Climbing to the Top

 

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In a world filled with hateful and wicked people, let your light shine. Make a difference in the lives of those around you, lifting others up, praising and encouraging our loved ones and peers, and proactively changing our world for the better.

Pier M. Forni, author of The Civility Solution: What To Do When People Are Rude and director of The Civility Initiative at Johns Hopkins University says, “In today’s America, incivility is on prominent display: in the schools, where bullying is pervasive; in the workplace, where an increasing number are more stressed out by coworkers than their jobs; on the roads, where road rage maims and kills; in politics, where strident intolerance takes the place of earnest dialogue; and on the web, where many check their inhibitions at the digital door.”

In a world filled with amazing technological advances, increased knowledge, answers at our fingertips, responses within seconds, and the ability to easily travel anywhere in the world, we still battle a centuries old plague. . . bullying.

Contrary to conventional belief, the targets of office bullies are not the new, inexperienced and less confident employees. The targets, according to research, are the highly competent, accomplished, experienced and popular employees because they pose the greatest threat to the bullies. And when bullies find targets that refuse to be controlled and intimidated, they escalate their behavior.

Not all forms of workplace bullying happen within the same office or company.  There are companies that bully their competitors, making it nearly impossible for the competing company to thrive in the same area. And I am about to tell you one such story. This has occurred between companies that I know of personally, however, I have changed the names to protect the individuals affected.

Mr. Fred is a Salesman with LiteBrite and he covers a large region of a few states. He works closely with toy companies in those states to ensure that they are getting the best products and best prices so that when they sell them to their customers they will still make a decent profit. Mr. Fred is not like your usual salesman, he is honest and goes out of his way to help everyone in his region. And he treats everyone equally, because in helping them achieve success, he’s also going to be successful. So, everyone wins, right?

Not in the eyes of Mr. Gold, the top salesman for Luna Toys. He didn’t think that any of the other toy companies in his region should be allowed to sell LiteBrite. And because Mr. Fred won’t give in to his complaints and wishes to be an exclusive LiteBrite sales location, Mr. Gold began complaining to the top executives of LiteBrite. Mr. Gold was ruthless in his endeavor to ruin Mr. Fred’s good name, get him fired from LiteBrite, and also ruin possibilities for the toy stores in his area to sell LiteBrite.  Luckily, LiteBrite is very aware of Mr. Fred’s good character and so they did not give in to Mr. Gold’s wishes to have Mr. Fred fired. But it hasn’t stopped.  Mr. Gold has a vendetta to ruin business for all of his competitors, and he bullies them with lies, threats, spying, and accusing them of bad business.  In the end, he is the problem and someone has to put an end to the type of mentality that you can run over everyone along the way to get to the top.

I realize this may sound like a silly little story, but it is a real life scenario.  These situations occur in every walk of life, in every type of business situation, and many people are miserable in their jobs because of a workplace bully that will not put an end to their constant taunting.  Even if you defend yourself, show proof that you are not at fault, show proof that you are performing at your best, and prove yourself until you are blue in the face. . . the bully’s tactics will only become stronger. They will not cease until either you are out of the picture or they are gone.  One thing is for sure; the problem of workplace bullying will not go away anytime soon and may never be fully remedied until enough people call for a return to a culture of civility, and demand that governments and organizations take action. Truly successful people help one another along the road to success. When you walk all over everyone on your way to the top, there will be no one left to help you in your time of need or crisis. And believe me, those times will come.

Workplace bullying occurs in many different forms, on different levels, and from various ranks within a company. It may be a supervisor, a boss, a co-worker, someone in a different department, someone competing for recognition, someone competing for sales, or even an employee you first thought was a friend.  Bullying can show up in the form of harassment, degradation, sexual harassment, threats to take your job if you don’t do as they say, threats to get you fired if you speak a word of their bad conduct, and just plain bullying behavior that leaves you miserable and dreading to be near them. Many victims of workplace bullying, much like other types of abuse, are afraid to speak up for fear of not being taken seriously. The world is always ready to shame the victim for the way they are treated. But we have to step up and speak up to win the war against abuse. It’s time to come together in your office and speak out against the harassment that is taking place, encourage others to go to supervisors or HR departments to file a formal complaint. Nothing will change if we stay silent. It’s never too late to make a difference. Stand up for your rights. Stand up for the rights of others. Stand up for respect.

~Christa G.

The Silent Abuser

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I have never truly respected my body. I’ve loathed and despised it almost since I was even a child. I hated my knobby knees, gangly limbs, and flat chest. When I got older, I disguised my flaws with push-up bras and bobby pins and makeup. Hours were spent sculpting my hair and concealing my blotchy complexion. High heels tortured my toes but accentuated my calves. And tanning beds temporarily cured me of my vampiric pallor. I trussed myself up, presenting my body to the world all photoshopped and enhanced. And even then, I still hated the way I looked.

I thought I wasn’t sexy because everyone who was fatter than me made themselves feel better by saying, “Men don’t want to have sex with a stick.” Society began to imprint in my brain that being skinny was being sickly. I felt healthy. I ate anything I wanted and never gained an ounce. I would have been okay with that until I learned it was something feared and despised. So I started trying to gain weight. And when I couldn’t, I just gave up and learned to live with hating my body.

If all of the terrible things I said to myself on a daily basis were said aloud by the person I loved, that person would be a sadistic and selfish abuser.

I felt alone.

How many of us grew up hating our bodies? How many of us let society and those around us dictate how we dressed and how we looked? How many of us felt like we had to compensate somehow for our lack of celebrity good looks? How many of us found ourselves defining our worth through the person we dated? How many of us?

I wonder sometimes why there is such an overwhelming number of people who are in abusive relationships (physical, mental, economical, or verbal). There are so many ways we let others control us. Why? Why don’t we see through their lies and manipulation? Is it because love is blind? Or is it because we already abuse ourselves?

If all of the terrible things I said to myself on a daily basis were said aloud by the person I loved, that person would be a sadistic and selfish abuser. Now that I’m older and am gaining weight, I’m learning all new ways to hate myself again.

“You’re stomach is getting so fat and your boobs stay so small.”

“You need to lose weight, you’re gross.”

“You’re so stupid.”

“You’re so selfish.”

“You’re not a good friend.”

“You will die alone because nobody likes you.”

“You’re pathetic, why do you even try?”

I’m ashamed to say, I have told myself all of those things at one time or another, sometimes all in the same day. I have abused myself so terribly, all while trying to educate and empower others about the dangers of abusive relationships. Yet, I have barely touched on the most important relationship of all: your relationship with yourself.

. . . we already abuse ourselves . . .

We need to be kinder to ourselves. We need to treasure our bodies and tell ourselves daily how beautiful or handsome we are and how we matter as individuals.

“I am beautiful.”

“I am smart.”

“I matter.”

“I am a good friend.”

“I am surrounded by loved ones.”

“I am worthy of respect and love.”

The next time you look in the mirror or sit in self-reflection, work on complimenting yourself. We teach others how to treat us and if we are already treating ourselves with so little respect, others will learn from our example. What are you teaching others about yourself?

Feel free to leave a comment telling us what you love about yourself.

~Lindsey V.

When Trusting You is Killing Me

 

 

Trust . . . it’s a big one. It’s HUGE.

You cannot have a successfully healthy relationship without trust.

Without trust, doubt runs rampant.

Without trust, your mind can play games.

Without trust, you will not be able to respect the other person.

I married at the age of 19. I was young, naïve, and didn’t know the meaning of doubt. I didn’t know it was possible for someone who loved me, to lie and disrespect me.

“You need to tell your husband to stop emailing my fiancé,” came the demand from a man I had never met, nor spoken to.

“What? What are you talking about?” was my surprised response.

He then proceeded to read emails that he found in his fiancé’s archived messages, from my husband, in which he claimed I was a terrible wife, a lazy mother, and I never took care of anything.

I was flabbergasted. I was the exact opposite of all of the accusations he brought against me. And while there was no romantic evidence in those emails, there was only one intent behind him gaining her pity.

Even while writing about it, the memory of the adrenaline rush and utter disbelief came rushing back to me.

Covered in a cold sweat and fighting off nausea, I hid in the bathroom, curled up on the floor, and tried to keep myself from shaking to death.

He stood outside the door and begged for forgiveness, claiming he only said those things because he knew that he was guilty of them himself and it made him feel like a loser.

And so, I felt sorry for him, and that began a long line of excuses, tall tales, and undeserved forgiveness.

This was the first panic attack of many to come in later years. We had been married for 3 years, he had just returned from Iraq, and it was the beginning to a long, drawn out history of lies, cheating, manipulation, and verbal abuse.

This was the beginning of many years of misery, degradation, pain, tears, and depression.

This was the beginning of a million empty apologies and pleas for my forgiveness.

This was the beginning of me giving him the benefit of the doubt and allowing “one more” chance to make things right.

NO MORE . . . After 12 long years, I was finally able to put an end to the madness and left.

You can only offer your forgiveness so many times, before the emotional roller coaster of being let down over and over eventually takes its toll on your mental health.

Yes, most often, you have to take a leap of faith and allow yourself to trust. Just don’t allow your trust to be stomped on time and time again.

There is a time to heal and work on your relationship, and there is a time to put your foot down.

If you find yourself being asked for forgiveness for the same mistakes every time, then you must realize . . . they are no longer mistakes, but choices being made consciously. Knowing they will hurt you and knowing that you will forgive them.

Stand up. Stand Out. Stand Tall. Take back your life, find what makes YOU happy and do it!

~Christa G.

 

A Mother’s Love

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(Left to right: my brother, my beautiful mother, me looking demonic, my handsome father, Christa looking deliriously happy, my oldest sister)

Normally our posts are centered on domestic abuse and what signs to look out for. But today, we are going to take a brief break in honor of Mother’s Day.

I have always grown up with a deep respect for the strength of the female spirit. I guess that came with the territory of being in a household made up of predominantly women. Yet, I never truly realized how strong my mother was until I grew up to understand all the tribulations of adulthood. I am not yet a mother, myself, but I am surrounded by them. I witness all the little and big sacrifices that they make. And I have come to understand all the hardships my mother faced taking care of four kids on a low income. My father had his own business and at times it was extremely stressful. Through it all, my mother worked practically full time and at the end of a hard day would come home to continue her other job . . . cleaning and cooking and making sure we brushed our teeth and bathed. Even our parakeet would mimic her commands, “Go brush your teeth!” In the midst of all that stress, of being the only one to earn a consistent income (don’t get me wrong, my dad’s business still made money but it was feast or famine), the only one to cook and clean and take care of the kids, she never once raised her voice to us in anger. Even when we raided her sewing kit after she specifically told us not to. Even when we played dress-up in her clothes in the attic. Even when we chased each other through the house with water guns. Or that time we turned her dining room into a safari, with tents made out of our sheets.

The most important thing, though, is that she taught her daughters to respect themselves. She always harped on us to go to college and get a degree before we married. Of course, sometimes life happens and our plans change, but she was there to support us. Despite a low income, she still managed to save for piano lessons for me and my sisters. Despite her day job, she still managed to sew clothes for us. Despite all of this time spent taking care of everyone else, she managed to find time to write books and paint. She is the reason I got into writing and editing. She is the reason I got out of my abusive relationship. She was there to help me rebuild myself after he had completely torn down my self-esteem. I sometimes wonder, if my mother had not been there to help me through that time, would I have left? If I had not had her support and care and a place to fall back on, would I have stayed because I had nowhere else to go? Hopefully, I would have eventually reached out to organizations like ALIVE or Safe Connections. I don’t think I really knew about such organizations until I started writing this blog with my sister. But then again, I didn’t have a reason to try and find out about such organizations because my mother was there to help me through it.

So today, I would like to thank my mother for her indomitable strength and influence. For always being there to support my dreams and guide my future. For believing in me when my own faith in my abilities was shaken. And for loving me despite my many flaws. Thank you for passing on that strength and wisdom to me. For reading my crappy starter novels and saying they were great anyway. For loving my sloppy scribbles and encouraging me to continue drawing. For listening to me practice hours and hours of mundane beginner piano and making me feel like Mozart. For always lifting me up and helping me realize what real love is. Thank you.

~Lindsey V.

Numbered

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Time does not slow for anyone.

Time holds no prejudice.

Time passes unnoticed.

Time takes everyone, eventually.

Our normal MO has been to cover topics about domestic abuse and signs of toxic relationships. Today however, I’m going to switch it up a bit. There are so many things that we take advantage of in this day and age. Poor management of our time being one, and improper time management can lead to unnecessary stress. Excess stress often leads to different forms of abuse in the home and workplace, which can cause extreme mental health issues.

When you stop to think about time, and I mean really stop and think, you realize how precious and short it is. Our moments on earth are numbered and we often take them for granted until they are gone. Our babies grow into adults in the blink of an eye. As we age, our lives perpetually change. As we grow, we live, we love, we laugh, we cry, we fail, we succeed, we gain family, and we lose family. It’s the circle of life. Make that circle the best it can be. Make the moments count. Make them fun. Make memories. Don’t let time go by unaccounted for.

I am an abuser of time. I am an incredibly unorganized person, if it’s not in my calendar with an alarmed reminder, I forget about it.

I have days, where I’m crunched for time and have to drag my kids out the door yelling and screaming.

I have days where I forget to eat, or forget to feed my cat.

I have days where I forget to schedule in that parent-teacher conference.

I have days where I forget to make time to talk with my friends.

I have days where I forget to call my Grandparents.

I have days where my kids want my attention and I say I don’t have time.

Don’t have time? To spend precious minutes watching my child dance in the living room. . .

There will come a day when our children won’t be around to dance in the living room. They will be off at college, starting their own careers, starting their own families. Will it really kill our schedule to spend thirty minutes letting our children dance, sing, or read to us? Read one extra book before bedtime. Sit around the table for dinner and talk about the day. It’s become normal to be constantly on the run. We have different schedules for sports, dance, choir, and band, it’s amazing we see each other anymore.

We can’t slow down time. We can’t gain back years of missed memories because we were too busy to notice. We can’t take back our mistakes . . . but, we can learn from them. We need to understand that a glass of spilled milk only takes a few minutes to clean up, and that making your child feel incompetent for it can take decades to heal from. Don’t let the little mishaps occupy all of your time and energy. We lose seconds too quickly, don’t allow problems and abusive people to steal your days. Take hold of the reigns of your existence and make each day remarkable.

Life is fragile. Time is precious. Don’t abuse and take for granted the hours we have with one another. Live each moment making yourself happy, making your family happy, and making a difference. Live life to the fullest

~Christa G.