co-worker made me think I was unprofessionnal

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gj438

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co-worker made me think I was unprofessionnal
« on: July 03, 2020, 06:06:59 AM »
Hello everyone !

I had an internship abroad recently where one of my coworkers, much older than me, who probably had NPD took advantage of me. I didn't know anyone in this country so I felt lonely. At first he was very charming and nice, and he took our relationship out of the professional context by hugging me 5 times in a row after we spoke about our personal life after a social event at the workplace. To be honest I was very attracted to him, and he had showed interest for me, so I was not against it at first (I'm still studying so I didn't grasp all the rules of professionnal world). He showed me around the city one whole Saturday. He told me that I should never talk about this to anyone at work,because he had been victim of rumors saying he had slept with a young intern, and he didn't want that to occur again (even though it was just a friendly visit of the city). I didn't see the red flag. Then he offered to see me again the next day. I thought he genuinely liked me so I was very enthusiastic. I told him how I felt for him and instead of refusing me he said it was reciprocated, "so I shouldn't be worried". He got quite intimate with me and at the end of this day he said there was another woman, but it was not really his GF and she'd be leaving two months after so we could just wait, so the situation wouldn't be too complicated. I was ok with that but very confused that he had accepted me in the first place, if he didn't really want anything with me.

At work, he totally ignored me, and it was hard for me to pretend that nothing happened. Soon, he was weird and unclear with me also after work, ignoring me and putting me down because I was texting him and surprised not to get answers as quickly as a few days before. To clarify the situation, I had to talk to him about it at work, and in this context he said things like "you have to focus on your internship" and such patronising things. At some times he was very sweet, at others he was really cold -especially when I wanted clarity. The relationship went even worse with the time, with gaslighting and such things, and he was making me responsible for the problems as soon as I tried to set my boundaries. I could not work properly, and my supervisor saw it, she also saw me crying in the office but all she did was patronising me and saying my problems were not that bad (she didn't know what happened). The "big boss" also spoke to me, and at first she seemed to understand, but then she became cold with me. It was worse everyday, and I came to work with stomachache and not enough sleep. One evening my uNPD coworker said something so painful that I reached my limits and I had a depersonalisation crisis that brought me to the emergencies, followed by one month of sick leave.

At the end, I am convinced that my colleagues and hierarchical superiors thought I was a bit crazy, or at least very fragile, and the internship was a failure. I also feel often that I was actually the one who did everything wrong and didn't respect the boundaries between work and private life, and that I'm lazy and unprofessionnal (but it is not true, I think). It is "only an internship", but at the same time in the field where I work everyone knows everyone, and references can be important. My boss was quite an important person in the field and her opinion matters. And now I'm in her bad books. I feel like my career is destroyed before it even began ! Now I'm almost done with my studies and I am scared of what happens next. Sometimes I think I should tell her the whole truth so she understands ! And also to re-establish some justice, because it is unfair that everyone at the workplace thinks I am the crazy one. But I'm scared, because if I tell her, and she doesn't believe me, it may worsen things (she may think I'm blaming others for my own failure- which is not the case, I know I also made mistakes). If she believes me, the co-worker may learn that I said everything although he has explicitely forbidden that. And I'm scared that he takes a revenge on me. So I'm stuck with this. My hope is that one day this co-worker resigns and then I can tell the truth without bad consequences.

Thanks for having read !

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notrightinthehead

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Re: co-worker made me think I was unprofessionnal
« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2020, 11:17:14 AM »
Sounds like you had a painful experience and quite a harsh dose of what to do and what not to do at a work place. I have often found that painful experiences have taught me a lot.  Have your tried to reflect  your actions and  thought how you would judge them had you been in the role of the other person, especially your boss and your colleagues - not the one who came on to you?
I hope you can now focus on finishing your training and that your next work experience will be a better one!
I can't hate my way into loving myself.

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gj438

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Re: co-worker made me think I was unprofessionnal
« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2020, 11:53:12 AM »
Have your tried to reflect  your actions and  thought how you would judge them had you been in the role of the other person, especially your boss and your colleagues - not the one who came on to you?

Thank you for yor reply ! Yes, I have tried to see it through the eyes of my other colleagues, and I understand their reaction because they did not know what was going on. I don't blame anyone. I know what mistakes I made: I should never have allowed my co worker to go near me and not accepted his first invitations, and I should never speak about my personnal life to colleagues again (a rule that I have been following since then with my fellow students). Then again, I was in a particular situation because I didn't know anyone there, and I was a bit desperate for friendship. Also, all this happened shortly after a harsh break up, which I hadn't quite recovered from, so I was doing what I could.

As for this coworker, I have always been rather seeing his point of view, and believed everything he said. I apologised to him several times already for disturbing his work. What is new now is that I understand that he was also as unprofessionnal as I was, even though he had 14 years work experience behind him, and thus I am not entirely to blame in this situation.
His behaviour made me do things that I would never have done usually and that I had never done before. I didn't recognise myself at work. For example, I think friendship with colleagues is ok, as long as it stays out of the working place, and he began by making me think our friendship would be out of the office, before shutting down all channels of communication except for professionnal ones. Then he used my professionnal conscience to prevent me from reaching him, when I confronted him with his own contradictions  -which I tried to do as rarely as possible because I was trying to advance my work project as much as I could.

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bloomie

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Re: co-worker made me think I was unprofessionnal
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2020, 12:17:42 PM »
gj438 - it is quite possible you got taken advantage of by a master manipulator who has most likely done this before with other interns as he hinted at.  You have no responsibility for his side of this. You are most certainly not entirely to blame for this.

Sorting through what is our side of the street to own and learn from and grow out of is part of the healthy processing of unhealthy interactions and relationships. It takes time and often we need a neutral 3rd party - therapist - to help us sort through all of it.

It also does not sound like you had strong mentoring from the leaders during your internship and part of that mentoring would be cautioning against any workplace romance while in an internship and being an open door and listening ear should a more senior member of the team hit on you at work or socially. I believe the more senior leaders in the organization failed to put important protections in place with you from the little snapshot I have of the situation.

I want to gently challenge something...the only person who has control over what you think about anything... yourself, others, is you. Learning to be aware and confirm the truth of your thoughts before adopting them as beliefs is another important part of growing and setting good internal boundaries and controls over our life.

You decide who and what you were and what was out of character or self sabotaging in this unfortunate and painful experience. You decide when you have done harm to another person and if you need to make amends and apologize.

You decide what your core values are and as a firm foundation begin to live consistently from those values across the board in every area of your life. You are the boss of your own head.

We will have random thoughts that come from the accusations and sly suggestions of a master manipulator, but we do not have to accept those things as outright truth and no one can make you think anything about yourself without your premission. You decide who you are and you decide what you need to manage differently and what part of this is yours to work on.

Keep moving forward. You have reestablished boundaries and are doing the work to understand how to protect yourself and achieve your goals. You are also developing compassion for yourself in this as well as you deserve. You were faced with a lot at once and out of your depth. Be gentle with yourself as you go forward.


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PeanutButter

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Re: co-worker made me think I was unprofessionnal
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2020, 12:34:24 PM »
Hi. Im sorry you are struggling to move on from what happened with you and the coworker. Im glad you have reached out for support.

Some tips from this website you may find helpful I have listed below.
 
https://outofthefog.website/what-to-do-2/2015/12/3/boundaries
How to Develop Boundaries
An important first step in developing healthy boundaries is to get acquainted with, and take ownership, of your true self.  This is essential before healthy boundaries can be set and maintained.  As adults, we are responsible for the decisions we make in life.  We have freedom to respond, to make choices, and to limit the way others' behavior affects us.  As a "free agent",  we can take responsibility for our freedom by setting boundaries, or borders, between ourselves and those around us.    Some people refuse to set boundaries because they see them as selfish.  Others actually use them to be selfish.  Both are wrong. Boundaries are about self-control.


https://outofthefog.website/what-to-do-2/2015/12/3/the-50-rule
We are responsible for 100% of the choices that we make, the things we say and the things we do.

https://outofthefog.website/what-to-do-2/2015/12/3/work-on-yourself
 We hold the abuser responsible for the abuse - but it's also common to begin to blame that person for everything that goes wrong - including the bad choices we have made too.What happens when we blame someone else for everything bad in our lives? Hopelessness. Helplessness, Powerlessness. When someone else holds all the power - even though we may have given some of it to them - we eventually see no benefit to work on ourselves -...
So How Can I Work on Myself?
... there are a number of ways you can go:
You can deny it, or ignore it, or stuff it and refuse to acknowledge it.
You can hide it, disguise it, make excuses for it, justify it, explain it away, rationalize it.
You can be philosophical about it and say - well that's just who I am and I can't change it any more than a leopard can change his spots.
You can punish yourself for it, berate yourself, tell yourself you are worthless, defective, weak, ugly, not good at relationships, nobody would ever love you.
You can acknowledge it and you can get to work - on yourself


I have wanted an apoloy from persons who hurt me but didnt get it. I have wanted some kind of justice, karma, or even revenge too. I think thats normal to feel. But its not likely to happen for any of us.ime

Since he has blocked you, now would be a great time to go NC. Especially since it doesnt seem very respectful to your new relationship to continue contacting this coworker imo.


If there is a hidden seed of evil inside of children adults planted it there -LundyBancroft  Self-awareness is the ability to take an honest look at your life without any attachment to it being right or wrong good or bad -DebbieFord The greatest of faults is to be conscious of none -Thomas Carlyle

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gj438

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Re: co-worker made me think I was unprofessionnal
« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2020, 01:38:33 PM »
Thank you so much for your replies !

I'd just need some feedback on the way I'm writing here. From what you said it seems to me that you think that I blame everyone but myself, that I want apologies and such things, that I want to escape my responsibility/ don't want to work on myself, and that I'm still in contact with my co-worker to seek reparation of the relation. But the truth is, I am already doing a therapy, I know I made mistakes, I don't expect apologies from my co-worker and I have long gone NC because I know there is nothing to expect from him. 
When I ask for help, I really often face this problem, so it must have to do with me. With my therapist, we established that I often behave and thus come accross as childish when I am new somewhere, and then it disappears after a short time. Maybe I am also doing it unconsciously in my writing ?  Could you please tell me at what sections of my posts I conveyed this image, so I can work on it ?

In any case, it is important for me to understand that, because I won't be able to get proper help if I am unable to express my needs/thoughts correctly.

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bloomie

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Re: co-worker made me think I was unprofessionnal
« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2020, 07:17:32 PM »
Thank you so much for your replies !

I'd just need some feedback on the way I'm writing here. From what you said it seems to me that you think that I blame everyone but myself, that I want apologies and such things, that I want to escape my responsibility/ don't want to work on myself, and that I'm still in contact with my co-worker to seek reparation of the relation. But the truth is, I am already doing a therapy, I know I made mistakes, I don't expect apologies from my co-worker and I have long gone NC because I know there is nothing to expect from him. 
When I ask for help, I really often face this problem, so it must have to do with me. With my therapist, we established that I often behave and thus come accross as childish when I am new somewhere, and then it disappears after a short time. Maybe I am also doing it unconsciously in my writing ?  Could you please tell me at what sections of my posts I conveyed this image, so I can work on it ?

In any case, it is important for me to understand that, because I won't be able to get proper help if I am unable to express my needs/thoughts correctly.
Oh no I am so sorry if I conveyed this to you. I was actually attempting to empower and you and point out that you were in a really tough position as a young and vulnerable person and do not have to take on responsibility for anything more than what YOU decide you need to address in your life.

You are doing good and difficult work in processing all of this and are to be commended. My gentle point was really addressing your title that someone made you think you were unprofessional. They may certainly have tried to make you think and then believe that, but you are the one who gets to decide how your choices line up with what you want for your life.

I also believe that the leaders in the organization that saw a young person, they knew was alone in a new city, decompensating in front of their eyes could've done much more to help you and listen to understand. And quite frankly did not seem to do a lot to mentor and help you. And I am so sorry for that.

This man sounds like a master manipulator and with people like that it is very hard to see beyond the facade and that is for anyone of any age. When someone wears a mask and comes close, then pushes away, then engages on an emotional level as a confidant, but then ignores us... is the maker of chaos and a lot of confusion it is really hard to see what is going on and get off the web they have spun so cleverly for us.

I am thankful you are here sharing and I hope you will continue to allow us to support you. Again, my apologies if my post came across as in any way blaming you.




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gj438

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Re: co-worker made me think I was unprofessionnal
« Reply #7 on: July 04, 2020, 05:32:34 AM »

You are doing good and difficult work in processing all of this and are to be commended. My gentle point was really addressing your title that someone made you think you were unprofessional. They may certainly have tried to make you think and then believe that, but you are the one who gets to decide how your choices line up with what you want for your life.


Oh, it was about the title ! I had understood it was about something else I wrote and thus I was confused. Now I see it under a different light and it makes sense to me. Thanks for clarifying !

I find what you said about the leadership of the internship very helpful, because I had never seen it like that. However, the manager of the group, who I called the "big boss", is never present, which I find not normal (our group has about 15 people), unless once a week for a group meeting, so she didn't see what happened unless what was told her. My supervisor was just 4 years older than me and she had been working there only for 1 year so almost no experience too. There was no protective structure at all, because no real "seniors" except for my co-worker and two other people at most. And there was so much stress coming from the top that everyone was just thinking about getting their own results, and when I was crying in the office I was granted 10 min patronizing discourse and then should either get back to work or go home. My supervisor told me she didn't have time for my personal problems. And actually, now you said that there may have been a problem with the leadership, I understand that she treated me as if I was just speaking everyday about some random drama, or speaking of my cat or whatever. But we are speaking about something that brought me to the emergencies at the end! So just now I see that the way she refused to engage in such a discussion except for saying things like "you're lucky it's only an internship because else you'd have been fired" (with the best intentions but a great deal of clumsiness) was wrong.

 But I think this may have to do with my appearance and manners. I look younger than my age and as I said I often come accross as childish in the first moments of any new situation. Most people go past this impression, and see me for the adult I am, but some get stuck and patronise me a lot. Usually I avoid these ones because I find it disagreeable to hang out with them, but I could not avoid my supervisor. I think that she saw me as a child and treated me as such, so she didn't take me seriously, saying that some people had cancer and it is much worse than what I was going through and such things.

At the same time I didn't explain what was really going on, because I was too scared of harming my co-worker who said he might be fired if I said anything. So I lied while trying to be as near as possible to the situation, which was really difficult also because I'm not used to doing that, and whenever I lie I can't help reestablishing the truth and apologising for having lied, after a short time. Which is one of the reasons why I'd like to tell the truth to my boss and my supervisor, but my therapist and my own fear advised not to do it because we never know what my co-worker could do.



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helpmeplease

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Re: co-worker made me think I was unprofessionnal
« Reply #8 on: July 04, 2020, 10:29:06 AM »
I read your post yesterday and I have been thinking about you. I feel upset and indignant for you. I don't think you were to blame at all in this. I think you were the victim of a highly skilled manipulative predator. It seems as if this is what he does, targets young naive girls. He is disgusting. He was older he should have known better . He didn't want you to say anything because he was probably in danger of being disciplined or sacked because of his behaviour. When he talked about "rumours" this was most likely a tell, he was probably twisting the truth and he did sleep with a young intern before you. He probably targets all the young people. The bosses seem as if they were turning a blind eye because it is easier. It is in his interests to gaslight you into taking the blame and getting you to focus on your behaviour so you won't focus on his . He is in the wrong. Don't feel sorry for him or have any misplaced loyalty where he is concerned. I wonder if you could discreetly find out from others about what happened to the previous interns. Be careful what you say to the bosses though it sounds as if this is a pretty toxic workplace. Not all workplaces and bosses are like this.  There are nice ones out there. It is just a shame that this start to your working life has been such a vile experience. At least you know now that there are untrustworthy snakes out there and that this says more about him than you. I am not sure about your therapist either mind, saying you behave childishly when you are somewhere new. Everyone is like this I would say rather nervous and unsure at first. The therapist should be supporting you not adding to your self blame. They should be focusing on his behaviour.

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PeanutButter

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Re: co-worker made me think I was unprofessionnal
« Reply #9 on: July 04, 2020, 10:35:39 AM »
Thank you so much for your replies !
I'd just need some feedback on the way I'm writing here. From what you said it seems to me that you think that I blame everyone but myself, that I want apologies and such things, that I want to escape my responsibility/ don't want to work on myself, and that I'm still in contact with my co-worker to seek reparation of the relation. But the truth is, I am already doing a therapy, I know I made mistakes, I don't expect apologies from my co-worker and I have long gone NC because I know there is nothing to expect from him. 
When I ask for help, I really often face this problem, so it must have to do with me. With my therapist, we established that I often behave and thus come accross as childish when I am new somewhere, and then it disappears after a short time. Maybe I am also doing it unconsciously in my writing ?  Could you please tell me at what sections of my posts I conveyed this image, so I can work on it ?
In any case, it is important for me to understand that, because I won't be able to get proper help if I am unable to express my needs/thoughts correctly.

gj438 I am the one who mentioned the apologies and no contact. I am sorry that you felt that my words were 'accusations' or something you needed to 'defend' against.
My words were a sharing of my experiences that I felt resonated because of your below comments. Please understand that I practice radical self acceptance and self compassion. Which means I am NOT ashamed of my emotions when I wanted an apology, justice, karma, or even revenge. I am NOT ashamed that I got to a point where I had to not speak to my unpdxH at all lest I fall back into the cycle of abuse.

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I am scared of what happens next. Sometimes I think I should tell her the whole truth so she understands ! And also to re-establish some justice, because it is unfair that everyone at the workplace thinks I am the crazy one. But I'm scared, because if I tell her, and she doesn't believe me, it may worsen things

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Recently I met someone else, we fell in love and now we have a good healthy relationship. By comparing this relationship to the previous one, I understood that this coworker had an abusive behaviour, and when I told him that I had understood, he blocked me.

I hope you can learn what I did, which is that my emotions are directly connected to my inner voice.

When we come from disfunctional foos our inner voice is a harsh inner critic. Mine is a harsh adviser to me about my H and other people. My inner critic tells me others are judging me, manipulating me, and dont like me. Once I recognised that my inner critic was fueling anger, anguish, and distrust, that it isnt my voice but the residual voices of my abusers I stopped allowing it to lead my reactions.
I have fleas! I have severe emotional disregulation that I work on daily! BUT I am NOT ASHAMED!

I wish you peace! I wish for you to KNOW that it does not matter what I or anyone thinks about you. It only matters what you think my dear young girl. LOVE YOURSELF!
« Last Edit: July 04, 2020, 10:43:55 AM by PeanutButter »
If there is a hidden seed of evil inside of children adults planted it there -LundyBancroft  Self-awareness is the ability to take an honest look at your life without any attachment to it being right or wrong good or bad -DebbieFord The greatest of faults is to be conscious of none -Thomas Carlyle

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Pinkos

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Re: co-worker made me think I was unprofessionnal
« Reply #10 on: July 04, 2020, 01:28:35 PM »
It is not uncommon for young women who are starting out at a new job to be viewed as "fresh meat" by some male employees. It is not at all uncommon!! Especially with interns, who are younger, inexperienced in the ways of the workplace and office politics, eager to please, and so on. So it is very likely this man is the office creep and he pounced on you. He could probably sense your vulnerability in a whole new country, all alone, unsure of yourself, trying to fit in......which by the way is all perfectly normal and doesn't make you appear "childish." It does, however, send a signal to certain predatory types of people. In a work environment where there is a lack of leadership and accountability, these types of unsavory characters can run wild. There's no check on them. That's what I believe you've experienced based on what you described.

There is no shame in being young and inexperienced. It doesn't mean you're childish. You're just more vulnerable. I'm sorry that you are hurting and feel like you did something wrong here. You didn't do anything wrong. To add insult to injury, your supervisors, whether knowingly or unknowingly have colluded with this man. And I have to say that I find it hard to believe that they don't know about this man's games. I'm sure he's done it before. At the very least, the women know. The women in any workplace always know who the creeps are. But that doesn't necessarily mean they will give you a heads up or validate you after the fact. In some workplaces, everyone is looking out for themselves and you will be gaslighted if you rock the boat. No one wants to step up and do the right thing by someone new in the workplace because there's no incentive for them. It's not their problem and they don't care. So they will blame you. They will make you feel like you're the problem because it's just easier for them. It makes them feel justified in their indifference. We've had many examples in the media recently of how these types of abuses are allowed to go on unchecked in many different industries. A big factor is that others in the workplace COLLUDE with the abuser!

So what next for you? Only you can decide that. If you have the contact information for the previous interns, you could try to find allies and support. Or you may decide to move on from this without blaming yourself and view it as a lesson learned. One of the lessons could be to be more cautious with male coworkers and to be more aware of your vulnerabilities, such as loneliness. I can tell you personally, that I've had to learn that lesson over and over in terms of not allowing my loneliness or alienation to disarm me and make me easy prey for these types of people. You will meet people like this everywhere. The are always ready to pounce! I would also re-evaluate this therapist. Is she offering you genuine support and empowerment or making you feel like a "child"?


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gj438

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Re: co-worker made me think I was unprofessionnal
« Reply #11 on: July 04, 2020, 02:29:28 PM »
Thank you so much for all your replies !

I know someone who knows more about this co-worker, and he seems to hate her because she knows too much. She knows what happened between him and another woman who had worked here before. I think I'll contact her to know more. She is not working there anymore so I think it could remain discreet. There is also another woman I trust at work and I told her, but she doesn't know this man very well. She just told me that she was not that surprised because she found him a bit weird with women.

My therapist is really supportive, what was said about me looking childish in new situations was in a given context. He has helped me a great deal already and I know that he can't be right in everything he says, and when it happens I tell him and he corrects his view (which I really appreciate because I feel taken seriously).

PeanutButter: now that I read your new message, I understand better how you meant the first one, thank you ! I'm glad I asked :)


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PeanutButter

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Re: co-worker made me think I was unprofessionnal
« Reply #12 on: July 04, 2020, 02:43:45 PM »
Thank you so much for all your replies !

I know someone who knows more about this co-worker, and he seems to hate her because she knows too much. She knows what happened between him and another woman who had worked here before. I think I'll contact her to know more. She is not working there anymore so I think it could remain discreet. There is also another woman I trust at work and I told her, but she doesn't know this man very well. She just told me that she was not that surprised because she found him a bit weird with women.

My therapist is really supportive, what was said about me looking childish in new situations was in a given context. He has helped me a great deal already and I know that he can't be right in everything he says, and when it happens I tell him and he corrects his view (which I really appreciate because I feel taken seriously).

PeanutButter: now that I read your new message, I understand better how you meant the first one, thank you ! I'm glad I asked :)


Your welcome! Thank you too! Im glad you asked also!
 Im really glad you are here.  :hug:
I hope you will feel supported here.  :grouphug: Its been life changing for me.
If there is a hidden seed of evil inside of children adults planted it there -LundyBancroft  Self-awareness is the ability to take an honest look at your life without any attachment to it being right or wrong good or bad -DebbieFord The greatest of faults is to be conscious of none -Thomas Carlyle