It’s entirely gratifying, hearing those words ring out clear and strong across a room in Parliament House. I tell this story a lot, as often as I can… it’s very much like therapy for me. But– while I’m eternally grateful for all the awesome stuff I get to do through my blog– speaking my story, Tony’s story… it can feel selfish and self indulgent, simply because I am gaining from it, one way or another. I’m losing occasionally too, of course– but I never seem to feel guilty about losing.
Speaking on Friday felt different. It feel like doing something with no gain, no retribution. I was just speaking on behalf on my husband, because he no longer can.
As I finish, the spokesperson Those Who Be In Charge says thank you, the same way she does with every other person who has come before them. I nod at her and then, as I’m walking away, she adds how sorry she is, how sorry they all are, for my loss.
I’m so stunned all I can do is nod again. I turn to Darrell and say I’ve had enough, I just can’t listen to any more of this- now I have said what I needed to say I am desperate to get out of this room. There is a strong, quiet solidarity between those who wait after they themselves have finished speaking, a camaraderie of implicit support.
Twenty minutes later, we’re outside and the shock of it all begins to sink in, a dark heavy inverse weight of disbelief and indignation.
I should have told them to save her apologies, I don’t need them and my husband can’t hear them now. The people who need them are those who spoke before me and those who will speak after, those who are still living this nightmare of screaming unfairness every second. And irony of it is- all these stories, there are all the same. Teh same template with different players. Hard working employees, intelligent people who are aware of their rights. Power grossly abused. Cheeks turned where noise should have been made. And entire lives, whole families left decimated in it’s wake.
My head reels the whole drive home with what I heard and saw today, with what I should have done, what I could have done. I should have told them to stick their tinkly little silver bell up their arse. Or, as the case would have been, said something akin to, “With all due respect, I’m aware that my time is up. but it appears time is in surplus here, and I may not have a chance to speak again. I will finish reading what I have prepared.”
What could they have done, in reality? Have security manhandle the five foot high crying widow out of Parliament House while the assembled public watched on through the lens of their smart phones? Actually, that may have been exactly what they would have done.
Not that it matters. I didn’t do any of that, and that’s more than OK… as sad as it is, this is Real Life, not a movie or a melodrama.
Regardless of all of that bullshit, of another broken promise to people who have suffered too many already…. it feels good to have spoken. I hope it had the same slightly cathartic effect on the other people who presented their stories. I can only imagine that for some of them it didn’t come close. The frustration of only being allowed to tell half their stories to these people who had promised to listen was palpable and real and so sadly cliched- it’s the very behaviour we expect from Those Who Be In Charge, and are told everyday is blatantly cynical.
Given the gravity and scope of the workplace bullying issue it’s a crying injustice that, in a country that’s apparently as liberal and forward thinking as ours, these people cannot even be granted their right to a voice.
If nothing else, everyone deserves that… a voice to speak with. And a place to have it heard.