Friday, November 18, 2011

Independence Day

A year ago today, I was asked to leave.

It was the Friday before Thanksgiving.  I was approached and told there had been "too many complaints" about me.  I asked what kind of complaints they were, and the subject was changed.  This person started to say that my "feelings" about the Institution were well known - and then seemed to realize they'd said too much and quickly went to yet another topic.  I was told I was brusque, unkind, and "steamrolled" those around me.  Again, no examples were forthcoming.  I was finally told I clearly had too many philosophical differences with the Institution, and I should think about whether or not I belonged there.  And then I was told we would discuss it further after the holidays - around January sometime.  (A long time to let the axe dangle, eh?)

I was devastated.  Completely crushed.  Suicidal that weekend, frankly.  I realize now that this "talk" was intended to keep me off balance and make me feel uncertain of myself.  We all have self-doubt, and master manipulators prey on this natural tendency quite well.

Over the weekend I talked to a few friends to get their perspective to make sure I was being objective, and they were all shocked at what had been alleged. 

Fortunately, by the time the weekend ended, my survival instincts kicked in and I woke up to what was really going on.  I wasn't a failure.  I wasn't bad at my job.  I wasn't mean to people.  I had merely made the wrong people uncomfortable. 

The next week, I was fawned over by this person.  "How are you doing?" they simpered in the hallway.  Another classic emotional manipulation manuever - they cut the legs out from under you in private and then pretend to be your friend and care for you in public.

For the next several weeks, I had an unusual number of compliments from uninvolved people about how I did my job.  I mean embarrassingly nice things. One after another.  Also during that time, I was organizing some of my old documents and ran across some papers from my past secular institution education.  They were letters of recommendation praising my interpersonal skills.  One was a letter to me from classmates (we all wrote down each other's good qualities and turned them in to the instructor; he compiled them and handed us each our own list).  Again, this list refuted, nearly verbatim to the point, much of what I had been accused of. It became obvious God was confirming that I had been lied to. 

Late January rolled around, and I was approached again.  "What is your decision?" was the opening salvo.  Unfortunately, since I had already realized the initial chat had been a threat, I replied that I was leaving instead of questioning, "What do you mean, what is my decision? Decision about what? You said we would talk further after the holidays about my problems - what am I supposed to be deciding?" But no, I took the coward's way out and let it slide. 

I still wish I had had the courage to confront this person about what they did.  This person has been manipulating for so long though, it would have been a dangerous proposition.  Maybe someday when I'm healthier emotionally.  I'm getting there.  Talking about this doesn't give me the pit in my stomach it once did - I can even laugh about it.

But seriously, in a sense, this person was right.  I *did* have some serious philosophical differences.  I believe that disabled persons have a right to basic accommodations and should not be told they're being selfish for asking for them.  I believe parents should not beat their children.  I believe teachers should not physically assault students.  I believe the victims of sexual assault/abuse are not at fault for the crimes perpetrated against them and  the police need to be involved.

And if standing up to Important People and confronting wrong on these issues makes me disloyal and a threat, then so be it.

I'd do it all over again.


  1. I am so sorry for how that all went down. So glad you are free. When my husband left years ago, we left under good circumstances and I still felt like the chains had been removed. I am currently aware of another situation going on with good people who are being treated very unfairly and then made to feel like they have a spiritual problem. It is wrong. I know no work place is perfect and I have had unpleasant bosses in a secular place but your spirituality is not called into question, etc.

  2. Thank you SJ. There's a sense in which I'm not sorry that it happened like this however - by the end of that weekend, the phrase "You meant it for evil but God meant it for good" was reverberating in my head. I had heard other stories of people with similar experiences at this Institution, and deep down you always wonder if it was all just a big misunderstanding. And then the exact type of thing happens to you. It's a lightbulb moment. Without this kind of experience, I never would have realized just how deeply and persistently the evil runs there.

  3. From this former student's perspective: You showed love and compassion. You treated your students like adults. You were sincere. Your multiple answer test questions were the bane of my existence. The atmosphere in your class felt like a safe haven. And honestly? After one semester there I was ready to reject the faith. But you made me want take a second look at Jesus--and not just because of those test questions--and I thank you for that.

    Yeah, you did not belong there.


  4. Is there a way to "talk" to you anonymously but in a "private" place? I would love to pick your brain about something...I don't want to go into any details bc I'm just not willing to reveal the identity of this person here. And really, anything I say...well let's just say, "It's a small world after all." Ya know?

  5. I thought there was some sort of e-mail attached to this account, but I guess not. I set up a new email account: