Bullying is a word that’s saturated conversation in every school in the United States. While we expect children to practice compassionate behavior, we as adults could use a talking to now and then in how to behave properly. Susan Skog, author of “Mending the Sisterhood & Ending Women’s Bullying,” takes an in-depth look on women shunning women from the workplace to the playground, and sheds light on the stories of real world, everyday women that have experienced bullying. I’m honored to be a part of Susan’s book, finally using my words for good instead of knocking other women down. You see, I used to be a bully …
The below is an excerpt from “Mending the Sisterhood & Ending Women’s Bullying” by Susan Skog. Available on Amazon.com – amazon.com/Mending-Sisterhood-Ending-Womens-Bullying/dp/0975869612.
“I am ashamed to say, at one time, I was a workplace bully. As I look back years later, I realize the insecurity and fear that drove my ugly behavior was a lack in really experiencing life with my eyes open to the world rather than constantly being obsessed with my own life. I surrounded myself with other negative people and I allowed my emotions to be sucked into drama. Completely out of my true character, I became more and more harsh to co-workers and purposefully stirred up unnecessary crisis in the workplace. My atrocious actions would be as simple as suggesting to a co-worker that we should start baking an excessive amount of baked goods for the office so people would get fat to setting up a fellow co-worker to embarrass herself in a meeting in front of our superiors.
“I left a traditional office environment after having children and as so many people say, 'children change everything.' Nothing in my life was the same after I had my son – my body, my soul, my attitude, my hormones, my marriage, my friendships … everything had changed. I experienced severe post-partum anxiety after childbirth and living in a state of stressed panic for a year I looked at my son and realized I didn’t want him to have an anxious, selfish, judgmental example as a mother.
“The break I had from an office environment and the time I spent sorting out my own character and body after the upheaval of pregnancy was just the rock bottom I needed to hit to show me the ugly person I had been to other women. During this intense time of anxiety attacks, therapy and the isolation that comes with motherhood, I spent a lot of time behind closed doors playing with my son and just thinking. I am a Christian and believe the best time to surrender all your life to God is when you are sick of trying to control everything around you. A gentle voice in my heart said, 'you never know what is going on in someone else’s life. How much they could be hurting …'
“I felt extremely guilty for the way I acted in my last position and sent a message to one of the women I know I hurt the most. I humbly apologized for being a rude and horrible person. As I typed the message, I knew that there was a chance that this woman would tell me to 'stick my apology where the sun don’t shine,' and she had all the reason in the world to do so. But she didn’t. She said thank you for the apology and I, after that day, made a commitment to never assume, never judge, and to stand up for those who are being treated unjustly.
“Nothing would have made me change back then, being a workplace bully – no anti-bully workshop or more awareness. What would have stopped me in my tracks was someone to confront me and tell me I was being wicked. A bold person to put my in my place and explain to me that my inappropriate and immature behavior should stop – immediately. An individual that would give me the proverbial punch to the mouth. This kind of honesty and zero tolerance from a co-worker or superior would have been just what I needed to shake me out of my pathetic lack of character. In fact, in a small way, my husband was the person who made me second guess my actions. I was gossiping on the phone to a co-worker and after a long rant session he said, 'The woman I married never judged and acted this way, what is going on with you?'
“You see I acted this way out of a fear and insecurity that I was not seen as the best employee at work. I know I did. And when I chose to take my issues, tuck them away, and attempt to bring other people down so I could be seen as the best, I spiraled into a rotten individual. I also chose to hang out with other negative people who fueled the fire. Misery does love company …
“After childbirth, I looked at my own child and the thought of someone being ignorant to him made me really question my character. I didn’t want to be that person who cut other people down. I turned to the faint light of a relationship that was planted in me as a child with a spiritual being I call 'God' and with a new mantra of 'you never know what’s going on in someone else’s life,' I set a promise to myself to daily renew my mind to be a person of love. I work every day to make up for the ignorant way I acted long ago and look for ways to apologize to the people I have hurt. If I can find them or I run into them, I am instantly compelled to apologize. It was uncomfortable the first few times I did it and not all of the women I have tried to apologize to have been receptive to my change, but I don’t blame them. I lost their trust and all the apologies in the world won’t change the hurt. I do believe daily living a life free of anger and judgment will.
“A solution to woman-on-woman bullying cannot be changed overnight. Bold, fearless women are needed to set an example and stand up for the small injustices we see every day. It’s excusing yourself from gossip, apologizing when you’re wrong, and not being scared to step away from toxic friends. After all, you never know what’s going on behind closed doors in someone else’s life …
Smitten with domestic life but not to the point of unhealthy obsession, “The Modern Domestic Woman” author and St. Charles resident, Elizabeth Rago, is a freelance writer. You can visit her blog at thecircularhome.com or connect with Rago on Facebook at facebook.com/TheModernDomesticWoman. Feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.