I want to tell you a story about how I have come to terms with family disconnect and some crucial work I do. It is not an estrangement born out of anger or hurt I caused my children, but distance, busyness, and then my not being the ever present mother because of my work and goals. Because of that, and because I am a woman, I use three pieces of jewelry, necklaces, I wear most of the time to remember who and what is important in my life.
The first is a diamond cross. My son bought that cross for me with his Army re-sign bonus leading to his second deployment to Iraq. This cross does triple duty reminding me of the sacrifices our armed services and their families make on a daily basis serving this country. This cross reminds me that my son loved me (still loves me) even with the strained but slowly healing relationship. Lastly, it reminds me of my faith, to lean on God when there is no one else to lean on.
The second necklace is a plain silver chain with an angel on it. My daughter gave me that gift several years back and, like the cross, I wear it almost constantly. It is symbolic of mother-daughter love, again not perfect with my professional goals, and not always being there physically but we both know there is love always and that prayers can be answered, albeit not always the way we want.
The third necklace is an hourglass on a fragile silver chain. I bought this for myself as a memory piece. I used an hourglass as a conceptual framework for my PhD on nurse workplace bullying. All those bullying behaviors by the perpetrator and the lack of intervention by the organization passes through the target. Like the sands of the hourglass, if the target can not successfully deflect bullying behaviors, the consequences flood out from and to the target, our patients, and there are organizational consequences of turnover and lower productivity. This necklace also reminds me that my life is short. If a workplace or work group is toxic, it is not worth the few grains of time anyone has left in this world to deal with it unless embedded behaviors can be changed and there is resilience through education, family support, and the faith that God that enables a person to the task. And, less I forget, I can perpetuate it through my own behaviors, my own communication, and my own expectations. And not saying anything.
We all need to be the change we want to see in others. If you have the power and resources to change your response and others to bullying, stay. If you feel the anxiety and angst associated with absorbing others’ behaviors towards you, leave. Nurses are proactive problem solvers but some situations prove to toxic to stop. If you leave, let the organization know why you are leaving or transferring. Until employers are fully aware of the impact toxic behaviors create, nothing will be done to promote healthy environments.
Peggy Ann Berry, PhD, MSN, RN, COHN-S, SPHR-SCP received her doctorate from University of Cincinnati in 2015. She is a past NIOSH Education and Resource Grant recipient and American Nurses Foundation Scholar. She is a Founding Fellow with the U. S. Academy of Workplace Bullying, Mobbing, and Abuse and a past Graduate Nurse Intern to OSHA and Malcolm Baldrige Examiner. She can be contacted or followed through:
Website and blog: https://thrive-at-life.com/