The internet has been the release valve on a very painful time; four years ago, I left my job as marketing manager for a small Christian charity, because I had been bullied to the point of a breakdown by the chief executive officer. In public, he was charming and witty; during one to one meetings he became an angry, abusive bully. He was a Christian, a church warden in an Anglican church.
I think it started when I stood up for someone else who was being publicly told off at every staff meeting; the other lady went off sick with stress (and never came back) and I became the target of very unpleasant behaviour. There was nothing I could do right; he arbitrarily took away all my authority. For instance, I carried on doing what I had been doing for the previous 4 1/2 years, and was suddenly being told off for it, because I had not asked first if I could do it. He tried to stir up trouble between myself and a colleague who was a good friend, by telling me I had upset the other person; it was not true. He told me it must be the wrong time of the month and when I mentioned this on another occasion, he said I was lying.
He would approve something, then when I implemented it, would unapprove it, and I was in trouble again, for doing what he had initially agreed to. On one occasion, the figures for one of my projects were falsified to make it look like the project had made a loss, when it hadn’t. There one project which he told me to give a low priority, and then I was yelled at because it was taking a long time.
My job had always been too busy, so he ‘helped’ by reorganising the office so that even more work was funneled through me. I was a very productive member of the team, and brought in the most money for the charity, yet he seemed not to see this, and was critical and disparaging about all my projects, which included the charity’s top earners.
So I went looking for other jobs, and went for many others in marketing, but didn’t get them, and by then I was in such a state that I only had to read a job description for a ‘dynamic, hit-the-ground-running’ type of person to start shaking and crying. So in desperation, I went to a charity that runs care homes and took a job as a basic care assistant.
And resigned! And told very few people about it. The problem was that I had been working my arse off promoting this charity for 4 1/2 years. Many people at my church were involved with volunteering or fundraising. I didn’t want to spoil the very positive relationship people had with the charity. So I said nothing, except that two years later, someone in church gave a testimony about being bullied at work. I ran out crying, and then spoke to my minister. He is still the only person at church who knows what happened.
Since then I have joined internet support groups under a pseudonym, and posted on naked pastor. The pseudonym is because I have a name unusual enough for people to identify present and previous employers very quickly.
Recently, the charity where I worked went into liquidation, citing a fall in donations. That’s only the half of it; 8 years of being mismanaged by an autocratic bully who couldn’t keep staff might have something to do with it (in a team that never numbered more than 9, he lost 7 staff in 3 years). So at the moment I feel very sad for the vulnerable people who have lost the support of the charity, and its staff who lost their jobs at literally 24 hours notice.
Four years ago, I started a new job in a care home, as a complete basket case. On Prozac, not sleeping, with stomach ulcers, perpetual headaches, stress related eczema, and deeply grieving for the job I loved, but became impossible. All that’s better now; I’ve had the space to get well again. And my new employer, an evangelical charity, must think I’m competent enough because I’ve been fast-tracked into management, and now manage five services for people with learning disabilities.
I’m just down to two dilemmas:
1. The stress and resulting depression I suffered four years cut off my sense of God’s presence, and that hasn’t come back. Since I was a child I had always had a sense of God’s presence, and some of the sensitivities to spiritual things that Ruth Anne describes. I am now unable to contemplate and find God’s presence the way I used to. Maybe it’s about learning to walk by faith, I don’t know. I’m calm about it, but it’s a sad kind of calm.
2. When I applied for the job with my present employer, I was required to sign a basis of faith. Most of it’s ok, provided one is allowed some room for interpretation, and I was assured that there was. However, the very first article is about the inerrancy of the Bible in its original manuscripts. Now, since I have a degree in theology, I do recognise the phrase as a historical fudge, for who can prove what the original manuscripts said? And I do believe the Bible tells the truth if you ask the right questions; but inerrant, as usually meant by evangelical Christians, is definitely not what I believe. I signed the basis of faith at the time, because I was desperate to leave my previous job. And I’m not sure now whether I should come clean as a very liberal Christian, which means I would have to resign, or carry on doing the job I do well and live with the ambiguities; and live with the simplistic evangelical sub-culture-speak that pops up quite regularly.