I am trying to process a period of professional turmoil in my life that occured over a year ago. Things are okay now but I am still dealing with painful emotions and memories from that experience. How can I go about finding closure?
posted by rasselas81 to Work & Money (17 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I am thirty years old and live near a major urban centre with my wife of six years and our 2.5 year old daughter. I am the primary breadwinner for our family. I have worked full-time in financial services since graduating business school five years ago. Upon leaving school, I landed a job as a trainee at a large company. I should stress that I enjoy working in this field and it is a good fit for me professional and personally. I plan to keep working in it for the foreseeable future.
After getting the job, I worked for two years as a trainee and then a junior analyst. I did notice the culture was much more cutthroat and political than I preferred, however, I was too junior to really be caught in the middle of it. Shortly before my daughter was born, management approached me and offered me a job as an account manager – that is, someone who manages a portfolio of clients. The position came with a large raise and they strongly recommended I take it so I could “check off” that box on my career. Also, the company had problems keeping qualified people in the role. In retrospect, I should have paid attention to the warning signs, but let myself be talked into it since the raise would help balance out my wife’s leaving work.
The job was more challenging than I realized. The hours were long (say 60 hours a week) and exhausting, since I was the point of contact for nearly seventy clients and at any time had several fires to put out each day. This put a real strain on my marriage since my wife had little help from me with our newborn.
In addition, I now had to deal with some tough personalities. I reported into two managers. One of them was a deeply paranoid and mistrustful person whom everyone, including my other manager, was afraid to confront. In addition, two of my clients were clients from hell – demanding, passive-aggressive bullies who would throw abusive temper tantrums if they didn’t get their way. If any of you have experienced these types of people, then you can understand why just seeing their phone numbers on call display would make me break into a cold sweat. I consider myself a professional and tried to do my best in the job while staying sane, but the pressure from doing so exhausted me emotionally and physically.
Around this time last year, I had three projects experience trouble in quick succession. The type of trouble they experienced happens from time to time and came with the job – every experienced person in my industry has a story or three. Now, in my case, I had missed several signs that things were about to go bottoms up due to my exhaustion and inexperience. I took responsibility for the misses since I am a professional. The paranoid manager missed the warning signs as well, so, to protect herself, she claimed I had lied to her about the situations and covered up the warning signs. She was flat-out wrong, but, to my dismay, my other manager believed her instead of me and escalated it. After a series of very uncomfortable meetings where my character was called into question, management told me they would not document anything with HR, but step out of line again and they’d start disciplinary proceedings against me. I was shocked by the attack but even more disturbed by the “let’s keep it off the books” attitude. The situation told me that this was a very dysfunctional workplace and I needed to get out – I could not trust these people anymore.
I reached out to a few colleagues to see if I could get a job at another company. Fortunately, one friend did know of a job opening at his company and recommended me for it. Much to my surprise, the hiring manager turned out to be a former employee of my current company – we never worked together but knew many of the same people. So, I did not hide any of the issues that had caused me to leave although I obviously discussed them in an appropriate way for an interview setting. He called me back a week later and offered me the job.
Afterwards I discovered he had asked some of his former colleagues about my story and, to their credit, they told him I had been railroaded unfairly by management. He explained that he knew the culture there was very dysfunctional and the managers who went after me were not to be trusted. By contrast, he felt he could trust me.
Anyway, once I got the offer I cleaned up any outstanding issues and then handed in my notice – one of the most satisfying moments of my life. I’ve now been in this position for eight months. My career is back on track, I have a great relationship with my boss and the other people I interact with, I am making a higher salary then I did at my old job, and I have fantastic work-life balance. My wife and I have our marriage back on track and I am there to see my daughter grow up. I feel truly blessed and very, very lucky this turned out as well as it did.
But, I’m still haunted by the memories of the crap I went through at my last job - particularly that one manager who accused me of dishonesty, and the two clients from hell I mentioned above. I had nightmares about dealing with them for months afterwards. Even now, thinking of them makes me break out in cold sweats or makes me so angry my hands shake. This happens several times a week.
As well, I feel guilty about still experiencing these negative emotions since I never had real closure with these individuals. I know rationally there was no real way for me to do so – protocol required I had to be escorted right out of the building as soon as I gave my notice - but I needed it emotionally and didn’t get it.
Now that it’s been a year since most of this went down, I need to come to terms with all of this. I suspect most of you will recommend therapy and yes, I will be looking into it in the new year. For now, I would love to hear from any of you who went through similar situations. How did you deal with it? What did you do to cope with the emotional fallout of leaving a terrible job? What lessons did you learn for your own career? How can I better spot situations like this in the future?
TL;DR – I successfully got out of a terrible job where my character was called into question and the stress impacted my home life. I’m at a much better position now, but am still dealing with the anger/guilt from the bad job. How can I best process all of this and put it behind me?