|Rats- kinder and more accepting than most people.|
I work on a floor that is all finance and accounting people. There are probably more finance and accounting groups on other floors than just mine, but there are lots of directors and a couple vice presidents on the floor. There is also a raging social hierarchy that would rival any high school. I don't say that lightly because there was certainly a brutal clique system in my small hometown high school. I had lunch today with someone who escaped the floor to another department. I told this person (don't want to give details for reasons that will become clear) about my job troubles, and they decided to be honest with me and tell me that they were told not to be friends with me and stay clear because I had been raped and I was "bad mojo". That wasn't all that was said about me. Seems someone found this blog and I and my experiences have been a topic of conversation on the floor. Seems that I was not imagining that some people were treating me differently than before, and were really avoiding me, and others were being friendly to my face and gossiping about me behind my back.
On the one hand, I'm not surprised. I attributed a lot of the whispers behind my back and people avoiding me in high school to it being a small town. It's not unusual that people in a small town are all up in your business. I guess more shocking, both to myself and many people I've described this to, is that adults, teachers and police and neighbors, would treat me like a leper rather than showing compassion to a child who is being put through hell. I've had plenty of experience with people who act like the bad things that have happened to me are somehow contagious, but it's still especially galling that a presumably mature adult would act like that. It was a little less inexplicable to be treated that way by other teenagers. I was in my 20's when my brother died, but maybe because that treatment was still fresh in my mind I was not completely taken by surprise when I was shunned after Jeff's suicide. I distinctly remember feeling like people didn't see me anymore, they saw suicide, and I myself was consumed by loss. Since then, I've earned undergraduate and graduate degrees, my CPA license, worked in accounting and audit for 13 years, turned 40 years old, and I'm still damaged goods, just as much as I was at 17.
After all I've been through, what the hell is wrong with people? Fuck this social contract that I will be allowed to live a "normal" life only if I'm a good little victim who keeps the secrets I know they don't want to hear. Fuck these people who think it's appropriate for me and the billions of people who share these experiences with me to live with guilt over things that other people did to us, to hide our emotions in the shadows, to live a double life, directing our pain in on ourselves to spare them the discomfort of feigning sympathy or even tolerance for someone with different experiences than them. I am 100% sure that there are other people on that floor who have been raped and/or sexually abused. At least I've learned to push the poison of humiliation and blame away for me. I've struggled, and I still struggle, but I won't let it destroy me or turn me into someone I'm not. At least I feel comfortable writing about it. Being able to express what this is like for me keeps me from drowning in it. This kind of pain can eat you alive until you don't know who you are or why you should keep living. I don't have to imagine what it's like to live with a secret that makes you hate yourself so much that you have to wall it up and everything you feel, everything you feel about everything in your life because you can't live with what happened to you and still function in the world. IT IS THE SHAME THAT DESTROYS YOU. It's not what happened to you. It's when you have to incorporate those hateful things into your precious soul because someone who didn't see you or care about you took their toxic crap out on you and these ignorant, selfish people try to force you to keep it inside you. How dare they sacrifice you like that, how dare they treat you like you don't matter.
Imagine if I was gay, or a recovering alcoholic, or sick with a disease, and the people I worked with were telling my co-workers to avoid me? Imagine if the Jewish people I work with not only couldn't talk about their religion at work, but couldn't practice their religion openly outside of work for fear someone they worked with would find out and they would be shunned. That's clearly discrimination. It's not like these kinds of games don't have consequences. One of the people who used to be friendly to me and now won't look me in the eyes is a director of a group that I was going to work on a project with that is very important to me and the company, and now she won't work with me. She won't return my calls, she won't tell me what's going on with the project or anything else, and she is complaining to my boss when I ask her for assistance or even cooperation on other projects. I know she gossips with my boss because he's told me about performance issues she had with someone who works for her. I don't think she should have shared that with him, but he certainly shouldn't have told me about it. I can just imagine that my boss, an ambitious people-pleaser, was so thrilled to be included in cool kid gossip that he thought nothing of turning on a loyal and hard-working employee if it got him brownie points. It's not enough that I'm good, no, great at my job, extremely qualified, committed, friendly, smart- no. I don't deserve to acknowledge my life experiences, even outside of work, because people will know I've got "bad mojo". I shouldn't be myself, try to reach out to other survivors, share my story, try to do my part to reduce the stigma and burden we carry, and feel like I belong in the world because I've been raped.
Give me a fucking break.