Being bullied in my 30’s – where do I go from here?

I am a teacher and I have a co-worker that is twice my age whom I knew from the time I was five. This co-worker was a neighbor who would often visit my home and her kids would play with my siblings and I. I do not consider us close, but you could say from this that we have history.

She held a position at my school site, but she did not own that position. Our district made cuts to the program I worked in and opened up her position and another position with the same title. Essentially there would now be two people assigned to her job. I applied for it and so did several other people but, due to site seniority, I was hired and so was another co-worker. She no longer had a position at our site and had to apply for another spot. I confronted her when I applied to let her know and to explain why I made my decision. She was upset and made threats that she would boot me out of my position next year (something she is actually unable to do because I hold rights to my position).

She ended up applying for the position I left, which has one more year before it will be cut from the site. She then began ignoring me completely. If I passed her and said hi, she would look beyond me and refuse to say hi back. I continued my usual route and did not get too upset over it because I figured she needed space and was allowed to have her feelings. Then she started slamming doors when I would walk near her which made me feel very jumpy. I worked through my feelings on this with a coach and got past it.

Then one day, I was speaking with another teacher and she walked up and completely ignored me when I said hi and then refused to acknowledge that I was in the room as the other teacher continued to talk to both of us. I was fed up and felt this was the last unprofessional straw I could take. I went to my principal and she said that this person had come to her feeling hurt about me applying for the position and that they had talked about it and the principal thought things would have passed. She encouraged me to reach out to this person via email and mention that I noticed her not saying hi or acknowledging when I did, reiterate why I took the position, and end with looking forward to collaborating (because this was something she is expecting from us) in the future. I did this and never received a response from this person.

I was okay with not receiving a response, but we are now at the 2 month mark and she is continuing to give me the silent treatment in passing and in group settings. She won’t even look at me and she seems confident about what she is doing. I have heard her speaking to teachers in the hallway about how sad she is about losing her position and I have heard other teachers mention how bad they feel for her. I think this is what led to her earning the teacher of the year award because, though I’m sure she is a good teacher, I have never heard anyone rant and rave about her vs other teachers on campus. It feels like she is playing the victim with everyone else while trying her best to manipulate me/blame me for her own personal issues. I have an assistant in my classroom that may be traveling with me to my next position and she has been saying this person has been overly friendly with her, going out of her way to talk to her, and has told her she hopes my assistant stays with her next year. There have been multiple teachers approaching my assistant asking her if she will stay.

I have not talked to anyone besides the principal about what she is doing because I want to remain as professional as possible. I think the teachers that listen to her stories are completely innocent. She is really sweet (when she wants to be, I am finding…) and seems so humble and kind when she’s not angry with someone. At this stage, I make her being overly friendly to everyone and ignoring me mean that she is attacking me by being manipulative. I feel she is using psychological warfare to try to break me down.

Here’s my model:

C: Co-worker ignores me when I am talking to her
T: She is taking this way too far and thinks she has a right to treat me like I don’t matter and I am letting her get away with it by not letting anyone know she refuses to acknowledge me
F: Disrespected
A: Keep my smile, tell myself it’s okay and that I can’t control her, tell myself that if it doesn’t hurt my feelings why does it even matter to me?
R: Sometimes struggle to fall asleep at night and feel a little less comfortable at work. Don’t update the principal, even though she told me to keep her updated, because I question whether it is a big deal if my feelings are not hurt.

When she is ignoring me, my thoughts go in a small loop and sound like “does she really think I don’t notice her acting like I”m not here? Does she really think she can get away with this? How is she planning on running my classroom without my support since we will be sharing paperwork? Is she going to act like this forever? Am I going to allow people to believe she’s great when she’s obviously dead set on seeking some sort of revenge on me?” The answer to the last question is yes because I am a firm believer in not taking anyone down just because I feel a certain way.

Okay, thanks for reading this long one! Hoping to find a model that brings some peace!!