In that moment, when I finally made the decision to go to HR, I definitely didn’t think going into work that day, I would also be going to HR to quit.
Yes, I said to quit. It was too late. There was no going back from all of the manipulation, toxicity, and craziness. There was no mediation to be had. There was also no way that after telling HR about the behavior I would want to see him again.
I always had in the back of my mind how he always told me how great of friends he was with the head of HR, so I didn’t necessarily want to go to her right away. However, there was one person who reported to her that I felt comfortable with and felt that we had a good relationship. So I decided that I would go to her, the one who I felt the most comfortable telling first. I’m saying “most comfortable” as if it was a comfortable thing to do at all. It was terrifying.
I sent her a message to see if she’d be able to meet with me that day. She had time that afternoon. Once I set up a time to meet with her, there was a slight sense of relief amongst the million other feelings that went along with it. I think knowing that in my head, that this was the last day I was going to have to put up with this emotional rollercoaster of a life, was an enormous pressure off my shoulders.
While I was waiting for the meeting, I packed up any personal stuff I had in my office which included taking anything I needed off of my work computer. I did this more to prepare for the unknown. I really had no idea how it would go. I remember shaking on the way to her office. When I got there she greeted me with a huge smile, and seemed genuinely happy to see me. She then asked how I was, where I then just remember starting to cry. She had no idea what I was coming in there to say. It was hard, I mean, where do I even start? I ended up giving her a high level of what I had been experiencing over the previous year. I didn’t get into specific examples, as I wasn’t sure how to at that point. She looked and acted shocked. And for the record, I do believe that she truly felt that.
I didn’t feel comfortable to give all of the details at the meeting. I think because of the unknown and being unsure if I was going to have to see him again. She asked me a few questions, including if changing departments or taking a different role would be something I would consider (as at this point, she only had a high level of what happened, not the specifics). I said no. There is no way I could see him again after he knew I came forward. Additionally, he’s not going to change the type of work I do too. I didn’t want to give him that control either. So, she told me that she was going to go and talk to her boss about it (Head of HR) and in the meantime for me to go home, think about what it was that I wanted to do and we’d be in touch.
My first thought and comment to her was, “Wait. Do I have to come into work tomorrow? I’m supposed to be in a meeting with him at 9 am.?!” I think at that moment, she saw the sheer panic in my face. She then said, “No, you do not have to do anything you don’t want to do. Just call in and tell him you’re sick.” Which I then gave a huge sigh of relief. I left and went home. On the way out, I knew it was going to be my last day stepping foot in that building. I knew I was going to go home and email her to let her know that my decision is still to leave. It was too toxic for me to go back.
So that’s what I did. A couple days later (as I called in sick a couple days in a row), she and I met in a public place (far away from the office, as I was so scared I would see my boss) where I gave her my equipment and resignation letter. While we were there, she asked me if there was anything else I wanted to tell her or talk to her about. I decided to tell her a few more examples of what I experienced. I didn’t want her to not know anything - I did want her to be on the outlook of him and what he is capable of in case he was doing it to others. At this point and even the first 1-2 years after this, I cried when talking about it. She genuinely felt for me. She apologized again.
“Jana, I am SO sorry that this happened to you and you had to go through this.”
I again didn't tell her all of the stories. But she got the point. I actually would say that I’ve probably told more in this blog than what I told her about that day.
It was five days later, FIVE, that my parents met me at my apartment, helped me load up all of my stuff, and I left. It all happened so quickly. But my parents and I were both worried about my safety. We didn’t know what would happen once he found out. We thought that maybe he’d show up at my place – we had no idea. His manic behavior was unpredictable. I barely even went out in town before leaving for those five days because I was too nervous that I’d see him somewhere. Even to THIS day, the thought of seeing him, gives me panic and anxiety. I don’t know what I’d do if I saw him.
My parents took me back to the city that I moved from. It is what I knew best and I had a lot of friends there. It felt comfortable and like home, which is what I really needed. A friend let me move into their basement until I got back on my feet, which was a huge relief and one less worry, while figuring out what was next.
This next part, I’m not going to talk a lot about. But I don’t think it gets talked about enough how it is AFTER leaving an experience like that. I remember I would always look forward to the weekends because that was when I could hang out with my friends and “forget” about everything else. It allowed me to get back to being myself and who I was before experiencing all of this.
But when Monday morning hit it was BRUTAL. I remember just waking up in bed. I would lay there and just start to cry. And I would cry for hours, crunched up in a ball. I was sad, mad, depressed, lonely, angry. All of the things. How dare this man completely change the trajectory of my life. I didn’t want any of that to happen. I didn’t ask for it. And I sure as shit didn’t deserve it. But there I was. Jobless, laying in bed, while everyone else I knew, was at work. It was a very depressing time for me and it still gets me emotional thinking about it. I wanted to point this out because I think it’s important to know that just because someone is out of a shitty situation, it doesn’t mean that the pain and other emotions don’t surface due to a trickle down effect. It’s sometimes more complex than it looks or you know.
It was a long 6 months after, where I figured out my next venture. I’m sure you know where this is leading. Find out what that looked like and more of the ins and outs on how Speakfully was created in the last and final blog of the series next week!
Please reach out to me if you are going through any of these types of experiences and need someone to talk. I’m here.