Tuesday, March 14, 2017

PTSD

Today I read an article about the fast-growing company, Thinx, and its woes involving the founder and ex-CEO. Typical story: the founder has a great product, the fledgling company does well, a "professional" CEO takes their place. The article plays off the irony of an ultra-feminist ad campaign juxtaposed with not-so-feminist company practices.

Pull quotes 1
My take on the "feminist" spin is as the company grows and is run less as a family and more like a business, standard practices will fall into place. Anyone with startup experience understands this.  There's no story there. I'm annoyed it is trending. But that's not what struck me about this piece. This quote from an anonymous former employee shook me and sent me almost 20 years back to my former self:

“It was truly like being in an abusive relationship. And I don’t use that analogy lightly… I don't know if you've ever had the feeling when you walk into a place — whether it's with your family or a job or a friendship circle — and you simply just don't know how the other person is going to react. One day they could be in a super great mood and everything's fine and dandy and you're being praised left and right, or else you walk in and you're treated like you're dirt… That takes an emotional and physical toll on you. To wake up every day and not know how you're going to be treated that day is really quite awful.”

Those words, I could have written them word-for-word while at a former job so long ago. In fact, my journal at the time confirms how I felt and what I was going through. I remember the chair I was sitting in, I remember I was wearing a long, green skirt and Keds with the backs folded down because I had a blister on the heel of my right foot. I remember writing...

"Today is the lowest I have ever felt in my life."

It was a job. It was a boss. It was a career. It was a situation I deemed impossible to get out of. I felt I needed to "pay my dues" and part of doing so was enduring abuse. There were a lot of perks to my job, and my employer often had kind words and gifts. She also had obscenities and tantrums. I daydreamed about getting into a car accident and being in the hospital so I wouldn't have to go to work. I came to understand I was depressed and had severe anxiety, issues which persist to this day.

I had purposefully written a note to my future self as a reminder of a time when things were really bad. The younger woman taught the older woman a valuable lesson: no job is worth your happiness. No relationship, no home, no tangible thing, is worth your sanity. If you are in a situation causing you distress, take steps to get out of it.

Since then, I've experienced a handful of abusive situations and I didn't stay long.

I suppose I learned.


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