I am getting back into the groove. Recently, somewhere on social media, I read an article by an artist, I forget who, who said when the inspiration goes you just have to keep showing up, doing something, anything, every day until something clicks and the muse returns.
That is what I’ve been doing for a while now. Finally, I’m feeling it again. Direction is emerging, new possibilities, new avenues of exploration, I’m excited again. I’ve been propping up a facade for sometime. Now I feel ready to lift the veil.
A few years ago, I became the target of a bully. The period was relatively short lived. It still takes me by surprise and amazes me what an enormous impact that short time had on me. Beforehand I was a resourceful, confidant, effective individual. Afterwards I was much more hesitant, doubtful of my abilities.
Criticism, humiliation in front of customers and colleagues, belittlement, being undermined, over-supervised, over-managed and ridiculed had taken a heavy toll. I was plagued by stress, anxiety, depression, self-doubt, isolation and shame.
I left angry as hell and ashamed of myself; for being so stupid not to spot the signs; for taking the individual at face value, allowing myself to be lured by the individual’s initial charm; for not being the strong person everyone else said they thought I was, to stand up against the person in question.
The biggest impact? I stopped making any work, which had a severe impact on my income. I could no longer see the point. I didn’t know what to do anymore, what direction to take. Was there any point in carrying on, should I paint, print or just stop kidding myself and give up? I let galleries down because I couldn’t explain that I just didn’t know what to do any more, what to give them that was worth a candle? All that time pretending everything was OK. I was OK.
It has taken me this long to pull myself out of the mire into a stronger place, to move on, to pick up the pieces and glue them back together again however imperfectly that may be. It is still a work in progress – a very hard lesson learnt. It’s made me more cautious now, less of a risk taker – and while some people might think that’s a good thing I’m not so sure that’s entirely true – opportunities have pass me by because I’ve hesitated too long, or questioned everything. The experience has made me more circumspect of people where my natural inclination to take people as I find them until they give me reason to think differently.
Why am I drawing back the veil now? I’ve just watched a TED talk post on ‘Bullying and Corporate Psychopaths’. It struck a deep cord. Bullying is so pervasive in school and the workplace we need to talk about it; NOT sit on the sidelines; NOT turn a blind eye; NOT accept such behaviour and allow it to become part of the organisational culture; NOT make it acceptable to treat another human being in a wholly unacceptable way. The impact on an individual can be HUGE and long lasting if not permanent. I speak from bitter experience but I also know I’m not alone. I am one of many, many people up and down the land and in every corner of the globe.
We allow bullying to become acceptable in school, in the workplace at our peril. We pretend it isn’t there; go along unquestioningly with the bully’s stories until you too become the target, and the next thing you know Donald Trump becomes president of the United States; people like him make it acceptable for others to do terrible, terrible things to people of different religions, colour, to women and to people with physical and mental disabilities; people like Jimmy Saville get away with abusing children because those around him can’t or won’t speak out. There are men and women in many big and small businesses, charities, hospitals, schools and other organisations that operate with impunity because no one is prepared to step out and step up and as long as that is the case nothing will change.
Here is another perspective on the same subject.