DEAR NATALIE: I've spent the last few days depressed, embarrassed and ashamed wishing I could be far away from myself. I'm a manager of a small loan office and pride myself on being able to run a staff, solve problems, face a variety of situations and be the come-to-person when something needs fixing. But a few days ago my self-esteem crashed. I arrived at work early to get some things done. As I unlocked and opened the door, I was suddenly pushed inside by two people. They said I wouldn't be hurt as long as I did what they wanted. I gave them money, cards, and pin numbers. They tied me up and left me in the storage closet. I realized pretty quickly that I wouldn't be able to work myself free and was stuck until my employees began arriving a few hours later. Four or five arrived at about the same time, heard me and found me still tied up. I was so mortified. It was so scary but also embarrassing that my employees saw me like that. It’s hard enough being a woman in charge without being the victim of a robbery. Everyone at the office has been really nice about it but I think they are laughing at me behind my back. I’m at a loss as to how to face them. I haven’t spoken about it and after the police came and HR took care of things, I just felt drained. How do I bounce back? Being in the office makes me cringe. — EMBARRASSED AND SCARED
DEAR EMBARRASSED AND SCARED: I am so sorry that you experienced something so terrifying and demoralizing. When we go through something traumatic, it is normal to experience feelings of shame, sadness, depression and embarrassment. I recommend that you find a therapist that is focused on trauma and PTSD so that you can work through what happened and process it. I know you think that employees may be laughing at you behind your back, but if anyone was so callous and cruel to do that, I wouldn’t take it personally. That says a lot more about them than it does about you! Instead, I would focus on your own healing. Ask your supervisor if you can take some time off or at least work from home for a while until you feel better about being in the space. In the meantime — and if you are able — thank your employees for helping you in such a scary moment. I’m sure some of them are also trying to process what they saw and it may help to sit down with them and have everyone share their feelings. I bet most (if not all) of the people who found you felt absolutely awful about what happened to you. They may even feel unnerved, themselves. Request that a counselor come in to talk to everyone if HR hasn’t proposed that yet. Everyone deserves to feel safe at work and feel heard. Unfortunately, we often have to advocate for ourselves, even after trauma. But I hope you do realize that you deserve to feel better.
DEAR NATALIE: My close friend and I have drifted over the past two years because of COVID-19. I have embraced science and the vaccine — and she has not. She has been very outspoken on social media and reposts misinformation. If you call her out on it, she becomes very defensive. Well, she refused to get vaccinated and caught the delta variant of the coronavirus. She’s been really sick, but thankfully she is on the mend. What I am finding so frustrating is that she is now saying that everyone needs to take this seriously and get vaccinated. She said she expected me to say, “I told you so,” like everyone else in her life, but in all honesty, what is really bugging me is that now that it happened to her — suddenly it is an issue. I am not sure how to remain friends with someone so inherently selfish. What do you think I should do? —DO BETTER
DEAR DO BETTER: Isn’t it odd how some people can’t seem to find compassion or empathy for others until it happens to them? Then they expect the world to stop and recognize what an injustice they have suffered. I have learned over the years that our relationships don’t have to be “all or nothing.” You can remain friends with her but keep her at an emotional distance. Now that you have seen this side of her, how could you “unsee it? Does that mean you throw away your relationship? For some people, yes. But if you feel torn, no one is making you do anything. Take a step back. Recognize that you have the power to control how much or how little you interact with her and then see where it goes. Everyone expects action all the time, but sometimes deliberately waiting to see how you feel after you cool off can be a better gauge of what makes the most sense.
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