When the FBI arrested the CEO of my company and the company closed, I didn’t mind losing my job. I felt freed.
I knew I’d have to testify, but I knew nothing about the white-collar crimes he’d committed. I only knew how he’d treated me, as if I wasn’t worth anything.
Worse, I had allowed the treatment. As a single mom, I felt I had to if I wanted to keep my job. I took his verbal abuse and pretended I could rise above it. I lost my self-esteem. It’s like I sold a part of my soul each day. But I told myself I did it for my kids. I was proud of one thing, that I kept the horribleness of situation from my kids.
Fast forward to last month. I’ve learned my teenage daughter is being bullied and mobbed in her junior high school. The school administration has done nothing to help. My daughter asks me not to “make waves” or everything will be more horrible for her.
The powerlessness I feel triggers my memories of how it felt that last year at work.
I’m scared my daughter is suicidal. I feel I need to get control of my feelings to help her.
You’re one hundred percent accurate. You’ve been triggered and your daughter needs your full attention.
Start by forgiving yourself. You didn’t ask to be abused, you wound up in a situation you didn’t know how to handle. Blame, shame, and guilt only drain your energy and cloud your thinking. Clear all of that out of the way so you can focus on your daughter.
Although some schools and school districts have their arms around how to handle bullying, most do not. There are many excellent resources you can locate on the Internet, some with groups in your area, who can provide immediate help to you and your daughter. She needs to know (a) it’s not her fault; (b) she’s not alone; and (c) what to do.
Meanwhile, you need to understand what’s happening to you.
Triggers and flashbacks
Triggers are experiences that draw us back into our past, causing old feelings and behaviors to arise. In your case, powerlessness is a trigger.
Flashbacks are vivid memories in which you relive in present time a past traumatic event.
Identifying the triggers starts the process you need to take to gain control.
Journaling can be an effective tool. Sometimes you have to sink inside of a feeling before you can learn how to swim on its surface. By writing, you pull what’s recycling in your brain onto paper.
Other actions to take
Given the immediate risk your daughter faces, she needs professional help NOW. Immediately find her a counselor.
You don’t need to do the work ahead of you alone. Use the Internet resources on bullying to locate coaching resources for yourself and your daughter. My book, Beating the Workplace Bully, can be helpful. Through it, you can learn how to choose what you want to feel, thus shifting your emotional state.
Once you’re clear-headed, you can choose effective actions. You want to be here today, in 2021, for your daughter. Step into the role of mother in the same way you did when she was a baby and you thought, “how the heck do I breastfeed?” and then determined how to do what you needed to do for her. Do that now.
You and daughter may find the mental Kevlar section (Beating the Workplace Bully, chapter 8) immediately helpful. For yourself, think of two challenges you’ve handled well or at least survived. What do these experiences tell you about your strength and resilience?
If you start instead to pick on yourself concerning mistakes you’ve made, stop. Don’t continue absorbing poison from destructive words and labels.
How often do you function as your own worst critic? Change that today.
You’ll find more about how to change this ingrained pattern in chapter 11. For now, remember you can learn new self-talk and become your own cheerleader. Refuse to play s disenabling games. Develop your own inner rudder and help your daughter develop hers, as you both learn new strategies for handling toxic people and situations. In doing so, you’ll free yourself and your daughter.
If you found this post valuable, you might find useful these posts about bullying and the drama triangle, https://workplacecoachblog.com/2021/03/how-you-magnetize-bullies-and-how-to-become-bully-free-forever/, https://workplacecoachblog.com/2020/11/outsmarting-bullies/https://workplacecoachblog.com/2020/12/drama-triangle-understanding-how-you-fall-into-it-how-it-doesnt-work/, https://workplacecoachblog.com/2020/11/drama-triangle-collision-escape/
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