This sick leave was extended for a period of three months (after my GP, it was granted by a psychiatrist I started seeing, in combination with a psychotherapist specialized in work-related PTSD). During my official absence, my manager tried to contact me several times (which is technically not allowed), leaving voice messages imploring me to contact her. I did no such thing.
I then started receiving calls and voicemails from colleagues who had never previously contacted me, so it became obvious that she was trying to get me to contact her in a roundabout way, perhaps not unlike police trying to track a line when they’re on the phone with a hostage taker. It sounds paranoid, and perhaps it was, but at that stage I believed her to be capable of anything.
The bank belonged to those companies that had had their share of regulatory and employee woes; there were quite literally legal practices in town that specialised in the fall-out from employees taking the bank to court. I think this bank was eager to avoid legal action, as I could certainly have made a case, and they were already aware my manager was a problem for them.
Instead, my contact with them was limited exclusively to HR managers (they no doubt informed my manager of this, too), and they offered me a generous severance package, along with an excellent letter of recommendation (signed by my manager, through gritted teeth, I imagined).
I spent a total of six months in therapy, recovering my sanity, my sleep, and my health, after which I moved to Berlin for a month, both for the language experience (languages being my first love), and to have a real holiday, away from the looming prospect of working with a pathological narcissist, and looking forward to writing a new chapter in my life.
My experience in therapy and the insights it gave me was an incredibly positive one and inspired me to take university short courses both in philosophical logic (constructing and deconstructing arguments, learning about logical fallacies), and in psychology, where I focused on abnormal psychology, specifically.
I don’t think one ever really completely gets over such an experience. Perhaps the best that can be hoped for is the day you no longer think about your abuser, not as a result of repression, which is unhealthy, but because you’re as over your abuser as you can hope to be, and they no longer have a hold on your emotional and psychological processes—or at the very least, when you do think of them, the thought is no longer a trigger for distress. That, I think, is when you’re free, and at present, I’ve rarely been happier.
The woman who abused me from an early age was none other than the woman who brought me into this world, my dear beloved mother! A mother in name only.
My dad left her after I was born. It was my fault that he left. She used to tell me that if I had never been born, he would still be around. I didn’t know any different.
My brother was five years older than me. My mom gave him all the love she had and there was none left for me. I was the accident, the disappointment she wished she never had. My brother never did anything wrong so she allowed his friends to the house and I had to go to my room. I was always the cause of her embarrassment and never did anything to please her so she wouldn’t let my friends come round.
I grew up believing that I was not good enough. I tried hard at school hoping that she would be proud of me but she never was. If I did something that displeased her she would acknowledge me at all. I used to go to my room and cry wanting her to hear me and show me the love that she gave my brother. I waited and waited but she never came. Why would she? I was hard to love, so she said.
I couldn’t wait to grow up and leave home and I did as soon as I was working and earning a wage. She tried to make me feel guilty for leaving and said that I should stay and help her and pay her back for raising me. I believed I owed her something and sent her money every month. When I met my wife, we were saving hard and I told my mom that I wouldn’t be sending her money any more.
I told her that I was getting married and was saving for our home. The verbal assault was something else. It was hard to listen to her rants about how she was sorry that I had been born. I figured out then and there that I owed her nothing more.
I hung up the phone, wished her a nice life, and have never spoken to her again. I don’t feel guilty for cutting her out of my life. I did for a while and went to therapy. The support from my therapist and my wife helped me see that her presence in my life was toxic for me. I still have feelings of low self-worth at times but my therapist is helping me deal with those. I know that years of conditioning me to believe I was worth nothing played with my mind and cemented those feelings in my brain.
My second ex-wife and I had been friends for several years. We met at work, which was the inpatient cancer unit of a pediatric hospital. You would think anybody who can do that kind of with is automatically a good person, but that’s not the case.
I had to quit working shortly after we started dating after years of battling chronic illness. I have severe fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, and anxiety. We were still in the love-bombing phase, and she vowed to support me and stand at my side, and I believed her.