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You Know It’s Bad When You End Up In Therapy

, , , , , | Working | February 9, 2022

My first job out of college is working for a startup company. There are times when I am literally the only employee. It is overwhelming, to say the least, but the vice president agrees to take me under her wing.

I immediately start noticing some very obvious red flags, but even though I know some of the garbage she is spewing is wrong and not true, it slowly eats away at my self-esteem. When I have been employed with the company for three years, the global health crisis hits. At this point, I am ready to leave having realized how poorly she has affected my mental health, but due to the hiring freeze, I am forced to stay.

Her abuse begins to skyrocket from there, and then she tries to cover it up by isolating me. At one point, she tells me I am not even allowed to talk to my own mother. She insists that I must continue coming into the office — while everyone else works from home — and continues to expose me to the illness. I drive home crying literally every night.

Luckily, things get better, and one of the other managers sees how horrible she is to me. He insists, rather than firing me as she wants, that he will take over my managerial duties. I begin to flourish under him. Six months later, though, the PTSD symptoms start to set in and I am diagnosed with c-PTSD. My new manager knows about this and supports me as I go to therapy and get on a regime to lessen the symptoms.

Unfortunately, my new manager ends up leaving the company for a better opportunity (which I can hardly blame him for). Fortunately, the owner realizes how well I can do when I am not under the vice president and decides to make himself my manager.

Meanwhile, because I had been pulling her weight for three and a half years and haven’t been for a year, she tries to make “amends”. She “apologizes for her part” in a vague statement that overlooks what she has done to me and takes me not completely rejecting it as an invitation to start calling me at all hours of the day again and asking me for ideas to handle her other subordinates.

Prior, my new manager made it abundantly clear she was not to ask anything of me. With him out of the picture, she thinks she can get away with it. Luckily, before he leaves, he has a talk with both her and the owner, and the owner sides with him — not to the point of firing her, unfortunately, but my exposure to her is minimal and I do not have to pick up her calls, so that is great! And any time she manages to trap me alone, I tell her that I would like to discuss it with the owner — which she is none too happy about as she is trying to mine me for ideas — or tell her to ask him instead.

Meanwhile, the health crisis unwinds and I begin the job search again. Prior to doing that, I ask for a long-overdue raise. In the past, anytime I implied that I should probably ask for a raise, it was met with guilt-tripping and gaslighting on her part. She’d tell me how I “deserved” it but we “didn’t have the money” and it was selfish to think only about myself. Without her standing in the way, I am able to negotiate a 10% raise and five more vacation days within three weeks.

Using that raise that finally puts me at industry standards and the skills I learned over the past year not under her, I manage to find a better job! It is a real shame, though, because I liked my coworkers and loved the product. But after years of being told I should be grateful because I know my abuser and the type of abuse I will receive, I had to put myself first for a change.

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