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Day 59: Telling Someone in Real Life - Mistake?

Posted by intrepidshe , in Healing Work 07 February 2014 · 190 views

Feb. 7, 2014 (Countdown Part II: 6 days to gynecologic exam):
I have been contemplating for the last few weeks telling a co-worker about my situation. This is the co-worker who works in the same office suite as me. We are on the same team and spend a whole lot of time together. This is the co-worker who saw me struggling before and after the gynecologist consultation. She asked what was going on with me.
It's very hard for me to successfully, completely conceal my reactions. Try as I might, I lose my focus sometimes when I'm at work, on days when anxiety has got a hold of me. It's only happened twice, but she has seen it.
My inability to conceal my reactions has made me want to give an explanation. She cares about me and I don't want her to worry. I don't want her to make up her own story in her mind about what might be going on with me. And, I don't want her talking to other people to see if they know anything. I wanted to nip that in the bud. The more I thought about the possibility, the more worried I became about the rumor mill. Eventually, multiple people might become sufficiently curious to ask me, and then what?
In addition to these worries, I have wondered if it's possible she could become a friend. That's difficult because right now she reports to me. That's not going to be the case for more than about a year. But, I didn't want to create any confusion in our work relationship.
When she asked me what was going on with me I let her know there was something in my personal life that was difficult. We talked then about issues involved with sharing personal information in light of our work relationship. At the end of that conversation I had a sense that there was not likely to be a problem, and we could work through any issues that came up.
I have been pondering all of this ever since.
Today, I was feeling the reality of this upcoming gynecologic exam appointment. I was becoming aware that it will be a bigger issue with each passing day between now and then. My anxiety next week could be more pronounced than it was with the consultation appointment. If so, she is sure to notice. She might not ask. But, she could worry about me. She might want to help but not know whether or not to offer.
That could create tension since I would be trying to hide my reactions and she would be trying to navigate around me. She's very caring and it would be stressful to her, I'm sure. I decided today that it would be best if I told her. If for some reason I have a very bad reaction to the appointment, someone will know to check on me. If I don't show up afterward, someone will know to look for me. I didn't say any of this to her. It was just what was in my head when I decided to tell her.
We had a 30 minute time window when we were off site running an errand. I told her I was ready to let her know what's going on with me. I gave her a chance to consider if she wanted to know. She said she did. So, I gave her a 2-minute synopsis. I told her I have the gynecologic exam appointment this Thursday and would be more anxious in the next few days.
She was surprised and obviously saddened by what I told her. We talked about it for about 15 minutes and then went back to work.
I only told her about the doctor rape, not the childhood rape. It was just too much to say. I can't quite say out loud yet everything that happened to me. So far the closest I have come to that is to write it all out and to give a list to my therapist.
I was glad to get this off my chest today. It does feel sometimes like I'm carrying a secret. But, I don't know that it's really a secret. It's more, perhaps, just personal information. I suppose when others can see the affects of it, then it feels to me more like a secret.
I don't know if I made the right decision in telling her. I don't know how to know if it was the right decision. Is it a mistake depending on how she handles this information? Is it not a mistake if she responds in ways that are safe for me?
In other words, is this simply an ends-justify-the-means situation?
I don't really believe that. I think there are parameters for determining if it was the right thing to do. I just don't know what they are.

Feb 08 2014 12:00 AM

I don't think of this as a mistake or a not-mistake. I see it as simply a choice.


You made a choice. You thought about it and you chose. That's all.  And that's good enough. 


There is a little bit of risk, always, when we disclose. That's ok too. The alternative is to live always in a bubble, and humans aren't made to live like that. 


You will have an opportunity to see how she handles this now. It's an opportunity to form a more trusting relationship. She may rise to the occasion, and she may not. I hope she does. 


No matter what happens, I don't think it's ever a mistake to risk a little in hopes of a friend. 



What you have described is quite a long process that you went through to decide if this coworker was trustworthy, if what you might say could be a problem in the work situation, how your coworker was likely to react if she saw you having difficulties. A whole host of things.


It seems to me that you made the right choice because it seems to me that you wanted to do it and you felt safe doing it.


SA is about betrayal of trust - that is why something like this is so hard.


There is also normally a big reaction after disclosing to someone - this is natural, and may be part of what is causing you to worry - you may be mixing up the uncertainty-over-telling-her with the uncertainty-over-telling-anyone-ever.


Thinking of you.



I agree with yarn foolishness, you made a choice, you acted, instead of doing nothing. And you thought about it, quite logically, I might add, before you made your decision. No regrets, no matter what happens is what think now. And, as for the doctor r*pe, that was the pertinent info, and he was a criminal that you unfortunately crossed paths with. All stuff your coworker should be able to handle. There is no mishandling of that info, of those facts. It's not the CSA which people often can't handle hearing about very well. You were prudent, and wise, and took a calculated risk, but also took a huge step in trust. And taking care of yourself because someone at work definitely should know what is going on, for your well being. You continue to amaze me with your strength and wisdom.
Feb 08 2014 06:35 PM

Yarn, Susanna, and Lua,


Thank you! It does help to think of it as a choice. And, to realize it wasn't impulsive. I was feeling anxious and worried. It's just like as a child trying to always find the right thing to do to keep my step-father from hitting one of us, or from molesting me on a given day.


I need to get past the self-blame. It's the root beneath much of the anxiety and negative judgment in my head.


You all helped me see this. Every day I learn a bit more, and move along the healing path. Thank you!!

About Intrepid She

This is a moderated PUBLIC blog. This blog is a therapeutic tool I am using to help me get over my fear of doctors (which is made difficult by a history of abuse by them) to learn to grieve, and ultimately to integrate my dis-integrated heart.


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The content of this blog is not appropriate for children or for anyone who might be triggered by reading about sexual abuse.


To the many others walking your own version of this path, I wish you well on your journey. -Intrepid


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