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Trauma is a broken bone that never heals quite right 

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My first job out of college had the best version of me. Admittedly, I was immature and totally unaware of the adult working world, but I had an insatiable hunger. 

I believed if I worked my hardest, regardless of my level of talent, my efforts would be appreciated and valued. I was wrong. Coworkers got frustrated when I couldn’t match their skill level. Managers were vocal about their disappointment in me. Often they were cruel. It was made very clear that I didn’t belong. 

That was when I felt the first fracture of my bone. It hurt, yet it was manageable. I hobbled into what I knew would be a better circumstance. An opportunity to grow and be better. Most importantly a chance to heal. 

The belief that each new job would be the career I would retire from; the place I would feel at home; somewhere I would excel and be valued – these beliefs ended up as effective as a brittle bandage. 

In nearly two decades, I have had 13 different jobs, not including brief temp jobs in between. All different employers. A variety of different industries. Across the span of two different states. Although there were many differences, my experiences were almost always the same. 

That first day I walked through the doors with excitement and hope at the endless possibilities. I imagined my career trajectory. An eagerness burst through the seams to learn as much as I could and do the best I could. I wanted to be a valuable member of the team. I tirelessly sought the approval of those around me. 

Every time was supposed to be different. I forced myself to walk on a broken bone that never healed quite right from the repeated fractures. And every single time I was lured into a false sense of security that I could walk again. Management appeared happy to have me. Coworkers seemed welcoming and helpful. I felt as if I belonged until I was brutally reminded that I did not. 

You failed to meet our expectations. Fracture. No one here likes you. Fracture. You’re not who we thought you would be. Fracture. There’s no reason you can’t do it if the other person can. Fracture. You’re too much. Fracture. You’re not enough. Fracture. Get your act together. Fracture. You should just keep to yourself. Fracture. 

The added weight of protecting each former employer as a potential new employer asked what happened, … fracture, fracture, fracture. 

The last time left me so crippled I knew I would never be the same again. I could no longer hide behind a slight limp. 

The next job will get the very worst of me. Trauma does that. It stole my ability to run, to jump, and even to walk. It makes me fear that each day will be the last good day before my inevitable fall. 

Laura Kaponer is a mental health advocate, blogger and Certified Peer Support Specialist. You can find her on social media by searching #Laurakaponeris1in5. 

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