Forays to the edge, and beyond

You’ve probably heard the sayings, or some variation on them… “healing happens when you go beyond your comfort zone” … “you’re pushing your boundaries” … “you’re working on the ‘edge'” …  They’re phrases that have always been a little eye-roll inducing for me…  I’m not really sure why I find them a bit trite, but I do.  Well, I did…  until I had a bit of a rethink around the whole “edge” concept, mainly because I seem to be hanging out there a little too much lately.

At my workplace, we have an issue with people gossiping, back-stabbing, and generally putting others down.  It’s a fairly equal opportunity activity, where even the two main instigators of the talk, will turn on each other when they’re apart.  As you can imagine, this creates a really welcoming, friendly, and inviting work environment to look forward to every day…

I’ve always known that they’ve talked about me… I mean, if they’re willing to turn on each other, they’re definitely going to talk about me.  But, what I didn’t expect, was to be sitting in the office, when one of the main instigators started talking at the top of her voice… “You know how she can be helpful one moment, and not the next… well she was in one of ‘those’ moods…”   It was obvious that she was backstabbing, and I was pretty sure that I was the target, but I wasn’t certain.  If she hadn’t been talking so loudly, I wouldn’t have heard, or wondered… If we hadn’t interacted earlier in the day, which ended with her walking off in a huff, I wouldn’t have worried… But, I did hear, and I was aware of our earlier interaction; so, I asked her if she was talking about me…  I could tell from the change in her body language, that she was.  As she walked towards me, she asked if we could talk outside…

We talked for about half an hour… it was awful.

I’ve told a couple of people about what happened, and they’ve said that they were proud of me for asking her the question, and then continuing to talk to her… My view is slightly different…

I hate that I spoke up… I hate that she wanted to talk outside… I hate that I had to rush from that talk, to an Eating Disorder Services appointment… I hate that I was seen… I hate it; and as an extension of that, hate me.

How dare I be so bold as to ask such a question?  How dare I think that I deserved an answer?  How dare I even exist!

Haven’t I learned anything by now… the only solution, is to be invisible!!

This was me going beyond my comfort zone, or working on the edge.  It was uncomfortable and destabilising.  What was interesting, was my reaction to being in that place… When I was talking with my co-worker outside, I placed all of the blame on myself; and then after the incident, I waited for the repercussions.  When I was young and dared to speak out, or tried to defend myself; the consequences could be catastrophic… parts of me still expect similar negative results today.  I found myself becoming more and more anxious as the days went by… I kept looking for the consequences.  I began to think that the only solution was to self-injure, in order to get the consequences “out-of-the-way” and get everything firmly back within my control again.  I know that may sound counter-intuitive, and even silly; but, it seemed the only way to ease the tension that kept building.

I realise that this was me challenging different aspects of my reactions… I would usually remain silent, rather than ask a question; and I would do almost anything to avoid a confrontation.  But this time, I acted differently.  I wasn’t aware of doing it consciously, practising what I would say, or any of those other things that are often talked about when “working beyond your comfort zone”…  Instead, it felt like I was driven to pose the question.  I think a part of me was hoping that she wasn’t talking about me…  I really don’t like to be thought of in a negative way, and to hear it vocalised so loudly, was awful.

The thing is… even if I’d stayed silent, I would have beaten myself up.  A part of me assumed that I was the target, and felt the resulting wound.  As I assumed it was about me, I would have felt the need to self-punish anyway… So, I was in a no-win situation in the short-term.  But, if I look at it from a long-term point of view; challenging those boundaries, edges, or whatever you want to call them… is where the healing is going to happen.  I asked a question; and while there was short-term awfulness, there wasn’t the catastrophic consequences that there were in the past…  That’s a really positive challenge to those old beliefs.  I know it will take more incidents similar to this before I really believe that the punishing consequences won’t suddenly happen again… but, that’s about learning by experience.

I know that is a positive thing… but, I also feel sadness about having to relearn so many things…


10 thoughts on “Forays to the edge, and beyond

  1. Ahh, the edge. I know it well. As does my inner critic, who reacts much like yours with all that berating and finger pointing and … you know the story; you describe it well.

    This might be stating the obvious, but your inner critic – also like mine – needs to learn that sometimes it’s ok to be bold and daring and seen. Sometimes the consequences won’t be “catastrophic”, although it will certainly feel like it the first few times. Sounds to me like this was precisely one of those times. That colleague sounds like a nightmare! Frankly hun, the more I hear about your colleagues, the less I like them, so good on you for standing up for yourself and, hopefully, making her feel uncomfortable for a change!!

    As you say, this is a positive experience. Especially as you’re now able to observe your reactions and question or challenge them. I know it’s not easy, but you did great 🙂

  2. I have to agree with the “proud of you” statement. I think many people, with no mental health issues, would have had trouble confronting her, knowing that they were going hear not nice things about themselves from a person who seems to enjoy being rude behind other’s backs.

    That takes real guts and you did it! You did deserve an answer and that woman needed to be called out on her comments.

    I don’t think your reaction was silly at all. You were in new waters and didn’t know what to expect. That causes anxiety.

    I think it’s spectacular that you had a positive end result just for yourself. It’s good when old ideas get challenged and we learn something positive or…at least when things don’t blow up in our faces.

    • Hi CI,

      I’m not sure it was a positive end result, as I continued to beat myself up about it, and have now withdrawn more from the people at work… I just can’t cope with the negativity there. I know I need to find another job, and move from the city where I am…

      Thanks for the support and caring, I appreciate it…

      I know you’re struggling at the moment, and I hope that eases for you soon…

      Take care,

  3. “The thing is… even if I’d stayed silent, I would have beaten myself up.”

    This sentence stood out for me. When you can’t win either way, perhaps it’s time to choose based on other criteria than whether you’re going to win. Still thinking about that.

    • Hi Isaac,

      You’re right, it is a case of looking at different options, and maybe trailling new things. I did something new this time, and I think it sort of worked, in that the gossip and nastiness in the office seems to have been toned down a little…

      Thank you for your comment… It all helps as a reality check and support 🙂

      Take care,

  4. I was just going over the comments you made in this entry compared with a couple comments we’d curated over the past month or so. It is amazing all the strength you’ve been picking up internally. You have a lot of curiosity and seem to “push the envelope” frequently always learning new things about yourselves and your living environment. We argue over the situation of feeling invisible frequently enough that that catches our attention as well. I think that you standing up to “ask the question” is really remarkable … Like HEY! I’m here AND I’m visible!

    Keep writing!!! We’ll keep reading!

    Always our best,

  5. You should be so SO proud of yourself, I’m proud of you! I’ve had some issues like this at work recently and wish I’d been as brave as you, you should feel so good about yourself for this.
    I hope you’re ok, I’ll be thinking about this next time I’m in work and I hope I’ll have to courage to speak up =]
    take care, Alice x x

    • Hi Alice,

      I’m sorry you’re faced with situations like this too… it’s so detrimental to everyone involved, and seriously effects productivity (to say the least)… Bullying and workplace environments have such an impact on our lives…

      Please take care,

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