It seemed to me that I was always reading the perfect book for the moment. Somedays when Lauren was out of the lab, instead of blasting angry music, I’d read a helpful book.
I’d read things like Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, Trust Your Vibes by Sonia Choquette or Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach. I even read the Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. I tended to roll my eyes when Margaret would bring up the second agreement from his book to not take anything personally. It felt really challenging when all Lauren’s actions felt so personalized against me.
It wasn’t until I started seeing the bigger picture that I was able to know that I was okay and acceptable just by myself. Margaret helped me realize some things about my past and how I had been creating these scenarios for myself in present day because I believed that I needed another woman’s approval. The universe gave me women that would never approve of me. I had to learn for myself that I was worthy and, approve of myself, before anyone else would. I always knew that there was a bigger picture with Lauren and with Zoe from NDX. I always knew that for someone to be that terrible they had to have something going on in their life to cause them to be that way. However, because I gave them both so much of myself it was hard for me to not take things personally.
Sure, I would think about how Lauren was living out of hurt. I felt bad for her. But most of the time I was angry.
I’d mull about how she had to create this huge persona for herself and tend to all of her relationships just to feel safe. Sometimes I’d relish in the fact that simply having me working there alongside her felt like a threat for her. In hopes that I would leave, she did everything in her power to isolate me. It made me so angry, but it also made me grateful for the lesson I had learned. She couldn’t risk, that with my new knowledge, I could expose her for what she really was.
Taking a step back, and letting time do it’s healing job, it is easy for me to see that I could have chosen to not take things so personally. I could have sent out love and light energetically. I could have focused on myself as much as I could and not let it bother me. I could have stayed trusting in the fact that she was acting off of hurt and tried to not let it get to me, but I wasn’t at that stage in my life yet. I hadn’t matured to that point even though I had matured significantly since NDX.
Now, it is easier for me to stay in my own peaceful feelings when dealing with people in my day to day life. I have also become better with boundaries and that has been crucial for my peace of mind because I now have the say on what I will allow into my space and what I won’t. I don’t let people “in” that I instinctively know feel a little bit off to me. I am still really rusty though and create Walls of China when I only really need a picket fence. I take time to see if people are good for me and it has helped me stay more centered and relaxed.
If I had done this with Lauren from the start I would have been able to stay in a higher vibrating place at work. After our friendship and the vulnerability that I showed with her, my hurt and betrayal became the predominent feelings that centered my day. It was easy for me to stay in anger because it was the only thing that felt better than fear.
I started reading Codependent No More, by Melanie Beattie because Margaret, my therapist, had suggested it to me. She had noticed some codependent patterns in me, but didn’t seem to think I should be too alarmed about it. I started to learn and incorporate some essential ideas and ways of being into my life. I even took notes and took a couple of photos of the pages from my notebook on my iPhone to reference back to when I felt like I was in a panicky situation.
I wrote things down like-
-Don’t feel responsible for other people’s thoughts!
-Don’t feel responsible for other people’s feelings!
-Don’t feel responsible for other people’s actions!
-Don’t feel responsible for other people’s choices!
-Learn to say no!
-Don’t speak to provoke or please people!
-Feel happy, content and peaceful with myself–don’t look for it outside myself!
These little notes became my lifeline at work when I felt like, I had none. They were almost like my reinforcements. Some of them felt foreign to me at first. For as long as I remember, I, for some reason, gauged what people’s thoughts may or may not be and felt responsible for them. I let my imagination and my obsessive compulsive tendencies, that I didn’t realize I had, take over. For a period of time, I had to look at my notes on my phone over and over again to try to remember that not everything was my fault. I had to persistently focus on myself and be there for myself.
Trust Your Vibes, also recommended to me by Margaret, became an essential book for me. Sometimes I thought I was crazy for what I felt. The subtle cues here and there that made me presume how different people felt about me, sometimes yes, were my imagination, but other times were vital instincts to follow to keep me out of trouble.
Even though I was getting better at trusting my vibes, I let my somewhat obsessive tendencies run a little too wild. I trusted that, unfortunately, Peter and Angela were both on Lauren’s “side.” I felt bad for myself that I had to think of this battle between us in such black and white terms, but that is what it felt like in my mind.
With these ideas constantly going on in my head, it was challenging to stay grounded amidst life going on around me in the lab. I constantly believed that Lauren was saying things to provoke me and then I started to believe that Angela had said things to provoke me as well. Her and Lauren would always be going to get their afternoon coffee together and I’d be trying to appear calm and collected at my desk.
I knew some of the things I felt were true, and I worried about the extent everybody had talked and still talked about me like they had with Mary. I presumed that it was just as bad about me now.
I believed it with every ounce of my being, so it was all I saw.
I guess I will never know how bad it really was. The level or degree of the hate against me in the building, but I think it was pretty high. I roped other people into it in my own mind. When a new person would be hired and Lauren became friendly with her I would automatically assume, that after a certain period of time, they had had one or several discussions about me. That is, after all, what she did when I had became friends with her. After about a week she was telling me all about the instances in which Mary or Michelle were plain, unacceptable, in her mind, and in that of others. Another new person would be hired, and again, Lauren would befriend her and again I would assume the worst. It happened over and over with three other girls.
The worst part was Lauren didn’t even have to do anything besides befriend the new people. A main characteristic of a narcissist is that they will try to isolate you, but I completely isolated myself. Yes, it would be convenient for me to tell you that she did it on purpose. Maybe she did. A big part of me thinks she did. However, it was the thoughts that I, and I alone was having that ended up being the things that isolated me. It wasn’t her behavior or the behavior of her new friends.
If she wasn’t trying to isolate me, well then I guess I only have myself and my imagination to blame.
I came to take myself really responsible for everything that I did. I know now that I am the only one responsible for my actions or inaction. I can’t be held responsible for other’s. I alone am responsible for my thoughts and my feelings and I can’t be responsible for other’s. In order for me to realize some of these underlying issues that I needed to realize about myself, it took this second horrible experience of being unaccepted at my workplace. It gave me a push in the right direction to self discovery and reflection and self-love.
I didn’t need to battle Lauren until the end of time like I had with Zoe. I didn’t need to prove that she was the bad guy in all of this, and not me. At NDX, I was constantly trying to get Melanie on my side. I wanted her to end her friendship with Zoe once and for good and to stop flip flopping between us when she was mad at Zoe. But for what? Why did I feel like I had to control the situation as much as I had. Was it all just to know that I was “right” for feeling hurt? It was to feel justified in my own feelings, like I had to justify what I was feeling. I felt insecure about feeling what I was feeling so I felt like I had to have others feel the same way that I did. Sometimes it’s not about being the head of a large group that triumphs over evil for a cinematic finish. Sometimes its just about knowing what your feeling is right in your heart and moving on to create more of those good feelings for yourself. Sometimes that is so much better than wasting life on proving you were right to feel the way you did. It’s better than spending more days wasting away at the lab trying to control the situation. It’s better than seeing your nemesis control it more over you. Its so much more than that. It is beauty and life and peace and relaxation and a soft knowing that you are loved.
I simply needed to love and accept myself in order move on with my purpose in life. It’s so sad how some people may never get to this point, and I want you to know its okay. Forgive yourself as much as you can. Don’t get down on yourself. But take heart in knowing that life is always, always, trying to show you something.
I started reading Kerry Egan’s book called On Living where she wrote beautifully about her time as a hospital chaplain. She tells the powerful stories of the dying. A common theme that came up again and again were people who wanted to unburden themselves of the shame they had been carrying around with them throughout their lives.
She wrote that many times shame can be a family matter. She even had one example about a family member hiding a huge secret from another family member. The purpose, or so it was told, was to hide them from the same shame that they had had to carry with them throughout their life.
I quickly gobbled the book up. It was both soothing and heartbreaking. It was somehow nice to know that, not only my family carried shame that we didn’t speak of, not only just some families, but that it was a universal language of the dying!
I had heard about shame and read Daring Greatly by Brene Brown that demonstrated research of shame. But for some reason I loved the notion that people wanted to be unburdened of it when they died. It was the one last thing that they wanted to do. It seemed to me like there was so much to be gained by a person ending a cycle of shame in their family. It made me so excited for my own life. It made me more excited to dive into my own shame so that I could try to live my very own best life.
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson was another one of my little pleasures. I’d hide it at my desk and read it during lunch and I even took the outer covering off to make it less noticeable. I completely feared that if Angela or Lauren saw what I was reading that I’d again be the laughing stock of our group for the next couple of days. (Not that I probably was anyways!) The book said that nowadays, with the internet, how someone who missteps can be so greatly shamed by trollers on the internet that it is hard for them to ever even come back from it. He gave examples of people who made regrettable comments on twitter and others who make mistakes at work. The book was so interesting because he was trying to demonstrate how quick we are to demonize someone and how public shame can actually start to be used as a ‘form of social control’.
I couldn’t help but think that if I wrote about my life story and what had happened ‘to me’ that I was only furthering the problem. That I was simply demonizing Lauren out of revenge. I was worried that I wouldn’t get my point across. Both sides of the party play a role in misunderstanding between one soul and another. It is, afterall, only when we fully understand ourselves that we are able to be harmonious with others. I could fully understand Lauren, however, it wasn’t until I fully understood myself that I was able to become a harmonious part in the larger part. That’s not to say it is always good to be harmonious. One must be harmonious within themselves first and foremost, and that does come with disrupting the status quo at times.
Thankfully, with a greater understanding of myself everyday, less and less people have to deal with the great need I have or had for approval. Ronson, in his book, suggested that we are using our anonymity as a greater platform to be more cruel to people we believe should be shamed and he believed that we are taking the public shame to an extreme that maybe we shouldn’t.
But don’t we need more people to speak out against what they believe is wrong? Don’t we need more people, who from new psychic and spiritual experiences, start to see the way they view the world and themselves in it in a new way to speak up?
What still needs to be addressed and what doesn’t? How do we bring about change for greater peace and understanding? Certainly not by being the one-millionth commenter on twitter shaming someone, but maybe by being open and honest about where and how we have learned and how we have come to know ourselves.