Unable to forget and need guidance

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    Hey everyone,

    There is something I would like to ask your help on. It was an incident more than 5 years ago where I used to work. I heard an argument between the senior partners for whom we worked about cost cutting and client poaching etc and after a while it started getting ugly with their language. In the heat of the moment one of the senior partner told the other to ask his team i.e. A few of us to leave. When he refused, the senior partner said something very dirty which I cannot repeat here. Each and every word is etched in my head. But it was something on the lines that why does he care if we stay or not. If it is the matter of you-know-what as we were young girls and he was attracted to us, then he should just use us and then leave us once he has had enough. Why should he care what happens to us.

    I cannot even begin to tell you all how I feel. There was no fault of us. We were nothing but very good employees who slogged for the firm. We could have just been asked to go. There was no need for this kind of language or such dirty nonsense. I resigned immediately as I did not wish to continue with such people. But I have not forgotten. Even today that sentence burns in my mind. I didn’t tell anyone, I cried and cried and still cry over that one sentence. It has been years now and I still can’t understand. Why did it have to happen? What have I done? I was such a good employee and was appreciated as well. Somehow I feel violated and contaminated after this. Every time I meet anyone from the old firm, or even pass by that building or anything minor to even remotely remind me of this, it all comes back to me.

    it has taken great courage for me to write this here. I am on the path of self development and this one incident seems to pop up frequently in my head. I don’t know why it should bother me so much. I don’t even know how I feel. I need help. I need to move on.

    All those years I worked there have been tarnished with this one memory. It is painful. I feel dirty and used. I feel betrayed or maybe something I don’t know I can’t describe. It is highly unpleasant. I really need help. This is one thing that can bring a perfectly fine day onto its knees and I can  brood for hours crying.





    Dear Littlered:

    Five years ago, one senior partner at your workplace at the time said to the other senior partner something that was so offensive to you that you resigned immediately and for five years it haunts you. It caused you to “feel violated and contaminated… dirty and used…betrayed.” and you can (still)  “brood for hours crying” over it.

    That partner said something like: if you want to have sex with these girls (young female employees, one of whom was you, Littlered), just use them and leave once you had enough sex with them. No need to care what happens to them.

    My thoughts: what he said was very offensive. I heard that message myself many times. It is an attitude many men have, using women for sex, using a woman’s body for a man’s sensual pleasure, then discard. I am not surprised you found it offensive. Question is why does it still haunt you, given the fact that you were not actually used this way by the senior partner.

    You wrote: “Why did it have to happen? What have I done? I was such a good employee and was appreciated..” Your questions make me think of a little girl, innocent, loving, trusting and then… betrayed, abused. And she asks: “Why…?”

    I quote again, you wrote that you “feel violated and contaminated… dirty and used…betrayed.” – these verbs: violated, contaminated, betrayed; and these adjectives: dirty, used, these describe real experiences, I believe, more than just hearing a sentence articulated five years ago.

    Is it possible that the sentence triggered a real life experience where you were indeed violated, contaminated and betrayed somehow (not necessarily sexually, as there are other ways to violate, contaminate and betray a person, a child…)?



    Hi Anita,

    Thanks for replying so quickly. Even reading your reply brought back those haunting words and I felt prickly all over. You have asked me a question even I don’t know and still ask myself. Why does this haunt me so, especially when there was no such thing? 

    The closest I can come to answering is it made me feel as thought it is happening. And the fact that I was considered like a disposable object and in such a low opinion felt like worms crawling all over. I didn’t then and still don’t understand what warranted such a low and disgusting opinion and atttiude towards me, especially when I have nothing but considered them in high regard and worked. I told myself many times just because he said that doesn’t mean that something like that was done to us. It that the other partner said anything like that to us. Then why? Frankly I don’t know. 

    I don’t know what is being triggered. I have tried to think what it means to me and I don’t really know. I have not faced any such situations in the past. I have tried writing journals and letters to myself to get this out of my system but it comes up again. It is like it has anchored itself and keeps pulling me back. 

    I resigned and that was the best decision I took. We were going to be asked to leave anyway. I don’t regret that. That person was very offensive and I know I am not responsible for his thinking and words. But I still feel why. What did I do to deserve this? I feel he should not have used this angle. And this whole using people and discarding them analogy was not required and it disgusts me that people think of women like objects without any feelings. 

    I feel like doing something to set this right, but what? I don’t want to work there ever. I don’t want to see his face again. the other partner didn’t stand up for us. I expected at least something like don’t speak about my team like that or some thing else. 

    anita, I just left then. I felt wronged. I didn’t do anything and yet I had leave my job. I couldn’t tell anyone anything. I had to listen to such vitriol about myself. I came to know really what kind of men I was working for so long. The thing that hurts the most maybe something I expected then is that no one stood up for us. The other partner didn’t immediately ask him to shut his filthy mouth. Didn’t ask him to leave us out of this. Or he himself didn’t say or do anything for us. Maybe that is th worst part, everyone went back to work as usual next day and I was left on my own and such garbage in my head.

     This disturbs me very deeply and I don’t know what I want. Do I want to hear an apology? Do I want my dignity back? Do I want to see that senior partner unhappy? I don’t know. I am waiting for something to set this right. I know it is over but in my head it lives and I don’t know what old emotion it is triggering. 



    As I sit thinking about it, some more angles here. I now feel that if the other partner had stood up for us, I would not feel this way. It somehow feels incomplete. Like the person, disgusting and low as he was, just got away with it and is living a happy life among people who think he is a gentleman. His words make me sick even today. Am I that worthless that such things are suggested about me? Do I not deserve respect and dignity? How would he feel if god forbid someone says similar things about his daughter? Am I not someone’s daughter too? Do I not have feelings? Am I so disposable? 

    I was a model employee and genuinely contributed to the firm. Was it worth nothing? Why are such people like this,  anita? 

    Worse- why am I basing my opinion of myself or self worth on such low thinking people? Why should it hurt me so? 

    These are the thoughts I am having now. An injustice has happened and they got away with it. I wasn’t rescued or even vindicated. I got punished for something I didn’t do. I was made to feel worthless and like a waste or something. 

    Just sickening people. I am disgusted.


    Dear Littlered:

    You asked: “Do I want my dignity back?”

    As rude, offensive, derogatory, vulgar as the sentence you heard was, and it was these things, a sentence you hear as an adult cannot possibly, in itself, take away your dignity.

    As a child, were you treated badly by someone you looked up to, someone you trusted? And no one stood up for you?



    Hi anita,

    Yes, many times. But never in this context. Bullying at school, criticism, etc. we’re fairly common, I remember lots of instances where I have felt powerless and hopeless but I never felt so dirty from inside. 

    I don’t know why I feel so strongly about this and  internalising the shame while actually those people should be feeling ashamed, not me.

    But since you asked, do you think that there could be a connection?





    Dear Littlered:

    There were some changes in the website and I cannot go back to history of past threads like I used to, and so, I am unable to re-read all of our prior communication. I wish I could.

    In your post before last, you asked questions:

    “Am I that worthless that such things are suggested about me?… Do I not deserve respect and dignity?…Do I not have feelings? …Am I so disposable?…Why are such people like this, anita?”

    You wrote: “An injustice has happened and they got away with it. I wasn’t rescued or even vindicated. I got punished for something I didn’t do.”

    In your most recent post, you answered that yes, you were treated badly but “never in this context…I have felt powerless and hopeless but I never felt so dirty from inside.”

    My input: The questions you asked indicate that you indeed were treated as if you were worthless, as if you had no feelings, as if you were disposable.

    You do have feelings, you are worthy and you do deserve respect and dignity. And yet, you were treated in the past, numerous times (as I have, as so many people, if not all) treated disrespectfully, as if you were worthless.

    A child is born not knowing and she learns and quickly. A child is vulnerable, easily hurt. Parents often treat children as if they were objects, or … irrelevant, or not worthy enough to attend to adequately. They think that all children need is food and shelter and toys, when children most need to feel safe, approved of, accepted, comforted. And they criticize their children instead of loving them. So children get hurt. And then, there is school bullying and plenty of contexts of future disrespect, mistreatments, to add to what is already there. This is the unfortunate reality.

    Why are there people like that? Because when a person is mistreated as a child, he/she learns that other people are either more powerful than him and are to be feared- or are less powerful and are to be made to submit. They understand life to be a Win-Lose proposition. For them to Win, they must make the other person Lose. They can’t conceive of the idea of a Win-Win strategy to life.

    And so, some people go through life fearing others, submitting, being nice in a “please-do-not-hurt-me” kind of way. Others go through life taking on an aggressive stand: “I-will-hurt-you-even-more-if you-don’t-submit-so-submit-to-me”. When they feel fear, then anger, they proceed to disrespect and mistreat another.

    Injustice is the rule, not the exception.

    As to your last question, about a connection: there are connections in our brain between life experiences, from the earliest ones to the most recent. Your reaction to the five year ago incident does not exist in isolation. It is connected to your experience of being mistreated at home, in school and so on. These prior experiences, prior hurt, add intensity to the recent experience.

    The only thing you can do is stay away from the Win-Lose people (family members included), take best care of yourself, choose Win-Win people and practice Win-Win in all your chosen interactions and relationships.



    Hi anita,

    Thank you for taking the time out and replying in so much detail.


    I am stunned. I now understand and can feel it is not the words or treatment, but the fact that I was mistreated is what has been bothering me all along. Maybe because this was the most revolting thing I have heard about myself, it can trigger an intense and immediate inside of me. But the baseline remains the same- something bad happened to me, unprovoked by me, and the bad people got away and and I ended up losing something and hurting. I didn’t look at it this way ever. It has always been what did I do to deserve this. But it has actually been why didn’t someone stand up for me or help me. 

    As the proverb goes, it is not the words of the enemies, it is the silence of our friends. 

    As for the hurtful words, I am beginning to feel that they themselves do not have power over me. I don’t have to view their words as the truth. It is a lie. I can honour myself and not need anyone to tell me that. 

    The connection thing you wrote is amazing, I can see it now. I hope I can start to feel better about this soon. I feel like something closed today after having this interaction with you. There was something unfinished, something I was waiting for. Today I came to know what was bothering me. And something just sort of completed, closed inside me. This issue finally completes and shows me the picture of what I was actually feeling hurt about. Those words triggered my feeling like a victim. Maybe different situation, but end result is the same. 

    I will try to surely see how best I can forget this incident. I don’t know how, maybe now it will be easier. It is a lot to take in, maybe I will seek your help again for suggestions. But I need to sit and process this now. Otherwise it will keep pricking me. 

    Thank you very very much for helping me out with this. I was struggling for 5 years and now I feel I have done something for myself. 




    Dear Littlered,

    This is my first ever response on this forum, so here it goes.

    It sounds like the comments traumatized you. Traumatized because they were deeply offensive, you’ve actually internalized them and over the past 5 years have made them ingrained in your belief system. How do I know this? A thought you think over and over again is a belief. You’ve chopped and screwed these words in so many directions in your mind that they are alive and well. To be clear the comments made by senior partner are long gone but in your mind they live on. Somehow you’ve made those words about YOU and who you are as a person vs seeing that those comments reflected more so on the person who said them.

    Here is the truth. Anyone can say anything they want to anyone at anytime for any reason. Welcome to the human experience. Of course some words in saying them come with consequences, most comments do not.

    I think your shame maybe based on that you were not able to stand up for yourself in a way that would have made your feel respected and dignified. But the only problem with this line of thinking is that its highly untrue. You showed up and showed out for yourself in this incident but didn’t acknowledge it for yourself.

    You said: “if the other partner had stood up for us, I would not feel this way.”
    This is your mind trying to change the past. This is such an injustice in your mind that your trying to hold other people accountable for something they can’t change. On the other hand you’re not giving yourself any credit in how you handled yourself in the situation. You said you left the job immediately after the incident. So why do you also say that you were punished for something you didn’t do? Are you saying the “comments” were a punishment (not true)? Or that you having to leave the job was punishment (also not true)?

    By leaving the job immediately you showed yourself:

    You haven’t put any value in your response to the incident. You wanted someone else/partner to valdate your feeling. As adults we are fully capable of rescuing and vindicating ourselves without the help of others.

    You said: “An injustice has happened and they got away with it.”
    What exactly do you think they got away with? Senior partner can say whatever he wants. As a result, the firm loses a model employee, You. Why isn’t that enough justice for you? Because you left the firm, you also released yourself from anything to do with the firm and how they discipline their employees. Maybe the senior partner was reprimanded and maybe not, either way it doesn’t matter. You already seeked justice for yourself but leaving. These are brownie points you are not giving yourself.

    You have a belief issue around these word. They are not going to go away anytime soon. But I want to offer a suggestion in turning that belief around in to positivity for yourself.

    Moving forward everytime those “comments” pop up in your mind, respond to the thought out loud…..
    “That’s not true about me, I love, respect and care about myself.” This is the new thought you need to replace those comments with.

    Think of this objectively, your mind in 5 years has a PhD in making these comments have meaning to you. Now you have to undo that command center of your brain and create new programming. And while you are at it you will start to release resentment and bitterness for your past co-workers. You may need to work on forgiving them if you feel that’s important to you. Professional counseling maybe a solution as well. Overall, you need to acknowledge that bad situations happen to even good people like you. You can’t change the past, but you can change your outlook for the future.

    The best question you can ask yourself is, How does/did this incident benefit me? (weather you realize it or not ALL things work for your betterment)

    Second best question, Whats my next best step in helping me heal? (take a course, talk to a mentor, get counseling, get a life coach, read books, attend a conference, etc). Heal yourself through intention action.

    Hope this was helpful. You have the power to change your mind, literally and figuratively. 🙂


    Hi Yvar,

    Thank you for making me see a very important person who did actually stand up for me in the situation – ME. I never thought of it that way. I was the victim and rescuer.

    I feel punished because I had to leave a good job and also because the people who I thought were good people I was working for and I tried to give my best work (now realise was trying to gain their approval) actually thought of me this way. They were someone whom I looked up to professionally and were kind of mentors.

    I think they got away with treating me like crap and they are still seen as gentlemen by others and are very happy. Whereas deep down this is how they treat women and employees. It was where I was working since I was 18, so kind of shocker for me about the kind of people they actually were. They failed as persons and as my bosses for me.

    I really like your suggestion about turning the comment into a positive thought by challenging it. I am  on it right away.

    You asked me how the situation benefitted me? IMMENSELY! I got a better job, travelled abroad and learnt to stand on my own two feet. That is something! But I felt all along that the exit need not have been so unceremonious. But that’s that. I have to grow up and acknowledge that not all bad happens to me because I did something or even my fault. Maybe they just do. I will have to work on the victim mentality about myself. I have serious issues there. 

    A sincere thank you to you from the bottom of my heart. I never saw it like that I handled the situation all by myself so well. I left, applied for new jobs immediately and within a month had joined another company. I leaped into the next step for me and I did it by myself. I didn’t wait around for them to remove me. Like you said, their loss.

    Please do keep sharing your thoughts on this forum!

    Thanks once again! 🙂 🙂



    Dear Littlered:

    You are welcome.

    Like you wrote: “It is a lot to take in” and “I need to sit and process this now.”- so please do, take your time. Emotional understandings do need time to settle, to be processed.

    You wrote: “maybe I will seek your help again for suggestions”- please do. I will be here.





    One of my virtual mentors always says. “Its OK for people to be wrong about you.”

    Why does it bother you that they were wrong about you?

    Even though they were wrong, you made the right decision for yourself to leave.

    Thats all that matters.

    No one failed you.

    No one owes you anything.

    No one took away your job.

    No one made you quit.

    You were wise enough to make that quick decision.

    But what if you had stay at the job? Who would you be?

    By looking in the rear view mirror of your life about this incident, your mind gets confused: Past Me vs Today Me.

    You did everything right and left the job, went on to get new job, travel and just be awesome (anti-victim actions). But by not honoring those past decisions your not honoring how those decisions made you the woman you are now.

    Things had to happen the way it happened in order for you to have your experiences thus making you who you are today.

    Luckily you got to see the true colors of “those types of people” early in life and know better how to deal with them. Its a disappointment that you saw their true character and that sucked but it truly has no significance in your life today.

    Think you will be more then fine and just need to process all this and take a strategic approach to fading those comments from your mind.

    Hana L

    Hi Littlered,

    I’m sorry that you had gone through such an experience. And yes, some words are really hard to forget. I have been in situations where I was told that I wasn’t good enough at work (and this was mainly due to inexperience and it was 3 months of me starting out), or when I had worked the jobs of 2 people (due to 1 person resigning unable to handle the workload, and all I was told was to make sure I don’t fall sick). I left those work situations. But sometimes when my current job stress builds up, those things I was told before come up to mind, and they are enough to make me feel really suffocated. You get those days sometimes.

    I take the time to self reflect on my job pathway, and although those experiences were nasty, I have to admit I was thankful I learnt to built myself up and become a better version of myself at work, and I am continuously progressing from there. If anything, I’ve learnt to not become like those former employers.

    You’ve done well for yourself, and through the process, built up resilience and become stronger. And when you are in a mentoring or management position, you can understand your junior employees work stressors and where they are coming from.

    Take care!







    Dear Littlered,

    You have had input from three amazing human beings so far, and I agree wholeheartedly in particular with what Yvar pointed out, that you had not realised that you stood up for yourself. Resigning immediately for the unacceptable treatment of you and the other young, intelligent female on your team as mere sexual beings — objects — showed me at least that you have principles and self-respect. I hope you have since seen that it was normal for you to feel “violated” and “humiliated,” as that is the nature of the comment, uttered between two more powerful figure (in the corporate ladder) in front of you. It is like someone talking about you as if you were not in the room, something that is blatantly disrespectful among adults. (I wouldn’t do it in front of children, either, but I work with children, and I have witnessed that a small proportion of the adults do do that. I don’t think that is acceptable.)



    Hi everyone,

    I would like to thank you all for taking the time out and replying to me in detail. I cannot even begin to explain how that feels. I had this unbearable thing inside of me for so long and unable to process it, but now that I am getting so many perspectives, I actually have started feeling free. Five years is a long time to hold on to such poisonous emotions. 

    It is only since yesterday that I actually started seeing the angle of how well I handled it, all alone. Whenever I used to think of this, it was always shame, anger and sadness. Never once did I feel proud. And now I do. I AM PROUD OF MYSELF! I truly truly am.

    No matter what, I always ended up with ‘they should not have said that’, ‘it should not have happened’, ‘there was no need for such words’. But now I accept the following.

    It happened. They said those things. So what?

    i always felt I was wronged. Maybe I was. But that doesn’t mean there is something wrong in ME that elicited such treatment. I always wondered what did I do to deserve this. I got my answer- Nothing. No woman deserves this. Ever.

    I have been ashamed and felt I shouldn’t feel this way. I now realise subconsciously I have been seeking validation for what happened. But from whom? From someone, anyone. But I realise that is not necessary. I did not overreact. I did the right thing by resigning. And I have every right to feel violated and humiliated as gia mentioned. Reading gia’s words gave me that free feeling. I didn’t need to have punished myself! I can feel this way, it is ok! I don’t know why but it felt like someone agreed that what they said was unacceptable. 

    I am struggling with the victim mindset for a long time, I was bullied for almost 10 years and also grew up in a critical environment. Self esteem is a huge issue for me. I have already started speaking Yvar’s words like affirmations. They give me such relief. They ring so true for me. 

    I am crying a lot since yesterday and I am just letting it be. All of your words make me feel I am not alone at all. None of you know me and yet have me such encouragement and all agree that those comments were indeed vulgar. I never really gave myself credit for how I coped until yesterday. 

    I was stuck in their behaviour. Refusing to accept it happened. But now that accept it did, I also accept that I have done really well for myself. It doesn’t make those hurtful words go away, but it makes a huge shift inside of me that I am not and never was responsible for their behaviour. And that sets me free. 

    Thank you once again for everything. I guess I will be fine very soon. Emotions are tumbling out frequently. But this time, for good.

    🙂 Littlered

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