Bad Colleague

December 17 2014 | by

DEAR FRIAR RICK: For five years I have been badly hurt by a colleague at work. This person has finally retired, and since his departure from the firm I feel so relieved. I know we ought to forgive those who offend us, but I am finding it very difficult to forgive him, and I still feel so much hatred towards him for all that he put me through. I have to admit that at times I actually wished he would die. But my question is, why should I feel guilty about hating such an evil man?

God no, don’t feel guilty. You should hate what is evil and seek what is good! But the problem is that you know, as well as I do, that no person is completely evil. So now what? Well it’s important to understand what has happened to you.

Humans have a great ability to adapt to the most awful situations. You worked with what seemed to have been a very toxic colleague. You probably did not have much choice in the matter and little control over the situation, so you adapted. You probably had to ‘swallow’ a lot of your feelings and learned to live and work in an unhealthy situation. Now that your colleague is gone all of the feelings are finally surfacing. It’s safe for you to feel them. As you come to terms with your anger and hurt you may even question why you allowed yourself to endure such a horrible situation.  Please be gentle with yourself and forgive yourself for putting yourself through that trauma. It’s then, only then that you can begin to entrain the idea of forgiveness.

When we speak of forgiveness we are not saying that you should forget what happened. Nor do you need to excuse your colleague. But you can free him and yourself from the pain of resentment and the desire for revenge. It would also be good to reflect on what you have learned from that experience. What would you do differently if you were confronted with similar behaviour? This will be the key to moving forward.


DEAR FRIAR RICK: I have been married for over 30 years. We have three children, all of whom are now married. My husband waited until a couple of months ago to tell me that he is gay, but that he still loves me. He told me that he doesn’t have a boyfriend, but that he does have some illicit encounters from time to time. He also told me that he wanted to be upfront about it because I am the only person he trusts. As you may well imagine, my life has been turned inside out, and I don’t know what to do.

I wish it were not the case, but I’ve counselled several women who have been in the same situation, and I’ve also journeyed with gay men who were married to women. It’s all quite complicated and often very painful. Let me share with you some of the insights I’ve gained over the years.

First of all I realize how confusing and disheartening it must be to find out that the person with whom you have shared your life was not being honest with you about such an important part of his life. He wanted to be upfront with you? 30 years later? Wow. It would be totally understandable for you to feel deeply hurt and quite angry. Don’t suppress your feelings completely. It’s important for you to find ways to express them.

The situation in which you find yourself is not the result of any failing on your part. Your husband has probably known at some level that he is gay from the earliest years of his life. Why he was not able to admit it to himself or to you is probably the result of deep shame and fear. It’s not your fault; it is his problem. You’ve probably been a great blessing to him.

Despite your husband’s deceit, it does not mean that what you experienced in your marriage was entirely false. Your husband’s love for you was not false and the family you created is still beautiful. Can you appreciate that? In time you may. So now how do you move on? It’s not fair that you would have to, but you must. Your husband is not going to change. What do you need to take care of yourself? Without a doubt you should see a professional counsellor to help you through this journey.



Updated on October 06 2016