Updated: Jul 8
Toxic relationships come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. They do not necessarily have to be with someone you share an intimate relationship with like a significant other. It can be a friend, family member, or even someone you work with. They can be hard to spot at first, and then difficult to remove yourself from. And unfortunately, I have two stories to share, when I worked for two horrible people. For a year or so, I found myself in a toxic relationship with an employer, but at the time I didn't notice. What I noticed was a job promotion, extra pay, and what seemed like a newfound “friendship.”
On our first official meeting at the Four Seasons in New York City, she rudely told another couple that they could not sit by us near the fireplace. I instantly felt like an asshole, but since I was JUST promoted, I decided to not say anything. Instead, I just sat there like a soundless airhead while my so-called boss who ran a magazine catering to Empowering Women aggressively sat that forcing that couple to move away from us. But what is even more embarrassing is the fact that I allowed that to continue. I was so wrapped up with building my own portfolio and moving on in the world of writing, I allowed this woman to belittle a couple who were doing nothing out of sorts.
There were many other things I left lying under the rug for months. That was until we went away for the weekend to Key West for a “business trip.” What was supposed to be a weekend of brainstorming and creating new ways to market the company, turned into a crazy, girls-gone-wild, trip, but minus a good time. This woman really showed me and a fellow editor who was also on the trip with us (thank God), what a rude, selfish, and entitled person she really was. While the trip itself was a total bust, I now use it as a growing experience and had one take away from it; when someone shows you their true colors, do not try to repaint them. After I cut myself loose from the crazy ties, it was then I really started using my own platform to share my life experiences. I also decided to end my hiatus with teaching and started looking to get myself back into the game. This is where I viciously collided with one of the foulest human beings I have ever had the displeasure of meeting.
I had started looking for a teaching position, but ultimately landed a role as an administrator in a private school. It was pretty sweet to be offered a position where I could hold some sort of authority - or so I thought. The first few weeks were pretty smooth. I got to know my new co-workers and really started to build an amazing relationship with all of them. While having a few management skills under my belt from mentoring new writers, I knew exactly how I wanted my leadership skills to be. The one thing I was not going to let happen was my co-workers thinking I thought I was better than them. That my position meant more because I was an admin. I took pride in the fact that I got to know each teacher on a personal level. You get better work results out of employees who trust their higher-ups.
My boss HATED that. He hated the fact that I was immediately well received by both the staff and parents and had established a rapport that exhibited respect on both sides.
With my good-willed demeanor now on his radar, he now dissed EVERY SINGLE THING I DID. There is not one time in my year at this facility where I can share with you, that he praised me for my work. And listen, I’m not a child and I also wasn’t raised on receiving participation awards either. You’re either a good worker or you’re not, and not to toot my own horn, but when it comes to working in the Educational Field, I know I’m pretty damn good. But as I mentioned earlier, when you respect your staff and treat them like humans, you get the absolute best results from them. But if you’re going to critique everything they do “wrong”, have them sit in your tiny office every morning with your breath smelling terrible, and talk down to them daily, all while continuously grabbing your junk, that’s when you’ll see that line of respect start to disappear.
It took an order of tissues that was delivered incorrectly and a grown man yelling in my face telling me I’m a “useless fucking assistant” to finally put my foot down. With a well written, articulate, and respectful letter, I shared with him my feelings and frustrations. And once I stood up for myself, I was let go of my duties. It was a bittersweet blessing in disguise.
After taking a week to compose my thoughts and remember that one bitter man's feelings towards something I worked so hard to obtain, did not define my work ethic, I started sending out my resume again. Within a few days, I had an interview at another school. It has been almost a year and what a change! When you leave a toxic work relationship and find yourself in a calm, respectful environment, it’s like a million bricks are lifted off your shoulders. In the 11 years, I have worked as an educator, I’ve never found a school that has both an amazing staff and amazing administration. It may have taken me a while to find, but the point is, I’ve found it.
Life is absolutely way too short to work or live in any sort of toxic environment. Change is terrifying, but so is staying stuck in the same miserable race. Once you make that leap of faith, it’s amazing how everything else just falls into place.