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.