Monthly Archives: May 2009

help in the workplace

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Today I spent time contemplating some of my actions and behaviours of a few years ago.  I never told anyone about my abuse and held on to the secret for over 40 years.  Carrying that secret and suffering through more abuse and self destructive behaviours certainly took its toll.  It impacted other people as well as myself.  How could it not?  I will not detail the harmful things I did to myself but they were significant and lasted a very, very long time.

One of the things I was most proud of was the day I left an abusive marriage and began to carve out a healthy life for myself and my sons.   One day I was the corporate wife of an executive, member of a prestigious private club and the next day I was standing in line to get legal aid.  From parties in Rockliffe  to getting my sons’ snowsuits from a social agency. It was one of the happiest times of my life even though I had no car, a part time job and no support.  I was FREE and I was creating the life I wanted for my sons….and myself.  Long story short – I went from virtually nothing to self supporting with a good job in one year.

Life went on.  I remarried and was blessed with twin girls.  With no formal education but a genius IQ and a TON of streetsmarts, I decided to work in the hightech industry which was booming at the time.  I needed to generate a good income and I have always really enjoyed working.  There were some amazing years.  I moved up the ladder quickly and eventually found myself in the perfect job.  I was so happy.  I was told and could see that I was an inspiration to others.  I was so passionate and was the person that others’ reached out to for help.  I LOVED helping them…guiding them…going out of my way to put a smile on others’ faces.  And then….the world crashed in around me.

My father died in September of 2004.  He was only 70 years old and I had bought him a plane ticket to come visit in November.    We had only recently begun to  reconcile decades of hurt from his decision to move to New Zealand when I was only 13. I was SO looking forward to his visit.  His sudden and unexpected death was too much for me to bear at that time.  Other things were going on in my life at that time….a sick child, a new boss and a stressful job.  I hit the wall.  I did my best but I felt my world was falling apart all around me.  I struggled to stay upright and continued to push through but it was obvious that I was not well.

In the fall of 2005 I decided to get help.  I knew that this was bigger than me.  Where the biggest change came was in the workplace.  I went from being a competent and cheerful employee who was respected and considerate of others to a withdrawn and nasty person.  I could not handle my boss…I lashed out at people…I got sucked into the negative stuff.  I did not know which way was up.  I was wounded, confused and isolating.  I was starting to hurt myself again and it got to the point where I considered suicide.   The death of my father had opened up the floodgates and I was getting sucked into a downward spiral. (It is important to note here that my father was not my abuser.)

December of 2005, at the age of 48….I finally told someone about the abuse.  That admission was the beginning of the healing journey.

Today I am thinking about my behaviour in the workplace from the fall of 2004 til 2006.  I feel such sorrrow and remorse for my self centredness and actions.  I take responsibility for those actions and now forgive myself for how I behaved.  There are some who will probably never understand or want to forgive me and I have to accept that.  I am sure it was difficult for them as I went just a little bit crazy at times…crying and disclosing and talking about it in the workplace.  That was a huge mistake. I was out of control.  It was an unfair burden on them and they did not know what to do.  If only I had felt supported by the organization…if only someone had gently led me to help.  But how could they?  They did not know what to do.

One of the things I want to do with Voice Found is to help others to understand the fallout from childhood sexual abuse.  Today I am focused on my experience in the workplace and so I will ask this of you.  If you notice a significant change in behaviour in a colleague, stop and consider what might be the cause.  If they are disclosing, help them to do it appropriately with a professional.  Lead them to the help.   Think about this…1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday.  Someone you work with is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.  Someone you work with may be carrying this secret and someday it just MAY come bursting forth.   What will YOU do if they disclose this to you?

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Colourful Dreams Coming True

It’s official.  Dreams really do come true.  I met with my new friend and partner Jen this past Friday and we are making great progress.  We spent a lovely afternoon outside in my garden with pens, paper and some paints:)  Our mission?  To focus our vision, create a mission statement for Voice Found and begin to lay down the plans to get from here to there.  Jen is a really talented marketing professional and our working styles compliment each other.  I especially appreciated her capacity for listening to my sometimes poorly expressed thoughts and translating them to complete sentences.  We understand each other.   There was a comfortable sharing of ideas with no hesitation.  I love the creative process.  I love throwing things out all willy-nilly and watching them take shape without force.

Jen and I have plans to meet again this week.  Between now and next Friday we will have our mission statement complete and paperwork ready to submit to begin the charity status registration process.  We have a graphic artist on board to help design our website.  We have a list of targets for workshops and partnering opportunities.  We have a whole lot of great ideas that are being put into plans so that we can take action.

We have many things to do and the energy and desire to do them.  Oh ya.  We are rocking!  We are women with vision who know how to take action.  What drives us?  Well it sure isn’t a paycheck.  We are working for the love of it.  We are working to make a difference.  We are working to give hope to other women who have suffered from the horrendous effects of childhood sexual abuse.  Oh- and the paints I mentioned?  We have found the colour palette to use for our branding.  I can tell you this much – they are vibrant, rich, ALIVE!!!  Just like us 🙂

the stranger in the car

Once again there is a story in the local media about a man trying to lure children into his car.  It makes my skin crawl and I feel such anger towards this stranger.  Parents and concerned adults will now be on the lookout which is as it should be.  But here’s the thing.  The problem is MUCH larger than the occasional ‘stranger luring kids’ alert.  Here are the statistics…

  • 30-40% of victims are abused by a family member. (2, 44, 76)
  • Another 50% are abused by someone outside of the family whom they know and trust.
  • Approximately 40% are abused by older or larger children whom they know. (1, 44)
  • Therefore, only 10% are abused by strangers.

(stats taken from Darkness to Light website)

What will it take to get the message out that childhood sexual abuse is a REAL, DAILY, SIGNIFICANT issue that we can do something about.  We can no longer sweep it under the rug and pretend it does not exist in our neighbourhood.  It does.

Next post will be about the impact that this epidemic has on society.  Meanwhile, contact me if you would like to participate in a 3 hour workshop were you can learn how to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to childhood sexual abuse.

Beauty Emerges From Dark Moments

“Love the moment. Flowers grow out of dark moments. Therefore, each moment is vital. It affects the whole. Life is a succession of such moments and to live each, is to succeed.” Corita Kent.

The above quote is one I quite like and is timely given what I am experiencing the past little while.  My moods are fluctuating quite wildly and rather than fight each one that is labeled ‘negative’ by society, I am simply accepting that it is how I feel at that moment. I used to be so hard on myself whenever I was feeling down or angry or hurt.  Now I simply let it be. It is a moment in time. It is MY moment and MY experience and necessary for ME. By not questioning or forcing another state of ‘being’ I find that I move to and truly experience the ‘good’ moments. The ability to simply be. To sit in a moment and appreciate it…savour it…allow it. To accept…examine. To really LOVE the moment.

I am reminded that love accepts all things. And then when I look at a moment as a a ‘person’ rather than a word…it occurs to me that I would love the moment regardless of whether is was being a good or bad ‘moment’.  It simply IS.

Beauty emerges from dark moments.