I am a survivor of workplace abuse.
For a year, I worked for a bully who routinely screamed at me, insulted me in front of colleagues, made unreasonable demands 24/7, and then ultimately fired me.
It was a living hell that I am still recovering from four years later.
My healing process was slow. My self-esteem was shattered. I didn’t have the confidence to make even the simplest of decisions. Filled with self-doubt, I didn’t think I was capable of succeeding at anything anymore.
I have always been a writer, winning awards and accolades for my work. It was my writing that helped me to land a top position at a company where I worked for years, helping to shape the strategic vision and goals.
When my new boss was hired, my work was under fire. I was constantly criticized for everything I did. My boss hated my writing. The boss would read some of my work in front of my colleagues and mock it. Getting belittled for everything I wrote became part of my daily routine. I started to doubt my ability, and became scared to submit anything for review.
The day I lost my job, my boss told me for the hundredth time I was a terrible writer.
It took courage to begin writing again, more than a year after that awful day.
I began writing in a journal. Then I decided to write a work of fiction based on my experience of losing my job. That project turned into a non-fiction book about the road to recovery altering being bullied and losing a job.
As the lyric from Hamilton goes, “I wrote my way out.”
Once my book was complete, I decided to self-publish it. I had it edited, hired a graphic designer to create the cover and lay it out, and then I published it as an e-book.
I didn’t write the book to make money. I wrote the book for me, to show myself I could do it, that I was still a writer. My great hope is that the book would help others, and so I made a decision to give the book away for free to anyone who needed it and couldn’t afford to pay.
My book was slow to sell, until one day, a random stranger gave me one of the greatest gifts of my life: a book review.
The stranger is a workplace bullying survivor just like me. She downloaded the book, and wrote a glowing, five-star review. It wasn’t the act of buying the book that meant the most to me, but it was the words she wrote, praising it as being helpful to her as she recovered from being terrorized at work.
Then, this dear stranger went one step further.
She found my email address and emailed a gift card to me, thanking me for writing a book that helped her.
I was floored. So much validation from one person. It felt like a breakthrough. My writing was valued by someone else. It made a tangible difference in their life. I was so overcome with emotion that I started sobbing. Something inside of me finally broke free after four years. The burden of self-doubt I was carrying was gone. I was me again.
No other act of kindness, random or otherwise, has ever meant so much to me. I only hope I can help someone else heal from trauma the way that wonderful stranger helped me.