bullying. I wrote about it on The Motherload Facebook community and I was amazed at how common it is. And not only that, how common it is for nothing to be done. There seems to be a societal problem where women do not want to make a fuss, maybe because they don’t have enough evidence, or as in my case, the bullying goes so far up into management that you have no one to complain to.
I worked in a small team in a large organisation. One with lots of strong women in management. This is something that the feminist in me usually would be jumping for joy over. This however was not the case. I had a boss who ruled by aggressive outbursts, bad behaviour and inflicting fear amongst colleagues – even her boss tiptoed around her. They didn’t reply to my message informing them I had given birth to my daughter, they didn’t write in my congratulations card, they didn’t speak to me for the nine months of my maternity leave. In fact on the one occasion I went in to talk to HR, my manager saw me struggling with my crying baby daughter, changing bag, pushchair and the heavy door, and she simply walked passed without acknowledging my presence.
Rather than boring you with all of the gory details, a selection of other the things that went down in the loathsome, soul-destroying life-draining place include being groped, shouted at, ridiculed and told by my line manager how much my top manager disliked me, hated women who had children out of wedlock, and how I should just leave and find a new job.
When I eventually returned to work after maternity leave I discovered that my job role had effectively been made redundant. They had taken down my name from my door and replaced it with that of my maternity replacement’s. This replacement sat at my desk with my locker, I didn’t even have a chair for the first three days. I didn’t get informed of new policies and procedures and as a result got verbal warnings for not adhering to them. I lasted three days and handed in my notice. I then had to work a further three weeks in such a stressful environment that I would hide in the toilets for hours at a time.
When I opened up about this on The Motherload it became clear that so many MOLOs had the same story to tell. As well as affecting your work life, that shit comes home with you and destroys relationships, family time, your confidence. Here are just a few snippets:
“It took me a long long time to get over it, it destroyed my professional confidence and I still struggle with some confrontations now”
“Upon my return the woman who had been covering my position did not take well to the fact I returned and took back my position. She made my life a living hell.”
“I could no longer take the atmosphere. I had suffered with PND and was slipping back into depression, my husband and I argued constantly as I was so unhappy.”
“I was bullied at work for almost a year. I left, took them to court for contractual dismissal and won. It almost cost me my mental health and I still have nightmares, but I wouldn’t let them win.”
In my experience, the bullying is one thing and the closure is quite another. How did my story end? I would like to say that these awful people got their comeuppance, but – such is life – they did not. I did not end up winning a lawsuit, become filthy rich and lay sitting on a beach somewhere sipping G&Ts with my freshly waxed fanny. They all still work there, they are probably all still stewing in their dismal pits of self loathing. But I am not. I am free. Bruised, ever-so slightly damaged, and a little bit sad, but I am moving forward. I am healing. And I do get a G&T even if its just in my normal suburban life, after bath time with my most definitely not waxed fanny.
It is easy to preach kindness. It is easy to tell people to love each other. But it is another thing to practice it. So MOLOs, women, mean girls at school, mean mums at the school gates, the mean women at the office, and the mean family members – how about we all stop being dicks and #LoveAnotherMother instead.
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A normal mum of two daughters living a chaotic, gin infused life. Spending my life standing on My Little Ponies and Shopkins. Instagram and scented candle-obsessed. Occasional hippy and serious shopaholic. Passionate about politics and lipstick.
Image credit: Kev Seto on UnsplashTags: harrassment MOLO Motherhood office bully Parenting stress The Motherload workplace bullying