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A Lot of the Time, It Was the Same Place

Written By: Lauren Howard



I write a lot about my work experiences. 


I write about amazing experiences that I’ve had that reinforced the power of good leadership. 


I also write about really bad experiences that I’ve had that made me feel small or left me with corporate trauma that I’m still working to overcome. 


Here’s what I don’t say enough: 


A lot of the time, it was the same place. 

The same place that promoted me, gave me tons of responsibility, taught me the ins and outs of a space that was new to me also created one of the most toxic environments that I’ve ever survived in. 


I still have nightmares about some of those experiences. 


I am deeply grateful for the good parts and everything I learned. 


I am also still undoing some of the awful stuff.


Experiences and people are almost never one thing. It’s confusing to have experiences that you love deeply while also knowing they were followed by things that directly harmed you. 


The good stuff doesn’t outweigh the bad, but that doesn’t mean the good stuff didn’t happen. It just changes my perspective on it. Likely, if they did the right thing for me, it was also the right thing for the business. They didn’t do them to make me happy. Promotions and titles are great, but I didn’t get them because I was nice. I got them because I worked for them. 


I worked for it. I earned it. My reward was piles of more work for little extra money that I thought was a privilege. 


I’m caught between wanting to cherish the times that showed me who I wanted to be and recovering from the times that showed me who I absolutely was not. 


The reality is that bad environments can be good sometimes, and even great things have really tough patches. 


It’s one of the foundational pieces of abusive environments. There was often something good or something you believed could be good that made you want to endure. 


You don’t have to invalidate the good to heal from the bad. You just might need to change your perspective on it so you can keep the gift and let go of the other harmful stuff. 


I have this computer backpack that was covered with their logo. The bag is great and expensive, but I hated feeling branded by something that I needed to get out of. But the bag was mine, right? They gave it to me.


All it took was a stitch ripper and an evening of mindless television and I had a whole new bag. 


The bag is still good. The work I did was still good. The rest can be left in the past when we’re ready to tear out the hard parts.



 


Founder & CEO at elletwo



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