As told to Smithsology
I spent years going through meaningless flings and asshole boyfriends before I met my husband George. He was nothing like any of the guys I have been with before. Romantic and soft spoken, he truly adores me. We dated for a year before we got married, it just felt right. Married life is great, he is everything I wanted in a man. I have never felt so secured in my life.
A few years into our blissful marriage, I started having serious issues at work. The bullying and harassment has caused weight gain, depression and anxiety. George was supportive, he listened to my woes, he exercised and went on a diet with me, and most importantly, he never once make any comments on my weight. As the pressure at work mounted, none of the positive lifestyle stuff worked and I started coming home angry. I was so consumed by my anger with people at work that it is the only thing I would talk about.
George suggested that I walk away from the toxic environment and look for another job, but in my mind, if I quit, I am just letting these people at work win. He also suggested that I speak to somebody regarding my state of mind, but in my head, seeking professional help is for people with ‘actual’ issues, not me.
I started lashing out at George, nothing seems right at home. My snarky comments would now turned into a full-blown yelling and screaming. Most of the times, George will just keep his mouth shut, trying to avoid further arguments. During this time, I can see how frustrated he is with the situation but I just cant help it. On a good day, we would be so close, so in love and so happy. But this could easily turn sour at any minute. I was constantly on edge, always unhappy with him and picking on things he would do or say. Sometimes, he would try to defend himself against my yelling and screaming and it would lead into a full blown argument.
These arguments were nasty… I would say the meanest things I could think off to him. Most of the times I would just give him the silent treatment for days. I would disappear to the other room for days, neglecting everything until he would come and apologise to me. How fucked up is that? I was the one who started the fight and went all the way to be nasty, and he swallowed his pride and apologised to me just to end our argument. He simply could not stand the haunting silence and the vibe at home when we fight.
This went on for more than a year until one day, we had a huge argument over the silliest thing. He ordered me the wrong coffee at breakfast. I went off like a maniac, accusing him for not listening and that he had stop caring. I even went as far as suggesting that perhaps our relationship has run its course and maybe we should go our separate ways. As my screaming and yelling was getting worse, I can see his body shakes , the look on his face was nothing like I have seen before, and then George started to cry. We have been married for 4 years at this stage and I have never seen him cry. I was startled. Here I am watching my husband crying in anger, frustration and helplessness. All because I threatened to end this marriage because he ordered me a cappuccino instead of flat white.
I sat next to him and asked ‘why are you crying?’. He said ‘ If I can no longer make you happy, what am I doing here?’. My heart sank, it is a moment of realisation that, I had manage to break this person. I suddenly feel like shit for doing this to my husband. All he has ever done was to love me and to support me. Didn’t know what to do, my coward self would like to just disappear and not take on responsibility of the damages I have done. I sat next to him and held him. I looked in his eyes and I saw sorrow. Gosh, what the fuck have I done?
He stayed away from me throughout the day. I paced around the house thinking about this life changing event and finally realised one thing. The fact that George loved me more than I loved him, meant that I always thought I had the upper hand in this relationship and he will never leave me. While it is probably true, I have for the past year took that fact for granted and abused it. I took on the frustration of being terrorised by my workmates at work and took it out on George, who I perceived to be weak just because of the love he has for me. Little did I know that the love he has is what kept him strong.
That night I had to force him to speak to me. He refused to at first . He was always the one who want to talk things out where I would just ignore him. Now I finally would like to do the same and the table has turned. After some persistence, he finally agreed to talk. It wasn’t so much of a conversation rather than a session where I wholeheartedly apologise to him. I acknowledged the fact that I had ruined his perception of me and also how easily have I forgotten, how shitty life was before he came along.
I promised to start looking for help for my depression and anxiety, to go back to being the person he loved. At that time, even when he was sad, he offered to help me however way he can. I only requested one thing, his understanding while I get my head sorted out.
It took me some time to sort my head out after the prolonged bullying I experienced at work. It turns out that situation was damaging to my mental well being more than I thought it did. Recovery certainly took effort and time . Here are some of the steps I took to make it work :
- I spoke to the management about my situation. Thankfully the owner of the company was understanding. I told them that either move me to another department, or I will quit. The owner came back to me the next day, agreeing to move me to another department. It turned out, he has heard so much about my contribution to the company, he moved me to a much better department, with a promotion and a pay rise.
- The work environment was much better in the new department, I was given more opportunities and I learned so much. But ultimately, it was a medium sized company and I couldn’t fully escape my bullies. I remained with the company for another 18 months . In that time they continued their smear campaign while I continued to do well for the company. As I felt better, I made peace with the fact that my battle with the bullies is insignificant. I moved to a bigger company and did well there.
- My new boss kept me busy, so busy I didn’t have the time to focus on the smear campaign. He truly believed in my capabilities and took me under his wings, which helped a lot. Eventually, the bullying became a white noise which hardly affects me
- I maintained my professionalism at work and stop thinking like a victim by continue to work and don’t lose focus. I made sure my work are done properly and correctly. When I get questioned by the senior management, I had solid proofs , evidence and reasoning. Unsurprisingly , I always came up triumphant against my accusers.
- I saw a psychologist who suggested several behavioural changes , mainly assertive behaviours. I finally got the professional help that I need.
- I made sure that once I’m home, my focus and attention is on our relationship. I needed to win back his trust. This was hard because part of my job requires after hours and weekend works . But I made sure when I spend time with George, he has my undivided attention. I’m present
- I took time to let it all sink in. I am very humbled by the fact that, if I don’t treat George the way he deserves, someone else will and I will be the one missing out.
- My psychologist who encouraged me to practice assertive behaviour in my marriage. She made me realise how I need to get my shit together or loose everything I have worked so hard on.
- I started to focus on myself, trying to be my old self. This was difficult, because such traumatic situation does change you. But I was determine to make the best of it. I only fully went back to some sense of my old self once I left the work place.
- I focused on becoming a better wife to George. Had to be careful because I don’t want to try too hard and push him away. I communicate with him more, learn to express my thoughts, needs, and feelings in a way that is respectful of both of us . George’s patience in dealing with me during this time greatly assisted in my recovery
- I took a step back from the obsession with achieving and winning. This took time, I am such a driven person. But I realise that I don’t have to stop, I just have to know when to switch it on and off. And when I am with George, I am already a winner and nothing else matter.
- I managed my moods better, on a bad day sometimes I simply can’t help the bitchfit. To avoid this, I do other activities to make me happy. I stopped expecting him or anyone else be responsible for my happiness or my mood swings. I started baking, reading, swimming & hiking just to help me refocus.
- We went back to doing things we both loved doing as a couple, travelling, eating out, working out. I channelled my energy and treat each time I spend with him as a challenge, to make sure we both have the best possible time together.
Fast forward a few years, George and I are in our 8th year of marriage. We had our ups and down since but that day continues to be the pinnacle that forever changed our relationship. You can call it the end of 4 years of honeymoon period . It’s sad but in other ways, we continue to grow as a couple and strive to become a better person for each other. We never violently argue like that day since and I truly hope that we will never have to do that again ever.