I have thought long and hard about sharing this publicly, but I decided to post it because it was something that I found deeply upsetting and I guess, if nothing else, it serves as a cautionary tale re what we say on social media.
I have never posted anything about E, or what’s happened with him, on my private social media pages (that’s one of the reasons that I created the He-Total blog and social media pages – I wanted a safe, anonymous space to explore what’s happened). This has been down to wanting to protect the kids, out of respect for the members of E’s family who can see my social media, but also because I want my social media to be a happy place. I know that Facebook can be a place of support and I completely understand why people choose to share their heartbreak on there, but for me, I needed a place where I could joke and occasionally moan, but where I could step aside from the deeply hurtful stuff. As a result, my Facebook feed is pretty much entirely comprised of my kids, my cats, how much wine I drink and rants about how crap our politicians are. I do have the occasional moan after a hard week or a tough day and when I do people are amazing and lift me up, but generally my Facebook feed is pretty cheery.
I’m also very careful about who I’m friends with, and what I share on my Facebook page. As a result, it doesn’t mention where I live, who I work for or even where my office is located. It also has the strictest privacy settings possible – nobody, apart from friends, can see what I post, nobody who isn’t a friend can comment on my posts. When I started my job in 2017, I took care to block anyone senior at my company from seeing my page – it wasn’t that I had any intention of posting anything negative (on the contrary), but because I wanted to keep my work and personal lives separate. However, over the last couple of years, I’ve made genuine friends at work and, gradually, as colleagues became friends, they’ve been added to my Facebook family and I’ve been glad of their company there.
I have never had to worry about discretion re work on Facebook, because I have never had anything bad to say about it. In fact, as my life continued to crumble, my job became one of the really good things in my life – the only thing that was working. I was proud of my job. It was the one thing I’d gone and got for myself and by myself since E left. Not only that, but my employer was brilliant. My boss knows what’s happening at home and has been nothing but supportive. She has allowed me time off to go to Youngest Daughter’s counselling sessions, she has understood when I’ve struggled with my mental health so much that I couldn’t face a day at work. When I was in hospital with anaemia, worrying about taking more sick leave, she sent a message telling me to relax and get better. My colleagues have been similarly brilliant, there have been moments where I’ve been reduced to tears about things, and they’ve talked me through it, or made me laugh. They were a kind of work family, and I looked forward to going to work every day.
A couple of weeks ago though, I broke my golden rule. I didn’t talk about work (well, not intentionally), but I talked about what was happening financially. As I mentioned in the last blog post, I spent most of my summer dealing with creditors, and my bank was perhaps the most difficult of them all to deal with. As I also mentioned, my salary had been paid into my old bank account and I had to spend hours on the phone sorting this out. I had no issue at all with the salary being paid into the wrong account – switching bank accounts is never straightforward, so as far as I was concerned this was just one of those things, sometimes databases take a while to update, sometimes things take a couple of months to take effect. I didn’t care about why or how the salary had gone into the wrong account; I cared about how my bank was treating me.
In frustration, and during the tearful phone call to the bank, I wrote a Facebook post about the salary being paid into the wrong account and how long the bank was taking to sort it out. The ensuing discussion was pretty much all about how banks are wankers and expressing relief that I’d been able to get the salary transferred to the correct account.
A week after I’d made this post, someone reported it to my employer, claiming that it was criticising the company on Facebook.
My boss called me at home on that afternoon (the 30th August – given that the 29th was the day I realised I was getting no child maintenance, this was potentially the worst day this could happen). She was understandably concerned. When she described what she’d been told I’d posted I was completely confused. I was staring at my laptop and all I could see was a post complaining about my bank, I couldn’t see anything critical of my job or of my employer.
I was gutted. I loved my job, I loved the people I worked with, but I was suddenly in a situation where those people felt that they could no longer trust me, where my professionalism was being called into question, and where my job – my only source of income – could potentially be threatened.
Looking at the post, I can see how, out of context, it could have been taken the wrong way. If you didn’t know me, or my circumstances, it could have been read as suggesting the salary was as big an issue as the bank. If anyone had pointed this out to me I would have amended the post to make it clearer, or even deleted it. But the person who reported it didn’t contact me about their concerns, they went straight to my boss. I get that they might have been concerned by the post, I understand that they had every right to report me, I know they had no obligation to come to me, but I had hoped that the people I trusted on Facebook, would have done me the courtesy of speaking to me before taking any action. My sense of betrayal was immense.
After I’d spoken to my boss, I sent her a screen shot of the post in question, which I hoped would show her that I hadn’t said anything critical about the company, but I decided that, as I didn’t know for sure who’d reported my post, for my own peace of mind, I would have to block all of my colleagues from seeing me on Facebook. I’m so sad to have lost their company, but I just can’t risk being misinterpreted in that way again. I can’t risk my job, but more importantly, I can’t risk people I think highly of thinking badly of me. It’s such a shame.
At the end of the day, it’s a hard lesson learned. I don’t blame my company, I don’t blame the person who reported the post. I just should have been more careful and less trusting. I should have carefully separated work life from personal life and I shouldn’t ever have allowed access to my Facebook page to someone who I was really just an acquaintance. My Facebook page is now so watertight, that I can write anything I want to on there (but it will still be all about kids, cats and wine). I thought I’d learned my lesson when I realised how deeply E had betrayed me, but it looks like I’m still a bit too trusting for my own good.