“The worst punishment of all is that, in the court of his own conscience, no guilty man is acquitted.” – Juvenal
Almost exactly two years ago, I stopped being a gainfully employed person. That is not to say I stopped working altogether; I just stopped being a registered employee of a registered company that pays (or may not actually pay, come to think of it) taxes. I would like to say that I quit my job because I was about to embark on some life-altering adventure that also happened to earn me hundreds of thousands of dollars, but that is not at all the case.
I quit my job because it was the one job that would scar me for life.
I suppose I should backtrack. I was the Public Relations Manager and Glorified Janitor for an Indian jewelry brand that has part of its operations — a boutique and office — based in this country, and I took the job mainly because I was in a relationship with its owner, who wanted me to leave my publishing job and help him with his business. Needless to say, that relationship came to a horrific end, but I remained his employee for a few more months, until I realized that he was a worse boss than he had been a boyfriend.
The last straw was the day I discovered that he had been snooping through my computer, iPad and phone whenever I wasn’t in the boutique. It was fortunate that he did not know how to operate a MacBook, and therefore didn’t know how to exit programs or shut down the computer itself. At that point I told him I would not spend another day, another minute, being associated with his company or a boss like him, and I told him exactly why. He then passionately denied that he had ever gone through my computer, and went so far as to say, “I swear on my mom that if I did it, God will strike me down now!”
It took all of my self-discipline not to laugh in his face, but I managed to say, “It doesn’t matter, you can deny it all you want. But you know you did it, I know you did it, and most importantly, you know that I know you did it.” And so ended any and all ties we had, and I immediately swore off bad jobs, bad bosses and bad boyfriends.
This phenomenon is something I’ve had to deal with a lot over the past year. After episodes of hacked emails, fake social media accounts, accidental calls and messages while stalking me on WhatsApp, and notifications about unusually high traffic from specific visitors to this website, I’ve had to make peace with the fact that it is not in our nature to have the courage and maturity to admit when we have done something wrong, and denial is merely a defense mechanism that buys us a little more time to get what we want by other means. And making peace with this also means that I have to stop fighting so hard for what I want, because what I want is already exactly where I need it to be: in the heart, mind, and conscience.
It may have bothered me for a while at first that my ex-boss refused to admit that he had been going through my personal effects, but I soon realized that it really didn’t matter. In his heart of hearts, and in his conscience, he knew what he had done, and he knew what I thought of him for doing it, and that was punishment enough for him. Because words of denial are just that: words. What matters is that in the end, we will have nothing but our own conscience for company, so it falls entirely to ourselves to make sure that our conscience doesn’t keep us up at night.