Dead Men’s Shoes

I used to work in a highly stressful environment.
Not in the glamorous, busy, city life kind of sense, in the everyone I worked with was always pissed off  kind of sense. Every day there was a drama, an issue, a reason to walk on egg shells. Most of the time it didn’t even involve you directly, it was just hanging there in the air, like a nasty fart. There was always someone having a melt down or a cry or a bitch about someone or something. Sometimes that someone was me – it was the culture, cultivated by the company.
School, on steroids, on Hollyoaks. That’s the best way I can describe it to you.

I’ve written before about my experiences post maternity leave and how I relocated my balls, and eventually upped and left. I could honestly write a novel about the sexual discrimination I en-counted from the moment my pregnancy was ‘outed’. It came in all shapes and sizes from all directions, carefully hidden under cloaks of concern for my well being. From Managers dismissing me as a ’cause lost to motherhood’, already planning the most cost-effective way to dispose of me. To colleagues waiting on the side lines licking their lips, poised for the final corporate death rattle of my pregnancy.

Have you ever heard the phrase “waiting for dead men’s shoes“? 

A year on from leaving and I have so much confidence. I am just a happier person. Its not because I literally have a better job, its because I am working in a normal, healthy environment. I’m working with people who benefit from building me up, not from dragging me down. I shock myself recalling what a silly little mouse I was, what I put up with when I should have fought my corner.

When other people should have fought my corner.

And yet I wasn’t the only one, everyone was the same and the only way I can reason to it, is by likening it to Stockholm Syndrome. In that I had worked in such a hostile environment for so many years that I became conditioned to the appalling way everyone was treated. I identified so much with that place of work, that I was deeply loyal and deeply dependent upon it, often to my own disadvantage.  I tolerated verbal abuse, I tolerated the verbal abuse of others. It became a pretty normal, everyday occurrence. If it was your turn, well it was just your turn. No point arguing, it was your day to be the metaphorical punching bag and you were best advised to stand there and take it. A culture of gossiping and bitching was encouraged, senior members of staff – female and male reveled in it. If you could lay the blame at someone else’s door, well that was double points, you’d be treated like a close friend and get yourself a well earned pat on the back. The game was endless and exhausting and I wasted so much time, so much of my precious time on it.

Thank God I had a baby, got away, re-discovered my self-worth and jacked that shit in.



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