The Antidote Within Me

A wise friend once said to me:

“Please don’t dismiss this opportunity, it feels like you’re leaning toward the comfort of the evil you know, rather than stepping into something that could bring you great satisfaction. Don’t do that.”

She was right- on so many levels.

Looking back now, I realize how much I wrestled with the evil. It is a long and complicated story that unfolded over the years and progressively became more and more detrimental to my total well-being.

It is a time in my life where I spent too many years beating myself up. But the most glaring realization was that I didn’t believe in myself and that I did lean toward the comfort of that evil I knew – afraid of believing in myself and stepping into something new.

I own those chapters and every ugly, beautiful, chaotic, sad, happy, confusing, enlightened, excited, hopeless, fearful, vulnerable, and hopeful moment that filled them. Parts of those chapters are known only by those closest to me, and up until now, I’ve only spoken about it publicly in general terms.

Those years, regardless of how much of an ill effect they had on me, still managed to provide me with valuable lessons and insight; which was the silver lining and the light in the darkness. It was my epiphany that life existed beyond the constraints of my mind and the metaphorical prison that boxed me inside of it. I’m talking about a period in my life where I held myself hostage in a toxic work environment because I had lost faith in myself. Not being able to see past the surface, I didn’t believe that I was worthy of anything better or that I could, for that matter, be something other than a piece of furniture. Or, at least that is how it felt.

Labeling it as toxic seems harsh; however, there was ongoing destructive and dysfunctional behavior at all levels. Morale remained consistently low; people disliked their jobs and had little respect for management. The workplace was hostile and, at times, unsafe.

Leadership was non-existent. The glass ceiling was high and impenetrable, and the good old boys liked it – and wanted it – that way. It was a breeding ground for bad behavior, big egos, and incompetence; and ultimately, it was poisonous.

However, it took several infections before I finally acknowledged it.

I have shaved down many of the details. There were so many layers, some more delicate than others; and others so stinking ridiculous and outrageous that I can’t believe I bore witness to some of it. I’ve often thought about writing a book about my experience there and the lessons learned. How does the title “Persistent noxiousness, its effects on the inhabitants, and the will to survive sound?

There were multiple reasons that I stayed, the biggest one being entrapment in my mindset – no doubt in part caused by emotional trauma, followed by the comfort of the evil that I knew. I wanted a magic pill to fix it. But there wasn’t one.

There was only one antidote, and it resided within me.

Laura Mikolaitis
Laura is an instinctive dot connector with a propensity for learning who seeks to maximize productivity and throws down challenges. Currently, she is the Director of Sales Operations for the Annie Selke Companies, a textile company located in the beautiful Berkshires of Massachusetts. It is here where she gets to put her top strengths to use and thrive in creativity. Laura hails from Northern NY, but a tiny hill town in Massachusetts is where she calls home. She credits her writing, which laid dormant for years, to her late mom who always believed in her. Inspired by millions of moments, Laura writes unabashedly from the heart. Whether it is poetry, fiction, or a personal essay, her love for the written word feeds her mind, body, and spirit. With a dash of hope and a sprinkle of faith, she is the little engine that could.
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Laura Staley

What a powerful essay, Laura! Thank you so much for sharing your story of enduring the difficult/noxious workplace for a really long time. What courage to breakthrough and remove yourself from that toxic environment that kept you feeling small. I totally feel your story as I have my versions of this in my life. I celebrate your freedom, resilience, and ability to rise strong. And the willingness to see that the answer lived inside of you-YES!!

Larry Tyler

When you need to look for a reason to stay. That’s when it is time to go. I was so unhappy even though I had reached a very high and powerful place. It truly made me unhappy and empty. It wasn’t the bosses they were great. It was the fact that I wasn’t living life. What I did for Work became my life. Once I made the decision to retire everything seem to fall into place just like it should. Which makes me wonder why I waited so long.

L. Aruna Dhir

The advice, in the end, is the strongest and something that will remind us to keep our head above water. Thank you for the piece.

Mary Schaefer

Thank you so much for sharing your story, Laura. I’ve known bits and pieces, but reading it all at once shows the depth of what you were facing. Wow. Your journey to pull yourself out of it truly inspires me. “Don’t let the turkeys get you down,” indeed.

Kat O'Keefe-Kanavos

Laura, I am so grateful that Dennis shared your work on the Women of Facebook Weekend Blog because it was so important to read. I want to read more and YES! You should write a book. Let me know if I can help. Thank you for sharing your insights with others.

Jamie Haskins
Jamie Haskins

As someone who once swam in that same sea, I am proud of you and I am sure that your actions, strength and pursuit of doing the right thing has inspired others to do the same.



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