When A Good Internship Goes Bad

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I’m not here to lay the following information out for you in an effort to make a bad circumstance even worse. No, on the contrary, I’m writing this post with the hopes of generating some unbiased feedback in regards to my role in an uncomfortable situation.

I will do my absolute best to only give facts as I explain the whole ordeal. I’ve already been accused of gossip, slander, lying, backstabbing, and a whole list of unsavory transgressions.  I don’t wish to supply ammunition for further accusations.

As I have explained in several other posts, I recently did a short (6 months) stint as Media Director and contributing writer for a newly launching magazine. It was an internship; therefore I was not paid for my services during my time with the company. I enjoyed the job, however, and would still be a part of this venture today had things not gone so terribly awry. I had even signed a non-compete, non-disclosure contract.

I got the gig via a friend of my husband. He had been friends with her and her family before we had ever even met and married. So, he had known this woman for many years, even watched her mature from her early teens into the budding young entrepreneurial woman that I had agreed to work for.  As you can see, there was clearly history there. She was the one launching this magazine, and took on many roles as Editor in Chief/Owner/Founder. I shall just call her Boss Lady, for that’s what she was; my boss, and a lady.

Immediately after she agreed to grant me this internship, I eagerly dove into the job. My hard work didn’t go unnoticed, either. My insane organizational skills and work ethic lent considerable resourcefulness to the job. I hope that I don’t sound egotistical when I say that I quickly became an integral part of the team. She had told me on several occasions that, once my time of trial was up, I would definitely be hired on as a full time employee.

Boss Lady made mention of the fact that she was looking for a social media intern, so I had recommended my best friend (let’s call her Bestie) for the position. After asking Bestie if she wanted the position, she agreed, and I offered her number to Boss Lady. After a lengthy phone discussion, Boss Lady had decided to give her a chance with the company as well.

I also met several new people during my time there. One in particular, though, the boisterous and humorous art director, whom I shall just call ‘AD’, befriended me right from the start and we quickly fell into an easy and comfortable rapport.  Even more so than with I, was the close relationship that was starting to emerge between AD and Bestie. They liked each other right from the start, and talked often.

All of us on the small start-up team had our roles, some of us even taking on additional tasks until we started generating income and could further expand the employee roster.  Everything was running as smoothly as could be expected, with the occasional kink here and there that needed to be worked out. All was good, and dreams were being made reality. Or so I thought.

Not long after the team returned from a company trip to New York (this trip did not include me), all hell broke loose.  AD was, unbeknownst to the rest of us at the time, unhappy with the way that the company was being run. Apparently some words were exchanged during the trip, but I was not there so what I have heard was said boils down to a matter of heresy.

The fact though, is that AD then did some digging to find that the company name had never been registered or licensed.  I don’t know why. I have heard several reasons, none from the source, though, so again, heresy.

AD, given her newfound information, then decided to buy the company out from underneath Boss Lady. She met with her after to lay it all out on the table, explain what she had done and why, and see if some sort of agreement could be reached. AD said that she had offered Boss Lady a 50/50 partnership, but again I was not there for that fateful meeting, so I could not claim this statement to be gospel truth.

Now let me just stop right there and say that once I had found out that I had been working for a company that technically didn’t legally exist, asking for product samples and sending emails with my name attached on behalf of the company, I wasn’t overly happy. I had put my neck on the line, as did the rest of the team. Had any of the companies that I had contacted and made requests of decided to look into the matter and discover the fact that we were non existant, I could have gotten into a whole mess of hot water.

Still, I didn’t agree with the move that AD had made. I feel that a discussion should have been had prior to this point. Had AD gone to the Boss Lady and said, “Look, I know the company isn’t legal, and we need to do something about this for the sake of those involved,” the entire catastrophe that followed could have possibly been avoided.

Boss Lady was understandably upset. She wanted no part of a partnership.

A blow up of epic proportions ensued, with a lot of mudslinging, threats of lawsuits, lawyers, police, texts, phone calls and just plain ugliness. Again that’s just one side of things. I was forwarded some of the texts, but I don’t have both sides of the story. I can say with utmost certainty, though, that both sides did not just walk away peacefully. I was there for one of the angry, confrontational meetings.

Both women went their separate ways to eventually start up opposing magazine ventures. I was asked to choose a side. I really liked AD, and I had listened to many of her ideas and thought she had good business sense and could make the venture work. There was history and friendship with Boss Lady, though, and things there were much more involved than just a simple job. Our kids are enrolled in her mother’s private school. My husband was friends with the family before my time, and I didn’t want to destroy that bond. No, working for AD wasn’t really an option for me.

Still, however, I struggled with joining Boss Lady’s team. She wasn’t always the best at communication during my time working for her, and the drama of the whole situation was just getting to be way too much. I felt like I was the rope in a crazy game of tug of war, and it was really stressing me out. I liked them both, and the battle wasn’t my own, so I couldn’t understand why Boss Lady thought that it would just be a no-brainer for me to walk away from AD altogether. It had to be all or nothing, though, and I figured that I would be met with anger and opposition from Boss Lady if she knew I hadn’t turned my back entirely on AD, so that made the whole ordeal that much harder on me.

I had a Bahamas cruise coming up in just a few short weeks, so I asked Boss Lady if we could discuss my decision whether or not to stay on after that time. We agreed to meet for coffee upon my return.

I had continued to struggle with a decision, until Bestie informed me (2 days before my cruise, no less) that she had decided to go to work for AD. I knew that this wouldn’t go over well with Boss Lady, but it was a business opportunity for Bestie, and it would be ridiculous for anyone to think that I had control over her actions and could tell her what to or what not to do. She was happy in her decision, and I was happy for her.

I then knew that the decision had been made for me. I would step away from the job entirely, because the conflict of interests that would be created by me working for Boss Lady while Bestie worked for AD just wouldn’t be good at all. If any information got leaked from one to the other, or if one of them came up with a similar idea to the other, all fingers would have pointed immediately in my direction. Thank you, but no thank you.

So as soon as I got back from the cruise and some much needed rest and relaxation, I called Boss Lady to break the news to her. I admitted to her that I had known about Bestie’s decision to work for AD since a couple of days before my cruise, I just didn’t want to deal with it until my return. Understandable, right? Since my idiot self admitted that fact, though, in the interest of full disclosure, I was accused of “withholding information” from Boss Lady. I wasn’t withholding any information. I was simply putting it off until a more feasible time.

Boss Lady wasn’t happy with Bestie, either, as I had predicted. Bestie was accused of “stealing” from Boss Lady, right along with AD. Stealing what, I don’t know. Ideas I suppose, even though Bestie didn’t walk away privy to any more ideas than she had entered with. Or perhaps AD and Bestie were being accused of stealing the company? Kind of hard to steal something that no one actually legally owned to begin with, I suppose. Either way, I was told that Bestie would then be investigated for stealing. The only crime that she’s guilty of committing is agreeing to work for the opposing team, and that’s only a crime committed against Boss Lady.

So I stepped away completely from both parties to the accusations from Boss Lady and family that I really hadn’t, and was in fact, working for AD. Now, the truth to that statement depends on how you look at things.  I, of course, still talk to Bestie. Bestie has admin rights to AD’s blog, and is often in charge of writing daily posts. Bestie will occasionally ask me, “Hey would you mind red-penning my post before I put it up?” I of course always agree. So, if that is, in fact working for AD, then well, I am guilty as charged.

A short while after my phone call to Boss lady letting her know that I would be stepping away from the job and why, she removed me from her friends list on Facebook. Reason being is that I had written another post pertaining to the seeking of vengeance, and she decided that it had just hit too close to home in the illustration that I had used in my post, and that I was gossiping about her.  That was it. Back turned, bridges burned. Apparently, what I had been trying to avoid by stepping away completely from both sides was not, in fact, avoidable at all.

I suppose I’m not entirely innocent in that, though. I had used an example of a story that I had heard from Bestie via AD, as an example to make a point regarding something I had learned about vengeance. Not to actually gossip, though. I never mentioned any names in that post.

I had not heard from Boss lady again after that.

Until today.

Now, during my time with the original magazine, I had written several articles, most of which never had the chance to be used. I did research and had time invested into each one. It’s safe to say that I even worked hard on these articles.

When I walked away from the job, I offered the articles to Boss Lady. Verbally. She never responded as to whether or not she would indeed use them. I figured that the removal of myself from her friends list and the accusations that followed were enough of a giveaway that she would not, in fact, want my articles.

One month went by. Then two, three, four, five. Five months now, and still, no articles of mine were used. I have some great articles that I poured hard work and time into sitting in a folder on my laptop virtually rotting. So, I told Bestie, when she was so swamped with work that she hadn’t had a chance to come up with a daily blog post yet, “Here. Take these articles. I hate to see them go to waste. Just please put your own name on them. I don’t want to be accused of associating with or working for AD.

So she did. One went up on the blog today.

That’s when the message from Boss Lady, who I had not heard from in months happened. The accusations and drama started up again. I asked Bestie to just remove the article, and I spent the rest of this afternoon stressed out.

So after all of this, the real question that I want to pose to anyone who will bother to read this is:

Was I in the wrong for not wanting to see my articles rot and offering them to Bestie to be used? Should I have let the articles rot anyway as to not further burn my bridges with Boss Lady and potentially even ruin my husband’s relationship with the family? I had said that I was not working for AD and wanted to remain true to my word, but these articles were written back when the original magazine existed. I have not written any new ones since the implosion of the company. If we really want to delve into the who’s and the why’s, the articles were written during the time of the original magazine, which AD has legal ownership of now, essentially giving her rights to them anyway.

I’d love some input on the matter. If I am clearly in the wrong, please let me know.

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The Friendship Pill in the Hate-Proof Bottle

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Gather around, folks, and let me tell you a story…

It’s a story of love. It’s a story of heartbreak. It’s a story of healing. Best of all, though; it’s a story of how the cosmos aligned to bring 2 people together in a way that would ultimately form a bond that should, with any luck, last for a lifetime.

Once upon a time…

There it is. Trite, I know, but in retrospect, the strange turn of events that created the dynamic duo that would come to be known as… us…we…partners in crime…’S squared’… seems so far in the past that life before then is a hazy memory at best and impossible to recall at worst.

I was merely trying to get through each day without breaking back then. I was recently divorced, and it had hit me hard. When I say hard, I mean sledgehammered heart in so many jagged shards that all the king’s horses and all the king’s men would not dare attempt to reassemble it hard. I mean soggy puddle of continuously sobbing mess that was just trying to do what seemed impossible at the time; scrape myself up off the ground and move in a forward direction hard.

He and I had a child together that we traded parenting time with week to week, and she was ALL that kept my head above water as I bobbed along in my lake of despair. It was hard enough to trudge through my hurt even with her there, but the weeks that she spent with her father made it all the more difficult to bear because I was left hopelessly and stiflingly alone. Sure, I tried “dating”, which often meant jumping into bed with men I barely even knew, because in my grief, I saw physical contact as a salve to rub into my emotional wounds. In truth, though, I was more alone while tangled in some forgettable set of masculine limbs than I would have been if left to curl up and cry myself to sleep with nothing but my pillow to wrap my arms around. Try not to judge; I was a different person back then.

The worst part of it all, the part that made it impossible to move past the pain and misery of the whole ordeal and actually start the restoration process, was the fact that we worked in the same building. In fact, that’s how we’d met. I now had to punch a time clock every day just to see his smugly handsome face wearing its cold, hard expression of extreme…indifference. Okay, in all honesty maybe that wasn’t quite the worst part. The real punch in the face, kick in the teeth, knife to the kidneys came when he got a new girlfriend, and insisted upon parading her around the lunch room at our place of employ for everyone to see. Everyone that knew our history. Everyone that watched me gradually fall apart every day between the hours of 7am and 3pm. Everyone that looked at me with pitying eyes as I hunched over whatever vending machine fodder I had been trying to nonchalantly choke down.

She was a cute little thing, I have to admit; prancing around the cafeteria in her miniskirts and talking in her ‘straight off the boat from England’ accent, which he, of course, raved about and made sure to play up in front of everyone present, including…me.

I can scarcely recall my hatred for this woman now, but I do know that I did indeed hate her. She had everything that I didn’t, everything that I had lost… his devotion, his attention, his desire, his embrace…his heart. I didn’t even truly know her, but I wanted to be her, and for that, I despised her.

They eventually moved into a quaint little upstairs apartment a few streets over from my own humble abode, and even though I was in a relationship of my own by that time, I found myself always looking over my shoulder in public places, hoping that I wouldn’t bump into them …at the bank…at the grocery store… at a stoplight. The time I spent away from work where they couldn’t flaunt their cutesy, giggly, sickening bliss was MINE, and the thought that my glorious oblivion could be ripped out from under me at any given moment seemed so… unfair. I was unreasonably and unrealistically angry for this egregious affront to my fragile state of mind.

So angry, in fact, that I remember storming over to their apartment one day and confronting her with hackles and voice raised because I had found out that she had taken my child to her parent teacher conference, since he was out of town on a hunting trip. I was livid. How dare she? That wasn’t her child. Why didn’t someone tell me about this conference? I would have happily done my parental duty and taken her myself. Oh no, no, no, no …no. I was going over there, and I was giving this woman, this usurper, this replacement for me… a rage-fueled and not so well thought out piece of my mind. In hindsight, I looked like an idiot. It wasn’t her fault; she was just doing what he had asked of her. You couldn’t have convinced me at the time, though. She had become my arch nemesis in my pain distorted mind, and I had declared war.

Eventually, he was let go from our place of employ, and without his ever-existing presence around to remind me that I now had a failed marriage complete with child under my belt, I started to do an amazing thing; I started to heal. After a few weeks without his larger than life shadow looming over me, sucking away my emotional stability like a vampiric cloud, I could get through my days without breaking down. After a few months, the bitterness started to melt away like an ice cube on blacktop. After a few years, well…enter the man that currently holds my now fully restored heart in the palm of his loving, giving, and slightly callused hand.

It was a short courtship for my beloved and I, but as I’ve mentioned before, when you just know, you know. You know? I fell head over heels, hook, line, and sinker almost immediately. He whisked me away like a knight in blue jean and cotton blend armor; 1,200 miles from the place I was born and raised, to be exact. We said ‘I do’ in a small, intimate ceremony on a Florida beach in the freezing cold month of January. We said ‘I do’ surrounded by close friends and loved ones. Sadly, though, we said ‘I do’…without the presence of my child.

I had tried. Lord help me, I had really tried. In the end, though, a judge ruled that my little red haired ray of sunshine was best left in familiar surroundings, with familiar people, and the measure of stability that she had come to know… right where she was. At that point, I had to make quite possibly the hardest decision I have ever faced in my entire life; follow my heart vs. motherly duty. I opted for the purely selfish, but what I knew would be a better life for me, and for the son that I had given birth to between divorce and recourse. I left my old life behind me to the tune of  ‘how could you?’ … ‘what kind of mother are you?’…’what kind of person are you?’ It was hard, of course….so very hard to walk away, especially with a mind full of ‘what ifs’. What if she thinks I don’t love her because I made this decision? What if she grows to resent me? What if we lose touch completely? In my mind, though, I knew that even amid the hurt of walking away from her, she’d be in good hands with her father. He was a good daddy, and he loved her. Time heals all wounds, and it would heal hers.

I went off to my new life, and the world still turned. It turned for me…it turned for him…and it turned for my baby girl. We kept in contact as often as possible. We’d webcam, draw pictures together on our favorite online chat program, and I’d sometimes read her bedtime stories over the phone. She’d come to see me for several weeks every summer, and I’d go back to see her at Christmas time.

My relationship with my arch nemesis had turned to civility in the time that followed my departure. Actually, truth be told, she had become the biggest supporter of my relationship with my child. She’d email me pictures, encourage my daughter to write me letters and create cards and pictures for me which she would send along with some really lovely scrapbook pages that they’d put together with photos of my growing baby girl…and her life without mom. She would make sure my daughter called me regularly, and she would even allow her to use her own computer when we wanted to spend our virtual time together. She had become a Godsend, and I found myself truly thankful that she was part of my daughter’s life in my absence.

Let’s fast forward a few years, to a fateful day set in motion by a distressed phone call. On the other end of the line was a very upset little girl that I would do anything in the world for if it if it was within my power, and if it meant that I could take away her hurt. I wished that I could comfort her in her grief, wrap my arms around her and hold her tight, but the distance between us made it impossible to do anything but listen, and assure her that everything would be alright.

Cue tragic breakup scene. The scene that I had found myself wishing for years earlier but now felt guilty for willing into existence, considering our newfound respect for one another on the common ground that was the role we both played as mother to a sassy little ball of freckles and French braids. I felt bad for her, I really did. I had been her , once, and I thought back to the time when I had walked in her shoes through a world of emotional turmoil with nothing and no one to lean on except my own  convoluted thoughts.

I decided to make a move that would change both of our lives from that moment forward…I reached out to her. It was online that I reached out, but it was probably easier for both of us not to have to speak in person at that point. That way she could feel me out and make sure that I didn’t have ulterior motives other than sheer concern, and I could gauge whether or not she even wanted my help. I asked her if she was alright, to which she admitted that no, she in fact, wasn’t. She had devoted seven years to a relationship that was seemingly gone in the blink of an eye. “Alright” was the farthest thing from what she was.

She moved out of their home and in with the first in a long string of bad attempts at friendship with women that would do her wrong and further beat her down emotionally. Our online chats turned into frequent phone calls. I was giving her what no one was able to give me when I needed it most; a shoulder to cry on from someone that had been exactly where she was now. I was getting to know the woman that she really was without jealousy clouding my vision, and I found that we had a lot in common.  A scary amount in common, in fact.

Things quickly went south for her in her new living situation and I received a call one day from a very upset ex enemy whose psychotic roommate was having what could only be surmised as a bipolar meltdown aimed in her direction. I told her I was on my way without even having to think twice. I gathered my resources, packed a bag, and began the 1,200 mile pilgrimage to retrieve my broken new friend.

I arrived just in time the next day as the frenzied she-devil that she had previously shared a dwelling with was pitching the remainder of her personal, and in some cases extremely breakable belongings out the door and down the long flight of unforgiving cement steps.  I hugged her, gathered up what was salvageable, loaded it into the van, and off into the sunset we went toward home…my home, and toward a new life that included each other.

I’d like to say that the rest is just history, but it’s been a pretty rich history. She stayed with us for a few months and in that time we grew as close as any sisters could ever be. We talked together, cried together… had a few too many one night and fell out of our desk chairs laughing together. With me by her side, she started the long trek down that same path that I had to walk many years before her…the road to restoration.

She eventually got a job offer through an acquaintance of hers in Minnesota, loaded up her car and left a very sad me behind missing her, but we always stayed in touch. That adventure ended in another crazy roommate, and another trip back to Florida, this time to live with her father a few hours south of where I reside. She still lives in Florida today. We find a way to visit each other as often as possible, and we talk almost every night.

She admitted to me when we were reminiscing several weeks ago that she wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for me “saving” her. I never realized how far down the rabbit hole she had actually fallen back then, but to me, the decision that I had made was a no-brainer, especially now. Being an only child, she’s the closest thing to a sister I have, and even though she likes to give me undue credit for picking her up and dusting her off, her friendship has saved me from time to time over the years, too.

Our ex doesn’t come up much anymore in conversation except in a random, “haha, remember when?” moment. I know that they haven’t spoken since, and they really have no reason too. There’s nothing tying them together, they can lead separate lives. She gets to see the child that she helped raise for seven years and remain a part of her life, and my daughter enjoys that fact tremendously.  I think that we’re all doing just fine.

As for my relationship with him, I can now call him friend, and completely mean it. I love him in a healthy way. The way that we should all love our friends and neighbors. As a matter of fact, our relationship is the best it’s ever been. He’s found someone that he cares about, and I have my special someone, and though we may not talk often, we can talk, and it’s always good. He supports me in decisions I make regarding our daughter, who has lived with me now for the past 4 years after he fell prey to economic crisis for a short time.

As a fitting ending to this story, I’m taking my ‘bestie’ on a cruise in 90 days. Call it a tribute to sisterhood. Call it a reward for being survivors of heartache. Call it whatever you like, just don’t call us. We’ll be living it up ocean style, and loving life…together.

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