So why am I writing this and who is it for?
I am writing this because, as a human, I experience emotions like frustration, anger, devastation, despair, and to put it simply, I get pissed off just like everyone else in the world. Does this make me a bad person or weak? Everyone from Christians to Buddhists, daughters to grandmothers, and even "chillers" experience some degree of these feelings at some point in their life.
This blog is to whoever will listen, to those of you dealing with the same thing, and to those of you who are the cause of such frustration. It's ultimately for anyone to read.
This blog post is a true factual story. One that must be told. You might say that telling such truths about people are stooping to their level: I couldn't disagree more. There are just some actions that are so disturbing, it's not possible to stoop to such levels.
Stories and events must be told. If they never were, history would not have been written and we wouldn't be able to connect with others on such events and grow strong communities to combat them. I am a firm believer in Buddhist concepts such as compassion and forgiveness. I am here to tell you that you can practice compassion and forgiveness and still tell the truth about a situation to bring enlightenment to those dealing with it.
Here is my story:
I met my husband in 2010. I met his family including his 3 year-old son and they welcomed me with open arms. My husband's mother and stepfather were happy to involve me in all family parties and holidays and I was truly grateful.
I also met my stepson's mother, the baby mama. As usual and in most situations, there was and is lots of baggage. I tried to steer clear and respect boundaries.
Something that stuck out to me in my husband's family was the relationship between his 3 year-old and my husband's mother and stepfather (the 3 year-old's grandparents.) Their relationship was solid, strong, and loving; a presence I never had with my grandparents. It amazed me how involved and close my in-laws were with their grandson and it brightened my heart.
Until the Winter of 2011: My husband's baby-mama had an affair with his stepdad (with grandpa.) This is still happening today, July 7 2017. (Think about it for a moment and let it sink in. You might need to draw a diagram or a family tree.)
Have I stooped to that level by writing this? I think not.
The affects this disturbing behavior is having on now my 10 year old step-son are astronomical. Not to mention all the in between conniving and manipulative behavior these disturbing parties have had the audacity to demonstrate.
It's only getting worse and the affair has been a 6 year catastrophic event/relationship. If anyone can think of a reason this type of behavior would ever be morally okay, I would love to know. What I do know: all the people affected by this disgusting situation were not even close to deserving it.
Affairs are very common. Affairs that happen within a family unit are troubling, almost sinister.
All of you who are dealing with similar challenges are familiar with the list of horrible events that unfold:
This is not an exaggeration. Yes, there are always two sides to a story but...mommy and grandpa together. I don't think I would care to hear that side and I know the reasons would never suffice.
Maybe they are deeply in love, Romeo and Juliet style?
Nope. There are facts and details that prove this wrong and sadly it all affects the one person that shouldn't have to deal with such adult dramas: the child.
So Now What?
Nothing, absolutely nothing.
When people hear this they ask:
Have you tried explaining to the disturbing parties the affects on the kid?
Maybe explain how it's wrong?
Tell the court!
And on, and on.
None of it has worked and it's utterly pointless in the end. All of you dealing with similar situations know what I mean. When joint custody is involved, it's simply not your business or jurisdiction when the child is with the other "parent."
So the "now" is to continue to live with this hardship. Continue to maintain a true strong family unit, continue to learn from such behaviors and teach our children how hurtful and wrong they are, continue to build a foundation of trust and love, to combat this disturbance with love, to acknowledge it as a test against faith, compassion, love, and forgiveness, and above all to continue to bring to light that such events are plain and simply wrong and build stronger communities of people who are forced to deal with such evil.
This is a true story. I am living it and have been for 6 years and by the looks of things many more to come. If you are dealing with similar disturbing and intolerable human behavior, you are not alone. There are ways to find peace, there are ways to forgive, but it's okay to feel the frustration. Now that is a normal feeling and behavior.
Written by Sterp
Photo Source: https://pixabay.com/en/eye-shading-head-girl-eyebrows-716008/
I recently experienced one of the worst situations of my life, almost equivalent to the disappointment of my parents’ divorce many years ago. I am 29 years old and up to this point I have been grateful to have worked in positive environments with bosses who demonstrated the values of strong leadership: values of honesty, integrity, hard-work, and humbleness. I guess I was a late bloomer because recently I landed what seemed to be one of the best opportunities of my life until in turned into a nightmare.
Like many of my peers, I have worked extremely hard right out of college, had diverse jobs, worked with different types of people, and have been in some challenging work environments. Each challenge has been an opportunity to practice my problem solving skills and has been tolerable. I am here to tell each of you: there are some instances of harassment that no one should ever tolerate. These situations exist and their complexity can lead you to believe that you are going crazy and not capable of doing your job even though your work history proves otherwise.
Here are the signs that you might have a bully boss or that your boss is engaging in non-physical harassment. This could happen anywhere. It happened to me at the YMCA of Silicon Valley, a place that nurtures and empowers the strengthening of community bonds.
When I got the call to interview for my dream job at the YMCA as a Marketing Manager, my family and I were more than thrilled. This was finally my big break. The person I would be directly reporting to was the Director of Digital Marketing. She seemed overly enthusiastic and wanted to help me in any way possible to land this position.
Sign 1: Too Helpful, If It Seems Too Good to Be True, It Probably Is
The Director continuously called me over the weekend “prepping” me for the second interview. She seemed to really want to help me land this position and took me under her wing with her positive language and initiative to explain what would be expected in my second interview with the VP.
Once I got the offer, my world would change forever. The entire package was the best I have ever seen: great compensation, wonderful benefits, a pension plan, and free YMCA membership for the family. Seems that it would take a lot for someone to leave those luxuries. I landed the job and quickly realized my two directors were playing extreme mind games, manipulating everything, and sabotaging each project I worked on. Their personalities were extremely different than their helpful supportive disposition during the interview process.
Sign 2: Your Boss Spends More Than Half Their Time Gossiping to You and Warning You of Politics, Huge Red Flag
Usually the first few days of a new job consists of training and learning about the resources you will need to complete your projects successfully. My first few days and everyday after that consisted of my directors explaining to me how to watch my back due to the politics of everything. As a new employee and a dedicated hard-worker, I reacted in a polite manner and did not partake in any gossip sessions. I just wanted to learn about my role and successfully deliver on my projects. This, however, was not an acceptable route to them and they shunned me for not partaking in their toxic behavior.
Sign 3: Your Boss Gives You Feedback and Later Says Something Different
Every past employer of mine could tell you that I do great with constructive criticism and use the feedback to improve my skills. The first few pieces of feedback I received at the YMCA seemed logical so I applied that feedback to my future projects. My directors would flip flop and confuse me making instructions and expectations unclear. When I say my directors flip flopped I am not talking about day-to-day decisions changing due to business needs. I have worked in very innovative environments like Apple and NASA where you have to be prepared for things to instantly change but the type of flip flop behavior I experienced at the Y was not due to the needs of the business.
Joe, when you write Facebook content, include a link in almost every post so the customer can learn more, like a link to a PDF flyer with more information.
This is basic feedback that can easily be fixed but what if later your director disapproves of a post that includes a PDF link and says something like: if a customer is using their mobile device and they try to open a PDF, it just doesn’t work well. This statement is ridiculous and this exact example happened to me. My director said this in front of an executive during my 30-day review even though the prior week she told me to include PDF links. This is only one example of many over the course of a month.
Sign 4: Not Getting Any Credit for Projects You Completed
My bosses intentionally sabotaged multiple projects I completed and never gave me credit for those projects. Do not mistake this for getting a pat on the back for a job well done. I completed multiple projects that my director failed to mention during my 30-day review. Instead she mentioned a couple of projects that she claimed I did not deliver on and were poor quality. I actually completed things she asked me to complete. I was asked to create a flyer that would later be posted to Facebook. She and my other director edited the flyer and even gave their feedback along the way only to tell me the next day that they were not going to use it because it did not add value to the company. In retrospect, this flyer totally could have been posted. I know it would have added value to the YMCA brand.
Sign 5: Getting Assigned Projects and Often They Are Not Used
Again, I am not referring to situations where an event causes a change to happen. I am referring to a horrible pattern where you are asked to work on projects and once completed they are thrown out the window. This is a red flag that you are being set up for failure because while you are investing your time working on these things, later when they are thrown out, your bully boss can say you did not deliver on other projects which were never clearly given to you.
Sign 6: Go With Your Instinct, Especially If You Feel Physically Ill Each Day
Lastly, go with your instinct. Although it is not written in stone that your colleagues have to speak to you, if you are a boss or manager you have a responsibility to communicate with your employees. These directors would give me the middle school cold shoulder and not say a peep to me on certain days even though they giggled happily with everyone else around me.
There is a certain degree of professional challenges that we have to endure but no one should ever have to deal with extreme bullying and non-physical harassment in a professional setting. Unfortunately, everyone I have told this story to, tells me they have experienced it at some point in their life and yet everyone is quiet about it. When the culture of a company drives out top talent, the company’s future is at risk.
After a month at the YMCA of Silicon Valley, I quit on the spot, something I have never done at any job in my entire career. I wrote and sent a letter to the CEO about my experience. She read it and I was able to provide details to their executives but that’s where it ended. We must speak up about these experiences and keep them documented because it’s the only way to stand up to bullies in the workplace.
What experiences have you had with bullies in the workplace and how did you stand up for yourself?
Written by Stephanie Briggs
How can you forgive someone if they never apologize for hurting you?
The great news is that it is possible! I have learned how to do this through Buddhist practices. A book that I have studied and constantly return to is one written by His Holiness the Dalai Lama: “How to be Compassionate: A Handbook for Creating Inner Peace and a Happier World.” This is a quick read and easy to reference when needed.
Here are some steps that help me reach forgiveness.
1. Everyone deserves happiness
It can be tough to think about this when someone has hurt you. I step back and imagine them in an objective way. I remind myself that they are a human being just like me and at one time they were even a baby who needed to be cared for. Imagining them as a baby helps me to think objectively. Then I tell myself that they also want a happy and meaningful life just as I do. In his book “How to be Compassionate,” His Holiness the Dalai Lama says, “We all want happiness and do not want suffering…” This is definitely one way I can relate to everyone in the world. Often times people who hurt you do so because they are not happy and they are suffering. Some people are not strong enough to deal with that internally so they act externally against others. Once I understand this about someone I am able to take an analytical approach to a situation and be on my way to the path of forgiveness.
2. Think about them while meditating
I am a firm believer in the benefits that meditation has on our bodies and most importantly on our mental attitudes. Meditation has been proven to strengthen logical thinking and emotional intelligence. It can be intimidating at first but there are great resources online to help you get started. The first time I ever meditated about someone who hurt me, I searched for guidance and found a meditation instructor Tara Brach. She has a website with free guided meditations. I listened to a 25 minute meditation with my eyes closed and did this for weeks. My years of harbored anger vanished! It just takes some dedicated time and a quiet space.
Her website is: https://www.tarabrach.com
3. It is not personal
It is difficult not to take something personal when it seems so personal especially when someone directly hurts you and your loved ones. My first instinct is to take it personal but I then go back to practices one and two. I think objectively about the person. I think about how that person is suffering and is just yearning for happiness and meaning in their life. I think of this compassionately. Be careful! It can be easy to find joy in thinking of the suffering of others especially those who have hurt you but this is the opposite of compassion. In his book “How to be Compassionate,” His Holiness the Dalai Lama says, “When someone is trying to take advantage of you, first you must clearly understand that this other person is a human being, and has a right to be happy.”
4. Harboring hate and anger leads to more suffering
It may feel satisfying when you have negative thoughts about someone who has hurt you but more often than not that person doesn’t care and is continuing to live their life. When we obsess over the hurtful things people have done to us then our minds become full of hatred, anger, and jealousy. We do become what we think about. If we are not able to forgive someone it just leads us to a life of suffering and unhappiness. His Holiness the Dalai Lama gives some insight, “If you nurse hatred, you will never be happy, even in the lap of luxury…Although anger may lead to temporary satisfaction for a brief period, ultimately anger will cause further difficulties.” Rather than allowing someone to strip you of your intelligence, why not use them as an opportunity to gain patience and wisdom?
Through dedicated practice I have learned how to achieve forgiveness. It is never easy and it takes continuous practice and sometimes many meditation sessions to finally reach forgiveness. Some words that resonate with me during any challenging situation are these, by His Holiness the Dalai Lama,
“Try to imagine that your enemies are purposefully making trouble in order to help you accumulate positive forces for shaping the future…We need enemies to strengthen our practice, and from this spiritual viewpoint we can even be grateful to them.”
The next time you are presented with a hurtful situation I encourage you to try these steps. Do you want someone else to be in control of your happiness? I know I don’t.
Written by Stephanie Briggs
“How to Be Compassionate: A Handbook for Creating Inner Peace and a Happier World” by His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Guided meditations by Tara Brach: https://www.tarabrach.com/guided-meditations/
1. Remember it’s not personal
This one is probably one of the hardest concepts to practice. Usually everybody is looking for one thing: happiness. They want and deserve happiness just like you. When someone seems to be attacking your character, it’s truly not personal. They are dealing with their own issues about something and due to their unhappiness they are taking it out on you. Just remind yourself it is not personal.
2. Don’t argue
Would you try to rationalize with someone under the influence? People who are set in their ways aren’t going to change their minds about you or a situation. This does not mean you are giving up the right to have an opinion but rather than wasting your time trying to rationalize just be as calm and compassionate as possible. I find that less is more. The less you engage, the more you are likely to not become reactive when you feel attacked.
3. Be compassionate
This relates to number one. A key concept in Buddhism is to practice compassion towards others. This might be mistaken for allowing people to walk all over you. You might also think that you need to outwardly show the person. You can show compassion inwardly and think about this person as you meditate. The person does not always need to know. So how do we do this? When you sit to meditate you can think about bringing a bright light to that person. You can imagine being out in a beautiful field with them giving them loving-kindness. If you know about their past you can remind yourself about their hardships. Most importantly, always remembering they deserve happiness like you is at the core of this concept.
Meditation has been around for so long but only recently we are beginning to understand the neurological benefits of it. Meditation increases the grey matter in our brain which is associated with learning and memory. Meditation has also been proven to decrease stress and anxiety and improve self-awareness and the ability to be compassionate. There are many different forms of meditation. You can choose a simple approach and start with a short 5 minute meditation. You can also learn a mantra (a repeated sound or word) and reflect on the meaning of the mantra. Any form will have extraordinary benefits to your health.
You do not need to be religious to practice the concepts of Buddhism. These methods have transformed my life and way of thinking. I have also learned to not be so hard on myself. We are human and will react at times in ways we will later regret and that is okay. You cannot obtain wisdom if you never make mistakes. What positive methods do you practice when faced with difficult people?
Written by Stephanie Briggs
I am Sterp. I write dark fiction and have a very unhealthy obsession with disturbing narratives. I am the author of The Cult Called Freedom House: Sophia Rey Book One. My short story The Lost Tea Cup is in Issue 26 of The Literary Hatchet. I am also a painter.
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