Trust Issues

After a few years, he increasingly gave me additional duties; I was thrilled not to be stuck behind my desk writing all day. I would go to sales meetings with him, he sent me to a trade show, and he would talk to me about marketing and dealing with clients. It felt good. I felt that my potential was being discovered and developed. He would occasionally call me at home to talk and I enjoyed our conversations; although, I did feel uncomfortable with the fact of them, unsure how appropriate they were, though they were always appropriate. I didn’t tell my husband, afraid he would be jealous, that he would think he could decide for me with whom I could or couldn’t talk.

by L. Goodman

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My first real job after college was at a high-tech company in Israel where I began working about two years after moving there. This was back in the early ‘80s; I was determined to escape the string ties and shoulder pads that I feared would be my destiny back home in New York. I longed for adventure, connection, and what I thought was a never-having-needed-feminism society where men and women were treated as equals.

Over the five years I worked at that company, I got married (to an Israeli), and the company expanded in both staff (it was no longer just the founding couple and me) and office space. We went from tiny start-up to a comfortable presence in the market, because of our work and since my boss was driven, always looking for ways to expand and solidify its presence. After a few years, he increasingly gave me additional duties; I was thrilled not to be stuck behind my desk writing all day. I would go to sales meetings with him, he sent me to a trade show, and he would talk to me about marketing and dealing with clients. It felt good. I felt that my potential was being discovered and developed. He would occasionally call me at home to talk and I enjoyed our conversations; although, I did feel uncomfortable with the fact of them, unsure how appropriate they were, though they were always appropriate. I didn’t tell my husband, afraid he would be jealous, that he would think he could decide for me with whom I could or couldn’t talk.

My first and only trip to Paris was with my boss. I didn’t realize that he planned it to be when it was my birthday. I also didn’t realize that he wasn’t serious about expanding into the translation business. On the flight over I wasn’t sure why he was telling me about an affair he had with a woman he met on a train.

Before our first meeting, we went shopping. I did have to admit that my Israeli office casual clothes didn’t quite meet the expectations of Parisian office chic. I got a stylish suit that he paid for. Business expense? I became anxious about how I was to explain the new suit to my husband. We didn’t have the money to buy it. Why would my boss buy clothes for me?

On my birthday he hadn’t scheduled meetings. That morning he had delivered a dozen long-stemmed red roses to my room and then he came to my room to express his feelings for me. The hints, clues, and red flags finally made sense. I spent the day walking around Paris, alone.

On my first day back to work in Israel, he said that he needed to talk to me, so we went to a nearby restaurant. This man, who I thought had been my mentor, who had danced at my wedding, whose wife and children I knew, told me that he would get a car for me and that, as a condition of my employment, I would need to meet him in a hotel room on a weekly basis.

He knew that my husband was a student at the time. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to find another job. This was the only job I ever had in Israel.

He fired me the next week because I refused him. My husband wanted to know why, but I didn’t tell him, afraid that he would physically try to fight my ex-boss, afraid that perhaps I had handled things wrong and he would blame me, afraid that he would divorce me. For what I wasn’t sure, but that feeling descended.

Even many years later, when we were living in the states and starting the arguments that would lead to our divorce, I didn’t tell him. Not when he said that everyone hated me, everyone thought I was useless, even my ex-boss had fired me and had no respect for me, I didn’t tell him. Let him think that, I thought, at least I had handled the situation by myself.

At my next job I told a friend, another American-Israeli, what happened, but he ended up not being a friend: he got me fired for coming to work late. This was during the Gulf War with scuds landing nightly and I was pregnant; I would go to the pool in the early morning for exercise, for stress reduction. I did all my work. But I closed down after that, not telling anyone again for years, afraid of some kind of reprisal, always afraid that I would be blamed for having done something wrong. 

Still now, almost 30 years later, it takes a moment to realize that I did nothing wrong—thinking my boss was a friend and that my husband wouldn’t see it that way—but rather I had been wronged by these two important men in my life. Men I had trusted, but couldn’t trust.

Yeah, #MeToo.