I had never thought of the ramifications of just how PTSD can affect a person. Somehow, I always connected it with war, environmental disasters, mass trauma (plane crashes, etc.). Much of what was said in part 2 of this series, happened to me as well, uncanny as it seemed to me at the time. In short, there is much I felt, said and experienced that I can now summarize;
- Isolation and Aloneness. Some of my work colleagues, who were formerly friendly and supportive, seemed to melt away as the situation continued.
- Why Me? What had I done other than have a high degree of sociability. Bringing, at my own expense, snacks, bagels, breakfast breads, making sure someone at work got a group gift, helping with other projects even when overworked myself. When my customer at times, gave me upfront drawings and information I knew would be of use to my group – I made sure it made it to everyone (though with no thanks and not without some resentment). Often times providing an engineering solution, so that the engineer himself often claimed the solution as his own. I made my share of mistakes – owning up to all of them, even the ones, in which I lost control while feeling backed into a corner. My going away luncheon at my previous job was a large semi rowdy affair in which I felt guilty about leaving my compadres and my boss, of whom I am still good friends with. I was accustomed to getting along with others in every job I had.
- DENIED INFORMATION/KNOWLEDGE NECESSARY FOR UNDERTAKING AND COMPLETING WORK AND ACHIEVING OBJECTIVES. Every organization employs multiple talents; professionals to accomplish the goals of the organization. There is always an agreement or set of agreements that a new employee signs to commit him/herself to the goals of the group working towards a goal/set of goals. The fact that I was excluded, prevented and denied much of the information that I sorely needed to complete my analyses, meant that I often had to spend a larger amount of time questioning engineers from other sites working on a similar product or dig through archival and finally conduct significant internet searches and obtain memberships in external databases – all of this was about the worst of my concerns as I struggled for the last 2 years of my tenure to obtain the information that was rightfully due to be shared with every member of the engineering group. My boss had no idea just how much was being deliberately being withheld by several of the design engineers not only from me but from others who then choose to leave very shortly after coming on board. I did ask him to support me several times early on in obtaining drawings, let me in on discussions and spending time with the designers so my questions could be answered. He may have tried but nothing came of it. I became adept at locating the sites of the design files, and for about a year, enjoyed some good lead time on getting the information I needed. However, there was one engineer, the self-serving T Rex, who kept his files on his own hard drive. This was the guy who made my boss look like the fool he raged about behind his back.
- Denied resources and managerial support.
- I was often overloaded with work, eventually having responsibility increased and my authority removed and given “the silent treatment”. My manager often failed to communicate and at times avoided eye contact (I’ve heard this to be an indicator of an abusive relationship). Eventually, much of the time, instructions were received only via email, or with a succession of visits during the day from the chief toady, program manager.
- Work goals changed without notice or reason.
- I was often subjected to unwarranted, destructive criticism.
Attempts were often made at encouraging me to feel guilty,to believe I was always the one at fault, especially when facts were hidden and kept from the director (my boss). I was often told to not bother defending myself. Previous accomplishments done before the bullying set in were ridiculed, dismissed and forgotten.
- When isolation went full swing, I was frequently subjected to nit-picking and trivial fault-finding. The triviality of it all totally missed my boss who likely believed it and blew it up in his own head. Trivial grammar errors on my own reports, which could have been edited out in mutual reviews (I did this all the time) were thrown under my nose (on red marked paper copies) and reported to my boss. A Qual Test report, I was asked to undertake (despite my own burgeoning workload) in order to help out a design engineer, complaining of overwork and on which I had made just one error, was ridiculed and reported to my boss as inferior work. The MINOR error was corrected and the Qual test was appropriated under this engineer’s name who then received credit for it.
- All of the (above) excessive nit-picking, stealing of credit, and name calling (yes there was that too – in a couple of meetings where I was not in attendance) reveals an absence of any serious concern about the true quality of my work of which the customers were always pleased.
- In short, for the last 2 years of my employment, I was subjected to excessive monitoring, supervision, micro-management, recording, snooping etc; by the self-appointed group sociopath program manager with his two team toadies. I was undermined, especially in front of others and behind my back. Concerns were often raised, doubts about my performance and standard of work. When the boss – investigated, which happened once, the concerns and doubts were found to lack substance. Ridicule, patronization, disparaging remarks in front of the customer;
personal remarks and the worst of all; contributing work and suggestions were plagiarised and presented as someone else’s work.
I felt imprisoned and untalented and I with the PhD in physics, fluent in 2 languages, a former researcher and violinist came to believe what my own boss said to me in front of others, that I could not apply myself – I lacked the skills. After I left and began treatment, my counselor pointed out why such people do what they do, the motivation being very different from that of the school play ground bully. I had been the threat to them, imagined or not and the list of links below sums it right up:
- I represented a threat to two program managers, several marginal engineers, and ultimately the engineering director. See: Who Gets Targeted
- The agenda of a workplace bully or as more commonly known, Industrial Sociopath, supercedes the agenda and goals of the company which employs him/her. The impediments to company goals and assignments were of no consequence and unimportant.
- The engineering director was an insecure, highly passive-aggressive pushover, and a small time bully himself with a less than satisfactory family life. The findings suggest that, particularly with passive-aggressive bullying, many industries are so conducive to the behavior that a bully might actually enjoy increased job security as a result of it.
I had been exposed to the deepest end of what a human can sink to, e.g; those individuals with utterly callous disregard for the safety and wellbeing of the people around you and their futures, the selfish and self-serving, and so hopelessly to those individuals who are believed to constitute almost 20% of any population; the Psychopath. It changed my life, I recovered and went on, turning down those offers to do the engineering work I had done before, despite those few years being the only time in an otherwise successful career of 15 years of engineering work. I went back into research, cloud physics – publishing a fine paper in a prestigious journal, supplementing my income with consulting sales, and we (Jim and myself) traveled. I re-tuned by going back to the kindly and spiritual Jewish community of which I had loved being part of and whom welcomed me back with open arms and heart! Jim and I went into the hot field of dog rescue and transport – and I have reached back to Discover Nova to initiate the Dallas Fort Worth area Science Cafe’s starting late Fall 2016! ( after I become the new bionic woman with titanium joint replacements!).
Time is a true healer but only if one can learn to walk away in grace.
A little post script here; I ended up with a nice layoff package. Approximately two weeks later, I was contacted via LinkedIn by a human resources manager at AB*, the prime contractor of the customer (MB*) mentioned above, with an invitation to interview for a position within their engineering services group. According to a witness, who happened to be a friend of mine, my boss had told both companies that I was assigned to another project and would be working in the background on the current contract. One of the engineers from MB, with whom I had worked closely with and who had become more of a friendly colleague due to our mutual interest in Reliablity systems engineering, called me at home, asking why was I taken ‘off project’ as Scoot had said. I said I was no longer with the company but laid off. He was furious.