update: I didn’t get a job because I was a bully in high school

Remember the letter-writer who was blocked from a job by someone who she’d bullied in high school? Here’s the update.

I know you didn’t solicit an update, but I felt compelled to send one. I’d written you in the spring because I was having trouble breaking into a niche industry in which a high school classmate I’d bullied was a rock star. I wanted to know if you thought apologizing would help me get a job.

At the advice of your readers, I did delete the draft of an apology email I’d had sitting in my inbox for some time. I applied for one more job with Rock Star’s company, and when I didn’t hear back, I decided it was really and truly time to look elsewhere. I found a shop in a town seven hours away that was desperate to hire someone for a paid 9-month fellowship that started in June because the candidate they’d originally extended an offer to found a full-time, permanent position. I said goodbye to my boyfriend, packed up my car and two cats, and drove to a town I’d never been to.

And I hated it. Not the work. I actually loved the work, but the town sucked. Being away from my boyfriend and my family sucked. Not being able to make friends sucked (everyone else my age was married with two kids already). I called my boyfriend every night crying. He was supposed to come visit me over Labor Day but cancelled at the last minute because he had to work. Seeing how bummed I was, a coworker offered to swap shifts with me so I could make the trip home for the long weekend. I hopped into my car after work on Friday and drove all evening, arriving at the place I’d been sharing with my boyfriend before I moved a little after 1 a.m. Well, you probably know where this was going. He was cheating on me. I was devastated. I spent the rest of the night sobbing on my sister’s couch and drove back to where I was working the next morning.

Except I couldn’t make myself get out of bed on Tuesday. Or Wednesday. Or Thursday. I was fired after my third no call no show.

I tried to get the part-time job I’d had before moving for the fellowship back (they’d said come back anytime), but they’d found someone who was faster and more efficient than I’d been. Unable to afford a place on my own, I had to move back in with my parents. Not sure what else to do, I sent another desperate application to Rock Star’s shop. In an effort to cheer me up, my sister and my friends took me out for a nice dinner for my birthday at the end of September. This is where it goes from bad to worse. I drank too much wine at dinner and got pretty weepy. I excused myself from the table to try to put myself together … and ran into Rock Star and her husband celebrating their anniversary on the way to the bathroom.

I ended up yelling/crying at her that she’d ruined my life. I was asked to leave to leave and told I wasn’t welcome back.

That was Saturday night. I spent Sunday hungover in bed, trying to figure out how to clean up the mess I made. On Monday morning, Rock Star’s manager (the one hiring for the job I’d applied for) emailed me to let me know I’d been removed from the candidate pool. She advised me that I would not be considered for future positions at their shop … or any other in the network. That afternoon, without mentioning me or what happened at the restaurant over the weekend, Rock Star tweeted a long thread about how she’d been bullied in high school and she wishes teenagers would realize that high school ends and it does get better. She also tweeted out links to local mental health resources and the National Suicide hotline that were liked/retweeted many, many times.

So, just to recap, no job, no boyfriend, no money, no hope of ever breaking into the industry I spent five years preparing to enter. It’s hard not to feel like some of this is Rock Star’s fault, especially given how she rubbed salt in the wound after my whole world had come crashing down.

Me again. You’ve had a really hard time, letter-writer, and I’m sorry. This sucks. For what it’s worth, I don’t think this is Rock Star’s fault; it makes sense that this would happen after the altercation in the restaurant. It doesn’t sound like she was trying to rub salt in the wound, just that she’s dealing with her own pain from the past. I say that not because I want to rub salt in it either, but because I hope seeing it more clearly might help you more forward more quickly.

In any case, you’re having a really tough time of it, and I’m sorry and hope things get better for you soon. Hang in there.

{ 940 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    A note right up top — Please be kind to the letter-writer, who clearly is going through a tough time. Being direct is fine; being harsh is not (and I’ll remove comments that cross that line).

  2. sunny-dee*

    Dang … that is just a terrible update. I’m so sorry, OP. It feels like everything kind of spun out of control there.

    I do want to iterate, that this isn’t Rock Star’s fault, although it can feel like that because (kinda, in theory) it feels like she could take away the roadblock. But it’ll be better for you to look at it as just A Thing That Happened. It exists, it is, and you move on.

    I don’t know what industry you’re in, but if you literally mean shop as in retail, there are lots of medium and large cities with opportunity. You don’t need to feel trapped.

    And again … I’m sorry for everything you’ve been through the last few months. It will get better.

    1. Specialk9*

      I’m so sorry you’re going through a hard time.

      I joke about karma, but I personally don’t believe that the universe is directed – so this isn’t all some elaborate ‘universe getting back at you for being a bully’ situation.

      But we DO have the ability to decide how we’ll react to hard situations, and that’s what you’re facing now. You’re hurting, a lot, and some is the result of others’ choices, and some is the result of your choices. So how are you going to choose to engage with this painful situation? What positive lessons will you draw, and what life changes will you make?

      Let’s break this down.
      *You were a bully. How can you address this? You said you had an apology email and on advice here deleted it. But you’ve now lashed out again at the person you bullied. I’d urge you to think a lot about how to make that right.
      *You haven’t taken responsibility for the parts you own. It’s SO hard, but so necessary to grow our souls. You are still shifting blame to your victim (doubly so, now). What does it look like to step up and accept unconditionally what you’ve done? What are the things inside that are holding you back from that difficult place of peace?
      *You have to make a new life plan. You had thought life would be one way, with a certain career and partner and town. Now is the time to slog through all those hard painful feelings and grieve for that future that won’t be. And then find a way to move on and not get stuck there, where grief turns to bitterness.

      There is another future for you… And a lot of hard but soul expanding work to do between now and then. So much support to you in your journey!

        1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

          Many people have recommended therapy OP, and I really hope if you take nothing else from the comments you take that advice.

          You have had a series of sucky events hit you. Some of your own doing. Some not. Sucks all the same. You need helping picking yourself up and taking the next forward step. Therapy will do that. It will not only help you get past the suckiness, it will also hopefully help you see that Rock Star did nothing to you. This is not her fault. You need to remove that from your mindset, and based on your first letter, comments on it, and update here, I really think you are going to need the help of a professional adjusting how you are thinking about this.

          So, once you pick yourself up, what is next? Well, that is something to talk with the therapist about but you will have a decision to make. Keep trying for the niche industry but in a new city (I’d do another city, not town, so you have more access to people and things to do), or stay in your city with your support system nearby but adjust your career path? Only you will know what is best for you. But there is one thing here that isn’t going to change – you (YOU, OP, not Rock Star) have torpedoed your chances of working in this industry in your city. So you will have to make a decision, even though you don’t want to. Don’t create fantasy scenarios of how this might all turn out and you’ll get a job at the company or one in its network. They have made it clear that won’t happen because of your actions. So. Get better. Hold your chin up. Make a decision. Move forward. (And resolve to be a better person every single day.)

          1. Annonymouse*

            OP it sounds like you’re going through something similar to something I went through.

            In a 3 month period I:
            Was fired
            Separated from my husband
            Moved states for a job
            Had that job not work out (not my fault but I was still jobless)
            Was asked to leave by my housemates
            Moved back to my home state to live with my mum
            Had started seeing a guy but he broke it off with me shortly before I moved back.

            There comes a point where any further setback doesn’t hurt anymore because you’re already low.

            You use that to look at yourself and go “I’m surviving. All of this has happened but I’m still here. It takes more than this to beat me!”

            You regroup and figure out your next steps. You find a job and get a new place. You use that job to get a better job.

            You become grateful for your friends and family.

            You look at yourself and acknowledge the part you played and learn from everything that happened.

            You forgive people and let go of any resentment you have because holding on to it doesn’t change the current situation or make you feel better.

            You sound like you need help with the last 2 things I’ve said. Those two are the REAL key to making positive and lasting changes.

            Also please don’t blame Rock Star. She has no idea about your current situation, only your current actions and what you did at the restaurant would have made her uncomfortable and afraid.

            Of course she would let her work know about what happened.

            If you were in her position would you have acted differently?

            I think her tweets were to help teens currently going through bullying and possibly pointing you in the direction of some resources to help you.

            1. Marty*

              Yes especially to dropping the resentment. Resentment is never worth your time. Resentment is like taking poison and expecting someone else to die: it only hurts you, never the person you are resenting.

              Also, you might get into the habit of interrogating the stories you tell yourself: are they really true? How do you know? Might purples motives be different than you think? (A therapist can be really helpful here.)

        2. Alison Read*

          Definitely cognitive behavioral. While the OP would benefit with a better understanding of how she’s become who she is… I can see her getting mired and not progressing. Right now practical therapy that cognitive behavioral provides with a focus on addressing her issues is critical in pulling herself together.

          Something your Rockstar can teach you, you do not have to be defined by what happened in high school nor do you have to be defined by this. Understand what has happened, accept you cannot change the past, work towards creating a better you and a better future.

          OP, I do not believe your life’s script has to be this quagmire of drama and pain. Get help out of it. Cognitive behavioral therapy can be life changing in a very short amount of time.

          1. Immersang*

            “Something your Rockstar can teach you, you do not have to be defined by what happened in high school nor do you have to be defined by this. Understand what has happened, accept you cannot change the past, work towards creating a better you and a better future.”

            Very well said.

        3. PersephoneUnderground*

          Agree with this 100%- I have BEEN THERE, and I got through it! Sometimes life kicks you while you’re down, and it feels impossible and you shut down. It’s easier to do nothing because it feels like trying just leads to more failure. This isn’t true! Life CAN GET BETTER with therapy and effort. If you’re young-ish like I was you might just need to take some time to learn better ways to cope and consider this part of the “growing up” process. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in particular can be immensely valuable- think of it as an expert consultation on your life and how your brain works. Think of it as just another class, studying your own mental processes this time instead of a professional field.

          Remember- if you deal with this now with the proper help, someday you can look back at this time as something you’re proud of fighting your way through and surviving. After all, if you got through this, you can get through anything. My similar life-was-100%-shit time is that to me now- a source of strength. I’m much less ruffled by everyday life now that I know what I’m capable of surviving. Hang in there, and please be kind to yourself and get the help you need. I recommend the Women’s Center in Vienna, Virginia or NAMI as places to start finding recommendations.

        4. Wendy Darling*

          One of the things I’m seeing as a through-line in these letters is that the ways the letter writer is trying to cope with what’s going on in their life are not working. In fact in a lot of cases they are making things worse.

          The great thing about cognitive behavioral therapy is that it helps you pick out thought patterns and behaviors that are serving you poorly and *change them*. It’s really difficult to just up and decide to be different. CBT gives you a specific steps you can take to get to where you want to be. It’s great.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        At this point, I’d advised the OP to steer well-clear of the Rock Star. This woman is living her life and doing a damn fine job of it when she was accosted by her high school bully. None of this is her fault, OP; unfortunately, actions do have consequences.

        Now, it sounds like you’re having a really, really awful time of it at the moment but there is always a way out. This might feel like rock bottom and, if it does, remember JK Rowling’s words.

        “Rock bottom became the foundation on which I built my life.”

        You can do it.

        1. Rainy*

          An apology now is A) not a great idea from the standpoint of the person who would be receiving it–Rockstar is probably poised to call the cops the next time OP approaches her, after the restaurant incident, and B) likely, at this point, just going to devolve into more lashing out even if OP means to be conciliatory, because it’s pretty clear she doesn’t have a good handle on her behaviour where Rockstar is concerned.

    2. Jennifer Thneed*

      Reading the original posting can be useful. In this case, the LW said “I’ve been trying to break into a niche industry (30-40 jobs in a city with a population of 3 million) for a while now.” That’s very much not retail shops.

        1. Been There*

          Ohhhhhhh….. That Maes sense with the “I would not be considered for future positions at their shop … or any other in the network. ”

          A tv or radio network.

          1. Whitinohio*

            My thought is that OP’s best bet to actually use her degree is probably to do two things. Move to a new city in a new state, and switch political sides. If the station was affiliated with NBC, apply to Fox News, etc…

          2. nonegiven*

            Maybe something like Raycom media.
            They own stations all over the country, some affiliated with all of the major networks and some minor networks. There are probably other companies like it. Look for stations owned by a different one.

          3. EditorInChief*

            It could be a niche advertising/marketing agency. My agency is one out of a network of dozens of agencies under a big umbrella company.

        2. bohtie*

          exactly, and also my partner is a sound technician and refers to his place of employment as his “shop” even though he works for a big corporation. So do a lot of his coworkers and friends in the industry.

        3. Meh*

          If this is media, just know OP that there are other opportunities that you might not have thought of! Most “media” majors want to get into TV but don’t underestimate the demand from the business and education fields. The opportunities are out there, you just have to expand what falls under your “field” in your mind. (Personal Example: I studied animation and video production thinking I’d get into an animation studio in California, but instead I’m happily doing education videos for a Community College in the South (the pay’s good too!))

    3. Agnodike*

      I think it’s worth noting that the OP frames “Rock Star” as an obstacle to her happiness both here and in the comments to the original letter, where she says that she began ostracizing “Rock Star” because she wanted all their friends to start hanging out at her house on the weekends, and not at “Rock Star’s.”

      OP, you’re going through a really awful time right now, and I’m so sorry for the pain you’re feeling. I really hope you take this as an opportunity to think about what’s not working about the way you engage with the world and with the other people in it, so that you can rebuild from here and create a happier life for yourself. “Rock Star” isn’t an obstacle. She’s a person, and she is as entitled to friends, work in your industry, and happiness as you are. She isn’t taking anything from you. She’s succeeding on her own merits. You can do that, too! You just need to figure out how to organize your life and your relationships in a more functional way, and therapy can really heop you with that.

      1. DrAtos*

        Sadly it appears that Rock Star has for the most part moved on and it’s OP who is stuck in the same high school mentality that led to all of this in the first place.

        1. MommyMD*

          Yes. Sadly I don’t see much introspection. I hope OP can move forward with some self reflection towards a positive path even if it is one she didn’t envision. And it really does matter how one treats people in life. Rock Star has nothing to do with any of this outcome.

    4. Sketchee*

      Yes, this is a particularly difficult moment. As understandably difficult as all of this is, it’s all in the past now. The sunk cost fallacy: All you can do is learn from the past.

      Like any hiring manager, this company had no obligation to hire you for whatever reasons they see fit. That’s okay and says nothing about who you are now. It’s okay that they didn’t take on these issues as their own. There are other industries, boyfriends, and networks. One step at a time from here. Good luck as you move forward!

  3. Sloane Kittering*

    Oh dear, OP. I’m so sorry that you’re having a rough time. I think you’re still struggling with fully internalizing that this happened because of your choices (not the bullying from a long time ago, I mean your choices right now in the restaurant and even in this letter) but I won’t pile on because I understand how hard it is to make meaningful changes in your life. You have our support as you work to rebuild.

    This 100% was not this other person’s fault, and I think I would stop mentally calling her the “rock star” if you’re doing that in your own head as well as here. She’s just a person and you’re just a person.

    1. WellRed*

      Not just her choice in the restaurant (cringing) but her choice to spend three days no showing no calling to work. I’m sympathetic to the heartbreak but come on!

        1. Karen D*

          Yep. In a depression crisis, you can see what you need to do, clear as day. You can acknowledge that you need to do it.

          You just can’t do it.

          And “it” might be something as fundamental as getting up and getting something besides Cheetos to eat.

          1. many bells down*

            You can even WANT to do it and still not be able to. Want desperately to put on a pretty dress and go out and do some shopping. And just not be able to summon the wherewithal to roll out of bed.

            1. Been There*

              And then when going out, choosing to drink (alcohol is a depressant) she spoke something, i fear is true in her mind: her life is ruined. That set off warning bells to me. And it may have to RS as well. LW needs help and I hole she reaches out for it.

            2. Karen D*

              I think it hits everybody differently.

              I have dealt with chemical and situational depression at different times in my life. Generally speaking, during those bouts (unmedicated) I could still put one foot in front of another, and occasionally did want (even desperately want) some things and make moves toward achieving them. I think some of the commenters here have had that experience too, and think that’s the sum total of what depression is like.

              But I have also been in what my therapist describes as “depression crisis.” And in that situation, I really don’t desperately want much of anything except to be left alone. I don’t feel, at all. I am very capable of rational thought: “If I don’t get food other than Cheetos, I will get sick.” Or “if I don’t call work soon, I will be fired.” But I just couldn’t … do them.

              (Another poorly understood fact is that for most people, coming out of a depression crisis is actually the point at which many people face the greatest risk of suicide. As the feelings come trickling back, they can be excruciating… and at the same time you start to get a little more energy back. It’s a dangerous combination, and can lead to all kinds of unwise behavior. Like, say, getting drunk at a restaurant and accosting someone.)

              1. Candi*

                My son wrote that trying to function under depression is like a computer trying to function with a virus. The computer may work, but not as well and not as efficiently.

                Expanding his analogy, a virus can temporarily cause a computer to not work at all, but then return to a sort of half life.

                (Corollary: Depends on the virus’ software.)

                I’m sure everyone plays “if I had three wishes” at some point. To have scientists make breakthroughs that would make reliable, consistent treatments for at least one mental illness, such as depression, is often on my list. (What, just ask for mine to be cured? Only if the wishes can only directly benefit me.)

        2. Princess Cimorene*

          Definitely depression hit hard. If one hasn’t actually experienced it, they really have no grasp on how absolutely hard it is to even get up, let alone make it to a job or be productive even when you KNOW you must and even when you KNOW what the consequences will be if you don’t. It’s a really shitty thing to deal with and I think LW was already dealing with some mental/emotional health stuff (probably even as far back as high school) that has helped her become unhealthily focused on Rock Star and using her as a target to blame for why everything wasn’t going their way) and then toppled over by the heartbreak… and heartbreak isn’t just a cry for two days and get over it thing. It can absolutely cripple you, especially if you are already fragile. My greatest heartbreak was the tipping point in my having a full blown nervous breakdown. And sometimes I still get sad about it, but briefly, the way you would when fondly remembering a pet you once had or something. But I am so much better now. I had to do a lot of hard work. OP does too. But I don’t know if OP has even accepted that they (she?) is accountable for their actions and that Rock Star doesn’t exist to ruin OPs life. Rock Star is just living and OP needs to focus on OP and try to live for OP.

      1. Blue Anne*

        Choice is a woolly concept in this situation. That really sounds like she was having serious mental health troubles. She might not have been chained to her bed, but “come on!” is a really harsh reaction to that kind of mental health breakdown.

        1. Hills to Die on*

          I disagree—I think it’s entirely called for as the OP is not taking responsibility for herself. You may not have control over what happens, but you can control your reactions. Speaking as someone who has flubbed and floundered through some depression and poor choices. She needs to take the next right action and life will continue to suck until she takes that responsibility.

          1. SadnessBear*

            I agree. I have issues with depression and being chained to the bed. It’s hard to get up often, impossible sometimes. However, I have a responsibility to phone into work – even if I just roll over into the void afterwards. ‘Mental Health’ isn’t a free card to the land of “No Excuses Needed.”.

            1. jd*

              Personally, when I’ve been in my worst stages of depression, I’ve deliberately self-sabotaged because I want to suffer, fail, be punished, just get the worst of it over already and give up. It’s another version of self-harming (and is usually something that comes up right before I start moving into the suicidal ideation). Depression behaviours are really complex.

              1. Annie Moose*

                …huh. I’ve never framed it in those terms before, but that actually makes a lot of sense for explaining some of my behaviors when I was deeply depressed in the past. And it went right along with ideation for me too. You’ve just explained something about myself that I’ve never quite understood–thank you.

            2. Princess Cimorene*

              hmm.. Depression clouds that though. You know you have responsibilities. Your jerk-brain tells you that you don’t matter. Also everyone is different. Just because you were able to phone in on your low days, doesn’t mean everyone will be able to. There’s the whole “no excuse for blah blah blah” bit and there is also the “this is actually impossible today because I’m zoned out and thinking about different ways to kill myself because I don’t matter” and things like being responsible don’t matter either. Be kind. And being already depressed and then having absolute heartbreak on top of losing your place to live??? We should be kind to the OP in that they probably couldn’t function for a few days. They’ve experienced the consequence of that, but that doesn’t mean she could have done any better that week than she did by surviving it.

              1. Time Out From Regular Name*

                Yeah, I honestly compare it to being drugged sometimes. Like if a person has never struggled with major depression, but has taken benzos or serious sedatives for illness or surgery (like, the kind they can’t completely knock you out for), a depressive crisis feels like that. For all I know it’s the same chemicals, just being produced by your brain instead of a pill. (full disclosure– I am not any kind of scientist or doctor).

                It’d be scary if fear was an emotion one is capable of having in that state, because sometimes it’s like, “I can’t even move minimally enough to eat / go to the bathroom / shower. Why can’t I move? I don’t feel paralyzed. I should move. Why is moving so hard?”

              2. Sophie*

                > there is also the “this is actually impossible today because I’m zoned out and thinking about different ways to kill myself because I don’t matter” and things like being responsible don’t matter either.

                Exactly. I once had a day where I sat in my room at university and literally cried for eight hours straight. No way could I have telephoned anyone in a workplace during that time – I couldn’t even phone my friends or the on-campus medical centre to get help.

          2. Natalie*

            That’s not really how depression works – you don’t really have control over your reactions, and all the gumption and upsucking in the world doesn’t actually change that.

            I’m not a doctor, I’m not the OP’s doctor, so I can’t say one way or another if she’s depressed, but if she was this would be supremely unhelpful.

            1. Hills to Die on*

              I do suffer from depression. I can’t help being depressed but I can control my actions. I find that state of mind to be supremely helpful. To each their own.

              1. Genevieve*

                My problem with that point of view is that once I’ve made one bad decision that’s in my control, it feels like there’s no use in fixing it, might as well just crawl in the hole and die there, whereas when I remind myself of the brain weasels, I can sometimes get myself to change directions and make a positive choice. Whatever works for you works for you, and berating someone for not getting it isn’t generally a good way to make your way of thinking make sense for them.

                1. Hills to Die on*

                  I’m not bereating her. I’m telling her what has worked for me. I clarify that further down if you’re interested.

              2. Natalie*

                Perhaps I misunderstood – when you said “you can control your reactions” I thought you meant mental reactions/feelings.

                Regardless, I don’t personally find the “choices” narrative useful myself.

              3. Been There*

                Indeed to each her own. I also am a victim of my f####d up mind, AKA Manor Depressive Disorder. And when it is bad, it is bad. As in a danger to myself bad. And I think that comments such as those are supremely hurtful. For me, I read them and think “I sucks” and the rabbit hole begins and sometimes doesn’t end until I wake up in ICU. What some see as choices, some of us with depression see no choice at all. Did she lash out at the restaurant? I believe so, but I see it more as a person drowning, crying out as the water is bringing them under. Now is not the time to chastise her for the choices that you see. It is time to try to throw her a life preserver.

                1. Wendy Darling*

                  I mean in fairness I am pretty sure autocorrect hates each and every one of us equally and individually.

              4. Koko*

                Have you been treated for your depression? Therapy (past or present), medication?

                I also suffer from depression and receiving treatment doesn’t mean I don’t still have problems from time to time, but at the same time, my depression before I ever sought treatment was much more debilitating than my depression now. Nowadays when I have a bad bout I can talk myself down from ill-advised choices by reminding myself that it’s the depression talking, not me. But before I was ever diagnosed? I didn’t even know I was depressed. I didn’t yet know that I needed to be careful to counteract the bad messages my internal voice was giving me. Later I would be ashamed of things I had done, but it was like I’d been watching myself do it from a distance even as it was happening.

                1. Hills to Die on*

                  I think you are asking me…yes, I take a couple of medications. I didn’t for a long time because I had people around me telling me it was a state of mind and I needed to get myself out of it through correct actions…whole other story.

                  Anyway, I have been treated for about 20 years now.

                2. Candi*

                  I encourage people suffering from depression to get a full physical as well as mental workup. You would be amazed at the physical conditions that can cause, contribute to, or exacerbate existing depression.

                  And then there’s what depression does to screw with your physical health.

                  It’s about balance. Depression puts a major thumb on the scales, and y0u can’t always remove it, just nudge it off a bit.

            2. Turtle Candle*

              This is actually not a universal, and depressed people disagree strongly on this point. I have suffered medically diagnosed major depression, and I find the “you can’t help it, it’s not your fault” narrative incredibly disempowering. Embracing “I can’t choose this feeling but I can choose my response” made a huge difference to me. Mileage obviously varies, but I feel the need to say it because for some of us, the concept that I didn’t have control over my reactions actually put back my recovery probably by years, which I wish I could get back.

              1. Turtle Candle*

                Er, I mean “depressed people disagree strongly with each other on this point” not “depressed people disagree strongly with you on this point,” to be clear. I just meant it’s not a universal conclusion.

              2. Delphine*

                That’s true, but I think there’s a difference between what narratives you use to manage your own illness, and what narratives are pushed on to people who suffer mental illness by those who don’t. Telling myself that I won’t be controlled by my illness helps me to manage it, but it certainly didn’t help to hear “Just do XYZ, it’s not hard!” or “You’re just choosing to be sad, by happy!” when I was first fell ill. And it is so much more common for people to hear the latter that I think, even now when awareness is growing, it doesn’t hurt to spread the message that there are things that an illness will make it difficult, if not impossible, to do. (Sorry, AAM, getting off topic. I’ll stop now!)

                1. Turtle Candle*

                  I think the tangent is where we’re getting caught up, actually, because I don’t see anyone here saying “just choose to be happy!!!!” I see people making comments about actions. And that’s very different.

                2. Koko*

                  Exactly. Demotivation is a symptom of depression, and it’s the one that makes all the other ones so hard to overcome. When you know or suspect someone is dealing with depression, it therefore makes sense to acknowledge that being demotivated as a baseline is a symptom, not a choice, and therefore be compassionate. Through treatment a depressed person can indeed learn to alter their baseline and develop ways to self-motivate, to overcome a deficiency that other people never had in the first place.

                  For the person with depression the message is: Yes, you can learn to overcome this. It will be hard, but it’s possible, and there are people who can help.

                  For the people affected by the person with depression the message is: This person is suffering from an illness and doesn’t yet have the symptoms under control – may not have even realized they are sick yet. Therefore, proceed with kindness. (Which doesn’t mean, btw, let them walk all over you. You can be direct, disagree, and enforce boundaries and still be kind and understanding in how you do it.)

              3. Jesmlet*

                Same, I found the relinquishing of agency to be incredibly damaging to my mental health, but like you said, there’s two frames of thought here and what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another.

              4. Falling Diphthong*

                Secondong, on both my experience at how unhelpful it is to frame things as “welp, I can’t help it, nothing I can do,” and that emotions are largely out of our control but actions are not.

                1. Annonymouse*

                  I find it helpful to acknowledge I’m not rationally sad and sitting there trying to change it “Come on, Annonymouse. Just feel/think happy.”

                  Isn’t going to help. I can’t help that I feel this way.

                  But I can help myself by trying not to get sucked down the rabbit hole of negative self talk/thought.

                  I can help myself by changing what I’m capable of (go be depressed in the sunny backyard instead of my dark bedroom. Eat a more substantial meal than Doritos)

                  I’m not fully in control but I’m not helpless either.

                2. Time Out From Regular Name*

                  I think this is one of the things I only learned by doing, not by anyone telling me one way or the other.

                  Like, “I am numb and hungry. If I eat something nutritious, I’ll be numb, but not hungry, and maybe not berating myself for not eating well. I doubt that’s going to work, but I’m going to try anyway, I promised my therapist that I’d at least try.” And, eventually, I couldn’t deny the pattern that every time I intentionally chose to eat something nutritious even when getting up and eating was hard, I did feel better. And feeling better gave me momentum to do another thing.

                  But until I actually did it myself, I didn’t really believe it. I knew what it felt like to be mentally well, and I knew that making choices was so much easier then, so it was difficult to believe that while my choices were more limited and harder to make, I did, still, in fact, have the ability to make choices.

                  Also what helped was not comparing myself to others, or to my previous, mentally well self. Nutritious meals for a while often included ensure and other calorie drinks / doctor-approved meal replacements, or microwavable meals that still had protiens, vitamins, and calories, because that took the smallest amount of effort while not starving myself out of inertia. I had to learn that drinking ensure and zapping a lean cuisine wasn’t a “lazy” choice (and thus, weirdly, somehow a worse choice than not eating at all?) but a wise choice given my energy levels. Re-framing the choice in that way is one of many things I learned in therapy. So, +1000 to therapy, for sure.

              5. Q*

                “You can’t help it” is far too close to “You’re helpless” and helplessness does not help with depression.

                You have a support system, if your friends and family are taking you out to dinner. You can right this ship, OP. But you’re going to have to accept some really shitty burned bridges to do it.

              6. aka*

                I really agree with us, but there been times in my life where my suppression was so severe, or my coping skills so low, but I was unable to see you this. One thing that really helped was going to therapy and being given tools to reframe my experiences. That said, I’ve had multiple relapses, and those tend to be pretty terrifying.

                What is the one of the most empowering things for me was the realization that even if I couldn’t do what I wanted to do, I probably could do something. Like, if I really needed to go through 10 boxes worth of paperwork but that’s not going to happen today or anytime soon, maybe I can open one and go through a few sheets of paper.

                1. Oranges*

                  I have that. I just think of one thing that I have any feelings of “I want to do this” and I do it (unless it’s dangerous) because usually my depression is just me wanting to curl up and not be and not do anything.

                  So if there’s ONE thing that I have even a flicker around I’ll do it. Usually it’s buying myself a tech toy. Recently it was getting my nephew some onesies. Just something anything to get me moving.

          3. Delphine*

            I’m happy that you were able to control your reactions, even through depression, but I know from my own experiences with severe depression that there were days when I wasn’t able to get out of bed, even to feed or care for myself. It simply wasn’t possible. That’s not something we need to be taking people to task over. I don’t think anyone just decides to stay in bed for three days straight and lose their job for fun.

              1. BedMadeLie*

                Your position is noted. But it is a position informed by your life and your experiences alone. Sometimes my depression has actually been severe enough that making the “choice” to call in or not call in wouldn’t have been an option for me. Now, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t rightly suffer the consequences of not calling in or reporting to work. It would, in fact, be “on me” that I didn’t do that. But it is ALSO true that I would not have physically, mentally, emotionally able to call into work.

                1. Hills to Die on*

                  “ It would, in fact, be “on me” that I didn’t do that. But it is ALSO true that I would not have physically, mentally, emotionally able to call into work.”

                  That’s all I am saying. I do NOT go through life with grace and fortitude. By a long shot. Rather, I have made more stupid decisions that I could ever count. I’m just saying that OP is the captain of her ship, in storms or clear weather and that knowledge will only help her.

                  I am not trying to beat her up or judge her or say that anyone who ‘just cant’ is bad because I have been there. I am trying to hand her the key to her own destiny because that is what worked for me.

                2. BedMadeLie*

                  Replying to myself because: threading

                  I hear what you are saying you’re trying to express. However, what comes through in many of your comments is not the idea that people who “just can’t” are bad, but that people who “just can’t” would find they really could, if only they made the CHOICE to.

                  That’s what is grating and what people are responding so strongly against.

                3. Hills to Die on*

                  Ok, fair enough.

                  I have just had many instances where I 100% felt like I couldn’t even lift my head off the pillow and I forced myself too. If you can’t do that, then so be it.

                  You are correct that it isn’t my intent to call anyone a bad person or judge their capabilities in the face of a mental condition that is out of the scope of a person’s control. Hope that helps.

                4. Trout 'Waver*

                  With all due respect, if you think you’ve been to “just can’t” but managed to force yourself to do whatever it is, you haven’t been to “just can’t”. You literally “just could”. It’s the exact opposite of “just can’t”.

                5. Hills to Die On*

                  Go back and reread. I never I said I turned ‘just cant’ into ‘just did’. I think it’s arguing semantics anyway.

                6. animaniactoo*

                  I have been physically emotionally mentally however you call it not been able to call into work. Even though I spent the entire day knowing I should. It was the kick in the pants that I needed to get myself to a therapist because that “can’t” meant I had more going on than I could handle on my own.

                7. Hills to Die On*

                  Which, animanicactoo, is taking ownership for your life. Did you feel like going in the next day? If you are like me, you sure did not. Did you feel like going to the therapist? I never did. But you ‘just did’ and you handled it. So did I. Should should the OP, in my opinion.

                8. animaniactoo*

                  Because I had enough left in the tank to do so. Or impetus after having scared myself so badly by acting so out of character for me.

                  Some people don’t get that. But I also have had a lot of therapy (for other issues) prior to that and I knew exactly where and how to get help. If I didn’t, I’m not sure how low I might have sunk before reaching out. Would I have trusted my parents to be able to help and not forever see me as a failure? Would I have trusted my friends not to look at me as the person who had a breakdown? Asking for help when you’ve never had to ask for it before takes an enormous amount of faith in the people you’re asking for help from. Or a desperation that is so bad that them not responding in positive ways is the less scary of your options. And an actual will to live and a glimmer of hope that life would become worth living again. And. And. And.

                9. Turtle Candle*

                  I mean, to back off from the tangent and talk about the letter, we are discussing someone who approached someone they hadn’t know since high school and incited an incident involving intoxicated weeping and crying about someone ruined their life for giving a poor character reference. (Even leaving aside the adolescent bullying, that’s bad enough.) I want to be as kind as possible to the LW here, but that’s what happened.

                  Speaking as someone who has had major depression and anxiety influence their life, that is not a sign that the world needs to be more accommodating of my mental illness. That’s a sign that something needs to be fixed.

                  I’m concerned that the “well but if you’re depressed you can’t help what you do” will get in the way of the “something here clearly needs to be fixed.” Not because I hate mentally ill people. Not because I hate the LW. But because this is beyond what most people will consider acceptable.

              2. Genevieve*

                Spoken like someone who’s never had a panic attack at the thought of opening your phone, let alone making a call.

                1. Turtle Candle*

                  Whereas I have had panic attacks at that, and I still find it condescending to imply that an anxious or depressed person can’t do these concrete things. I’m not harshing on the LW–it sounds like they’ve been having a really rough time–but “you have insufficiently proved your disability credentials so you have no right to an opinion” is destructive in its own way. People with major depression and anxiety do disagree on these things; there is not a single party line.

                  With that said, I hope LW gets help. It sounds like she’s miserable, and I don’t wish that on anyone.

                2. Anonymous for mental illness*

                  Turtle Candle, I understand your viewpoint and it’s one that I currently find relatable and helpful in dealing with my own mental illnesses. However, there have been points in my life where, because of depression and having two anxiety disorders, I was not capable of communicating (I remember thinking I wanted to scream but not having the energy to do it, never mind verbal communication). Being aware that depression can be momentarily crippling is not necessarily infantilizing.

                3. Hills to Die On*

                  And Genevieve, I actually did that once. I had the panic attack, then calmed down (took hours) and then made the call. My ‘friends’ at work literally took turns passing the phone around scolding me and berating me for my actions. But I didn’t get fired because I did call. I did show up after a few days.

                  I did get medical help. I called someone for before committing suicide. Each time. I sat on my hands and swore I wouldn’t kill myseld in the next 10 seconds. The I did that over and over until I could go 30 seconds. Then a minute. And kept going for hours until bedtime. I changed meds. I made new friends. I fought through the days where I wanted to just cry all day, including more panic attacks and more situations that I didn’t put in my life. I fought to change my reaction and show up when I hated it and cried in my car, or the bathroom, or just cried while I kept working. I got through it because I fought DAMN HARD to do it. And it fucking worked. My life is amazing now, but there are still things that are agonizing that I can’t control, but I fight through those too.

                  That’s my experience. That’s what I did. So spare me your judgement because it’s my experience, not yours.

                4. Been There*

                  Good for you, Hill. But others mileage varies. I have been there too. I tried to fight it and succeeded, not once but twice. But I have also been at the place where I kissed and hugged my kids, then went in my room and took a bottle of pills and laid down in the bathroom and waited to die. So the way your letter reads, about how DAMNED HARD you fought it is just infuriating to me. Your battle with depression was yours. But there are some of us who fought it every bit as hard and the depression won. So while you may have been able to make the call to work and withstand you POS fellow employees treated you like crap, but for others they literally can not make the call. Because at that moment everything in them is fighting the urge to just surrender. And the comments castigating her for not calling out are NOT helpful. They may very well push LW into a final solution.

                5. Hills to Die on*

                  Exactly. It is mine. And you don’t get to decide that my actions didn’t work for me, and wouldn’t work for anyone because I am not saying that about you. Do whatever you have to do—I’m not judging. I am offering a solution based on my experience. That’s it.

                6. MommyMD*

                  But there is still a choice, panic attack or not. To imply there is not, is to imply there is no help or no cognition, that nothing can be changed.

              3. Akcipitrokulo*

                She may have been able to call in. She may not have been. Stating that she coild have done it is not necessarily accurate.

                1. Anonymous for mental illness*

                  Agreed. Thank you. Whether she had the ability or not, anyway, it is now too late for discussing how she might have gotten herself to do it to be particularly helpful.

              4. Pommette!*

                This line of thinking is useful when assessing future moves. It’s how I try to think about my own actions, as someone who lives with sometimes profound depression.

                I don’t think that it’s useful for judging the OP’s actions. (I also don’t find it a constructive lens for going over my own past mistakes). Because for some people, the line of thinking you suggest does not come naturally. It takes time and work to learn to think like this.

                I hope that the OP will find the insight and tools necessary to make that call next time she finds herself unable to leave her bed. (And obviously, I also hope that she never finds herself in that position at all). But I can understand why she didn’t, and I don’t think that it makes her unworthy of sympathy.

                1. Hills to Die On*

                  It certainly took work for me to learn to think this way—decades of therapy and 12-step programs. It works for millions of people all over the world for a reason and I am infinitely better off for it.

                  I absolutely have sympathy for her as well. What’s she’s going through sucks out loud and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

              5. Princess Cimorene*

                Or she couldn’t have. and because she didn’t, she suffered consequences. She can’t change that. You sticking to this point of what she “could have” done is pointless anyway because you don’t have a time machine. It also seems cruel and you don’t get to say just because you have depression to that how you handle things is the way to handle it and therefore it’s how she should’ve or could’ve handled it. My depression is married to severe anxiety. When I was self-sabotaging my business while I was at one of my worst points, but logical brain told me to contact my clients, to move them around or just at the very least let them know I was having some health issues and it would delay their projects or halt them. But my anxiety told me that even opening their emails was going to be the absolute worse thing I ever did and I might as well just set everything including myself on fire. So while I was ideating about dying, no, I couldn’t have opened those emails. I did suffer the consequences of that and someone telling me what I could have done, just because they could have (you are not OP, everyone is different) would be pretty demoralizing to me. ESPECIALLY if I hadn’t started doing the work, or in therapy or getting the meds I needed to be more stable. It seems unkind.

                1. Hills to Die on*

                  For me, it isn’t cruelty to tell someone (or to be told) to do things differently. You are waaaay misreading what I am saying. It is empowerment. It means you have the ability to do things differently, whatever that means. Get up and get out of bed, go to the doctor, change who you hang around, whatever. Each of us possesses that ability.

                  Yeah, I’ll stick to that because it means that next time you do things differently and you do them better because you’re dictating the terms of your life.

                  My depression is linked to severe anxiety too. If you handle it differently and don’t see value in what I have to say, then by all means handle it however works for you. But my offering my solution—that apparently other people found works for them to—isn’t unkind. It’s a potential solution.

                  You’ve obviously got a thorn in your side about my opinions which is…interesting, I guess. I’m just a random person on the internet. Who cares if you don’t agree—why does it even matter to you that much?

                  At least I know I didn’t set out to upset anyone—guess you can’t say the same thing. Thanks so much for your kind words in the middle of my own depression and crisis. Since you’re so into advice, here’s some for you—remember these comments the next time someone tries to kick you when you’re down (tries. Not did. I’ll continue fighting until my last breath because that’s what my family needs and what I need).

              6. Candi*

                Ah, yeah. Let me tell you a story.

                Years ago, before I started my levothyroxin, which told most of my depression to take a hike, I had to make a doctor’s appointment. For one of my kids. So, important for someone other then me, you know?

                I was sitting at my home desk holding my 3G iPhone in my hands. I had plenty of minutes. There was a landline in the next room.

                I could not bring myself to dial. I had the dialing screen open, and I could not dial.

                That’s where some people’s depression takes them. They physically can not do the act.

                Now, depression is rarely a constant. I was able to make the appointment the next day. But the fluctuations of depression mean there are some awful, awful lows.

                And the thing about the darker realms of depression? It’s low energy. It’s so easy to make that your new normal. To stay there. Forever.

                That’s why we have to fight. And that is why having other people hauling on the rope, helping to haul you to shore, to that golden beach where “normal” is always there, and not something briefly glimpsed between black waves that threaten to swamp our minds and drag them under.

            1. Kalkin*

              Yep. “Choice” is a nebulous concept when it comes to depression. There are times when just picking up the phone and dialing feels like trying to swim through a steel wall. You just can’t. It doesn’t make sense, and you even know it doesn’t make sense, but you just can’t.

              1. I Just Want to Sleep Some More...*

                Totally agree, Kalkin…I have suffered bouts of severe depression and anxiety where I know that my logical thoughts are correct, and that I CAN get out of bed. But my depression causes me to feel nothing and yet everything at the same time.

                1. Oranges*

                  There are actually chemical reasons for feeling like that. Your dopamine (I think it’s dopamine) system is totally borked.

                  Dopamine is a reward chemical (among other things). It’s what makes you actually DO things that are necessary for your survival. All behaviors are based upon positive/pleasurable brain chemistry. We don’t eat food because we know that our bodies will die without it. We eat food because being hungry hurts and eating is pleasurable. It’s nature’s motivator.

                  When it breaks (or even doesn’t work up to standard) suddenly you don’t want to do anything and all the negative consequences in the world aren’t enough because your survival mechanism just went AWOL. Each person finds what works for them to get through that. I find doing something, anything can prime my dopamine pump sometimes. Other times I escape into fiction and hope tomorrow’s better.

            2. Hills to Die on*

              She will continue to have a hard lotnin life if she doesn’t own the fact that she didn’t call in, whatever the reason. It’s about acknowledging that you ARE responsible for your own actions.

              I GET it. I do. I have extreme anxiety and depression and am going through some things in life that cause people to tell me on a regular basis that they don’t know how I get through this and I am so strong. I would love to not need to be strong. But that’s how I have made my life better. I suit up and show up and do what I am supposed to do even when I feel like it is impossible. It is not. If you don’t, then don’t, but don’t say that it isn’t a choice because it is.

                1. Super Anon for This*

                  Can’t reply to your comment lower down, but come on! You can’t say “People with depression don’t all agree with your opinion, fellow depression sufferer”, and then basically tell them to sit down and be quiet because they have expressed an opinion that just as many depression sufferers have agreed with in this comments section.

                  BTW, as someone who suffers from depression and anxiety, and has gone days without bathing even, I agree with Hills to Die On.

                2. Kalkin*

                  No, Super Anon, we are saying: The opinion you are expressing is something people with depression already hear a lot, and it can be hurtful and keep people from taking care of themselves appropriately. Please consider whether expressing it is so important that it’s worth risking hurting someone over, or whether you could express it differently.

                  I don’t think “You have to take responsibility!” is that important to hammer home, because (1) it doesn’t mean much to someone who’s in the throes of serious depression, except that it often makes them feel worse, (2) we hear it all the time anyway, and (3) it’s the ultimate message of any effective course of treatment anyway. I certainly don’t think “But she could have called in. That’s on her” or “don’t say that it isn’t a choice because it is” or “I find that state of mind to be supremely helpful” are useful to anyone else, and I know the first two dismiss other people’s experiences of depression as valid. There are plenty of ways to make the point without doing that.

              1. Hills to Die on*

                And I am not going to change my opinions because you don’t agree with them. This is what us worked for me. If that’s a problem for you, then I’m so sorry.

                1. Kalkin*

                  Nobody is saying it didn’t work for you; we’re saying that our experiences don’t jibe with yours, and that hearing “Nut up — this is your responsibility!” has been actively unhelpful for some of us. (If you have been depressed, you know that it’s not really unusual for someone to offer that “advice.”) It’s not your job to hand anyone the key to their own destiny, or at least not a stranger in the comments of a blog post. OP should sit down with a therapist (even if she’s not actually depressed, it’s never a bad idea), and you should stop insisting that hackneyed platitudes are universally useful just because of your own experience.

                2. Detective Amy Santiago*


                  It may be actively unhelpful for you and others, but it has been helpful for some people (like Hills and me). There have been so many days where just getting out of bed felt impossible, but I know that I’m an adult with responsibilities and I need to do it.

                  The point that Hills is making – that LW will need to eventually take ownership of the things she did that had nothing to do with Rock Star – is valid. So many times in the comments on various posts, we have seen the argument that having a mental illness doesn’t excuse you from doing what is right.

                3. Hills to Die on*

                  Wow, Kallie, you are really taking this personally. I don’t owe you a damn thing, first of all. If you don’t like my opinion, then ignore and keep scrolling—and feel free to quit being condescending and rude while you are at it.

                  At what point did I say they were universally helpful? Never. At what point did I say that this is what worked for me? A couple of times.

                  And I don’t have the right to give my opinion here and offer a solution of help that works for me—really? Because that isn’t what happens on this blog literally every post? I don’t who you think you are to tell me what advice I can or can’t offer, but I will continue to do so whenever I choose to.

                4. Jesca*

                  I’m just going to nest there, because its a whole thread of people saying the same things. But as a person who does suffer from mild anxiety and depression who then this year went through a horrible experience with bad (non-mental health related) medication that caused a hormonal imbalance. I fell into this chemically induced depression the likes of which I have never ever experienced. Being that I am successful and from the school of hard knocks, I had developed over the years ways to at least function during a particularly trying time. But! When this went down with this medication, no coping mechnism I have ever tried worked! Nothing! I fianlly had t call what little support system I had for help, which is something I never ever do. And ya know what? I missed three days of work, and OMG calling in was awful. If I were younger and going through this, I would have soooo lost my job. From that time period on, I will never ever try to judge again what someone should and should not do to help themselves other than referring them to a medical professional. If there are people out there in this world born with what I experienced on that medication, I am so very very sorry!!!

                  I learned there is depression where you don’t feel like getting out of bed, and then there is depression where you are literally waiting to die.

                5. Kalkin*

                  I don’t disagree that the point is, ultimately, valid. Of course we all have to take ownership of our lives and our selves and our conditions.

                  But that’s a big step. “Buck up and make yourself do it!” is what you tell someone who’s just in a slump or a bad mood or a little hesitant — and it’s valid then. It is also, unfortunately, what too many people tell someone who is genuinely depressed. And it’s not just not valid, then — it’s often actively unhelpful. As someone says below, it makes you feel more guilty and worthless for not being able to buck up, and that compounds the original depression. You get into a loop, where the criticism in your head just pushes you down harder. You know that you have responsibilities, and that you are an adult, and that it’s on you to fix it — and knowing that just feels like more weight and another reminder that you’re failing. And if you think “Well, you just have to snap out of it!” is a useful response, then I would submit you have not dealt with seriously crushing depression or you have forgotten what it’s like. No therapist or mental-health specialist on earth starts with “You need to take responsibility!” For a lot of us, there is just a ton of stuff to learn and practice before getting to that point. (And in fact, the learning and practicing is taking responsibility.)

                  I’m glad that learning about taking ownership was helpful for both of you. And if there were a dearth of people offering that advice to depressed people, I would be a lot more open to seeing it here. But I do take this personally because for years I thought my inability to get up and do shit was a character flaw. Was just me not caring enough. Because I kept hearing that I just needed to take responsibility. Nobody said, “Hey, you should go see a therapist.” Or “This is ultimately your problem to figure out, but there are resources and tools that can help you.” Or “That sounds really awful, but there are ways to head this off before it reaches that point, and you can learn them.”

                  I don’t know what else to tell you. I’m sorry for being rude, but Hills to Die on, your comments came across to me as self-important and proud. When you say something like “I suit up and show up and do what I am supposed to do even when I feel like it is impossible. It is not,” it just sounds like tooting your own horn and it dismisses the voices of those of us who are saying our experiences have been different. And saying something like “I am trying to hand her the key to her own destiny because that is what worked for me” — I will take you at your word that you are just trying to help, but I hope you can look at that statement and see how it comes across as pretty self-important. Obviously you have the right to share your opinions, but I do too, and I don’t have to keep scrolling when I see someone repeating the same messages that made my life so miserable for so long.

                  There are people here saying that your comments don’t strike us as helpful in the same way that you think they do, and that they may be hurtful — whether to the OP, if she happens to read this, or to other people if you say the same things in other venues. They may be helpful too. But please take what you are saying seriously enough, and how you are saying it — I am — to reckon with why you are getting some pushback.

                6. Hills to Die On*

                  So now you are judging the content of my character? Your opinion of me and the fact that you are taking my statements personally are entirely your issue, not mine. Goodbye.

                7. Super Anon for This*

                  Nesting isn’t working, so I’ll reply to another Kalkin comment below, in this thread.

                  You are clearly biased and not seeing Hills to Die On’s comments clearly. I mean that in the kindest way possible, but you are misreading her very clear comments. She isn’t telling people that they should just stop being depressed, or that they should be able to force themselves to act completely normally while depressed.

                  You are also totally ignoring the fact that HtDO ALSO suffers from depression and anxiety. AND the fact that I, and many other posters agree with HtDO.

                  I am so sorry that people were mean and judgemental about your depression. But that isn’t what is happening here.

                8. Super Anon for This*

                  ETA: Should read “I (anxiety and depression) and other posters with depression agree with HtDO.”

                9. Kalkin*

                  No, I’m telling you how your words came across to me, explaining why your comments feel personal to me, and explicitly saying that I believe you are trying to be helpful. I’m sorry for not being more sensitive in my earlier comments.

                10. Hills to Die On*

                  Ty, Super Anon.

                  I am surprised by the number of people that are saying they agree that they are responsible for the direction of their lives (which is all I am saying) and then proceed to tell me what a bad person I am. If you have the ability to control where your life goes and how you react to circumstances in your life, then getting out of rock bottom is within your scope of control and make a better life. How the fork is that a bad thing? I didn’t kick your puppy, ffs. I shared what worked for me. That it.

                  Kelkin, apology accepted.

                11. Oranges*

                  Hey-ya, Hills, from my point of view you’re right and wrong. You’re right in that she needs to take responsibility for things. Just like if she broke her leg and couldn’t get to a phone or some other thing that made it impossible for her AT THAT MOMENT to call.

                  But the thing that people are pushing back against is your language feels to us like an attack. Like you’re saying our experiences with depression aren’t right. Because you’re using the same language that people who have dismissed us in the past have used.

                  The “you can do it if you just tried” style of thing. It’s helpful to you. I’m not saying it’s not. But for me personally that is tied to “you’re just being a drama queen, stop gold bricking already”. This is a universal message that I get from society. So I’m not only feeling pain, I’m doubting my own reality. I’m doubting my own pain. Because I’m just being a drama llama. This insidious poison has made me call in help MUCH LATER than I should have. It has made my personal suffering worse. It has made me view myself as weak. That is the nerve you’re touching in me. And quite possibly in others.

                12. Hills to Die on*

                  I have never said that. If you think I am telling you’re. Drama llama, I’m not. I am telling OP what I did.

                  And if you feel like you’re being attacked, feel free to sit in my chair for a sec.

                13. Oranges*

                  That is EXACTLY what I was trying to say!

                  I know you personally aren’t telling me that I am a drama llama, but brains don’t logic good sometimes and that’s what’s happening. You tried very hard to outline it but people who have been hurt by that narrative have a VERY knee-jerk reaction to it. This time I was able to suppress my reaction and use logics but there have been time in the past when that hasn’t been a thing.

                  I wrote to say that I understand where you’re coming from. I understand where the others are coming from. I don’t know if there were any magical words that would have worked to get your personal coping strategy across without that a harmful narrative being triggered (for those of us that it harms). I’m glad you’re willing to help. So thank you.

                  Also, please take care of you. I know having a board come down on you can be… exhausing, enraging, and/or depressing. From your later posts, you have enough for any 1.5 people on your plate. So be sure to do whatever it is that makes you… wholer?

              2. Anion*

                Hugs to you.

                And while I’m not trying to enter the debate one way or the other…I’ve let a lot of things slide due to my own depression. I’m way behind on some big things because of it. But once I force myself to send that email or make that phone call…it makes me feel a lot better, because at least I’ve done *something.* There have been many, many days when only my responsibility to my children has gotten me out of bed. So I guess I agree with both sides here; I don’t find the “helpless” narrative helpful at all, and think it can actually be rather dangerous…but at the same time, it *is* helpful to acknowledge how difficult it is to get out of bed some days, and offer understanding when someone couldn’t.

                1. Jesca*

                  Well I think the difference between the two is this. “Helpless” is an awful mindset that sets people backs years as far as progressing. Getting frustrated at someone for this though is 100% contextual. If you are their boss, be frustrated and take appropriate consequencal action. It is needed. If this person is your friend (or writing in for advice), then being a little more like “yeah, I have been there and know how you feel” is a little more productive. A manager is there to, among other things, hold people accountable. A friend, mentor, advice giver is there to show empathy and assist the person with the current problem at hand.

                2. Jen*

                  I had a very severe bout of depression in college and owning my own agency was helpful for me. My mom wanted me to come home and looking back, had I done that, I never would have gained the tools I use now to fought off depressive bouts.

                  Everyone is very different. OP should talk to a qualified professional.

                1. Hills to Die On*

                  If you’re taking about me, there’s a reason why I chose it. However, I don’t see how changing my opinion to suit the preferences of random strangers is exactly a Hill to die on. Posting in an anonymous forum is pretty low risk, wouldn’t you say?

              3. Trout 'Waver*

                We don’t tell people with broken ankles to just buck up and walk on it.

                We don’t tell people with cancer that the way they feel is a choice.

                So why do we tell people with a chemical imbalance in their brains to “just do it”?

                When I was suffering from depression, I was unable to get basic shit done. I’m still responsible for what I did and didn’t do and had to rebuild my life afterwards. I’m not asking for a free pass or anything.

                But, the reason I got depression in the first place was by ignoring how I was feeling and just forcing myself through the stress. Instead of learning healthy stress management techniques, I was just forcing myself through things which slowly and surely made me feel worse and eventually led to burnout.

                So, while you may feel your attitude of “just do it” worked for you, it doesn’t work for most. It makes things worse for some. And it creates this enormous stigma for the people who really are at the point where they just can’t do what they need to do. You have never been there. So you should probably keep your uninformed, harmful opinion to yourself.

                1. Super Anon for This*

                  Whoa! How can you judge HtDO’s experiences with depression? I don’t think playing the “my depression was worse than yours” game is helpful. It’s actually a really shitty thing to do. And how do you know they didn’t have things, when they were depressed, that they really couldn’t do? You don’t! Who’s being judgemental again?

                2. Hills to Die On*

                  Right? And I thought Alison had some guidelines on being kind when you post but hey, whatever.

                  You don’t know where I’ve been. You don’t know what works for the OP. None of us do. She is free to take my comments that she finds helpful and keep scrolling past what doesn’t. But you’re making wild assumptions that:
                  1. My comments are unilaterally unhelpful. That’s subjective and your opinion isn’t the only one that has validity.
                  2. That I haven’t been to dark places. I don’t need to list a sob story because everyone has heartbreaks but consider accepting the fact that I’ve had more shit than the average person by a mile. And if I seem proud of what I’ve accomplished (this goes for you too Kelkin), then it’s because I AM. and I won’t be changing that because it hurts your feelings.
                  3. My opinion is uninformed or unhelpful. Again, you don’t know what works for everyone (and assuming you do would be….uninformed? Unhelpful?), and you don’t know what my scope of knowledge is on the topic. Aside from personal experiences.
                  4. You don’t get to decide what I comment or if I comment, and I will continue to comment on what I think has merit.
                  5. Have you considered the fact that ‘just do it’ means go to a doctor? Get therapy? Take care of your mental health? All of things you DID. To do? Don’t put your incorrect actions on me by assuming that’s what I mean.
                  6. You can see that plenty of other people did the same as me. If that helps me and them, then you the hell are you to tell them to do something differently?

                3. Hills to Die On*

                  Also, We tell people with broken ankles to go get medical care and crutches. Just do that even if you don’t feel like seeing a doctor.

                  Same with cancer, depression, or anything else. Get up and go to the doctor, and in the meantime do everything you can to function. Is that really so offensive? Good grief.

                4. Trout 'Waver*

                  I am not, do not, and never will play the who’s depression is worse game. I am strictly responding to Hill to Die On’s comment only:

                  If you don’t, then don’t, but don’t say that it isn’t a choice because it is

                  Don’t read anything more into my comment that a strict and unequivocal rebuke of that statement along with my own explanation why it made things tougher in my own life, and in the lives of others that I have talked to.

                5. Hills to Die On*

                  You are. You are assuming you have it worse and so you know better. Everyone struggles and you are not special in having depression. And I stand by every word I have typed and I am not interested in your selfish assumption that it’s your place to rebuke me. I will write it again, and again.

                6. Trout 'Waver*

                  Also, We tell people with broken ankles to go get medical care and crutches. Just do that even if you don’t feel like seeing a doctor.

                  Same with cancer, depression, or anything else. Get up and go to the doctor, and in the meantime do everything you can to function. Is that really so offensive? Good grief.

                  You are shifting your stance with this comment. That is completely different from what you’ve been saying upthread, and completely different from what I was responding to.

                  I suit up and show up and do what I am supposed to do even when I feel like it is impossible.

                  I have just had many instances where I 100% felt like I couldn’t even lift my head off the pillow and I forced myself too

                  I am not trying to beat her up or judge her or say that anyone who ‘just cant’ is bad because I have been there.

                  Several people here have pointed out why your statements cause harm to people who go through depression differently. Your response has been, quite frankly, openly insulting. And you insist that you’re going to continue making such statements. I’m happy you found what works for yourself. But please don’t focus only on yourself. Your solution causes harm in some other people. Please reflect on that for a minute before kneejerk responding again.

          4. Jesca*

            I understand where you are coming from. I do. But slapping someone in the face with our frustration doesn’t seem to me to be completely practical.

            OP, listen. Lots of people work very hard in college towards a certain career only to find out once they graduate that there is no market for it. My class (we graduated right as the econ crashed) can tell you all about that. It may be for different reasons than yours, but it is very very common.

            So it is time to face some realities. 1. you will never work for this company or its affiliates and 2. you are right now not going to find a job in this field. and 3. you are young!!!!

            With those realities in place – make an action plan. Do some research on other possibilities. Do some job searches now to land a full time job. Follow AAM, and bang out job interviews. Then work your tail off even if the place is crap, as we have all started that way as well. Move!!! Move away from where you are. God, I wish someone would have told me when I was younger that the world is a huge place with tons of opportunity.

            It may also help to talk to a mental health professional before interviews if you think you cant get rid of your anger towards all this on your own. That ish can stand out during interviews.

            And that dude? Take that as a bullet dodged. Dude was not invested in you or what a relationship even entails – being there for someone when their life crashes.

            You got this!!! You can turn this around right now!

            1. Jesca*

              Sorry I forgot to add (as I had to retype this out as the server here went out haha) that this is not the other woman’s fault. While it is yours, i always find it best to go “ok, I reacted in a way I thought was best at the time and found that to be a mistake. Next time I will do differently.” It will also help to talk to a mental health professional about this as well. Trust me, OP, almost all of us have tanked our lives when we were young. TANKED. THEM. But we recover, and you will too. You just acted like an ass due to stress; its not like you committed a crime or something morally reprehensible. In a new place, no one will ever even know!

              1. Totally Minnie*

                “ok, I reacted in a way I thought was best at the time and found that to be a mistake. Next time I will do differently.”

                That’s a really helpful way to look at it. It’s so easy to fall into the pit of self-blame to the point that it’s hard t climb out again. This mindset allows you to acknowledge that you made an incorrect choice, but that doesn’t make you a terrible person.

                OP, you are more than the mistakes you’ve made, and you’re more than the bad things that have happened to you. You can come back from this, and you can have a life you enjoy and be a person you like and respect. You’re in a difficult phase of your life right now, but that doesn’t have to be permanent.

            2. Falling Diphthong*

              Thirding. Take it from the middle-aged: in time this will be a brief anecdote about your long road to llama management. One way I’ve heard it framed is that the Big Thing will be there, it may still hurt, but it will move off to the side lines. Rather than crouch in the middle of your field of vision a few inches a way, it gradually shifts outward and allows other things in.

              It would probably help to see someone for depression, and some general guidance on coping when things feel overwhelming. Our brains get in habits, and this cycle of trying and failing has probably not been good for yours–a neutral third party, with more training than people typing on the internet, might really help you find ways to move forward, and not be walloped into immobility by the next setback.

            3. DrAtos*

              Yes! OP dodged a bullet with her boyfriend. See it as time not wasted on furthering a relationship that would have ended badly regardless of where she works. Not only that, she has time on her side because she is still young. The world is not limited to her town where Rock Star lives. OP needs to find the confidence to forge her own path and be willing to go anywhere in her country where a position is available in this niche industry. If OP thinks that she can only be happy in this town, then she will be faced daily with a lot of people from her past and a career that will never be able to match where Rock Star already is today. There is still time for OP, but it is her choice where she wants to take her life next.

              1. Jesca*

                Exactly, I know it has helped me through trying times to realize that hey, I am actually in control of a lot of things here!

            4. Bostonian*

              “God, I wish someone would have told me when I was younger that the world is a huge place with tons of opportunity.”

              So true! OP just because you already tried moving once and hated it, doesn’t mean it’s always going to be that way! Keep an open mind and you can find your place

          5. Beanie*

            This. I constantly have to explain to my students that while no – it’s not that you DESERVE the life that you have, but you do have to understand the consequences of your decisions and how they might have got you to this point. With as much sympathy as I have for her mental health issues, I got to the final paragraph and realized “she still doesn’t get it”. Best of luck in a new year of clarity, good health, and better opportunities OP.

            1. SebbyGrrl*


              Yep, mistakes made – can I change it? No, Can I do different? Yes, when I am stronger than I am right now.

              All the confounding and profound levels of PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY in this life are WORK and effort and change and effort and re-evaluate and change…

              OP this has sucked but there is a whole wide world and many lives for you to live in your lifetime.

              I hate this saying but I think a direction you might focus on is Be The Change you want to see in the world.

              Change this from an external – people and things outside your control are a source of your struggle, to internal – How do I change in my perception of my actions and choices, and personal responsibility to effect the change I want to see in my life.

              It sucks dead goats right now, but you will get better, do better and have some happy.

          6. oh my, so much chaos*

            I agree – I suffered with years of depression to the point of actively planning out my suicide. But I also knew that (if I were to live) I needed my job and I had no fallback plan such as moving in with parents. I went to work every day and if I didn’t, I called in sick.
            I am so much better these days, triumphing over depression as well as not having been suicidal for a long time. But much of that is because of the choices I made and the responsibility and accountability I made/took.
            I’m extremely sympathetic to the OP situation that ended up with her being fired, but not to the choices she made that led to her firing; similarly, I’m struggling with the choices she made by yelling at “rockstar” thus validating the declaration that “rockstar” wouldn’t work with her (and validating her as still a bully). All in all, it’s a bad situation, but not so bad that OP can’t recover from it, make new choices, and go on to have a wonderful, productive, and fulfilling life.

      2. Hills to Die on*

        This is unfortunate and I understand struggling with life. You will be doing yourself a huge favor to acknowledge that you are 100% responsible for your own actions. Rock Star has done nothing. nothing! To you. You did almost all of this to yourself. The good news is that you have the control and ability to turn your life around.

        Move somewhere where you can make a name for yourself in your industry and stop blaming others for your decisions.

        1. LBK*

          Oof, this is tough. I don’t think depression is a permanent excuse for bad behavior, but it takes time to get better, and the “take responsibility for your action” switch is not one that gets flipped in a day, a week, a month or even a year in many cases. And it’s not just about acknowledging responsibility for your actions, it’s about (re)learning how to do that without the nagging depression voice in your ear constantly talking you out of it.

          It’s a little like telling someone they’re 100% responsible for not being able to walk after they break their leg. They probably have some responsibility to go to the hospital, get a cast, rest, etc. so that their leg can heal, but to say “It’s time to wake up and just start walking tomorrow” is not realistic advice.

          1. Hills to Die on*

            Exactly my point. You can’t control having a broken leg (hopefully) but you can control how you react to it.

            1. Delphine*

              Comparing physical injuries and mental illnesses is only helpful to a degree. In this case, it’s not helpful.

            2. Pommette!*

              The problem with depression is that it affects the way you understand the situation and assess the options available to you.

              While depression does not control a depressed person’s reaction their condition, it does impose constraints on that reaction. This is particularly true for someone who is not receiving any kind of treatment, has been cut off from the support of friends and family (who might help reframe the situation), and may not even be aware of their condition.

            3. Recently Diagnosed*

              Hi, Hills to Die on. I just wanted to jump in and remind everyone that, though many of us struggle with depression, it is sometimes too easy to think that everyone’s depression is the same as our own. It’s very easy to judge everyone’s experiences by our own. However, each person’s illness is different because each mind is unique. Symptoms and severity varies greatly from each person, and even by the day for each. So while your experience with severe depression allowed you to be able to pick up a phone, it’s not correct to assume that everyone HAS that ability. “It’s YOUR choice” is empowering to many. For those who are not capable, whose version of the disease makes it impossible, it can be very shaming. I think your advice is good for many, maybe even most. But I think you could deliver it with a bit more care. Folks who live with depression are warriors. I can’t believe the strength my husband had to just to get up every day. I’m awed by YOUR strength, to get up and live every day to the best of your ability and do the things you do without breaking under the terrible weight of depression. It’s truly incredible. But those that lose to it, that DO break…I don’t think it’s because they did something wrong. I don’t think they’re less brave. They fought the good fight, but the sickness won.

              I want OP to stand up, to fight for her life with every ounce of her being. If you are honestly dealing with depression OP, I beg you to use all of your resources to fight for yourself and through the weight. But if some days all you can muster is laying in bed, then that’s all you’ve got. And it’s better than the other alternative. Don’t use it as an excuse, but don’t make yourself feel worse because that’s all you could do. You are NOT less because you couldn’t do more than that. Keep trying at all costs, but also be easy on yourself when you fail.

              1. Hills to Die On*

                Thank you for your kind words, Recently Diagnosed.

                I am not judging another person’s experience. I am telling OP what helped me. She is free to take it or leave it.

                And frankly, I AM breaking under the weight of depression. But I am taking care of my husband who may or may not be dying. I am taking care of 2 speacial needs kids. I go to my job that is legendary for being toxic because we need the paycheck. I can feel myself cracking and I’m exhausted in every sense of the word. I cry in my car. I cry in the shower, in bed, or just where I am. And then I show up and do what my family needs because it has to be done. I go to my 12-step meetings where I have been in recovery for decades and they hug me and tell me to just keep going and do what I am doing. They are spot on.

                If people what to call me a POS because I found a way to fight through this then so be it. If OP wants to get through this, try it. If it doesn’t work, then try something else. The trying in itself is brave, I agree.

                For those of you who think I’m harmful, mean, bad,or whatever else, you don’t have to live my life. I am holding it together. If that offends you, then too goddamn bad. If it doesn’t help you, then (again, running out of ways to say it) leave me the eff alone because I ultimately don’t care how you run your life and I don’t care how you feel about me. My people know who I am.

                This has been super great guys, but the hubs is in surgery again and I need to find child care for the kids while I wait to see if he’s okay or not.

                I appreciate those of you who were kind today, regardless of whether you agree with me.

                1. BananaPants*

                  Yup. I suffered from severe clinical depression for 2+ years. I literally had no choice but to somehow keep getting up every day and dragging myself out of bed and going to a job where I was unhappy – because if I lost my job we would end up homeless. Our kids had to be fed and cared-for.

                  Having depression or other mental health issues does not free you from having responsibility for your actions and dealing with the consequences of those actions. It does OP no good to excuse what she did to Rock Star in the restaurant, or her no call/no show firing as somehow being OK because she was distressed (and possibly clinically depressed, although she doesn’t say if that’s the case).

                2. Recently Diagnosed*

                  Just want to pop back in in case you see it, Hills to Die On, and tell you that my heart goes out to you and yours. And whether or not I think your choice of words has been 100% on point on this post, I think you’re a g*dd@mned superhero. When my husband no longer liked himself enough to fight for himself, he fought for me, and was able to find his “other side” after 3 failed suicide attempts. He’s my hero. I don’t truly understand what it’s like to be that low. But I admire you, and everyone else on here who still finds it in themselves to find a stick to fight with. You don’t know me, but I care that you are breaking, and hope with every fiber of my being that it gets better soon. I hate that the internet doesn’t allow hugs. Much love, guys.

                3. Hills to Die on*

                  That’s right, Bana Pants. I want to sleep all day, every day but it’s cold up here in the North and we need a home.

                  Thank you, RD. That sincerely means a lot to me. Put tears in my eyes.

                4. Thursday Next*

                  Depression + two special needs children is a huge weight to shoulder, and a combination I have to deal with as well. I felt for you already, Hills, but your husband’s situation is an additional weight and I could feel the struggle and suffering in your words. Please know that (anonymous stranger though I am) I’m rooting for you and your family and wishing you all the best.

                5. Kathy*

                  Thank you Hills – Nobody had any right to jump on you like they did. Your experience and how you deal with it is your and yours alone.

                  I really don’t understand much about depression and may or may not know people who suffer from it; but I appreciate your point of view and your willing to share your experience with it.

            4. Anonymous for mental illness*

              I actually haven’t found myself thinking straight after major injuries, but maybe that’s just me.

              I have also found that my severe mental illnesses, when at their worst, do not allow the logical thinking/doublethink required to “control how I react to it.” I have not been able to act as if I had significantly more energy than I did, as if I wasn’t paranoid and hallucinating from sleep deprivation when I was, or as if I could string a coherent sentence together when I couldn’t think. “You can’t choose the feeling, but you can choose how you react” is an empowering message about remembering your own agency when you’re struggling – in most situations. Not all.

              1. Wendy Darling*

                I tend to think ridiculous thoughts with great clarity and conviction after major injuries. I once got in a car accident and my #1 priority was ensuring my mom did not find out I had been driving around with a dead cell phone battery.

          2. Darsy*

            As a person who’s struggled with depression for a large part of my life, and as someone who broke her leg last year rather spectacularly–it’s definitely a matter of context. Like, so many of us are told that mental problems are 100% our problems to deal with, often by ourselves. Yet no one would have told me while I lay on the floor with a broken leg and ankle that I had the responsibility to take care of myself in that moment!

            I think the staying in bed thing is a perfect example of depressed thinking–it forces the action on the boss rather than going in and saying ‘look, I’m really unhappy here and I need to quit.’ Now, it’s ‘I lost my job’ rather than ‘I quit,’ which is way (oddly) easier to deal with.

            OP, I strongly recommend looking into Cognitive Behavior Therapy. It’s something *everyone* could benefit from, a sort of ‘here’s how your brain works, here’s how to trick it into feeling better and breaking bad habits.’ Also called Dialectic Behavior Therapy. Stuff you don’t necessarily need to pay anyone to tell you about, either. I believe there are books :) It changed my life!

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              This is really well put.

              And yes, OP, see someone who knows about depression and CBT. Your brain seems to be taking you down some really unhelpful loops with this situation, and learning some new coping mechanisms would help. It’s hard to see that when you are squashed under a weight like you are now, but it’s true. One way to get the weight off you is to find someone who can help, and ask them to help, and listen to them.

              1. Darsy*

                Yeah, the loops blew my mind. There’s a visual representation of them in CBT that makes so much sense that it’s kind of a seminal (I really hope I’m spelling / using that properly) moment, because seeing how your brain kicks you farther and farther into a spiral of self-doubt or anxiety makes it impossible not to see it when it’s actually happening.

                Another great thing about CBT is the focus on self-care. Like, I’m an indulgent cat on a cushion but a lot of people aren’t, and seeing that taking care of your self-worth is important is so valuable for people who need that. My favorite bit was how to trick your brain into feeling better: you know how they figured out that brain freeze pain is related to your brain assuming that if the very top of the roof of your mouth is freezing, Something Is Very Wrong? Well, there are other brain tricks, and my favorite is the one where if you are breathing slowly and deeply, your brain becomes convinced you are calm. Tell my 8 year-old to breathe and she will bitch and moan, but tell her to breathe slowly to trick her brain and she is 100% there with me.

              1. SarahTheEntwife*

                Offering immediate first-aid and possibly calling an ambulance/offering a ride to the doctor is somewhat more straightforward for someone who’s just been injured and maybe can’t think straight enough to help themselves than it is for someone having a mental health crisis.

          3. Sleeping, or maybe dead*

            That’s a really good analogy.
            I know we all wish we could power through depression and other mental health problems, but that is just not realistic.
            Telling a depressed person that they need to take responsibility is ultimately unhelpful and will probably only worsen the episode, as they will feel even more worthless and guilty.

          4. zapateria la bailarina*

            Is it acknowledged by the letter writer that she has depression? Because as far as I can tell this is an armchair diagnosis that fposte made and everyone else jumped on as truth. It’s a weird assumption to make.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              She said “it sounds like” depression hit hard.

              It could also be grief hitting hard, grief can present the way OP is describing.

              It might be helpful to OP to go for a few sessions of counseling to help sort all this. OP has been hit with one sad thing after another. She lost a long term goal, her boyfriend, her home, her income, she pretty much lost her immediate future plans. Where there used to be something on the horizon that she was working toward, it’s all gone now.

            2. Detective Amy Santiago*

              This is an excellent point. There is a difference between clinical depression and situational depression. It’s entirely possible that the LW was dealing with situational depression in the wake of finding her boyfriend cheating (which would be reasonable).

            3. fposte*

              Yes, sorry, that was me; I initially in fact typed “reactive depression” but then thought that was too specific. Mostly I wanted to raise the point that spending three days bedridden seemed like it could be more complicated than just a bad choice.

              1. Hills to Die on*

                I think it’s a fair assumtption just for the sake of discussing the situation. Especially when it appears so many of us have been there / done that.

            4. Jesmlet*

              Fair question, being too upset to get out of bed for several days after finding out your boyfriend cheated on you does not necessarily equate to being depressed. Situational depression is really not the same thing as chemical imbalance.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                No, it isn’t, but speaking from experience, it can set off a severe depressive episode. Regardless, I think it would be very helpful for the OP to seek counseling anyway as a means to deal with these experiences, depression or not.

            5. Darsy*

              I’d say that staying in bed and ignoring big responsibilities counts as situational rather than chronic depression at the very least, but it’s a very good point about not making assumptions! I just don’t think it’s a stretch to think that, especially given the accompanying life events (hating job, cheating boyfriend). Thanks for keeping us aware!

          5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I don’t know—as someone with depression, it’s important for people (self-included) to take responsibility for their actions. There are things I did pre-diagnosis that make me cringe, now, where I really am the only one to blame for what went down. That’s a tough pill to swallow, but it’s a necessary pill to swallow.

            Sure, OP needs to pace things. But the failure to take responsibility is only going to impede her ability to deal with whatever situational moment/experience she’s having. I think this is more analogous to the 12-step program than a broken leg. You don’t start with making amends, but at some point (hopefully sooner than later), you need to accept that some things happen as a consequence of your own actions.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              This makes sense. In general of a person feels that they have lost their power to control the course of their life, then it is possible for their give-a-damn to get broken. Perhaps stuff happens. And that stuff makes the person feel their lose of power/autonomy even more broken.

              OP, what are you willing to do to take back your power, your autonomy over your own life? I think i am reading that disbelief has entered your life, you no longer believe that you can fix things here.
              There is a path, OP. You can come back from this.
              One thing I have done when I have faced my own overwhelming situations is to read about people who pulled themselves out of (in my opinion) worse situations. I looked at their ideas and thought about my own version of what they did.

            2. LBK*

              I fully agree as someone else with depression – but that reflection and acceptance comes as part of the work of getting better. I just don’t think comments like “you need to take understand that you’re 100% responsible for your actions” create a useful, actionable starting point. It feels like chastising more than advising.

              1. Language Student*

                I don’t think it’s helpful to state this an an absolute. Everyone tiptoed around me when my depression was starting, and at its worst – and what I really needed was to realise that I can change things and that I may feel a certain way, but I don’t have to act a certain way. The people who did hold stricter boundaries with me were some of the most helpful people who felt safest to me. When you have a track record of not taking responsibility, being told that you *are* responsible for your actions can be an incredibly helpful starting point.

            3. Amy the Rev*

              I wonder if alcoholism would be a good analogy here? It’s a disease, like depression, and I hold so much compassion and empathy for people struggling to reconcile with things they have done while drunk, or otherwise in the grips of their disease. No matter how tempting it is to blame alcoholism/alcohol, it’s nevertheless important for them to acknowledge that they are nevertheless responsible for their own actions, and taking ownership of that is really emotionally hard, but **necessary** for recovery.

        2. Been there*

          I do not think the statement “Rock Star has done nothing” is accurate. The HR person at job sent email that LW would NEVER work there or anywhere in their network. Why do you think that email came out? If it is not because RS talked about Law’s “drunk text” style meltdown at the restaurant then how do YOU explain the email?

          Life does not happen in a vacuum, hills, the actions or reactions of others do affect our lives. RS may not have done it maliciously or maybe she did, but end of day RS did play a part in the unraveling. Is LW responsible for her actions, yes. But the blackmailing likely had something to do with how RS told the story and that was not 100% on LW. RS could have blown it off as a “drunk text” but she chose to esculate it. And that gives evidence that RS did have a hand in the other no interviews.

          1. HigherEd on Toast*

            The thing is, roping in her company was exactly the right thing to do. Should RS have kept quiet because LW was drunk? Why? How did she have any guarantee it wouldn’t happen in the future, or even that LW might threaten her physical safety? (Plus, the venue banned her. It’s not like RS was the only person in the room who thought something was dramatically wrong with the LW’s behavior).

            This is one of the very few comments I’ve seen here that I think is coddling the LW, saying, “Oh, it’s not her fault that she got drunk and yelled at someone, she should be excused!” Being drunk (or depressed, if that’s the case) is not actually a reason to be a jerk to other people. The LW brought that part entirely on herself, and RS keeping quiet would be a) ridiculous and b) not something the LW deserves or is owed.

            1. Candi*

              I think Been there’s comment also ignores pretty much ALL the advice from Alison (and others) on this site, as well as the many, many stories, including when that advice isn’t followed. All the work-related events that happened in this post have happened before in other posts and/or commentator stories.


              1) Logical, rational companies do not invite drama in the front door. It never works out.

              2) If someone from your past applies, you will likely be asked about them.

              3) You need to be both honest and factual when asked; lying has a high chance of coming back to bite you.

              4) Companies usually put known employees over unknown candidates.

              5) If a candidate has disturbing off-site behavior (such as getting drunk, accosting people, and yelling in someone’s face), the company is perfectly in its rights to pitch their application -up to and including pulling an offer.

              6) If you know about such behavior in a candidate and keep mum, it’s completely understandable if the company finds out and is not happy about you keeping mum.

              7) Unless your workplace is either very uncommunicative or really dysfunctional, “running into drunk high school bully” is going to get talked about with at least a couple of people at work. NEVER underestimate the grapevine.

              8) When someone feels threated, it’s reasonable for them to ask their workplace for help.

      3. Pommette!*

        Honestly, knowing that she was fired after staying in bed for three days only gives me more sympathy for the OP. (Which is to say: A LOT of sympathy).

        It’s such an unambiguously self-destructive act that the LW had must have known what would come of it. The fact that she was unable to take the very simple steps necessary to keep her job is a testament to how unwell she must have been at the time. It’s not a choice that someone who actually had a choice, and the ability to reason, would make.

    2. AnonAndOn*

      “…I think I would stop mentally calling her the “rock star” if you’re doing that in your own head as well as here. She’s just a person and you’re just a person.”

      I wholeheartedly agree. OP, you do not need to elevate her and put yourself down.

        1. Natalie*

          I’d go a step further and block her – you won’t see her stuff randomly through mutual connections, and it’s a bit of a roadblock if you’re tempted to go directly to her page.

        2. designbot*

          This! Especially because you were almost certainly not the intended audience to her tweet about being bullied. That was a way for her to let off the steam of her own feelings. Think for a second–she’d been bullied horribly in school, but made it through and found where she can shine, she thinks everything is good. Then out of nowhere, her high school bully starts applying to her company! And applying, and applying. And then on her wedding anniversary shows up at the restaurant where she and her husband are celebrating and lays a huge guilt trip on her about why the bully can’t succeed in life. From her perspective, the past she thought she got away from is rearing its ugly head for no apparent reason and she needs the support of her friends, now that she’s able to have some. That’s what her tweet was about, not about rubbing salt in your wound. If you can’t see that it’s best not to take in what she’s putting out into the world, because you’re only interpreting it in the worst possible way.

            1. serenity*

              She targeted a friend and ensured that she was ostracized by her entire social circle, for an extended period of time in high school.

              Whether we call that cruel behavior or outright bullying, isn’t that semantics? I don’t mean to be argumentative, but her behavior was more than “drama” and it concerns me that we may be going in the direction of softening the language to not impact an OP who is (admittedly) in a really rough place now. That’s just my 2 cents.

              1. Natalie*

                targeted a friend and ensured that she was ostracized by her entire social circle,

                I didn’t see those details in the linked comment. Were they elsewhere in the comments or is this an assumption?

                1. Nursey Nurse*

                  Near the end of the comments on the original post, OP explained her behavior in more detail. She admitted she had actively encouraged the rest of her social circle to ostracize Rock Star, and that Rock Star basically ended up friendless.

                2. sunny-dee*

                  I think that’s how serenity is interpreting “took our entire friend group with me … and she ended up feeling pretty alone for the rest of high school.”

                3. Turtle Candle*

                  Link is sitting in moderation, but the LW does say elsewhere in the same thread that she believes she told other friends not to invite “rock star” to things, and that by the end of high school “rock star” didn’t have a graduation party because nobody would have come anyway. I think that’s where it’s coming from.

                4. The OG Anonsie*

                  Man, this is so tough. This is one of those things you do a a teenager before all your risk and association perceptions have formed up, and it’s massively devastating for the people being affected but you can’t wrap your crappy empathy receptors around that at all. You go, meh, I don’t really want to see this person, I’ll keep them from being invited to the stuff I’m going to. You don’t pull up the whole picture that you’re probably at all the stuff any of her friends are going to, that she doesn’t have other friends, that other people might take this as a cue not to associate with her at all and refused to ever spend time with her.

                  Some really similar stuff like this happened when I was in high school. At one point I was in the group that was moving away from the one friend, and at another I was the friend everyone was turning away. I feel like at that age you’re kind of in a cloud, where you only see the actions that happen within arm’s reach of you and everything else is fogged out. And funny enough, I also always talked about getting out of that town and I was the only one that bailed out to a far away state immediately after graduation, so for me a lot of the outside machinations were preserved in the fog whereas the people who stayed continued to know each other and clear that away. To me, those folks are A Person I Was Mean To and A Person Who Was Mean To Me even though it’s been a decade and that part of their identities is different to everyone else now. That’s probably a lot of why the OP was preserved as a negative entity in Rock Star’s mind.

            2. Don't Do That*

              Eh, I’m not sure the OP is a reliable narrator; we will likely never know for sure exactly what happened, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was harsher than what the OP said in the comments.

              1. KHB*

                Even from OP’s account alone (with just a tiny bit of reading between the lines), a lot of people in the comments saw it as social bullying. What’s more, we now know (which I don’t think we did before) that Rock Star perceived it as bullying.

              2. Anna*

                I don’t think either of them are reliable narrators, to be honest. We only know how OP saw it and how RS saw it and those two positions are in opposition.

                1. Natalie*

                  Yeah, this is where I’m at. But also, at this point it doesn’t matter – the restaurant encounter has pretty much clinched things no matter what the actual facts of their high school experience were, so it’s probably best for the OP to move on and focus on another career path.

              3. DrAtos*

                I agree. I do not trust OP’s being a reliable narrator. Just reading this update makes me believe that she has not taken responsibility for a lot of what has went wrong in her life. This is not saying that I don’t have sympathy for OP’s situation. However, I find it hard not to see that OP would have been okay if she had focused on an end goal rather than dwelling on her lifelong feud with Rock Star. OP had a choice to be a “Rock Star” of her own in this new fellowship opportunity, which would have possibly opened up numerous opportunities back in her hometown or another city. However, it was her choice to dwell on the negative (the town sucks) and not show up to work. A lot of us have had to leave our towns for better opportunities elsewhere. A responsible adult sucks it up, does a good job, and in a few years applies for a better job in a better city. That’s how many careers start off these days so OP is not an exception. I do think that OP might need to seek professional help, but I also get the feeling that OP is whining about how her life didn’t end up perfectly like Rock Star’s because of X, Y, Z reasons that have nothing to do with her own choices (bullying, not showing up to work, attacking Rock Star at her anniversary dinner) rather than doing something productive and positive to improve her situation.

                1. M-C*

                  +1. There doesn’t seem to be a single iota of progress in OP’s self-pitying outlook from the last post.

                2. Ann O.*

                  That is really harsh.

                  It is hard to feel socially isolated (isn’t that what everyone was so sympathetic to Rock Star about) and then to find out your loved one is cheating on top of that. OP almost certainly went into a depressive episode, which is why she did the actions she did.

                3. Desdemona*

                  +1. The OP sabotaged herself in a career she prepared for for six years, and it’s Rock Star’s fault because…?

                  More than anything else, this update illustrates to me how cynical the apology the OP originally contemplated sending would have been.

                  In the comments on the original post, she wrote that in high school, all she cared about was getting what she wanted and didn’t consider how it might affect other people. I don’t think her outlook has changed much, only now she’s not able to manipulate the people around her into taking her side. Rock Star made the right choice keeping this woman out of her life.

            3. formerly bullied, now rock star.*

              she described it as “she thought i was her best friend, i wasn’t, i dated a guy she liked and took our friend group with me, and she felt very alone for the rest of high school.” if OP was responsible for leaving this girl socially ostracized in high school (and let’s not pretend getting your whole friend group to drop someone is always a kind, sympathetic process to that person) then yeah, i see that as bullying, not drama. i also see verbally assaulting someone in a public place as an extension of that bullying.

            4. Super Anon for This*

              That is classic “female bullying”. It is actually considered worse than “male bullying” by experts in the field because male bullying (beating up a peer, destroying their stuff, etc) tends to be physical, while female bullying is almost always purely emotional. And the emotional stuff lasts far longer. Insert the usual caveats here about people being unique, these aren’t strict categories, etc.

              I highly recommend the book “Odd Girl Out”. It was written when people were just starting to admit that girls bullied each other and weren’t all “sugar and spice”. It really helped me understand the bullying I experienced by a friend as teen, and why it still affects me now.

              Leading a friend group to ostracize one friend, excluding them from your parties, and demanding other friends do the same, as OP admits to doing, is definitely bullying Allison. It is also extremely cruel and is often a cause for suicide attempts in teen girls. I would bet a lot of money that is why Rock Star (victim) posted the suicide hotline. Not to “rub salt” in OP’s wounds, but to let other girls going what she went through that they aren’t alone, that it does get better, because she was suicidal at the time.

              1. the_scientist*

                Was coming here to say this. It doesn’t matter that this didn’t “in your opinion” rise to the level of bullying- it’s textbook relational aggression and the research is pretty settled on exactly how damaging it is.

              2. Tuxedo Cat*

                That’s what I was thinking. It’s probably her version of “It Gets Better.” I imagine seeing the letter writer again and then being yelled at was triggering for this woman.

              3. Uhhh..this isn't right*

                @Super Anon for This…..regarding female vs. male bulling, even though this is months after the fact it was posted.

                What experts in the field made that assumption? Not to discount your own experience.
                But are you saying that getting beat up, being thrown/pushed around, things being thrown at you in front of your own classmates (incl. you school crush) is not emotionally abusive enough? I can tell you it is deeply humiliating and ostracizing. As a male, it’s enough to mess with your sense of masculinity, assertiveness, and self-confidence later in life, not to mention trust issues with peers and potential friends. I don’t see how this is not considered emotional, ALL forms of bullying is emotionally traumatic. Nor is it right to say that one’s gender bullying is worse or better than the other, they’re both uniquely traumatizing.

            5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Y’all! Can we not rehash the “was it bullying” convo in the original post? Those comments were thoughtful and thorough.

              1. designbot*

                Thank you, as that was definitely not the intent of my comment. I meant to get at, try to see it from her perspective for a moment and imagine that she might have her own difficult feelings about seeing OP, and recognize that her actions are motivated by her feelings, not by OP’s feelings.

                1. Jesca*

                  Yes. That is what I got from your post. Just helping OP contextualize why and how the other woman reacted the way she did to OP’s outburst to help her move past it. I second moving past if it was actually bullying or not.

              2. Turtle Candle*

                I generally agree, PCBH, but I do think in this case it’s complex because it’s in the context of continuing to be aggressive towards–and blame–the classmate/rockstar. I think it’s fair to say “there seems to be a larger issue here with your relationships with people” and bring up the past bullying in that context.

                1. Turtle Candle*

                  To put it another way, the concerted ostracization in the original letter was expressly described as “I wanted the social group, so I took it from her deliberately.” (Lest I be accused of putting words in her mouth, it’s in her original post: “I mostly cared about getting what I wanted, which was for people to hang out at my house on the weekend and not hers — and that I got. I know it got back to her that I’d told people I didn’t want to be friends with her anymore. (I know I didn’t say it that nicely. I’m sure it was, “Ugh, Rock Star is SO annoying! Why does she follow us around everywhere?”)”

                  This time there seemed to be some degree anger that the former classmate had something else that she wanted (access to a job or career), but she couldn’t take, hence the meltdown–and continued feeling that it’s the former classmate’s fault. And in both cases, the response is less remorseful than feeling that it’s still her fault and unfair or disproportionate.

                  I’m not trying to re-adjudicate the question of her bullying. I’m trying to point to a larger issue of a pattern. Specifically, a pattern of feeling entitled to something, whether it’s a friends group or a job/career. And that is likely to cause much more consistent, long-term patterns than this incident itself.

                2. Ann O.*

                  The threading is off, but I think you’re wrong in your interpretation of OP feeling entitled. She HAD moved on successfully and got the fellowship in order to build her own life. Unfortunately, that led the OP to be socially isolated and unhappy and then she discovered her boyfriend was an a-hole on top of that.

                  People melt down over that type of thing. It happens. The incident at the restaurant was almost certainly connected to a broader mental health meltdown.

                3. Turtle Candle*

                  I am actually a little unsettled at the frequency of armchair diagnosis in this thread, but regardless, I can’t figure out an explanation of why they would still (now, not mid-meltdown) fibd Rock Star at fault except that they felt entitled to a shot at the job. What else coukd they be at fault for?

            6. neverjaunty*

              What’s “high school drama” to the person dishing it out can be bullying to the person on the receiving end.

              Not to mention that it’s much easier to see something as “drama” from the perspective of an older, wiser person than a young person in the middle of it.

            7. Falling Diphthong*

              I thought what came out in comments was pretty awful, and fell straight into bullying. Though some disagreed.

              But for where she is now, the backstory doesn’t make a practical difference. Whether the OP casually led her to being ostracized by all her former friends, or “stole” her boyfriend and Rockstar then attributed every bad thing in her life to when That Person stole her boyfriend back in high school–All unknowing, OP burned a bridge back there, that affects her ability to get a job at that company today. This can happen because someone believes you to have let your dog poop on their lawn, and never complained to you, but they sure as heck aren’t working with the terrible non-scooper now. Even if you produce DNA evidence that it was another dog, they’re likely to have enough emotionally invested to not move on. Where your actions were actually bad by some objective measure, and it just didn’t matter to you then, any late arriving “Sorry, can I have a job now?” isn’t likely to cut it. (See yesterday’s update re the person who faked a meeting owning her screw-up, before anyone else caught it.)

            8. BarkusOrlyus*

              Having been on the receiving end of that kind of “drama”…no one just “takes a friend group with [them]” at that age without actively ostracizing the person left behind. This isn’t like adults naturally drifting apart. Kids who live across the street from each other and go to school in the same place have to put active effort into not spending time together anymore. That active effort usually involves cruelty.

              But I don’t think that justifies “rockstar” in refusing to allow this woman to even be considered for the job. That’s unhealthy grudge holding.

        3. Anonymous for mental illness*

          Definitely. DEFINITELY. It’s not good for you and I think it is most likely just a source of more distress.

    3. Cuddles Chatterji*

      I agree, especially with the last paragraph. I would also recommend unfollowing/blocking her on social media or taking some other action to make it impossible for you to see what’s going on in her life. Don’t feed the resentment monster; it’ll only eat *you* up. Focus on yourself and what you need to do to move on from this.

      1. Hills to Die on*

        It’s very easy to beat yourself up and feed into the depression/resentments/past mistakes. Dwelling on it will not help. Focus on how to move forward.

      2. with a twist*


        It’s so easy to let the resentment train chug along for years, but all it really does is keep you stuck in one place. Trust me, you do not want to look back in five years and regret having wasted so much time and mental energy blaming her or wishing you could have done things differently. Don’t replay the sequence of events over and over in your mind – it’s hard not to sometimes when things have gone so wrong, but it won’t change the outcome. What’s done is done, but the most important thing is what you will do next.

        When you’re at a low place it can seem really hard to think that it will ever change, however it will. But it’s hard to get the ball rolling on your own, so I’m going to put it to you bluntly: get help as soon as possible. Find a therapist. If the thought of that seems too overwhelming, enlist the help of your parents, your sister, or a trusted friend to help you find one. I got stuck in a depressive state and negative thought pattern for years, and my biggest regret is not asking my family to help me find a mental health professional when I couldn’t do it myself. They would have helped me in a heartbeat, but I just tried to hide away because I was so sad/embarrassed/ashamed. Don’t make that mistake.

        It’s not too late for you, OP. You can let this ruin you or you can learn from it, move on, and be a better person because of it. This will never be an easy period of your life to look back on, but in a few years you can be in a completely different place and accept that although your path wasn’t ideal, it helped you grow into a better person. Good luck – I’m pulling for you.

        1. The Ludaeig*

          “With a Twist” — this is great advice. It can get easy to get into rut, that turns into a trench, and then you can’t quite see your way out.
          OP, I’d suggest seeing if you can find someone who’s completely objective (can be a counselor, or someone else) and talk through some of this. Getting an outside perspective can help you get back on track. Also, perhaps finding a headhunter service or placement service to help with jobs. Sometimes, you can find something that taps into your passions and talents — and it might not have the typical job title you’d think it would.

          Good luck!

          1. Not So NewReader*

            My friend hit a point in life where nothing was going good. He was in jail, coming down off of drugs, had numerous family problems, income problems etc.

            Fast forward 25 plus years later. He’s been sober all these years, he created a relationship with his kids and developed himself in his new chosen field. He had a couple false starts, first he tried A and that did not pan out for [reasons], then he tried B and ugh, that did not work out. Then he tried field C and he started to carve out a living. It was not easy. It’s hard to keep believing we can get to a better place. And it is hard to find good, supportive people. The trick is keep trying. And once you find one good person, OP, they lead you to more good people.

    4. Artemesia*

      This. Your problem with Rockstar is not what happened in HS but what happened at that restaurant that night. You cannot really think you would ever have a shot at a job in her company after that.

      You are in a really difficult place but it does seem like a great time to reckon with yourself, get some therapy to work on your own personal development, and then develop a strategy to re-enter the work world. You may have poisoned your own well locally, but if you are in the US, it is an enormous country. No one at a shop 2000 miles away is going to know what you did drunk at a restaurant Friday night recently. And there is no reason to think they would have connections to Rockstar.

      I would proceed with therapy, take responsibility for the hole you dug, take Rockstar’s advice to heart, and maybe even after you have done all that and gotten yourself in hand send her a very short note thanking her for her advice and telling her that you have followed it. I wouldn’t have sent a note about what happened in high school but she took time to reach out now, so a follow up would be appropriate once you get past this. And then look for a job in the field you love far away from this mess. You have a lot of years ahead and there are endless opportunities to restart. Many of us have come back from messes we have made in our personal lives and our professional lives and had things work out. I’ll bet it will for you too. What’s done is done. Focus on your own head and then on building your career in a new pond.

        1. fposte*

          I agree. One, she didn’t explicitly get any advice from Rockstar and it might be quite a nasty shock to Rockstar that she was considered to be communicating with the OP; two, I doubt Rockstar has the slightest desire to hear from the OP; and three, I think the OP will be much, much better off letting the whole idea of Rockstar and her life fall out of her brain.

          1. AnotherJill*

            In fact, following up the restaurant scene with a note will seem stalkerish, especially after repeated attempts to gain employment at the same place. OP needs to consider some therapy to gain control of her life choices.

            1. The OG Anonsie*

              Agreed. Prior to the restaurant incident, it might have been nice– the girl who forced me out of the friend group apologized to me about it as an adult, and even though it didn’t change my perceptions or feelings about it at all I really appreciated that at least she understood that she gave me a really hard time. Maybe Rock Star would have hated it, but either way there was once the possibility of it being perceived well.

              Now? Now it’s going to unsettle her and exacerbate a new problem. This whole chapter for the OP, I think, can be safely shut. I think the next thing for her to focus on is where she’s progressing from here and leave the rest of it where it is.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Yes. This sounds awful, and I sympathize with OP. But 0% of this is Rock Star’s fault, and I think therapy and support is going to be important for OP as she tries to rebuild her world.

        It’s also going to be important to move on from resentment and blame. Instead of trying to find someone to be mad at for things not working, this is a great opportunity for introspection and for OP to build up her own self-awareness, responsibility, and coping mechanisms.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I don’t think Rockstar gave her any advice. Rockstar went to the hiring manager about the incident at the restaurant, and she tweeted to followers whom I’m sure she would be astonished to find included OP.

        1. Artemesia*

          I misread her tweet as a note to the OP so yeah — my advise was bad here. Never contact this woman again. I somehow remembered her recommending mental health care for the OP — so my bad.

      3. Veronica*

        Depending on how niche the industry is … it actually might matter. I work in an industry that’s small enough that absolutely, someone would make the connection that so and so is from this area, hey, maybe from someone from Local Shop knows them! So no, no one a thousand miles away is gossiping about what happened at the restaurant, but it’s possible (even probable) it would come up if you reached out to someone within one or two degrees separation of Local Shop.

        1. Karen D*

          And OP mentioned being told that she’d been blocked from being employed by the entire network, which suggests that other locations in other states might be linked into the same hiring database.

          The problem is, in some industries that information tends to spill over outside the network, especially when the perceived “victim” in the case is an industry rockstar.

  4. Everything Bagel Fan*

    Sometimes everything goes wrong to push us into changes or re-evaluation of our life. This is a prime time to examine your career, your relationship and perhaps what the next steps are for you letter writer. Signed—- someone who had to hit rock bottom to propel me into something better. And yes, this isn’t an overnight fix. I’m talking 10 years of hardwork and effort.

    1. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

      Yes. Came here to say this. Rock bottom is different for everyone, but it can propel you into a much better situation if you’re willing to do the work. I hope things start to look up for you soon.

      1. Liz in VT*

        This, this, this. Take the clarity that you’ve gotten from this and turn your gaze on yourself. You don’t need to blame or be angry at anyone else – but you do need to work on your own stuff. And you can. Sign up for Affordable Care ASAP (by Friday!) and get thee to a therapist. I promise, you will find your way through this.

        1. TootsNYC*

          My only worry is that our OP hasn’t really gotten any clarity. She’s still blaming Rock Star for this, even though all the woman did is walk through a restaurant.

          Telling her employers about the OP’s drunken, sobbing public confrontation was actually something she was *obliged* to do.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Yes. If I’d been in Rock Star’s shoes, I would be really concerned for my physical safety after an uncontrolled confrontation like what OP is describing.

            1. Arconcyl*

              So much ditto. I was bullied pretty badly in high school and if one of my tormentors was repeatedly applying to my workplace and then appeared OUT OF NOWHERE, having seemingly stalked me to a restaurant on what should be a happy night, to yell at me and make a public scene?

              I’d be freaking out. Also reporting to my boss that this person is unstable, potentially dangerous and possibly stalking me. Here’s a recent photo, please make sure she doesn’t get past security.

              From RS’ POV, the OP is the aggressor here and the meltdown at the restaurant just cements their position as the person CAUSING the problems.

              OP, I’m seconding the advice to get therapy (as someone with clinical depression, meds+CBT helped a lot), to move out of the city again and consider yourself lucky you found out your boyfriend is a sleaze. It would’ve happened eventually so at least it happened before you weren’t further committed to the relationship.

              Also, stop following RS on social media! Put her out of your mind. She is not your concern. She is a former victim of yours and continuing to chase her around like this is genuinely worrying me. Yelling at her like that just makes it seem as if you are STILL a bully.

              Please, please, PLEASE use a ‘DO NOT ENGAGE’ policy with RS. You’ve thoroughly burnt your bridges and salted the lands. Move and stop stalking RS, she’s already had enough to deal with because of you. Absolutely anything else you do right now will just make it worse so it’s in everyone’s best interests for you to stay far away from her.

              And again, therapy. It’s amazing. Please try it.

              1. btdt2*

                +1 Leave her alone. You’ve done enough.

                If I was Rock star, I’d be seriously exploring legal and self-defense options at this point.

          2. The OG Anonsie*

            I think it’s also natural to not turn it all the way around on yourself when you are sitting at the proverbial bottom. I don’t think it’s entirely necessary to pull a full self reflection in the moment– there is a need to preserve some self image to be motivated to carry on. If putting it in a little mental box that says “Rock Star triggered this spiral” while she gets things together again helps preserve enough sense of self to keep her from spiraling out more, that’s ok too.

            The whole thing is a process. Most of us only get the total, 100% clarity with the cleansing power of hindsight. Yeah, taking full and complete responsibility is great, but when you’re in the thickest part of the jungle for starting over it’s also ok to have a crappy thought or two still around.

            That can also be detrimental, it just depends on the person and how they’re using it. I just wouldn’t say that that perfect clarity and totality of responsibility is necessarily the first step.

      2. AndersonDarling*

        Me too! I was going to make this comment!
        Sometimes you want something so badly and it isn’t meant to be. But you keep trying and the universe throws a big astral 2×4 at your head but you ignore it and just keep trying. Then things get worse and you start thinking it isn’t the right path forward, but then you keep chugging at it anyway because you really, really want that one job/boyfriend/house/whatever. Then everything starts falling apart. Everything Falls Apart. And you’re left with nothing and you have to start over.
        And then you start over. And you find that there are other awesome things in the world, things you never knew you could be successful doing. It would have been cool if you figured it out earlier, but sometimes you have to take the train all the way to the bottom.
        So here’s to looking forward!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Oh, I so agree here. When things keep going wrong and keep going wrong, we can get caught up in the misery and start making bad decisions which makes more things go wrong. And scraping the whole idea, starting fresh is THE very thing we need to do. Great life advice.
          In a much lighter example, I remember finding the house of my dreams. It had features numbers 1 through 30 and I was totally in love. Fortunately, I got advice before committing. I found out it had problems numbers 1 through 500. There were too many things going wrong in that situation and I had to back a way. I mourned that house. I compared every house we saw after that to that Lost House.

          It is super hard to recognize when something is just not right for us, especially when we are mentally or emotionally committed to the Thing. And once we recognize it’s not right for us, in some cases it’s almost earth shattering. My story is tamer than some of the extremes that test other people.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      OP, take note of all the people in the thread who have some experience with hitting rock bottom. I’m sure it feels like it’s just you right now, but it’s a really common experience.

    3. BarkusOrlyus*

      Yep. I was obnoxious in college—not exactly a bully, but outside of my very tolerant and loving friend group, I wasn’t earning anyone’s respect. I had no idea how to behave myself as an adult. The first decade after college was harsh, but I was honest with myself and worked hard to change.

      Now I’m in the process of interviewing for a really great job. The head of the department is an acquaintance from college, and I was so embarrassed when I saw her name on the automatic “thanks for applying” email. However, I had a fantastic phone interview with her earlier this week. She emailed to set up a second interview immediately after we hung up. It felt like an official sign that my past is behind me, even if I don’t get the job. Rock bottom doesn’t have to be a permanent residence. Picking yourself back up takes effort, but hopefully OP can do it.

  5. CR*

    OP, you’re having a tough time and I’m sorry about this, but it’s not her fault. I think getting past that mentality would help you in the future.

    1. Annonymouse*

      I can see HOW OP reached this conclusion but I’m still waiting for OP to see her part in it.

      There are many situations where OP is not willing to see the whole truth of a situation – that she is partly (or in some situations wholly) to blame for what happened.

      If RS had never liked that guy OP would have never made the friend group have to pick between them. (ignoring the fact she made them pick)

      If RS was more mature and could just get over high school she wouldn’t have blocked OP working there (nevermind that OP treated her quite badly and had done nothing in the intervening years to make amends or shown that you’d grown)

      Because RS prevented OP getting a job she moved for another one. Because OP moved she lost her boyfriend, job and apartment. (Ignoring the fact OP nc/ns and lost their job. She could have called out for at least one of those days.)

      Because RS was at that restaurant OP yelled at them and pointed out how her life got ruined by RS and RS only.

      OP to move forward (instead of being trapped and defined by what happened with you and RS in high school) you NEED to look at the situation and acknowledge that you played a part.

      You aren’t a leaf drifting in the wind with no purpose or ability to control what happens to you. You’re human. You make choices and mistakes. But you can fix it and change the path you are on.

      1. val*

        Being socially isolated in high school because a former friend had turned all your friends against you isn’t something you “get over.” Seriously, if you don’t understand that, you were probably a high school bully.

        1. Hildegard Von Bingen*

          val, I don’t think you read the post to which you’re responding with clarity. Anonymouse isn’t suggesting that RS should have just gotten over it. She’s summarizing how the LW views it (and indicating it’s unrealistic). Before hurling epithets, please read the post to which you’re responding thoroughly and with understanding.

  6. Jen in Oregon*

    Considering that it’s been almost three months since the incident at the restaurant and the Letter Writer is still blaming Rock Star for her troubles, in any capacity? Well, the best I can manage is: I wish you well, and I think perhaps some talk therapy might give you some insight and some tools on how to move forward from here, both personally and professionally.

    1. Elle*


      LW I’m sorry things have been so rough on you this year. You need some self care and therapy would be a wonderful starting point in being kind to yourself. Best of luck for 2018.

      1. EddieSherbert*


        You can recover from this. Please try to put it behind you! Get whatever help you need to make that happen.

    2. GG Two shoes*

      Does this remind anyone else of the woman who was jealous of her direct reports looks and treated her different because of it? She got some serious therapy help and seemed to be making some really great improvements. I really hope that LW goes to therapy because a bad cycle of blame seems to be coming and it’s really only going to hurt her in the long run.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I do see hope in that OP wrote in initially and then wrote a follow up. Many problems can not be solved in one day or one year. It takes time. The fact that OP keeps talking and is fairly open about the main points, gives me hope.

      It’s the people who say nothing and worse shut themselves off from others who reeeeally concern me the most.

      OP, mull over why you were drawn to writing to Alison. What qualities to you like about her thoughts? My point here is that you picked an EXCELLENT person to talk with about this problem. You can do it again, you can pick more excellent people around you to perhaps do therapy and perhaps do some career strategy coaching.

      I gotta ask, OP. Do you even LIKE your chosen career path? I see you have five years invested in this path. It could be that you do like it and just did not mention. If you like it, then perhaps you can find similar type work in another arena. If you did not like this career path, then good for you for recognizing that and you can start looking for an arena where you will succeed. People change direction and we live in a time where a change in direction is pretty normal and well accepted.

  7. JoAnna*

    LW, this does suck for you and I’m sorry. But I have to echo Alison here: this isn’t Rock Star’s fault. Your actions have had consequences, and she isn’t to blame for those consequences.

    The best thing you can do at this point is start over. Find a new job — any job — and work hard to do well in it to rebuild your resume. Look into therapy so you can learn how to better react to negative situations; a lot of cities have free/low cost services. Figure out if there’s another job/industry you could be happy in, and start investigating options regarding training.

    You can do this. It won’t be easy, but anything worth doing is rarely easy. Good luck.

    1. Jen S. 2.0*


      Ouch to this whole update. I wasn’t particularly sympathetic to OP the first time, but I thought she might have a couple of paths forward to reach her goals if she could pull it together. While I’m still not particularly sympathetic to the work-related bits, OP is really having a rough time with all of the miserable things converging at once (some self-inflicted, some not), and that is terribly unfortunate, and she doesn’t deserve that.

      But this isn’t Rock Star’s fault. The restaurant scene was like bumping into an super-hot ex-boyfriend when you look particularly scruffy, or encountering a smug former coworker on the subway when you’ve just left a bad interview. It’s awful for you, and you want a target or for someone to feel as bad as you do, but it’s not their fault you didn’t do your hair / didn’t prepare well enough that day.

      It honestly sounds like OP just needs a whole fresh start at this point. Find a great therapist, take responsibility for the parts of this situation that aren’t even your fault, look for a tangential field, maybe move somewhere new, be willing to do whatever to get a foot in the door, be prepared to pay a LOT of dues, and be very humble about it all.

      Sorry. Good luck.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      There is only one thing worse than having other people mess us up and that is when we mess up our own selves. And it is a very difficult thing to come to grips with. Some people end up examining their sense of self-worth in order to move through this.

  8. Been there*

    Oh dear, that didn’t seem to end well. LW, I do hope that you can find a way to move past all of this. While RockStar is an easy target right now, none of this is her fault. While she did initially set the boundary with her workplace that she was not prepared to work with you, that doesn’t mean that everything after that point is her fault.

    Unfortunately you made some bad choices and had some bad luck with the boyfriend. The sooner you stop focusing on the RockStar the sooner you can begin to start making some positive choices in your life.

    Good Luck, it sounds as though you could use a little right now.

  9. MuseumChick*

    I really hope things get better for you. You have been through a horrible, painful, extremely difficult few months. I have good news and bad news for your. Good News: You are the one with control over what happens in your life. Bad News: You are the one with control over what happens in your life.

    None of this is Rock Star’s fault. Not even a little. I think you will realize that upon further reflection. Don’t let your your poor choices prevent you from making better ones in the future. It might be you don’t drink for awhile, that you work a bunch of part-time jobs to build up more skills, you could try going back to school (I did this and got a Graduate Assistantship that paid for the majority of my tuition). Don’t let what you envision as your “ideal” life get in the way of what could be a “good” life.

    Good luck with everything. I hope that we will see a second update from you soon with a lot of good things going your way.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      “Good News: You are the one with control over what happens in your life. Bad News: You are the one with control over what happens in your life.”
      That should be on a bumper sticker. :)

      1. MuseumChick*

        I heard it somewhere and for the life of me cannot remember where or who said it. But it has always stuck with me.

      2. DG*

        It reminds me of the story about the Buddhist monk with the magic mirror. It shows him the source of all of his problems, and also the solution to all of them.

  10. JokeyJules*

    I can understand being upset making you feel that Rock Star is the center/cause of the hurricane in your life right now.

    Hopefully some time will give you clarity.

    Sending good vibes!

  11. fposte*

    I’m sorry, OP, this is a really rough time. With other people, though, I think you’re still putting some blame on the wrong person here, and Rock Star wasn’t “rubbing salt in the wound” by celebrating her anniversary, reporting that a job candidate had yelled at her in a public place, or posting resources for the bullied. It may have made you feel more unhappy, but that doesn’t mean she was being cruel.

    1. sunny-dee*

      Also … she may not have only been posting it for the bullied. The OP was a drunk mess, weepy, and screaming at RockStar in a restaurant that her life and career were ruined. It could be that RockStar was posting some of that because it was pretty obvious the OP was in a really dark place.

        1. Wut?*

          That’s what I thought. That she was posting it for the OP’s benefit. If you start crying and yelling in a restaurant, that’s an indication you’re not in a good mental place. Posting resources is actually a pretty kind thing to do.

        2. Snark*

          It was my assumption that she has no idea OP follows her – for no obvious good reason – on social media, and had Many Thoughts about her experience with bullying after her bully drunkraged at her in public, and posted because the whole situation reminded her of how badly she felt in high school and she wanted some good mojo out in the universe in case it could help some other kid.

          And just why the hell was OP following her on Twitter? How is that remotely healthy or okay?

          1. Totally Minnie*

            That was my take on it, too. My high school experience was similar to that of the girl OP bullied, and I did, in fact, have an awkward accidental meeting with her when we were adults. All the old feelings came rushing back, and I needed a way to process that and remind myself that I’m okay now. I’m guessing that was what Rockstar was doing with that social media post.

            OP, I’d like to second the recommendation that’s already been made to unfollow and/or block this person on social media. You need a way to process what you’re feeling as well, and I think it would be easier for you to do that if you didn’t have to see her popping up in your feed on a regular basis.

          2. Princess Cimorene*

            I’m also not sure when this letter was written, if it was within the last few days, Rock Star posting about bullying may not have had too much to do with the incident themselves, but with the overall theme of bullying. Between seeing stories about the 10 year old little girl who hung herself after a video of a fight with her bullies was published on social media, to the video of the kid crying about being bullied (and the subsequent fallout from that after social found out his mother, and potentially himself, weren’t the kindest nicest people to begin with) bullying of children has been the forefront of conversations in media/social media right now.

            Being reminded that she too was a victim of childhood bullying because her bully attacked her and her husband in a restaurant on her anniversary probably made it more important to her, in this current climate — with bullies at the very top office in this country (If you’re in USA, OP) punching down, to 10 year old babies so distraught by bullying that they take their own lives, she probably felt it was important to put her perspective on the topic and to share links to try to help someone else.

            OP, you have to stop making Rock Stars life about you. You WILL NOT HEAL if you don’t make some major changes. We definitely want you to heal and to have a really great update for us next December. We are rooting for you, but you have to do the work dear.

        1. Proofin' Amy*

          Whereas I thought the exact opposite. The RockStar was screamed at in a public place where she was supposed to be celebrating. I imagine that it was extremely upsetting for her, and maybe made her feel bullied again, after she thought she’d protected herself sufficiently from the OP. Certainly it would have brought up all kinds of feelings from that time.

          1. Optimistic Prime*

            That’s what I was thinking too. After being bullied through high school, she’s finally in a good place in her life – great job, a partner she loves, etc. She’s out celebrating her anniversary with her husband and suddenly she runs into her high school bully…who starts yelling at her. That’s got to have been super upsetting and brought back really bad, raw memories and emotions.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Sorry, I just realised I misread this – I thought you were saying the post was a jab at the OP. But you meant the resources were perhaps intended for her too though and I think that’s a really good point!

      1. my two cents*

        OP – they posted that because, even if they had some small glee in seeing you hurting, they still saw a person who was hurting and they felt like posting on it. But, they didn’t post it AT you. They wouldn’t have assumed you were watching their twitter feed.

        As an awkward outsider teen turned functioning adult…I wouldn’t anticipate anyone from my high school career, even someone I know had applied at my workplace, keeping tabs on my twitter feed. But I *could* see myself posting something related to having run into one of the ‘mean kids’ while they were sobbing and blaming me for having ruined their life…but still not with the expectation that they’d ever see it.

        OP – even the healthiest and best-adjusted people can use a mental health tune-up from time to time. Having an unbiased individual to talk through everything, and possibly even help work through the traumatic dinner incident or provide career counseling, can be extremely impactful. There may be counseling services available through your local state-run college or technical school – I know both UW-Milwaukee and UW-Madison have reduced-rate or free therapy sessions available by the graduate students, as does MATC technical college.

      2. pastdep*

        Yes! I wondered if anyone else read it that way. Honestly if you ran into me in a public place and went off on me about how many ways I’d ruined your life, I’m kiiiiiinda gonna suspect that if my social media presence is easy to find, you’ve found it and are looking at it. It read to me like by reporting it to work, she was protecting herself (ENTIRELY justified), but also that having witnessed the restaurant scene, she very well might have thought “this is not normal behavior for an adult, and this is about WAY more than just a job this person didn’t get”, and tried in the only safe way she could think of to reach out and gently suggest a path to help for you. Either way, those links she posted could be just as much a saving grace to you as to anyone who was ever bullied. Take a look. See what’s there. Be okay with asking for help – that’s your first step to getting back on track. Everybody hits rough spots in their life, and there’s nothing wrong with asking for help from the resources that are there to do exactly that. And by that I mean friends, family, and/or professionals.

        And by the way, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, went to college because “everybody does”, and flunked out. I spent until my mid-30s working in part time jobs I was horrible at and hated. In my early 30s I got some mental health help, and over the years I have put things together, and am now at a job I love and have a passion for and am DAMN GOOD AT that I never even thought of in school or college. This isn’t the end for you. This is a path that took a sudden shift. Keep following it, and it may lead to something unexpected, but actually, kinda damn awesome. (And at the very least, you know it’s now leading you away from one huge asshole of an ex.)

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      +1. I’ve reread the post twice and am really struggling to understand what you think she did wrong.

    3. what's my name again?*

      Hmmm, I don’t use Twitter but now I’m wondering: Does RockStar know that the OP is following her on Twitter? I think I would be creeped out knowing that my high school bully was following me on any social media, even more so in this situation in which a job at my company was involved. I’d be severely rattled, in fact.

      1. Natalie*

        You don’t need to follow someone on Twitter to see their posts, it’s a public platform. But yes, if the LW is following her old classmate, the old classmate would be able to see that unless LW’s account doesn’t reveal their identity.

        1. Antilles*

          Technically you can look it up, but with the way social media works, it’s possible Classmate wasn’t really aware of it. If Classmate is active on Twitter with her great professional reputation, it’s likely she has several hundred (several thousand?) followers so OP just blends into the background (until the restaurant blow-up anyways).

          1. fposte*

            And I don’t officially follow anybody on Twitter, but there are lots of feeds that I actively follow just by reading them regularly, so if the OP was doing that there’s no reason for her classmate to have known at all.

            1. Turtle Candle*

              Also, LW noted that it was retweeted many times, which makes it very easy to see things even from people you are not following. Especially if there’s any overlap in their social circles (friends of friends or industry).

        2. Meyers and Briggs were not real doctors*

          Social media definitely fuels depression, imho, which is a large reason why I nope out. Can’t let it get to ya if you don’t look.

          In other news there’s a @ROYMOORESHORSE and all posts are public. I didn’t want to sign up for a twit account just to read them. Might cheer ya up, LW

          1. DrAtos*

            Social media is a killer for people who already suffer from insecurity and mental illness. OP has major issues grappling with her own failures in comparison to Rock Star’s immense success both personally and professionally. Seeing her on social media probably makes it a million times worse. I hope that OP understands that social media only reveals one very small aspect of any individual’s life. The majority of posts are understandably positive – highlights of one’s vacations, promotions, and good times in a relationship and family life. What we don’t see are the everyday mundane, self-doubt, disappointments, and arguments that everyone goes through, even those who are experts at portraying a perfect life on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. OP absolutely must deactivate her account for a while until she gets her life back on track. Seeing Rock Star’s achievements will not help OP move forward.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Just my opinion, but I have come to believe that some people are supposed to light a fire under our butts. They are supposed to remind us that we can do better, we can be more deliberate, we can plan better and so on. The purpose of this type of person is NOT to be our friend or our ally. If we look for this person to be our buddy or our helper we are barking up the wrong tree. That is not the function they serve in our lives.

              Barry Manilow had a song with a line in that could be applied to so many settings:
              “You remind me I live in a shell, safe from the past and doing okay but not very well..” The song goes on from there, but that one line can describe a lot of people who walk in and out of our lives.

      2. Miss Elaine e*

        Am I the only one who is now a bit concerned for Rock Star as well as OP?
        Rock Star was confronted by the upset and drunk OP who is clearly falling into a downward spiral and is at least partially blaming Rock Star. I’m a bit concerned about self harm as well as harm to Rock Star.

    4. FortyTwo*

      I definitely don’t think RS Tweeted about the incident to “rub salt in the wound.” First of all, it was a VERY unusual incident that probably shook her up–I’d probably share it on social media, too! But it sounds more like she was concerned for OP’s current state than lording it over OP how much better her life is. Most of those links sound like she’s reaching out to her own past, encouraging teens who are being bullied. I don’t think she intended to aim anything at the OP–why would she even assume that OP would see it? (I suppose RS could look at her followers, but…that seems like a lot of effort for someone who doesn’t sound like they’ve wasted time thinking of revenge.)

      Sorry to be blunt, OP, especially when you’re in the midst of what sounds like depression, but–it’s not always about you. People don’t think about you as much as you think they do. There’s a positive side to this: People also aren’t JUDGING you as much as you fear they are! Also, when people DO think about you and talk to you, it seems as though they’re concerned and care.

      1. Turtle Candle*

        Yeah, honestly, “here are resources for the bullied, it gets better!” is probably a more kind and measured response than I’d make, given how dramatic the inciting incident was.

        1. Oranges*

          I kinda agree. This is a normal human thing but I’d say a big part of growing up is knowing that it’s not all about you. Well, at least logically I know that….

        2. Not So NewReader*

          People who do this, do so because they are really struggling very hard with life. In some situations our problems become so great that there is no brain space left for others and their concerns. Not saying this is right or wrong, I am just saying that this happens.

      2. Jessica*


        OP, if ever there was a time for you to reflect on what is and isn’t within your ability control, it would be now.

        First thing should be to block Rock Star entirely and forget she exists. Focusing on her and your mutual history is doing you absolutely no good at all. The bridge is burned, you cannot go back and fix it.

        Clean your slate. It would be a great idea to enlist some professional assistance for you to do this, because you’re stuck in an unhealthy cycle of reacting in very self-sabotaging ways that have long-term consequences for your goals. No-showing to an important entry-level position so that you get fired, getting wasted and causing a public scene with exactly the person whom you believe stood in your way with that one company, so that the bridge is permanently and utterly burned. You aren’t just shooting yourself in the foot, you’re aiming missile launchers at yourself.

        The new year is fast approaching and it’s a good time to reflect on what you have to work with. Things you have:

        1. Relevant education
        2. Relevant internship experience
        3. No commitments limiting you to your current location

        If ever you were considering a change of scenery, now would be the time. Look at industry positions elsewhere—FAR away. You said you didn’t really want to move, but your option is to start a different career in your current location, or to pursue your existing career in a new location. Making a commitment to spend 2-3 years in a new place to develop your career without any influence of your previous relationships (and I include both your ex and Rock Star in that) will help you, hopefully, not bring negative patterns with you.

        You do need to spend some time coming to grips with your own actions and to make a conscious admission that, in each instance, it has caused lasting damage to others and to yourself. And you need to understand that and to consciously decide to not do it again, to instead make a decision to not concede to impulse and short-term self-serving behavior. When you’re confronted with a tough situation, whatever your first instinct tells you to do is exactly the thing you should not do; I think it’s reasonable to conclude that. You need a new way to react: counting to 10, not responding to an emotionally charged situation without sleeping on it first, performing a mindfulness exercise, avoiding alcohol, etc. etc. so that you are not reacting by lashing out. Enlist whatever tools you need to help you get into a healthier place. If you have a treatable condition (like depression) that medication and/or therapy would help, do that for yourself.

        The fact remains that you are nearing 30 and it is time to take ownership of yourself. It’s time to get a new perspective on what is and isn’t the way you want to live your life. It’s time to make active choices on the person you want to be, and start making significant change happen.

      3. Sophie*

        “I definitely don’t think RS Tweeted about the incident to “rub salt in the wound.””

        I agree that she didn’t do it for that reason – she posted about bullying, to help others, in response to her bully confronting her. Makes complete sense. However, I know that when I was severely depressed and severely anxious, that’s *exactly* how I would have seen it. In particular, all the people liking the post would’ve felt like literally hundreds of people were piling on to say “you’re so wise and kind and that person’s so awful”.

        It’s not rational, but self-loathing spirals aren’t particularly rational.

  12. BadPlanning*

    In cold comfort, sometimes you have to hit bottom before coming back up.

    Also in cold comfort, at least you dumped the cheating boyfriend now rather than a couple years from now.

    Can you add on a year or two of training/education to take your existing training in a different direction?

    1. Hills to Die on*

      The good news being that it’s all uphill from here.

      I would consider sending that apology now that to have nothing to gain from it (but get your head on straight first).

      I have had some blunt words for you, but it is out of concern because I think you need to hear them. The most painful Come-to-Jesus moments have led to more inner strength than I could have ever imagined and life is so much better for me because of those tough love conversations. I hope the same happens for you and that you will come back and give us an update. Best wishes to you.

      1. Lily*

        Agree that an apology can’t hurt. Something like

        “RockStar, I just wanted to let you know I am absolutely mortified about my behavior in the restaurant a few weeks ago, and how deeply sorry I am for how I treated you, both now and in high school. My behavior was and is unacceptable. You were completely right to raise concerns with Employer about working with me, and I in no way hold you responsible for the personal problems I’m dealing with at the moment. There is no need to respond — I just wanted to you know I’m sorry for causing you pain, and I wish you nothing but the best.”

          1. Anna*

            Agreed. This isn’t something the OP should contemplate doing right now, if ever. Perhaps years and years from now when everyone has some time behind them, but not now and not for a long time to come.

            1. Annonymouse*


              Last time OP wanted to apologize not because they suddenly realised how deeply they hurt RS but because they wanted a job.

              This time would be worse because OP STILL doesn’t acknowledge they hurt RS and they actually blame her for everything that happened.

              This has a feel like that letter from that guy that wanted to apologize to his dream workplace but they would call the cops if he emailed them again. Should he go by in person?

              Rockstar and that workplace (indeed the entire network) has made it clear that further contact is unwelcome.

              Contact now will show you don’t respect the clear boundaries, follow societal norms or think other peoples wants or needs are as important as your own.

              If you want any chance of one day doing a job in this industry then you need to stay away for at least 2 years.

          2. Lily*

            Idk, OP’s bridges are completely burned here anyway. A short apology note asking nothing in return might make things *slightly* less awkward if she runs into RockStar again.

            1. fposte*

              In some situations I can see that, but at this point I really think she needs to leave Rockstar alone.

              1. Lily*

                I can see not wanting to “poke” the issue any further and just let Rockstar move on with her life, but in this case, they live in a small town and work in a niche industry. Chances of seeing each other again are high. If I was in Rockstar’s shoes and got screamed at by a drunken HS bully in a restaurant that I ruined her life, it would be a relief to know that person wasn’t going to be hostile or even potentially violent to me if I saw them again.

                1. fposte*

                  I don’t think I’d feel surer of that by getting an apology, though, because that suggests they’re viewing this as an ongoing thing. I think this one is just too tough to call in advance.

                2. Tuxedo Cat*

                  In the original post, the letter writer said it’s a city of 3 million. That’s fairly large and a really unfortunate coincidence that the letter writer ran into this woman.

                  I don’t think writing a letter would be useful. If anything, it sounds like the letter writer still blames this woman for everything.

                3. Luna*

                  I’m on the fence about whether or not OP should send an apology, but if she does- definitely have someone else read it over first! Make sure it sounds right, otherwise she risks escalating this situation even more.

                4. fposte*

                  @Luna–oh, good point! And also don’t expect a reply or follow Rockstar on social media to see if there’s any indication she got it.

                5. Annie Moose*

                  I… genuinely question whether or not that’s true, though. (that OP can guarantee she won’t be hostile/violent toward RS in the future, or that RS should conclude such a thing from a hypothetical apology note) OP didn’t deliberately decide to confront RS at the restaurant, it happened as a result of a chance meeting + OP being deeply upset + alcohol. Can OP really guarantee that such an incident would never happen again? She’s clearly still deeply upset (at herself, at RS, at the whole situation) and is still having trouble coming to peace with her situation. I think OP is going to need time and distance before she would be able to interact neutrally with RS. (and RS likely would like some time and distance of her own!)

                6. Annonymouse*

                  LW still actively blames Rock Star for everything that has happened.

                  She is not in a place emotionally or mentally to give a apology that would make a positive change to anyones life.

                  Also both Rock Star, her work place and all businesses in the network have made it clear that they do not want any contact from LW. Do not apply here, you will never be hired. Pretty clear “stay away” message.

              2. Decima Dewey*

                This. For now, LW should assume she’s burned her bridges as far that company is concerned, as well as forgiveness from Rock Star. Things may change, but right now that’s the way it is.

            2. Temperance*

              The time to apologize has passed. LW can find another way to make amends, if that’s something that’s important to her, but time to leave poor Rockstar alone.

            3. Turtle Candle*

              Well, I’d be less concerned about burning the bridges further, and more with upsetting Rock Star further, given that I imagine that the restaurant incident was pretty alarming. It might do no additional harm to LW, but I think it has a good chance of doing additional harm to Rock Star, for no good reason. If I were RS, I’d want to put this whole thing as far in my rearview mirror as possible.

            4. Snark*

              If I were rockstar, and all of this had happened, and I got YET ANOTHER contact from this person demanding I do emotional labor for them….it would make future run-ins less awkward mostly because I’d have a goddamned restraining order against them, because it would mean they were obsessed with me and their relationship with me to an extent I would find actively threatening.

          3. backdoor*

            Agreed. I think the only way to apologize for the restaurant incident would be to reply to the hiring manager’s email saying OP understands why she won’t be considered as a candidate and asking the hiring manager to pass on an apology for her behavior to Rock Star (and let the hiring manager use their discretion in deciding whether to pass that message on to Rock Star).

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          Apologies can hurt. Especially if they aren’t sincere. Given the way that LW still blames Rock Star for ruining her life, it’s highly doubtful she would be able to make a sincere apology.

          1. DrAtos*

            This. OP has not yet learned her lesson nor has she taken full responsibility of her actions, and she continues to blame Rock Star for being successful in life after high school. It’s typical for a lot of bullies to hit their prime in high school, then become jealous and spiteful of their victims who end up with the awesome adult life. OP needs to end this type of thinking for good, otherwise, she will never be able to grow and move forward nor will she ever get to the point of making genuine amends with Rock Star. In order to do that, OP would actually need to act like a mature adult who can stop comparing her life with Rock Star’s and speak to Rock Star without placing any blame whatsoever onto her. At this point, OP is not ready for that conversation.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Just as there are lots of stories of bullies hitting prime in high school, there are lots of stories of people who literally barely survived high school because of bullying and go on to have good, full lives.

              I think that OP needs to get to a safer place before interacting with RS again. If I am drowning in a lake I am not prepared to have a meaningful conversation about life with someone sitting safely in a boat.

        2. Samata*

          “RockStar, I just wanted to let you know I am absolutely mortified about my behavior in the restaurant a few weeks ago, and how deeply sorry I am for how I treated you, both now and in high school. STOP.

          And only if it’s genuine.

  13. Lady at Liberty*

    That… that escalated in ways I wasn’t expecting.

    I’m sorry for your recent suffering (your now ex-boyfriend deserves a quick kick in the fork) and I hope you’re able to put yourself back together to find a new field.

  14. CatCat*

    Sorry that you have been having such a rough patch of it. You may be able to benefit from counseling just to have someone neutral help you work through some of this.

    Also, ascribing fault to Rock Star is not helpful here (because what if Rock Star were at fault… so what?) It’s not helpful to you. There’s only what you can do to move forward. That’s what you need to figure out. It may not be the path that you had planned on or anticipated, but you can still reach success.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Seconding that even if Rockstar were at fault–that’s not going to help OP. It’s not like there’s some mind control ray that can get Rockstar to put in a good word with the hiring manager, but only if OP first establishes documented proof that something is Rockstar’s fault.

  15. RescueCat*

    OP, I think looking at it from the perspective of the Rock Star might help you. Imagine being bullied in high school and then finding out that person wanted to work where you work later in life. This makes you uncomfortable, so you tell your management about it, which is a brave move, because one never knows how someone will react to a story of bullying (“Oh, that doesn’t sound like a big deal and look, it built character in you!”, etc, etc). Then you run into your bully at a restaurant when you’re out celebrating a good time with your spouse, and the bully bullies you yet again by drunkenly shouting at you that you ruined her life. Having gotten a good reaction from your management before, you bring this incident up as yet another reason why the bully shouldn’t be hired, and your management removes her from the hiring pool forever.

    I realize you’re going through a tough time, but you’re only looking at it from your side. Looking at it from her side might help you reframe what’s going on.

    1. Elizabeth*

      Yep, this. From Rock Star’s perspective, it probably feels like she and OP picked up exactly where they left off a decade ago. She has very little reason to believe that things are different now, even if (restaurant incident aside) OP things they are.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        She also didn’t make your boyfriend cheat on you. That sucks and I’m so sorry it happened but she didn’t do that. He did.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          I think LW is blaming the cheating on the fact that she “had to” move 7 hours away for a job.

          Which doesn’t make a lot of sense, but considering the spiral LW is in, I can understand how she’d get there.

          1. DrAtos*

            If someone wants to cheat, that person will ultimately cheat! It does not matter if you both live in another state or sleep in the same bed each night. If he had not done this to her now, he would have done it ten years from now when she is more established in her career and may need to travel for work. Who knows. The point is that her ex is the only person to blame for what happened. OP’s fellowship was only supposed to be for 9 months! If this dude can’t keep it in his pants for 9 months or take a long drive to spend the weekend with OP, he is not the right guy to have a long-term relationship let alone marry. OP should be thankful she found out now rather than after getting married to him.

    2. eplawyer*

      I was going to say this. Rock Star said bullying ends in high school. That was a very pointed reference that she wants to be left alone by you. That is not her fault. That is your fault for choosing — not matter how drunk you were — unload on her. She has a right to not want to be around that.

      As noted, you need to take a good strong look at your life and your choices. Not what other people do or don’t do. Only you can control your life. You need to take responsibility for it.

    3. MuseumChick*

      This. From RS’s point of view this is how everything went down.

      RS somehow finds out her high school bully has applied to a job at her company. She informs them that due to their past history it would be extremely difficult to work with her (who knows how she worded it, it would have been anything from “Oh, I know Jane….we have a history….” to “If she is hired I will have to look for a different job.”).

      The she doesn’t hear anything else about her former bully for months. She just goes about her life, she and her hubby decided to go out to dinner to celebrate their anniversary. In the middle of dinner the dunk, weeping, angry bully appears and yells at her in a very public place making accusations that have no foundation. Knowing that this person has been applying to jobs at her company she informs her managers of the incident.

      Something that AAM has really hit home for me is how your actions outside the office and effect your career (the letter about the guy who thought the CEO’s wife had ruined his job prospects comes to mind).

      1. Hmmmmm*

        Moreover, RS might have not even been concerned about the personal scars of being bullied, she might have genuinely feared that OP was an unstable, dangerous person depending on how extreme the bullying was. Given the other details in the update…RS might have been right. Given my suspicion of the OP/RS’s age range (25-35ish), they probably grew up post-Columbine (when in school peer violence went out of style) but before the rise of social media when cyberbullying became a thing. As a person who grew up in that between time, even as it was happening, “bullies” were not cool kids or kids being pressured into anything, they were the people that everyone suspected to be mentally unstable and dangerous. I think it is clear that OP is seeing this situation through the fog of undiagnosed severe mental illness. I hope she finds a treatment plan that works and is able to start her life over with clear eyes.

      2. MashaKasha*

        Yes, it looked like a logical decision to me too, rather than revenge. “Look, the one time since high school she ran into me, she caused a scene, to the point where she was asked to leave the restaurant and never come back. Can she be trusted to work at the same company I do? We don’t know what she’ll do next if she runs into me in the office, or in front of the clients.” Not saying that something bad would’ve necessarily happened, but that this is what it looked like from RockStar’s point of view.

    4. Editor Person*

      And even if the bullying never happened, running up to someone and drunkenly yelling about not getting a job is a sure-fire way to make sure you’re taken out of consideration. I’m not saying it didn’t happen but each individual action alone was not a good move and all on OP, not on some long con by the Rock Star to ruin her life.

      1. HumbleOnion*

        This was my thought as well. It’s concerning behavior, regardless of their history. I’d absolutely report this kind of behavior to my company.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        True. You could drunkenly unload on Jane Smith about how it’s her fault her company won’t hire you, only to later find out you had her mixed up with someone else. But in the meantime, Jane Smith surely had a “Wow. Do not give an interview to Rides With Oysters” conversation with the hiring manager anyhow.

    5. Luna*

      Especially considering this industry is so small, image Rockstar thinking what are the chances her bully would end up in the same niche field as her. Must have been upsetting.

    6. Middle School Teacher*

      Good point. How many letters have we seen here from the victim’s POV? “Dear AAM, my abusive ex/girlfriend who dumped me etc wants to work at my company. I’m very concerned, what should I do?” And RockStar did what the advice often is, which is to speak up. Now we’re hearing from the other side.

      Kudos to OP for writing in, though. I think that’s a big win. I often hear that the first step to getting better is admitting you have a problem.

  16. sympathetic*

    Oh man, I’m so sorry, letter writer. What a rough year. Yikes. That boyfriend is a number one jerk though, and as someone else said, good thing you found out when you did, and can move on and one day find someone way cooler.

  17. TheFormerAstronomer*

    Ooof, that’s a tough sequence of events, OP. I’m sorry.

    If (like me) you’re susceptible to depression or SAD, this type of thing could tip you into a nasty spiral. Maybe consider talking to your GP or therapist to get whatever help you might need if this is the case.

    1. Lily*

      Out of curiosity, what do you do medically to manage your SAD? I’m already in therapy for other issues, and have experimented with herbal supplements and lamps, but the only thing that seems to make a huge difference is intense, regular exercise (which I’m trying to make more time for).

      1. STG*

        I deal with SAD myself. I tried antidepressants for a couple years during the winter but they made me feel like a different person. I’ve had pretty good luck with lamps, exercise and trying to eat more healthy things during that period. My first instinct is to reach for sweets when I’m stressed/depressed so it can be a challenge.

      2. blackcat*

        Bring the conversation to the open thread! I have thoughts, and I bet others do. But it’s off topic here.

  18. Zephyrine*

    I’m sorry to hear you’ve been having such a bad time lately. I urge you to reframe how you’re thinking about the tweet she made. She didn’t tweet AT you. She must have been really shaken up by being shouted at by her former high school bully*. The incident probably triggered some very painful memories. Her tweet was probably her way of coping (i.e. It was about her, not about you).

    OP, I strongly suggest you look into therapy. I think talking to a neutral third party could really help you.

    *Not interested in a debate about whether the OP was a bully or not; regardless, that’s clearly how the other woman remembers her.

  19. TheBeetsMotel*

    Think it it this way; if you hadn’t moved, you may not have found out your boyfriend was cheating on you for a while lot longer. What if you’d entwined your financial lives all the more, and then found that out?

    I’m not saying any of this should have you jumping for joy, but it did, in a roundabout way, allow you to find a new path for yourself free of some prior obligations. This might be an opportunity for something better that you weren’t expecting.

    1. JoAnna*

      from the commenting rules:

      “Give letter-writers and fellow commenters the benefit of the doubt. Don’t jump to a negative interpretation of someone’s comment or situation; instead, assume good faith on the part of others, including people whose opinions differ from your own.”

    2. Rena*

      Also from the commenting rules:

      “I have no way of knowing if the letters people submit or real or not. I assume all advice columnists get trolled now and then, but I don’t really care as long as the answer might be useful to someone.”

      Crying “fake” doesn’t help anyone, weird piles of coincidences happen all the time.

    3. Ramona Flowers*

      Uh, yeah they do. My husband grew up to be an actual rock star, in that he played keyboard for a band that opened for a very well-known rock group from our hometown.

      He stepped off stage and found himself face to face with someone who bullied him in school.

      Also in my previous industry it took years to stumble on the fact that someone from my school worked for one of my main freelance clients.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        We were on top of an Alp (I live in the US) waiting to go out on the observation deck with a few dozen people. And there was a kid from my son’s class. Elsewhere on the Alp were his siblings and parents.

        With no need for “while in our hometown” or “while applying for jobs in the same industry” or any of the other narrow sorting algorithms in this letter.

        1. Mike B.*

          When I started this job I was working for an account co-promoted by two clients, each of which had its own product manager in charge (neither of whom I worked with directly).

          The one at client A had been a casual friend of mine in high school, who I had not seen or heard from since graduation day.

          The one at client B I met that year at the wedding of a mutual friend not in our industry.

          The wedding, the high school, and the job are/were all in Manhattan. New York, not Kansas.

        2. True Story*

          My family ran into my middle school principal in the middle of the Cayman Islands one time. We were both swimming with the stingrays at Grand Cayman. When I popped up from snorkeling and taking pictures with my disposable underwater camera, he was standing about 2 feet in front of me. The craziest part is that we weren’t even on the same cruise ship. We were both on separate excursions from two different ships.

    4. AnonAndOn*

      Alison says we should give letter writers the benefit of the doubt. The old saying goes, “Truth can be stranger than fiction.” Just because the narrative may seem too convenient and drama-filled to you doesn’t mean that it’s fiction. If the OP is in a small town I could see her running into her former classmate at a restaurant like that. Things like this can happen in real life.

      I believe the letter writer and am taking what she wrote seriously.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Just look at the story of Dear Abby and Ann Landers, identical twins who became competing, non-speaking advice columnists. Run that story by a director and you’d be laughed at for how unlikely this combination seemed.

    5. fun fact*

      I ran into someone I hadn’t seen since we were at high school together in a small European country, 3 years later on the floor of a nightclub in Vietnam.

  20. TootsNYC*

    Maybe you can use some of those mental-health links to find someone who can help you through this. You’re in SUCh a tough patch right now, and having someone who can help you work your way through this would be of immense help.

    Hopefully you’ll find someone who will be on Team You, but will also not allow you to invent narratives in which you run from the responsibility for owning up to the choices you made, and facing up to the consequences.

    I said to my kids, on their way off to college: Never, ever lie to yourself. It’s REALLY uncomfortable to acknowledge your own screw-ups, and to own them, take the blame for them. But you will never, ever, ever grow if you don’t.

    And look at where this “blame someone else!” instinct got you: Because you have never acknowledged that you have some serious fault in the relationship with Rock Star, you blew up at her in public.
    If you had been willing to see the wrongs you had committed, and been able to see Rock Star as a person worthy of respect, you would have handled that encounter in the restaurant differently.

    1. TootsNYC*

      I feel sort of sad–that accidental encounter could have been a place for our OP to show her former schoolmate that bullying DOES end after high school. That the OP could be a reasonable person.

      I was picked on in my small-town school. It could have been so much worse; I’m not sure I’d actually call it bullying.

      But I had some resentments, and some people I didn’t really want to see again. However, when I *did* see them, I found it wasn’t as painful. And that I could see them as people, and couple approach them somewhat fresh.

      And…at the last high-school reunion, one of those people who’d been sort of mean to me (in grade school, she told my boyfriend that he shouldn’t be my boyfriend, and he believed her,so I have always blamed her for that–though I blamed him for believing her) said to me:
      “I think I should apologize for the way we treated you. It really wasn’t nice.”

      It was, what, 25 years later? It still felt nice.

      And I felt that I could have possibly worked with her day-to-day.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Eeek, I hadn’t thought about that. The encounter could have been a place for the OP to turn things around, apologize and set things right. It may have been a way to the magically wonderful job. But instead anger took over.
        It wasn’t meant to be. It really, really wasn’t meant to be.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I honestly kind of expected the letter to go that way. She ran into Rockstar and seized the moment to apologize. She felt like some of that weight got shifted–nothing magic, no bonding, no “okay here’s a job”–but she was able to move forward and then found an unrelated job and was bushwacking her way down this new path.

        2. Annonymouse*

          If anything it further proved Rock Star was right in not wanting to want OP working with them.

          We’ve all had disappointments and times where we could have reacted better. The key to not repeating this is to own the whole truth not just what YOU believe is true.

          Like the LW that had the beer runs. While she was projecting her truth

          (I’m a great manager and this very important person to the business doesn’t deserve anything but disrespect and to be forced out)

          she was unable to truly see what the real problems were, fix them or change her life in any meaningful way.

          Once she faced the whole truth and accepted the part she played in how things turned out her whole life turned around.

          Most people on AAM want to see people grow to overcome their problems and lead a good life.

          It’s very rare we want someone attacked with bees and bears (Fergus from the factory that didn’t let his coworker know his wife was in hospital for over 4 hours).

          We want you to succeed and the power to do it lies in your own hands and mind.

          Be brave, challenge your world view with the truth and get some help to stop you from feeling lower and give you ways to help your future

    2. Cristina in England*

      Yes. I came here to say something similar. Please, OP, find a way to accept your own role in this. Find a way to confront the ways in which this is your fault. You will come out the other side much better once you can do this. Accept your own faults and the fact that you are a person who has wronged others in the past. I wish you the best.

    3. Meyers and Briggs were not real doctors*

      Sorry, are we allowed to discuss if the letters are fake? I checked the commenting rules because I see so many commenters say don’t treat any letters as if they are fake, but there doesn’t seem to be a hard rule on this?

      But, my alarms went off a bit too. It’s such a “poor me” letter with the sky-is-falling-everywhere life details that seemed over the top. I hope I’m not saying the wrong thing, just my first feeling also.

      Regardless. I was picked on a lot, and while at times I had fantasized about my bullies getting their comeuppance, this story has brought me a lot of perspective in that regard. And all these years have passed of course. All I hope for now is that the bullies in my life got the therapy they needed to change their outlook on life and behavior towards other humans into something better.

      (The bullies that caused me the most ill-will are in prison, which gives me some satisfaction.)

      1. Sloane Kittering*

        I guess the point is, what good does it do to argue the letter is fake? I think commenters here enjoy discussing the issues raised in a letter and ultimately some good discussion can come even out of a fictional scenario. If someone is at home laughing hysterically because they submitted a fake letter and it … spurred some meaningful discussion, that person is kind of sad – but it’s not worth derailing every conversation by suggesting the letter is made up. I believe there’s a site rule that you’re not supposed to doubt the OP’s account, I think that covers the entire boring fake letter debate.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          As someone (Ask Amy?) put it, the situation is either hypothetical to everyone on Earth, or hypothetical to everyone on Earth minus one.

      2. AndersonDarling*

        About the comeuppance…I’m conflicted as well. A part of me is thinking, Well, this is what happens when you treat people poorly. At some point you will run into them again and they will remember what kind of a person you are. You don’t get to be mean and pretend that it didn’t hurt anyone.
        But I know that some people really do think that high school was a different life and what happens there shouldn’t count against them.

        1. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

          High school may have counted for a lot less than the current time meltdown. I completely understand where it came from, but it made the LWs bad behavior not just in the past

      3. Ask a Manager* Post author

        The site rules don’t actually ask people not to speculate on whether something is fake. I did used to ask that because it feels unhelpful and derailing (and unkind to the letter writer), but then realized how tyrannical it sounds to say “you cannot question these letters!” So now the site rules just say: “I have no way of knowing if the letters people submit are real or not. I assume all advice columnists get trolled now and then, but I don’t really care as long as the answer might be useful to someone.”

        But I will still jump in if it becomes derailing or unkind or just annoying. (I also think it’s weird how often people think things are fake, often even with letters that include people saying in the comments “something like this happened to me too.”)

  21. LatoyaT*

    I would like to add that the heartbreak was likely going to happen whether you got what’s perceived as your dream job or the job 7 hours away (because a cheat is a cheat), and how you responded to that would’ve still defined your immediate future. The “Rock Star” played a very small role in the very unfortunate circumstances you’re in. Life does get better though, with focus and determination… and lots of time.

  22. what's my name again?*

    I am sorry you are dealing with this OP. Unfortunately, I have to agree with the previous commenters that you have made several unfortunate choices and are dealing with the consequences.
    No, it is not the Rock Star’s fault. However, I wanted to point out that her tweets, which seem to be related to the restaurant encounter, seem to point that your interactions way back in high school drove her to at least consider suicide! Let that sink in a little… Whatever she endured must have been horrific and it probably would have been extremely difficult to work with one of the perpetrators. (I’d been severely bullied in high school and I know I could not do it.)
    Perhaps some career and/or personal counseling will help you take the next steps.
    Wishing you and her healing and peace.

    1. LavaLamp*

      That’s not helpful. I think we need to be on Team LW here, not ‘you drove this person to consider suicide’. because we can’t read the other woman’s mind and this just doesn’t help the LW at all.

      LW I’ve been severely depressed and I understand it so well. But you can get through it. I suggest a counselor and to focus on you. On how you don’t suck as a person, you’ve just made some crap choices. The worst thing for me when I’m depressed is feeling ‘less than’ compared to others. You need to remind yourself what makes you special and what strengths you have and all those good qualities because right now it sounds like you feel like you’re worthless. You’re not. You’re just human

      1. Andy*

        I think you can be on Team LW and still acknowledge that she may not understand the impact of her past actions, and maybe (just maybe) LW could make her team stronger with those insights.

      2. Specialk9*

        I disagree, Lavalamp. I picked up on a lack of empathy for Rockstar’s suffering, and much self pity (understandably in parts!) for OP’s suffering. OP is focusing on how cruel Rockstar was for getting them blackballed and posting about having been bullied – that says clearly that OP is still in deflect blame mode, and hasn’t considered how life altering the bullying was for RS. As in, RS thought about suicide. That is worth a ton of reflection, on the road to owning up to one’s actions as an adult. It’s hard but OP must do it or drunken restaurant rages will keep happening.

  23. Jubilance*

    OP, sometimes when it rains, it really pours.

    When it feels like life is really kicking me, I try to focus on the things that I can control. You can’t control your boyfriend cheating on you, but you did have a lot of control in other areas, like the bullying, the excessive drinking, the outburst to Rock Star, etc. Really think through and own your part in all this, and then do the work to do better. It hurts now, but you’ll look back one day and be proud of everything that you’ve overcome.

  24. formerly bullied, now rock star.*

    i mean this in the kindest way possible, OP, but Rock Star’s tweets– especially the links to a suicide hotline– suggest that your bullying of her was possibly so bad you impacted her mental health to the point she suffered from depression and potentially suicidal thoughts. i was bullied– viciously– in high school as well, and it affected my mental wellness for years afterwards– I struggled greatly with suicidal thoughts and self-harm well into college. I hear a lot of self-pity in your response (which is warranted, it sounds like you’re going through a really rough time) but not a lot of regret for how you treated this girl. you have no idea how your treatment of her impacted her long-term, or what she had to overcome as a result of your cruelty. i too am now much more professionally successful than many of the people who bullied me in high school, and I’d absolutely do what Rock Star did– especially if one of my former bullies drunkenly screamed at me while I wasn’t expecting to see them. even more than a decade after graduating high school, I still dread going to my hometown and running into someone who bullied me in high school. your update suggests you still see yourself as the victim here and as someone who lived through a really similar experience, but from the other side– the sooner you try to see things from RS’s perspective, the better. you’ve had a really hard time here, but much of that is on you– not her.

    1. Been there Done that*

      Or perhaps ‘Rock Star’, upon being verbally assaulted in a public place for no apparent reason, thought the OP needed some help that she couldn’t provide, and posted some resources.

      1. formerly bullied, now rock star.*

        maybe, but her comment that things get better after high school really made me feel like it was about her own experiences, not a subtle dig at the OP. i too wish i could go back and tell my high school self that things get better– that in college, i’d meet people who valued being smart and wanted to be friends with me, that after college, i learned to style my hair and found a partner who loved me deeply, that i’d win prestigious fellowships and get into great grad school programs and be, by the age of 28, a woman with a great career, wonderful friends, and a loving, supportive husband.

        in high school, when people called me “fatass” to my face, made fun of my answers in class, and generally went out of their way to ostracize me, the idea that i’d ever be worthy of love, friendship, or success was so remote, and i wanted to end it so many times. i’m glad i stuck it out and i do, as a result, frequently talk about how bullying impacted my life and how it did, in fact, get better after high school– because it did for me, and i want those in my place today to know that. it’s rarely about the bullies themselves– i don’t consider them worthy of spending an iota of energy on– but about those who might be in a similar situation right now. the enormous toll bullying takes on mental health can’t be understated and i don’t see the OP here with an ounce of regret about how she might have treated this girl and what her treatment of her did.

    2. Also formerly bullied, now rising star*

      It *does* get better for those of us who were bullied. We know how to stand up under it and push through and turn into that butterfly, in some way shape or form, and I applaud Rock Star for doing so.

      If I ever ran into the jealous bully who ruined my shot at a university music scholarship (People, she and her parents took her bullying to the office of the Governor. Of the State.), you’d better believe I would not engage. I like to think I could be the bigger person and tell her I’ve forgiven her, but I’m really not sure if I truly have. It was a dark time, and it was one of the contributing factors to a serious mental health issue. But I’m trying to overcome that because it will just drag me down… In short, her not engaging directly at all is likely the kindest thing she can do.

      So, OP, reflect on your actions and the place that you’re in now. And then reach.

      1. Cassie*

        I whole-heartedly agree about not engaging in the case of stumbling across a former bully. IMO this “forgiveness is for YOU” narrative that is foisted on the bullied is yet another layer of emotional legwork that we are burdened with, and I push back hard on that. I’ve learned what’s best for my situation, and I don’t want or need to understand/sympathize with a former bully. I just want them to leave me alone.

        1. Specialk9*

          YES. The mandatory forgiveness narrative is as corrosive on one end of the spectrum, as is fostering resentment like a beloved pet, on the other end of the spectrum. I have no patience for it.

        2. Hills to Die on*

          Someone else mentioned the…imposition that apologizing can bring. Interesting food for thought because I’d always thought of an apology as something you do to set things right for yourself and the other person wasn’t obligated to accept.

        3. formerly bullied, now rock star.*

          1000%. i haven’t forgiven the people i bullied and i have no intention of doing so. i don’t dwell on them or that time in my life but miss me with this “be the bigger person” nonsense. those people were cruel to me for years and never once expressed regret. what’s best for me is focusing on my mental health and wellness and doing all i can to move forwrd– not mustering the emotional energy to care about my former bullies and their feelings (or lack thereof)

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        It’s why shows like Veronica Mars and Buffy struggled post high school–that they were metaphors for the powerlessness of high school. In high school you truly are trapped, even if the swim team are becoming man-eating fish persons, and “so why didn’t you go somewhere else” is answered by “Uh, because I am a minor child, and would have been returned to my parents.”

      3. Pommette!*

        I feel like that needs to be said, even though it isn’t a constructive thing to say:

        It doesn’t necessarily get better. There is no divine or karmic justice: people who suffered aren’t necessarily rewarded for it, and people who caused suffering aren’t necessarily punished for it.

        I have been bullied and ostracized. I lived and still live with mental illness. I struggle with a lot of the same challenges now that I did twenty years ago. Despite my best efforts, I am not a rock star or a rising star, or even a person with stable and rewarding employment. And that isn’t for any lack of effort on my part. The people who bullied me? Some are doing really well for themselves. Others are really struggling (and I can now see that some became bullies because they were suffering profoundly as a result of things going on in their own lives). I have also seen workplaces that were hotbeds of bullying on par with anything I have ever seen in a school, staffed by older adults who never got to escape the horrible dynamics that such an environment creates.

        Obviously, I’m glad that things got better for you, and for many people who have experiences bullying, and respect the genuinely hard work that that must have taken.

        In either case, your point about how not engaging may be a kindness is a good one.

        1. Oranges*

          Yes, we like the just world fallacy. Also, I’m gonna say that you are succeeding at being a decent human person. Which in my account book is the only worthwhile thing.

          1. Pommette!*

            This is true, and important!
            It sounds as if OP managed to move on from being someone who bullied a peer while in high school, to being someone who doesn’t treat her peers in that way now that she is an adult. That’s huge! No matter how things go, OP will continue to have control on the way she acts towards the Rock Star and her future colleagues.

        2. Annonymouse*

          I think the “it gets better” covers a few things:

          1) You’re no longer forced to be around these people. No-one can make you spend 30 odd hours a week with them in the same building anymore.

          2) You are more in control of your fate. You can go to college, move states, get a job, start a family or a Llama farm. You are no longer stuck because your family can’t/won’t move.

          3) You no longer have to play nice/ suck it up. If someone is an ass you can exclude them from your life, treat them icily, ignore them on the street or work for another company.

      4. Hills to Die on*

        I’m really sorry that happened to you. Some people just are truly terrible. I’m glad you are doing better.

    3. Meyers and Briggs were not real doctors*


      “Even more than a decade after graduating high school, I still dread going to my hometown and running into someone who bullied me in high school.”

    4. Dust Bunny*

      +1 The focus right now is still on how big a pain it is for the OP, not how it affected the RS. The fact that RS made good doesn’t erase past wrongs.

    5. DrAtos*

      Beautifully said. Congratulations on your success. A lot of us were in that position in middle school and/or high school, whether it was being bullied, ostracized, or just feeling awkward without many friends. In retrospect it was only four years, but at the time it seemed like it would never end, and the impact those years have follows many people for a lifetime. The comments here attest to that. In my experience, those years in the end did make me stronger. I admit that I do carry lingering animosity for those who teased or ignored me, or never invited me to their parties many years later, but for the most part I have led an extremely happy and successful life post-high school. If only we had a time machine to go back and comfort our awkward 15-year-old selves and assure them that those four years do end quicker than we realize, and that life gets a lot better from here on out. I weep for those who can’t endure and take their lives before they’ve even begun. Bullies need to understand how hurtful their words and actions are, and that decades later their torment continues to negatively affect lives. I agree with you that Rock Star was likely suicidal and dealt with years of anguish – her post was not for OP, it was for others who had suffered the way she had. I can’t imagine going out to celebrate my birthday or anniversary, and coming across someone from high school period let alone having that person scream in my face in public. OP needs to consider that she ruined what should have been a happy and celebratory night for Rock Star. I believe in second chances, but clearly OP continues to place blame on others rather than be more self-reflective about her role in all of this.

      1. formerly bullied, now rock star.*

        thank you! and yes i can’t imagine running into a former bully on what’s supposed to be a special night (AN ANNIVERSARY DEAR LORD) and having her scream at me about how *i* ruined her life. my therapist could probably go buy herself a beach home with all the extra hours i’d need. the fact she did all this and still thinks RS is “rubbing salt in her wounds” just shows some people don’t move on from high school.

    6. val*

      +1. People do not get over being bullied during high school. I am 58 years old and a little part of me rejoices every time I hear further details on how badly my high school bully continues to fuck up her life. I wouldn’t piss on her if she were on fire.

  25. AnonAndOn*

    OP, you’ve got to take the time to work on yourself. This woman (the only time I use the term “rock star” is to describe someone who sells out concert arenas) is not the one to blame for what happened, but it seems easy to use her as a scapegoat when things around you don’t seem to be going right. I agree with others who said to seek counseling and to consider other job options. Right now you are focused on *this one job* that you’re not seeing that there are other jobs out there for you. Getting this specific job does not and would not define your self worth. Outside validation cannot define who you are – that’s something that you have to work on for yourself.

    1. Naomi*

      I was hoping someone would make this point. OP, maybe it will provide you some perspective if you think of it this way: even if you and this woman had been total strangers, you might still not have gotten the job, for any number of reasons. If you had lost out on the job for any other reason, you would probably have been disappointed, but would you have fixated on it to the point where you thought your life was ruined by not getting it? Hopefully you would have accepted that there are no guarantees in job hunting and moved on, and not blamed losing out on that one job for any of the following events (cheating boyfriend, etc.). The good news is that this isn’t the One Job to Rule Them All, and just because you can’t have that job doesn’t mean your life or your career are unsalvageable.

    2. ArtsNerd*

      Yes. Working toward a goal this specific (this job/this company/even this one, specific niche industry) when *so many* factors are absolutely out of your control requires a plan B and beyond.

      I’ve changed my career plans and direction many times based on what seemed the most realistic and practical at the time. See my username – there’s SO MUCH competition for limited job openings to work in the arts. And something I learned? Most arts employers suck, with occasional exceptions for executive-level roles. Most arts jobs are brutal and toxic. The “dream job” I aspired to reach early in my career now looks like a nightmare position I would never even apply for.

      The career track I’m on now, (and the career I want now, which are in sync) look very different from what I wanted 10 years ago. Funnily enough, it looks very close to what I wanted from my adult-self when I was in high school. But I know, with 100% certainty, I would not be here if I had limited my goals to this specific job in this field. It’s only by my meandering that this is even possible for me.

  26. Indie*

    Or you could decide this situation is one which has done you at least one favour and a few lessons. She didn’t make your boyfriend cheat but this situation is one where you were able to catch him before, say, marrying him.
    I’ve been cheated on myself (and was looking at an expensive divorce and loss of a home) and I still managed to at least call my employer! A workplace that nice would have worked with you.
    Also it is possible to make friends in new places. And it is also possible to change career focus/sectors. Especially at this stage. You have had it rough – but you also have a lot of growing up to do.

  27. Wut?*

    This is not intended to berate you. You are going through a rough time. As someone who has had a literal mental breakdown, I sympathize with feeling like your world is falling apart and if someone would JUST DO ONE LITTLE THING FOR ME it would get better…but that’s not true.

    Take a step back. Pretend a friend reached out to you and said she ran into an old acquaintance, who was drunk and started yelling at her. What would your reaction be? Shock, likely. Horror that her nice evening was ruined. Worry for her safety. That’s the situation you put rockstar in. It wasn’t deliberate–I get it–but try to see it from her perspective. She was out for dinner and was accosted. She was very likely startled at the very least, but she was also probably scared.

    Her not wanting to work with you–and quite frankly, the company not wanting to hire someone who made such a public scene–is normal and understandable, even though it hurts the heck out of you.

    I would stop following her on social media, but I would take a good look at the mental health resources she posted. There’s heartbreak, and then there’s when it crosses the line to deep and serious depression. You lost the partner you loved and trusted and the career/life you saw for yourself. That’s a lot to process and grieve. And it sounds like it’s been a few months, which might mean that you’re not healing or coping effectively at this point. Talking with a therapist about your feelings of resentment, hopelessness, and loss might help you find a way forward.

    Take care of yourself.

    1. AnonAndOn*

      I agree about no longer following her on social media. Thinking about and following this woman’s every action and movement is not healthy. It’s best to let this go and move on.

    2. Marillenbaum*

      I think this is really helpful. It can be so hard when you feel like your entire life has fallen apart, and it sounds like you’re in a position of having to make a bunch of huge, foundational changes to how your life looks. Accessing mental health resources right now is the best, most caring choice you can make for yourself.

  28. Anonyna*

    If ya’ll could see my face right now. My boss walked by and asked what I was reading that was obviously so scandalous. Now she has a similar look on her face. I’m sorry OP. None of this is Rock Star’s fault and I’m sure you’ll come to realize this once this sting wears off, but this is A Lot to happen to one person in such a short period of time. Hopefully this time next year you can send us a happier update.

    1. Darsy*

      I agree with this comment so much–like, yeah, OP is culpable in a lot of it but that’s still a lot of world-altering bad crap to happen in such a short period of time, so I do hope their life improves! At the same time, OH MAN. It’s easy to forget that humans can make such spectacularly bad choices when we only see stuff like that on news articles or Reddit or something!

  29. ENFP in Texas*

    “It’s hard not to feel like some of this is Rock Star’s fault”

    None of it is Rock Star’s fault, and the sooner you accept responsibility for the consequences of your choices and axtions, the sooner you will have the ability to make better choices in the future.

    You are not a victim here (except maybe of the cheating ex). Convincing yourself that what happened is somehow “not your fault” is a delusion that will keep you from moving forward.

    1. a Gen X manager*

      Agree. It’s definitely a difficult situation. OP, have you taken time to reflect on the recurring decisions you made to no call/no show so many days in a row until you were terminated?
      Note: I totally get mental health issues/depression/whatever is going on that made it extremely difficult to even put your feet on the floor to get out of bed – truly I deeply empathize with this, but this series of decisions of not contacting your employer day after day? Have you thought about what that was all about? Even if it couldn’t be a phone call, even a text or an email to say can’t talk, will be out, will explain when I return. Something, anything to protect the job / reputation. I’m not judging you for not having done this, but am instead wondering *why* you made this decision (for your own benefit, not to satisfy my curiousity). I’ve struggled with self-destructive behaviors over the years – especially when battling a bout of depression, but with practice and a huge amount of effort you can learn to find methods of minimizing the damage for when you come out of the fog.

      Also, the sooner you can face and accept that Rock Star is not to blame for any of this, the easier your healing and growth will be. It’s not easy. No one is perfect. You can make it through this!

      1. a Gen X manager*

        OP, sorry, one last thought: I’ve been in an emotional place similar to what you’re dealing with and there are two things that have really helped me:

        1) Take baby steps (watch What about Bob? [movie] if you haven’t seen it! Baby steps out of the office, baby steps into the hallway, baby steps onto the elevator…) – every teeny, tiny change moves you FORWARD. If you feel totally stuck and down, instead of trying to force yourself to do things (“I’m going to make myself apply for jobs tomorrow! I have to.”) try breaking it into really manageable parts (“today I am going to visit one job website and find at least one job that I think I’d be a good fit for”.

        2) Every single day find opportunities to help other people (anonymously is the most powerful!). You’ll feel better about life, yourself, your community and feeling better in these ways will make your path forward easier and healthier.

    2. Sloane Kittering*

      Well, to be fair, OP couldn’t get a job and had to move far away to take a job that ended up miserable. That is also not really her fault and is legitimately sucky and stressful. I understand why she feels sorry for herself here and feels like a victim, and it put her in a bad frame of mind to deal with the other challenges she encountered. I’m sorry it didn’t work out better for you, OP. Maybe 2018 is really your year.

      1. a Gen X manager*

        Right, but the reality is that OP did the bullying that started the whole problem, so OP isn’t the victim at all…

          1. Lil Fidget*

            I understand some people have personal experiences that are coloring their views, but I think in general it’s unusual to hold somebody’s teenage conduct against them to this degree (by saying that all the other unfortunate things that happened to OP like her boyfriend cheating on her, not being able to find a job, etc are all “deserved”). I don’t think RS was wrong to say they don’t want to work with this person initially, but the letter writer has clearly had a tough go of it lately. I’m sure everybody was a jerk sometime in high school or has been a jerk at some point since then.

            1. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

              I’m guessing the drunken meltdown in the restaurant was the bigger problem than the bullying. Up until that point by-gones might have been able to become by-gones, but the unloading on RS in the present day probably had the bigger role in getting her persona non grataed from her field.

            2. Super Anon for This*

              I haven’t seen anybody saying OP *deserved* to have her boyfriend cheat on her, but that her own actions caused her not to get the job in the first place.

              Also, high school isn’t a magical time warp. The way people act in it is not outside of reality and not without consequences. No one takes mean pills when high school starts, and when they graduate they don’t all become Ghandi and Mother Teresa. 14 is old enough to know it’s not okay to do to another person what OP admits to doing.

              1. SebbyGrrl*

                I’m sure I’ve said this before here, either the original post or a similar one…

                Most of us are taught some version of The Golden Rule by the time we start school.
                I believed it and practiced it, always.

                No matter how poorly people treated me, I never downstreamed the aggression or harmed people by choice.

                I’ve always assumed that this exact scenario could happen.

                Life can be it’s own Permanent Record.

                People can be blithe about it or not, but being surprised that your bad behavior – even from childhood, can cause significant negative outcomes later seems ignorant and disingenuous to me.

                Our words, deeds and actions DO mean something. That is supposed to be a check/balance to help us all get along.

                It may not bear out, but it also might.

                OP my wish for a take away from this is you sharing your experience with young people and helping others not repeat your history.

            3. Not So NewReader*

              I think the teenage conduct only became an issue when RS saw it was still going on in current time.

      2. BananaRama*

        Well I have to wonder if the OP’s perception of making new friends and being social weren’t linked to a bias of living so far away (possibly for the first time in her life). When I was in the military many people who moved away from home for the first time struggled to accept their new jobs and duty stations. It can be difficult, there’s a feeling of being cut off and like you have to start over. Some people take longer to adjust than others.

        OP’s mental state (crying every day) probably bled over to being unable to form meaningful connections in her new environment. OP was so fixated on “how it was at home” or missing people, like her boyfriend and family, that it’s possible that played a role in her behaviors or perception of her new living situation.

        Ideally, as many have posted, OP needs to discuss her situation and mental state with an objective party, like a therapist. It will help give her insight and clarity she might not be able to see right now.

      3. Luna*

        But that could have happened anyway, especially since the industry is so small in her home city. Many of us have had to move to other cities or states to find a job; the OP didn’t have an offer that was rescinded, she might not have ever gotten the job even without Rockstar.

      4. BioBot*

        Except not getting the job and moving far away weren’t really RS’s fault either. OP wasn’t guaranteed the job she wanted, even without RS. If RS hadn’t been at the original company, much of this story (not getting dream job, far-away job, miserable town, cheating boyfriend, losing job) might still have played out exactly the same.

    3. Traffic_Spiral*

      Yup. I mean, not all of it is LW’s fault, but none of it is Rock Star’s.

      * High School Bullying = LW’s fault.
      * Not wanting to work with a bully = Rock Star’s decision, but she had the right to make that decision, therefore…
      * Passed over for job because of past bullying = LW’s fault.
      * Only able to get job far away = LW + General Universe/Job Market’s fault.
      * Cheating Boyfriend = Boyfriend’s fault
      * Losing job because of not going to work = LW + Maybe Depression’s fault.
      * Having a drunken screamfest at Rock Star = LW’s fault
      * Rock Star reporting the incident and her work deciding that they will never hire you = Rock Star and her work’s decision, but they had the right to make that decision, therefore…
      * LW’s blackballing = LW’s fault.
      * Rock Star posting something about it in her twitter = Rock Star’s decision, but as it’s her own twitter feed she had the right to post about her experiences, therefore…
      * LW choosing to read her twitter and get angry = LW’s fault.

      Pretty much everything LW suffered is either a direct result of her own actions (bullying, not coming into work, screaming, reading RS’s twitter) or an incredibly common trouble that most people encounter in life (cheating S.O., bad job market). While I am sympathetic, my response to every incident is either “well that sucks, but it does sometimes happen,” or “well yeah, when you do that, this is usually what happens.”

      I actually feel a bit sorry for this LW, as opposed to her cousin, Ghosted-My-Now-Boss guy, but there is a very similar thread of “my cruel actions in my youth affected my job prospects now, and I’m choosing to deal with that in the worst way possible.” In both cases, you just gotta accept that sometimes bad actions have consequences and take your lumps – not blame your former victims and refuse to mitigate your situation.

  30. Been there Done that*

    Oh honey. Please don’t blame someone else for your choices (or your ex boyfriend’s choices). It will truly get you no where. Please consider getting counseling to figure out how you got here, as well as to understand the concept of consequences.

    1. Annonymouse*

      It’s tempting to blame RS for everything that happened but:

      RS didn’t make the only job available 7 hours away.

      RS did not make *all the women your age have children and therefore harder to connect with(?)

      (I’m a new mum and while socializing might be a bit harder babysitting wise, I was a whole person with diverse interests before my baby and I still am. And all the women? not most?)

      RS did not sprinkle homesickness powder into all your food and drink making you hate small town

      RS did not bring a parade of scantily clad women to your house or cheat with your boyfriend.

      RS did not change the contact details of your fellowship so you couldn’t call out.

      RS did not drunkenly confront you at your birthday dinner. You confronted her.

      Blaming RS might let you continue holding on to your self narrative “I’m a victim and always blameless. Other people do bad things”

      But how is that working for you in your whole life?

      Literally crying to your boyfriend every night didn’t stop him cheating (and he’s a jerk for doing it)

      Literally crying and playing victim at RS did not make her change her mind. It got you kicked out of your birthday dinner and banned from both the restaurant and RS’s network of jobs.

      And playing victim here is getting you sympathy but no new boyfriend, housing or job.

      Please seek help to reframe your world view and allow you to move forward to something better.

  31. AnotherAlison*

    Another thing that stuck out for me here was the sentiment that the OP will never get a job in her field of study, and 5 years of her life has been wasted.

    So what if that is true? You’re alive, and you have your future and new wisdom. This is not the end of the world at all.

    OP, I have spent a lot of time and energy trying to hang onto things that didn’t fit me anymore due to sunk costs, when it would have been better to have burned everything to the ground and started over.

    When you can get to the right state of mind, try to look forward, not backward. You can spend 5 more years scraping together jobs that aren’t in any career direction, or you can go back to school, or find a way to move in another career with your current education. Either way, you’ll probably end up having to start over anyway. Might as well start now when you only have 5 years “wasted” instead of in the future when you have 10 years spent chasing your tail. Reset everything you think is true about yourself and get started.

    1. MuseumChick*

      I’m in a niche field that is extremely hard to break into. It’s not unheard of for people to apply to hundreds of jobs before landing something. Something I always try to keep in mind in case I find myself unable to find a job in my field one day, is that I have transferable skills. Working in a museum means I am familiar with public/educational programming, working one-on-one with “clients” (people who donate objects to the museum for example), managing a database (specialized for museums but still), working a lot of long term and short term projects all at one, drafting and implementing new policies and procedures, managing volunteers, and of course dealing with lots of strange situations (as a tour guide in a historic house a visitor asked me if the family who had originally lived there had “Gone to heaven or been damned” and at a different place a man with a strong southern accent who was donated some items to the museum collection as “So what do you think of the removal of the confederate monuments?”)

      1. BioBot*

        I did wonder if the “no job possible in this industry” might be some catastrophic thinking (probably caused by depression) on the OP’s part. Obviously, they know the industry and I don’t, but is it possible that there are opportunities in other cities? Unfortunately, sometimes we’re faced with situations where there’s no perfect option. You may be able to stay in your industry, but would have to sacrifice being close to family. Or, to stay close to family you may have to sacrifice potential jobs in this industry and find a new career path.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          I think that when you take the combination of lack of experience in the field, quitting the fellowship, being blocked by RS’s company, and being blocked form RS company’s network, the OP would have a tough time breaking into the field. (Per her original post, there were 30-40 jobs in a city of ~3M, and she had never had a full-time role post-grad.) She could possibly move, but now she’s been out of school a while and doesn’t have stellar references. She may have to move and take what she can get, then try for a job in her field so that she is at least a local candidate.

          Not to say it can’t be done, but I would personally at minimum parallel path a job search or schooling in the area of Career Path B.

      2. Another Amy*

        I tried to get into academia. I spent over ten years of my life, uprooted everything and moved to the other side of the world, in pursuit of that goal. It all went up in flames when I was 30, I hadn’t even broken in yet. To say it was devastating is the understatement of the year.
        That was nearly two years ago now. I gave myself time to grieve the only path I’d imagined myself on for some time, the love and the passion that would never come to be. And I thought “what am I good at? What are my skills? How does this apply outside (insert niche here)?” I’m retraining now, and my transferrable skills are a massive asset in what I’m doing, my interests make me stand out in a good way. I’m finding love for what I’m doing now. And all the little issues that I’d papered over when I was trying to get into academia- I don’t have to deal with them. There are other issues for sure, but I’m more equipped to handle them now. I’m also more equipped to handle things because I am in therapy and it’s allowed me to build on my strengths and overcome my weaknesses. I’m a new person. I wish the same for you, LW.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          This came up in a thread last week, I think an update–that when a successful person in midlife looks back, there are probably a ton of experiences that didn’t seem directly relevant to The Path at the time. But they took something from them that turned out to be applicable later.

        2. Pommette!*

          Another Amy: I have a similar background, and am going through a similar process. You describe the situation beautifully. Good luck!

          OP: You experienced a lot of loss in a short time. It must feel horrible, and scary. But you are alive, you are young, and you have an opportunity to learn a lot about yourself. If you have access to counselling services, please take advantage of them now. In ten years, you could be in a completely different situation: doing well professionally, feeling good about your efforts to treat the people around you well, and with a clearer sense of what you want your future to look like. I hope that you get help from friends, family, and, eventually, colleagues and mentors on your way there.

    2. Sloane Kittering*

      I would also gently challenge OP on this – I have a hard time believing one person or even one bad company reputation can ruin an entire field for you, coast to coast and internationally? Even in adjacent fields? There’s no hope at all? Sometimes I catastrophize when I’m upset but I’d be very surprised if the entire five years was a complete wash and now you’re fit for nothing.

      1. Veronica*

        I said this up thread, but I work in an industry that really is this niche — those of us in the office in my city interact regularly with offices in other cities, and if something like this happened, word would spread. No, we wouldn’t all have a conference call on Monday morning to discuss The Restaurant Incident, but if the OP applied to a job in my city, for instance, it would be reflexive to check with the office in her location to see if they knew her.

        And even if The Restaurant Incident didn’t come up, the way her fellowship ended absolutely would. I can’t tell you how many extremely qualified candidates we have to reject every time we have an opening. There aren’t enough jobs in my industry to go around, and behavior like this would be a major red flag.

      2. Lilo*

        I also went back to the old post and read some comments and the five years was her BA, it just took her extra time to finish it.

        To be blunt, a BA really isn’t that much – I have a BA in something that isn’t even kind of related to my job now (I ended up going to law school). You can 100% go into another field without it being a resume red flag. If she had say, a PhD or Masters, transitioning might be harder. But I have a friend from law school who is now a professional brew master – not using a degree isn’t uncommon or a big deal, really.

    3. k.k*

      Another thing to remember, is that 5 years in your 20’s really isn’t that long. I know it doesn’t feel like that now, OP, but it’s true. Most people work into their 60’s, so you’ve likely got at least four more decades of working years ahead of you. One day you’ll look back and those years will be a drop in the bucket.

      I say this as someone who spent a lot of time working in a field that didn’t work out for me and didn’t figure out what I really wanted/could do until my late 20’s. Once I knew what I wanted, I spent a lot of time thinking that I had wasted all those years of school and unrelated jobs, and now I could never get ahead. But I had to get my head on straight and remind myself that I still had my whole life ahead of me, those years were not wasted but spent gaining transferable skills and life experience, and that it’s never too late to start over.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        It’s true, we had a young person (early 20s) flame out like crazy here. She took a break, started applying and is back on her feet and working again. People accept things of the very young that they wouldn’t accept of an old timer.

    4. Half-Caf Latte*

      I also can’t help but observe that OP can’t know how many years of RS’s life she felt were wasted dealing with being bullied & the fallout thereof.

  32. CMF*

    I’m having a hard time feeling sorry for you – in your original letter you say you weren’t a very nice person in high school – I feel like you haven’t changed all that much – you’re blaming everyone else for your own problems. I agree with everyone else suggesting therapy – you need to accept responsibility – you bullied her, she didn’t want to work with you (I think few people would want to work with someone who’d treated them badly), you moved away (your boyfriend cheating was not your fault*), you didn’t show up for your job without letting them know you’d be absent, you drank too much and you accused her of ruining your life. You should stop following her on Twitter, stop obsessing about the company you will never work for and get your act together. Take some time to do some real self examination and reevaluate where you are in your life. Move on, find a new job – surely this isn’t the only company in your field. Become a rock star yourself. Be kind.

    1. KC without the sunshine band*

      Also, I would suggest a physical move. If your town is so small you will continue running into this person, it’s time for a clean slate.

      1. a Gen X manager*

        THIS! ^^^
        but, also, OP needs to deal with the parts of this that are patterns, because they’ll follow OP whereever she goes otherwise.

      2. Veronica*

        Is the town all that small, though? I’m pretty sure OP said in her original letter the population was 3 million.

      3. Isabel C.*

        And a physical move without clinging to the old parts of life (calling the BF every night?) or expecting to make friends she has everything in common with within two months. That struck me as a thing in the letter that was probably an issue, too.

        Making friends post-college takes more time–and unless you moved to the smallest town ever, I very much doubt that *everyone* your age is married with two kids. Check out meetup.com, find a book club or a softball team, pursue–or develop–other interests that involve groups, and don’t expect to meet your new BFF right away. (Also, I’m single and childless, and I have close friends who are married with a kid or two–schedules are a thing, but we get along fine. Kids don’t eat your brain or anything.) And if there *is* that much of a regional difference, or you really can’t deal with the different-stages-of-life thing, maybe take that into account when looking at your next job, and go for someplace with a younger culture, maybe more like a city than a town?

        1. Lexicat*

          Yeah, that bit was concerning to me. And very sad. I think if the OP had spent time and energy trying to make the best of her new town, instead of crying on the phone to her boyfriend, she’d have been happier, since dwelling on negativity just feeds it. Then, if she was less unhappy and emotionally reliant on her boyfriend, finding out he’s a cheating jerk might not have been so devastating she spent three days in bed and lost her fellowship.

  33. D.W.*

    When it rains, it pours. OP, I am sorry you are dealing with all of this.

    As others have noted, removing the unfaithful boyfriend will turn out to be a good thing while you are healing from this trauma. And during this healing period, I hope you are able to work through any other lingering hurts and pains.

    You can recover from this.

  34. zapateria la bailarina*

    not sure how any of this is supposed to be rock star’s fault. you bullied her throughout high school, only regretted your actions when you found out she could affect whether you got your desired job, then you had a public outburst where you blamed her for your bad behavior/decision making… on her anniversary.

    even without her company blocking you, the fellowship could’ve helped you break into the industry through other means if you hadn’t no call/no showed and burned that bridge. i think you need to take a long hard look at your own actions in your professional situation and understand how they’ve led you here.

  35. Darsy*

    I’d like to add some context as someone who was bullied quite badly in high school. It really can stick with someone–the bully I felt the most strongly against was someone who had not let up in her bullying even after my father died when I was 16, to the point where she followed me home from school (both walkers) and yelled that she could kill me and I’d be up in heaven with my father. I can still recall the exact wording she used, too.

    A few years ago I got a message from her, during a time when there was some online emphasis on apologizing for bullying events in the past. It was clearly heartfelt, and it was from one adult to another basically stating that she was sorry and she hoped that I was having a good life despite what she’d done in the past.

    I never responded to it. I don’t intend to.

    The thing is, when I got that message, I got the feeling that she was genuinely feeling remorse, but that the act of asking for forgiveness in the first place was the big step for her. Anything I might have said afterwards was a drop in the bucket compared with having the guts to ask. But some things to me are just unforgivable, and I am perfectly comfortable with holding the ball in my court rather than passing it back. Like it or not, that person is a permanent fixture of my memories of the few days after losing my father, and if I have to live with that forever, she has to, too.

    I say this because we don’t always realize what effect we can have on other people, particularly, even *especially* when the events don’t have as much weight to us as they do to the other person. It’s that person’s right not to forget, IMO, and there’s a culture of growing up and ‘showing up’ the people who didn’t treat us well in school for a reason. To be frank, I’m certain both you and my bully grew up to be decent, hardworking people, but unfortunately, bullying is one of those things that people view as an unacceptable character trait to want to deal with, especially in the workplace. Think of this as the person trying to protect people they already know from someone whose behavior they believe they know. It’s actually not about you, OP–it’s about someone protecting their co-workers from someone they believe they know will not act in the company’s best interests.

    I think if I could have asked my parents to do one different thing to support me as a teenager, it would have been to try to impress on me how important my actions would be, especially in regards to other people. I think it’s easier to stop bullying than it is to, say, cease drug use or something like that–and we as a culture praise people for kicking their addictions. So if that confrontation with your classmate really was a non-typical behavior for you, think of it as evidence you’re a better person now than you were then, not as a mark that should stain who you are now. I wish you luck, OP.

    1. MuseumChick*

      Darsy, thank you for sharing your story. I’m so sorry you had to go through that. One of my parents past away just a few years ago. I cannot imagine dealing with that kind of pain as a teenager and being bullied on top of that.

      This is a very important perspective and I hope the OP will read it and really take in what you are saying.

      1. Darsy*

        Thank you! I had to go through peer mediation after that incident (because you better believe my mom called and raised hell) and the result was no punishment, just an injunction on talking to each other or we’d get suspended. So in the end, we were BOTH punished. It’s actually quite possible a lot of my animosity towards her in that incident was actually misdirected away from being upset at the school, hah.

        I definitely understand both sides here, because I had a terrible temper as a young adult and once I tamed it down considerably I was super resentful of anyone who treated me as though I still had a bad temper! So I can see how OP might be resentful that something they don’t see themselves as being like anymore was an impediment to a life goal. I do hope they can shift focus either to a different physical location and Dream Job or a variant of their Dream Job.

        1. MuseumChick*

          Ugh. I hate, hate, hate how often schools just kind of let bullying slide like that. I know with teenager the truth about anything is usually somewhere between what Teenager 1 says and what Teenager 2 says but in the case you describe it was pretty damn clear what was what.

          I know I wouldn’t want to be judge on my worst moments as a teenager (I cringe just thinking about it) but that’s part of becoming an adult. Owning that you have made some really bad choices and trying to do better going forward.

          1. AndersonDarling*

            It’s amazing that this perspective isn’t part of bullying programs at schools. When you hurt someone, they remember and you will see them in the future outside of school. The OPs story would be a great one to show what can happen when you bully.

          2. Turtle Candle*

            I remember how liberating it felt, after an adolescent full of bullying, to realize that the “you two just have to learn how to sort it out yourself!” was a lie.

            I mean, obviously often I do have to sort things out myself, with colleagues. “Hey, you were late with these edits and it’s delayed the whole process, what’s up?” “I don’t know if you know this, but you’re chewing your gum REALLY LOUD, can you be a little quieter?” Etc.

            But the things that I was told to “sort out for myself” were things like groping, pouring paint on my belongings, stealing my things, etc. It turns out, in the real world, if a colleague is groping you, or pouring paint into your desk drawers, or making off with your belongings, you are not actually expected to ‘work it out on your own’! If you have a decent boss, you can tell them!

            My sour, retroactive feeling is that they must have just not wanted to deal with it. Because I have never, ever been in a professional environment where I’d have to “work it out on my own” re: those things.

            1. Darsy*

              I’d add that a lot of adults have sort of an, ‘if I had to grin and bear it, you jolly well will, too’ kind of mentality. It’s a weaker subset of the ‘kids these days have it so easy’ and ignores the natural drive of good parents to want the world to be easier and more loving for your kids than they were for you. So these teachers had to build character by being beat up every day for their lunch money, grow up and teach school, and they’re supposed to let these kids grow up weak-willed and dependent on adults for their well-being?!

              I can understand the mindset, but still disagree with it, though. Just because kids these days don’t have to take shit doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t protect them from it. A lot of kids in those days had to spend lifetimes repressing their sexuality or feeling ashamed of their disabilities. Damn straight I want ‘kids these days’ to have a better life than that! Let’s build their character some other way.

              1. Indie*

                I work in education and it has more to do with a powerless upthrowing of the hands. A boss is free and clear to rid themselves of a jerk. A school has to jump the hurdles of enabling, lawyered up parents; their expulsion numbers looking bad and still being responsible for alternative provision. I’ve seen a student threaten a staff members life; but expulsion wasn’t feasible so the staff member was blamed.

                1. Indie*

                  As we see here, it’s not kind to the bully for schools to let it go. She could have learned the reputation impact sooner or developed better friendship and networking skills eons ago.

                  However she still thinks its simply a case of attacking the nerd for getting better grades.

                  I’ll put money on these consequences working out better for her than the easy gains and pack friendships she’s had so far.

                2. Turtle Candle*

                  If that’s the truth, and I believe you that it is, then it’s dreadful—but it’s still harmful to pretend that it’s how the world works forever, vs what we must gut through for twelve years to reach outside society.

                  I say this as someone whose teacher saw me sexually assaulted and said, “That’s life, kid.” Even were he powerless there must have been a better answer.

  36. saffytaffy*

    I really hope you’re able to take advantage of mental health resources in your area. You deserve some relief.

  37. Harriet2*

    Oh OP… You are going through a hard time, and I can understand why you’re upset.

    Please look to do something positive with all of this, as hard as that may feel at the moment. A therapist may be a really helpful thing for you – I think you’ve got some things to explore, and hopefully some good changes to make in your life to bring it into line with what you want it to be.

    Remember that you do have control over your own life and you can make choices that lead to good things.

    Please take care of yourself – it might be awful at the moment but it’ll get better.

  38. wonder_aloud*

    I’m sorry you’re having such a rough time. It feels like you’re world is crumbling around you and there is one person that can make it better, but they won’t. It feels, I imagine, a lot like Rock Star felt in high school when you were the one with the upper hand.

    I imagine she posted the suicide hotlines and such because those were the resources *she* needed to get through the hell that was her High School years. I imagine it took her many years to even feel like a human being again. I know, at least, that’s how I felt. I’ve been out of High School nearly 25 years and if I saw the resume for one of my tormentors cross my desk I’d drop in in the trashcan without a second thought. Yes, maybe they’ve changed, maybe they’ve grown up, but there is no way I would give them a second chance to make my life miserable.

    I imagine you’re thinking “but I have grown up, I’ve changed, this isn’t fair”, but I have to argue that you haven’t. Again, if I was Rock Star, and my tormentor had come up to me in public acting like you did, I would have taken it as proof positive that allowing them back into my life would have been horrible mistake. Even now you’re blaming the Rock Star FOR SOMETHING YOU DID TO YOURSELF!

    My recommendation, for what it is worth, is that *you* get into counseling and learn how to get your life together. Maybe it won’t be the life you imagined, but you shut that door in your own face. You need to figure out what the next option really is.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      Honestly, Rock Star posted a very kind comment. She could have said that she ran into her old bully and the bully’s life is terrible. She is a drunk, bumbling mess. Isn’t karma great!
      Rock Star had every right to be spiteful and cruel, but she instead posted something thoughtful, kind, and compassionate.

    2. Another Amy*

      This resonated with me. I don’t have any hiring authority, but if my tormentors came into my workplace, it would re-open old wounds. Just thinking of their names, their faces, reminds me of the trauma I went through, and depending on how much I dwell that can send me into a very dark place, complete with psychosomatic reactions that I really cannot have in public, much less at work. You don’t know the effect that you’re going to have on other people.
      Hopefully your former classmate isn’t as wounded as I have been, and has had the same resources I have had to help me move on as best I can (not that I think I will ever fully heal). But I feel on the grand scale of things, considering fair, is it more fair to risk someone having that sort of adverse reaction to someone else’s presence, based on something that was done to them when they were a child (teenager)? I can’t imagine so.

  39. Tertia*

    I know it’s cold comfort, but I do agree that you dodged a bullet with your boyfriend. And I’m not armchair diagnosing, but in general, if someone is at the point where they can’t muster the will to call in sick, they’re very likely at the point where they’d benefit from medication. I’d strongly urge you to talk to your GP. If she believes that you were in a period of clinical depression, you may be able to work out a game plan for if it happens again. I think it’d also be valuable to get a diagnosis (if that’s her conclusion) so that you can attribute this period of unemployment to a medical problem.

    I realize that you may not have insurance, but there are effective antidepressants in generics, so don’t let concerns about cost stop you from at least discussing the issue with your doctor.

  40. Kyrielle*

    Others have covered a lot of what I’d say and I don’t want to pile on.

    But, OP, I strongly urge you to get therapy. It sounds from what you said like it might be really helpful – and quite frankly, anyone who has had to deal with what you have would likely benefit from someone helping them recover from the stress. I’d recommend you start there – and with getting a job, any job, to pay bills. I wouldn’t try to launch your career until you’ve had a chance to talk through things with a therapist, because I think you’ll have an easier time both making decisions and executing them if you’ve dealt with that first.

  41. Bookworm*

    I can’t quite understand why so many people are expressing sadness or that they’re sorry this happened. I can honestly see this from RS’s POV: she’s done a lot of work to get where she is and moved on from high school. Then she finds out you applied and expresses concerns. Being a rock star, she obviously has some sway at the organization and in the field. Your candidacy doesn’t go forward and it’s all good until you feel the need to take your frustrations out on her in public. What was supposed to be done with is clearly not and if she felt the need to post about this on social media it probably bothered quite a bit.

    I’m not saying you deserved everything that happened to you but sometimes some people don’t change so much with the passage of time. It’s not that you’re necessarily in high school still (although I’m aware that some people can’t let go of those years) but I can’t help but wonder if maybe you don’t realize some things about yourself and that’s how you ended up where you are now. From RS’s POV you peaked in high school and never left, even though obviously the rest of the world did. Why would anyone want someone who is still stuck in that timeframe work them/their co-workers in their organization?

    Agree with the others: this would seem like a big sign that you need to take some time to reassess yourself and where you are. I hope you take this opportunity to do that.

      1. Someone Else Needs The Wood*

        There’s kindness and sycophancy and the commenting is bordering on the latter and not the former.

        1. fposte*

          Nobody is saying that everything the OP did is wonderful. But making bullying comments in turn just makes new bullies.

          1. Landshark*

            +1. I don’t approve of all of OP’s choices, but I choose to be constructive. Breaking OP down further won’t help, and it’s okay to empathize with a situation while still recognizing that OP isn’t blameless.

        2. Traffic_Spiral*

          Sycophancy would be agreeing that at least some of it is Rock Star’s fault – and no one here is doing that. They’re just kindly saying “you have my sympathy because your life sucks right now – but also you’re kinda doing it to yourself so you need to stop.”

      2. Sloane Kittering*

        We’re supposed to be trying to be helpful to the letter writer. That’s the ethic of this blog. It would be hard to be helpful to this letter writer if you don’t have an ounce of compassion for somebody who has clearly had a rough time and is struggling, and I think a lot of people are trying to lead with that so that their tough-love comments will come out with a tone of empathy and support rather than judgment.

      3. a Gen X manager*

        It seems as though this update has really churned up a lot of feelings in commenters who have been bullied. Having been bullied, it is difficult to feel sympathy for an OP who wholly and completely did this to herself and *even now* wants to at least partially blame the rock star.

        My high school bully is now a real estate broker and I refuse to buy commercial property for a business if he is the selling agent. Bullying wounds never fully heal, no matter how happy, successful, and at peace you are in your life today.

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      Why are people expressing sadness? Um, because they are compassionate and the OP is clearly struggling.

    2. Turkletina*

      I think most people are sorry about the cheating boyfriend and spending months miserable and alone in a place she hated. It doesn’t take an unusual amount of empathy to feel sad that the OP went through that after deciding to move on from RS’s company the first time.

    3. Natalie*

      It can be two things! One can feel like the OP made some pretty serious mistakes and also feel empathy for the situation they’re currently in.

    4. New Window*

      I can’t quite understand why so many people are expressing sadness or that they’re sorry this happened.

      Because it’s possible to think that somebody made some really bad choices and acted to hurt other people, while still not wanting them to suffer so much. We can feel bad for the woman who was bullied, and for the OP. It doesn’t have to be either/or.

    5. sunny-dee*

      Yeah, I was on the fence, but ultimately, this is a trainwreck. It’s a self-inflicted trainwreck, but it still is an awful and sad situation.

    6. k*

      Because people want the OP to actually read an consider their advice. Telling someone how wrong they are will only make them defensive and likely ignore any helpful advice that follows. It’s much better to show a little compassion to a person who messed up but clearly needs help.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      People are expressing sadness/sympathy because OP needs to see a slew of people doing that. Right now, OP is in a very cold and lonely place, feeling friendless and feeling pretty hopeless. And this could happen to any one of us tomorrow, next week or next year. We make poor choices, then life throws some rocks at us, then we make more poor choices. I think on some level people relate, “Hey this could be me!” I have a friend who describes himself as a Recovering A$$hole. Not knowing whatelse to say to such a candid statement, I asked, “Is there a Twelve Step for that?” He shook his head in sadness and sorrow. “No. It’s a 31 Step and you have to design each step yourself.”
      I told him that sounded very painful. He said it was.

      We don’t teach people empathy by being unempathetic ourselves.
      We don’t get people to move to a better place by showing how much we don’t care.
      Important catch here: Not everyone has to provide that empathy, nor should they. It’s perfectly find to leave it up to others who feel that they can jump in and offer something that maybe of value. We all play different roles at different points.
      Sometimes it is necessary to be that harda$$ person who draws a sharp black line. Looking at RS here the strongest thing she has said is “Leave me alone'”. That is pretty tame considering it all, but that is her sharp, black line. Unfortunately for OP, she wants to be inside that boundary and she is devastated by not getting there.We can see why this is happening and still realize that OP is upset.

    8. Lovely turtle*

      I have to say that I agree with you. OP doesn’t seem to have any self-awareness, and although I can definitely understand it can be hard to conjure some now, she had plenty of time when she was working towards her goals before everything happened, and she didn’t have to deal with some everything going awry. It is difficult not to see someone selfish, opportunistic and in the end, unapologetic. Why make the effort to be empathetic when she isn’t capable of doing the same effort to the person she bullied and recently abused ?

      I will admit that this hits close to home (I have been bullied for years and there is definitely a lot of pain and resentment here), so I am not the most objective, but I see nothing in the attitude or way of thinking of the OP which shows that she realises how devastating bullying can be. She does not care at all about RS, and her vision is definitely entirely self-centered.

  42. Observer*

    OP, I really feel bad for you. You’ve had some really tough things happening to you. But “It’s hard not to feel like some of this is Rock Star’s fault” is just incredibly problematic.

    This is NOT her fault. What happened with your boyfriend is totally not related to her. Your issues at the fellowship are not her creation. Your inability to cope with your boyfriend’s cheating has nothing to do with her.

    What is related to her is her company’s response to your behavior at the restaurant. But that is TOTALLY not her fault! Your behavior was totally the trigger for this. And your behavior had to be pretty bad, if you were asked to leave and told never to come back. Did you really expect her to NOT report this to her company? And, did you expect a responsible company to seriously consider hiring someone who they KNOW gets drunk and egregiously misbehaves in public? Why would they even consider it?

    You’re not a monster or even a terrible person. But there are some things here that jump out at me and that I think you really need to get help on.

    Your response to you BF’s cheating is understandable, but it’s not functional – three days off is one thing, but not even calling in to say that you’re unwell and can’t make it in? You’re going to have setbacks in life and you need better coping skills. Getting screened for depression would not be a bad thing, either, because that can mess with ability to cope in a BIG way.

    Beyond that, you need some help in gaining perspective and learning how to take responsibility for your own behavior. You blamed all of your troubles, although only ONE issue (that you didn’t get a job in that particular company) was related to her. That lead you to really bad behavior that has come a high cost, and you are still blaming her. At no point do you seem to see that your choices were the key here, or how you might have handled things differently. And, given that in life the only thing you can control to any extent is YOUR behavior, learning how to figure out what YOU need / can to do differently is the key to moving forward. That’s true EVEN when someone else is really the problem – Allison often advises people “Your boss / job stinks, and you’re not going to change it. These are your options.” That’s not always fair, but it’s reality and it’s really important to learn that. It’s even MORE important when YOU are really the problem, or most of it.

    Lastly, you may want to think about your relationship with alcohol. It’s not clear whether this kind of alcohol related misjudgement is a one off or not. But, it certainly lead to some fairly bad behavior, and it sounds like you are minimizing what happened a bit. So, that’s something you should give a long hard look at.

    1. Observer*

      PS – during the time I wrote my post a BUNCH of other posts came up as well. I don’t want to come off as piling on.

      But, OP, please take what people are saying seriously.

  43. Don't Do That*

    You need to stop blaming Rock Star (or anyone else) for what happened. Kindly but firmly, this is on you, and until you accept that, you aren’t going to be able to move on and you risk more bad decisions/consequences.

    If you can, get some therapy to talk through what happened and to help figure out what to do going forward.

  44. stk*

    Oh no, OP, this sucks. I’m truly sorry for you – this sounds like an incredibly difficult situation.

    Like everyone else said though, this is absolutely not Rockstar’s fault. All you can do now is try to pick yourself up and carry on, make a new place for yourself. That probably sounds impossible right now, but it isn’t. You’re clearly smart, and capable, and one of the better things you can say following something that messes with your plans is “I understand now where things went wrong, and here is how I’m gonna make sure it doesn’t happen again”. You might need some help on that road – you mentioned parents, but friends and a therapist or counselor would be worth talking to as well. You can do it. Good luck.

  45. Lady Phoenix*

    You are upset roght now, so I can see why at this moment you feel like you can blame all your problems on RockStar.

    You should that is wrong and that nothing was RS’s fault.

    So while you clear your head and get facts straight, I have some reckmmendations:
    1. Consider the nuclear option with RS. Stop following/friending/subscribing to their social media. In fact, consider blocking them so you can’t see anything.

    2. Nuke option your exboyfriend too and any friends that side with him.

    3. When you feel better, decide whether you want to look into an entirely new career path or moving to an area hiring prople in your career path that has little/no connection with company.

    4. Observe your ways of handling stress, failure, and alcohol. Do you DEPEND on alcohol to relieve your stress or failure? Of so, you need to stop drinkinG. You could fall victim to alcoholism at this point in your life.

    5. Therapist.

  46. Gwen Soul*

    When I got the the drinking too much part I was really hoping you got wasted, saw her and had a cry fest where you apologized for everything and she took pity on you.

    I think counseling would really help, you seem to have a victim mentality and , honestly, seem a bit spoiled when things don’t go your way. You never seem to really “get” that any of this was through your actions or feel remorse. I think having someone help you develop better coping skills could help you throughout your life.

      1. Lady Phoenix*

        You would think that, but alcohol can make people very honest about themselves and it sounds more like OP blames Rock Star for everything going wrong instead of truly feeling sorry for herself for letting her own actions lead to disaster (except for the cheating boyfriend, that is all on him and I hope he steps on a shit covered lego brick).

  47. Jaybeetee*

    OP, a few years ago I was dumped, evicted, and the only work I could find was minimum wage temping. I didn’t have two dollars to rub together, my mother had to help me make rent on my new place, and forget about dating! I could barely pay for a coffee and I felt like complete crap about myself!

    I remember one night a couple months after the dumping/eviction went down, where I had to call my mother to help with rent (again), my cat was sick and I couldn’t afford a vet, I was behind on bills, and then my cell phone was turned off because I’d also incurred a huge data charge that I couldn’t completely pay off. I had started working a second job, was doing 12 hour days and exhausted, but only one paycheck had come in so far from that and it hadn’t staunched the flow. I just remember sitting on my bed crying, because I was wearing myself out doing everything I could, and it was still just piling up.

    It got better slowly, but not all at once. I would say only in the last 6-8 months have I fully felt good about things again, and some aspects of my life are still a work-in-progress. A new relationship started during this time that was crappy and dysfunctional, because both of us were crappy, dysfunctional people when we got together, and as circumstances have improved, he and I have gotten better too.

    I’d say, to start with, forget about dating for the time being – everything else is too unstable and you feel too badly about yourself. Focus on employment and career – if you’ve burned the bridges in your desired field, start figuring out where to go next, whether you need to go back to school, etc. At the same time, invest in some therapy to get you through this rough patch. You’re not going to believe it right now, but you’re really not the first person who has lost everything and had to start over. It does slowly get better, but try to make some plans and be methodical.

  48. LKW*

    Oof. I’m sorry OP – the only thing you can do now is dust yourself off and put one foot in front of the other. Blaming other people for your own shortcomings will rarely work, especially if you’re on the bottom of the org chart (or in this case, not on it yet). So this is a good lesson learned at a relatively young age.

    Therapy is probably a good idea just to work through a difficult time. But more importantly, it may help you gain some coping mechanisms for when everything goes wrong all at once. During your career you will encounter people with varying levels of coping skills. People deal with all sorts of personal issues, loved ones get sick, they die, children get hurt or have issues at school. People get divorced or find out their partners are awful as you did. And they may hate their jobs while all of this is happening but most are able to compartmentalize enough to get up and get to work. Especially if not going to work, or poor performance has significant financial impacts as it did for you.

  49. Don't Blame Me*

    LW I don’t know if you’re going to read the replies here. It sounds like you’ve had some bad things happen to you recently and I’m sorry for that. No one deserves to be lied to/cheated on, and it really is unfortunate that you haven’t been able to find a job and are depressed.

    The fact that you’re still blaming Rock Star concerns me, though. I think you’ll get a lot farther in life if you take responsibility for your actions. You chose to mistreat Rock Star in high school, and then you chose to blow up on her at a restaurant. You did those things. It’s time for you to own them. Also, I don’t have the benefit of reading Rock Star’s whole social media post, but the excerpt you shared doesn’t feel like she’s trying to rub salt in the wound. It feels like she’s trying to rise above what happened. Think about it from her side – she was likely deeply hurt by your behavior in school, and then she runs into you at a restaurant on her anniversary and you scream at her? She has a right to tell her side of that story and process her feelings about it.

    I think that you can rise above this, too. People have come back from worse embarrassments. If you’re not already, get yourself into therapy and really do some work. Start thinking about your options and how you can take the skills you learned while preparing for that industry and use them to transition to another industry. Allison has some great advice on that. Good luck to you, LW.

  50. Katherine*

    OP- I’m sorry this happened but you really need to adjust your thinking here. Blaming Rock Star *at all* is really unreasonable. She stopped you from getting a job at one company. You then made a series of choices that made things worse. You left your part-time job. You stopped showing up at your full-time job. And you lost it on Rock Star in public. She didn’t ruin your life. And believing that she did does you absolutely no good. On the other hand, believing that you’re responsible for your life does a lot of good. A year from now, this could be a total blip for you. Your attitude determines that.

  51. Adlib*

    All good comments and advice here, OP. I hope that now that you’re with your parents, you can take some comfort by being with family during the holiday season (if you celebrate). You can come out of this better if you work at it. Good luck!

  52. Jaguar*

    I can’t help but think that this couldn’t possibly have gone this badly if the apology was sent. I’m still kind of astounded that so many people took the don’t apologize position, even rising to the level of apologizing is a selfish intrusion.

    1. AKchic*

      The apology wasn’t because she felt sorry. The apology was lip service in order to better her chances at getting the job. It was disingenuous at best and manipulative at the very least. It would have fallen flat and may have been construed as unwanted contact and gotten her blacklisted earlier.

      1. Say what, now?*

        I think this is it. If the apology was insincere, or even if it was sincere but still coming from a place of self-serving, it wasn’t going to help.

      2. Jaguar*

        If you were the “rock star” and someone apologized to you after finding out you were still bothered by your shared past, would you immediately assume it was cynical and insincere? It would occur to me as a possible interpretation of the situation, but I wouldn’t also rule out sincerity and I like to think I would give someone I haven’t known in roughly a decade the benefit of the doubt. I’m hoping the perspective you have on OP’s situation and the fact that it’s on the Internet happening to other people is skewing your perspective on this, because if you truly would immediately think the worst of someone for apologizing, that’s pretty bleak.

        1. Jake*

          Depends completely on the degree of bullying. I mean, I went to school with kids that were brutally bullied. I mean… if 2 adults engaged in that type of behavior, one would be in prison type brutal, but it was ignored by the school because of the students involved. If I were that victim I would always assume that person was trying something malicious. Some people may change, but why would I give a person like that the benefit of the doubt? What’s in it for me?

        2. AKchic*

          Let’s see… I see my high school bully’s application at work and s/he isn’t interviewed. Job pops up again and the application comes through again and they get an interview. It’s likely they might have a shot. I pipe up and express my trepidation. Bully doesn’t get the job. I mention it to a friend, not knowing friend knows the bully. Another job pops up and lo and behold, there’s that application again and *bam* an apology email in my inbox apologizing for “whatever happened in high school” and “can we let bygones be bygones” (essentially). What a coincidence! This apology would surely have come on this day regardless of the fact that this bully wants a job with this company and knows I don’t really want them working here! The bully must truly be sincere (in their desire to work here and make money).

          See what I’m getting at here?

          Apologies from former tormentors that coincide with employment applications aren’t happenstance.

          When I worked in HR for a construction crew, you wouldn’t believe how many times I had guys that picked on me in junior high and high school sheepishly say “I’m sorry I was a jerk to you” while turning in their resume and application, as if that actually helped them get a job. All I did was the background checks and send them off for their wizz quiz and filing. I wasn’t the person who made the final decision.

          1. Say what, now?*

            Yeah, this is definitely on point. There was an application. You told your coworker that you shot down the applicant’s candidacy. Application for another position and at the same time an apology for whatever happened in high school (OP seemed vague on the memory front so it doesn’t seem likely to be a very pointed apology acknowledging actual wrongs so much as a general “if I maybe did something” sort of non-apology). I wouldn’t put much stock in that person’s apology.

        3. Detective Amy Santiago*

          If someone apologized to me “out of the blue”, I would be surprised and probably confused, but assume good intentions.

          If someone apologized to me after applying for a job with my company, I would assume they were trying to get in my good graces so I would refer them for a job.

          1. Jaguar*

            And in the second scenario, you’d rule out sincerity as a possible explanation? Because that’s what seems bleak to me: that the apology could be insincere, therefore it is.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              If you receive an apology only when someone has realized that you are standing in the way of what they want, it’s likely to read as utterly insincere. And trying to draw you into engagement that is solely for their benefit.

              OP realized that there was a problem pre-applications when she ran into RS at Target–at that point, she could have tried sending an apology. Or, quite fairly, concluded that any contact would be negative from RS’s point of view and left her alone. And there’s a good chance it would have made no difference. As soon as circumstances made RS a roadblock, the chance that an apology would be received as sincere, and more about RS than OP, became almost nil.

              It’s like the distinction yesterday between your reputation after:
              “Boss, I screwed up. And no one has noticed yet, but I need to come clean…”
              vs “Oh…. you found out about that. Um, boss, I INTENDED to tell you. I was working on a really, really great way. I just had no idea you would find out before I finished writing my speech. So, um, I screwed up, in a way you might never have noticed, but definitely totally planned to tell you before you found out from other channels…”

            2. Tuxedo Cat*

              I graduated high school over a decade ago. I go by the same name as I did in high school, I’m on social media, my email address is easy to find. My name isn’t so common and I do work in a niche field.

              If my bullies wanted to apologize to me, they have had over 10 years and a bunch of ways to do so. It would be suspicious to me in all that time, with as many ways to get in touch with me as possible, that they would choose to apologize when I had some power over them.

        4. Emi.*

          If they waited to apologize until I had blocked their candidacy for a job at my company, I absolutely would.

        5. Red Reader*

          I don’t necessarily think the worst of someone for apologizing, full-stop. But someone who has a long and glorious history of treating me poorly does not get the benefit of the doubt if I’m unsure of their motivations – whether they’re trying to get their foot in the door at my workplace or not. Too much weight of history on the “jerk” side of the scale for me to automatically put my thumb on the other side for them.

    2. Gwen Soul*

      It could have, let’s say she sent the apology and got no response(RS just ignored it or didn’t believe it genuine), now the OP not only would have yelled at her in the restaurant but would be thinking “I sent an apology, it has to be her fault for not being the bigger person!”

      1. KHB*

        Agreed. OP already seems to be thinking that RS owed her something (a chance to work at her shop), even without having apologized. An apology thrown into the mix only makes that feeling stronger.

        To apologize effectively and sincerely, you need to express true remorse, take full responsibility for your own actions and the harm you caused, and not expect anything in return. OP’s not in a place where she’s ready to do that, and she shouldn’t even be thinking about apologizing until she is.

    3. Observer*

      Well, given what the OP describes, it most definitely WOULD have been a selfish intrusion. The OP dis not at any point indicate that she is sorry for what she did, only about the results. The only reason she was thinking of apologizing was to manipulate the situation to benefit her.

      An apology of that sort would not have changed a thing. The only thing that would have changed SOME of the outcomes was the OP changing her attitude.

    4. Ann O'Nemity*

      Interesting. I’m not sure the apology would have changed anything.

      It’s unlikely that Rock Star would have gone back to the hiring manager/HR and said, “oh never mind, it’s cool to hire OP now.” So the OP still would’ve moved, been cheated on, fired, gotten drunk and confronted Rock Star, and been permanently backlisted.

      1. Jaguar*

        An apology is an opportunity for both people to move on from an incident. They might not move on, but it’s almost unheard of for reasonable people to have a situation worsen as a result of an apology. The incident at the restaurant might still have happened if the apology was sent exactly as it did, but I find it extremely unlikely that it would have gone worse and quite likely that it would have gone better – either the OP or the “rock star” could have let go of some of their baggage relating to their past. It’s all upside for both people and no real downside.

        1. Gwen Soul*

          Only if it is a true apology, otherwise it is one more ax to grind when things don’t go OP’s way.

        2. fposte*

          Much as I love apologies, I think there’s a big exception to your precept, and that’s when apologies are clearly self-serving. Ask anybody who’s gotten an apology from a twelve-stepper that’s actually a “forgive me and manage my emotions” communication, an apology from somebody with a romantic interest that’s clearly a way to keep talking when you’ve been told it’s not desirable, or an apology from somebody right near the time that grades/hiring happens.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I immediately thought of the “Hi! I’m back to say I’m sorry. Now you say that it’s fine, you weren’t really hurt by any of my actions, and you can’t wait to do the emotional work of reassuring me how FINE everything is for you now…” apology as one that actively makes things worse.

            Also the ones where someone apologizes for a small minor thing you weren’t upset about, while ignoring the huge major thing you told them you were upset about. But they concluded you were wrong to be upset and just need to move on.

            1. fposte*

              Oh, yeah, there’s that too. “Sorry about scratching your car fender.” But not about taking your car without permission.

        3. Marthooh*

          “…it’s almost unheard of for reasonable people to have a situation worsen as a result of an apology.”

          For reasonable people. There’s your fallacy.

    5. Temperance*

      I honestly still believe that, because the apology would have come across as obviously self-serving, and LW didn’t really seem very remorseful for her actions.

    6. Cyrano*

      I think, by nature it can’t have been sincere apology. The OP knew the person they bullied in highschool didn’t want to see them anymore, and had had a potentially awkward discussion with their management about moving on because they wouldn’t want to work with OP.

      If the OP actually wanted to apologise, they’d have sent a note expressing their regret at how bad they’d obviously made the object of their highschool bullying feel and then moved on to apply elsewhere. An apology with the aim of actually forcing someone they’d hurt into daily contact with the OP at work is no apology at all.

  53. Detective Amy Santiago*

    I’m curious to know how your sister and friends reacted to the situation in the restaurant. The fact that you were asked to leave and told never to return is a pretty big deal and if I was with someone who made that kind of scene in public, I would be very concerned about them. I hope that you have people in your life who are supportive, but not enabling you into believing that everything wrong in your life is Rock Star’s fault. You need some tough love right now. I hope that you’ll write another update in six months and let us know how things have improved for you.

  54. AKchic*

    I remember the original letter and always felt that you continually minimized your role in bullying the then-girl you now call “Rock Star”. You still continue to minimize how much your bullying played a role in things. You continue to minimize the role your choices and actions play in everything. You keep focusing on one thing. That this “Grown-Up Bullied Classmate” (which is what I’m going to call her, because I don’t actually want you to over-stress her importance) was the only roadblock in your life, and if she had just been nice to you and put in a good word, or maybe just shut her mouth and not tattled about your previous bullying, you’d have a good job and still have your boyfriend, and everything would be peaches and cream and you wouldn’t be miserable right now.

    That’s not how life works. GUBC had every right to say that she felt uncomfortable with the idea of having her former tormentor working with her. Especially after a public outburst while she was celebrating something with her husband.
    I understand that you are in a very low place mentally right now. I don’t believe that GUBC was tweeting at you. I think you just reminded her to send out a reminder to the followers she has that have been bullied over the years. However, her advice wouldn’t be amiss. I think you would benefit from help. We all need help sometimes. You have suffered a lot of blows recently. Very hard, very life-changing blows, both to your life and to your psyche. There is no shame in saying that you need help.

    You can recover from all of this. You can find a good job and have a great career. It may not be the career you had originally envisioned, but that’s okay. Life isn’t always what we plan. Everyone has bumps on the road of life, and this was a series of big bumps for you. Now is the time to take your car to the mechanic and get yourself back into alignment before getting back on the road.

    1. BioBot*

      Good points. I also think that OP should consider that even if GUBC had said nothing… OP still might not have gotten the job and still would have had to take the other fellowship in the far-away city, and still had the boyfriend-cheating experience. The GUBC definitely kept the OP from having a shot at the job, but it was never in the bag for her. It was always just a possibility.

      1. AKchic*

        That too. For all we know, there could have been other candidates that were more qualified for the positions and offered the jobs. GUBC may never have had to say anything at all. I’m going to assume she only did because OP was in the top 3 or top 5 at some point and GUBC felt enough anxiety at the prospect of working with her former tormentor that she was willing to expend serious capital to avoid that experience. That is very telling to me. And it was telling to a lot of us in the original letter.

        But, you are very right in the idea that GUBC’s desire not to work with her former tormentor is a moot point. She may never have had to do anything.
        However, there is a sticking point here, now that this subject has been brought up. The email sent to OP specified that she was removed from the candidate pool and would no longer be considered for future positions. Until her drunken outburst, she still had a chance. However slim, there was still hope at that company, and with their contacts. It makes me sad to think that the OP’s self-pitying depressive phase has sabotaged her so much. I really do want to see her recover from this. I think she can. I want her to.

    2. Katherine*

      Agreed x 1000. Three things:

      1. The OP could have failed to get the job at the desired company irrespective of GUBC’s presence there.
      2. The OP could have gotten the dream job, been cheated on and had a similar meltdown and lost the dream job, just as she did the fellowship.
      3. (this is mean) OP couldn’t get her part-time job back because the person they replaced her with was better at the job. OP was not some outstanding slam-dunk choice for this position who was ONLY blocked from it by GUBC. She could have gotten Dream Job and seen it not work out just because she wasn’t up to the challenge.

  55. Hey Karma, Over Here*

    It’s hard not to feel like some of this is Rock Star’s fault,
    The hardest part is usually the best first step.

    1. AKchic*

      Yes. It’s partially that darned rock star’s fault. How dare she be so easy to be bullied in her youth. How dare she not want to allow her childhood tormentor to be a constant reminder of that painful time of her life while at work. How dare she not want to jeopardize her mental health and work life so the LW could have the life she’s dreamed of.
      Might as well accuse her of subliminally encouraging the ex-boyfriend to cheat on the LW while we’re at it.

      1. NotThatGardner*

        i think what they meant was it can be hard for the OP to not feel like some is the Rock Star’s fault but that that is the first step — to not feel that way.

        unless i misinterpret.

      2. Whoosh*

        Uh, I think that went over your head. The point was that even though it’s hard not to blame the rock star, that means it’s a good first step towards growth and moving on.

  56. LCL*

    OP-for your own sake, consider staying off social media for awhile. I know it is a source of comfort to many, but too often people use it to flagellate themselves. Don’t drop off the face of the earth, keep in email contact with your professional and social contacts, but step back from the constant reinforcement of facebook and twitter. For that random anonymous superficial social contact, Reddit is great. You can commiserate with others and still be anonymous. And when you feel too bad there are cute animal subreddits to take a quick mental vacation.

    1. Observer*

      That’s an excellent piece of advice. Keeping track of what your former victim is doing is not going to do you any good.

    2. Student*

      At the very minimum, OP, please stop using social media to compare yourself to your former high-school class mate. Stop following her, reading her stuff, block her, whatever it is you need to do. It’s not helping you. It’s harming you. It’s taking your focus away from doing what you need to do to be successful on your own.

      It’s giving you a scapegoat for your feelings and problems – which might make you feel good in the very short-term – but in the long term is preventing you from dealing with your problems.

  57. A Teacher*

    I teach high school and sometimes the little things people do can have the most profound effect, good or bad. I actually discussed the original post with my dual credit students as we are focused on core values in the workplace so I just read them the update. They pulled out many of the same things that other commentators have stated but mainly they want OP to know, life is hard and taking ownership of what happens in your own life is so important. One of the girl’s reminded me that “their perception is your reality.” In the sense that it is keeping you from getting into the industry. Another of the student’s said, Miss X (not my initial), tell her accountability, that’s the thing that needs to happen.

    Thank you for sharing what happened to you OP, I do hope it gets better. I’ve taken your experience and emphasized again to my students that you never know how your network will grow and change and that it really is a small world.

    1. fposte*

      I love when you bring in the class discussions, Teacher; your students always seem to have good insights to offer.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Ditto from me, I hope I can encourage you to post more often. Please tell your students we enjoy hearing what they think.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      “Their perception is your reality.”

      This applies to other letters, sometimes. It doesn’t matter how righter than right in the abstract universe of right you establish yourself to be. Other people’s perceptions matter.

    1. Someone Else Needs The Wood*

      If someone from high school started drunkenly screaming at me for how I ruined her life when I’m trying to celebrate the fact I have my life together after being bullied in high school, I would not have hesitated to tell my manager what had occurred.

    2. Sloane Kittering*

      We’re supposed to be helpful to OP and Alison asks us to be nice in her first comment. This kind of thing doesn’t really meet either standard IMO.

    3. Another bullying victim*

      Yes. I hope the letter is real because it’s almost like a dream come true for all of us bullying victims. I hope my own bullies are going through a hard time like this and I wish I was in a position to stop from from doing something they really want.

      OP, everything that happened (except for the cheating boyfriend) is entirely your fault. Things won’t get better until you learn to take responsibility for your actions. It doesn’t look like this will happen any time soon though. Also, do you have any idea what RS went through? Do you have any idea how much she suffered? I can assure you that she felt way worse than you do now and that the pain will always stay with her. You have no idea what bullying in school does to people.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        I feel like you are also hoping to be blocked. The rules are pretty straightforward. If you can’t say something helpful to OP, perhaps stop commenting.

      2. fposte*

        You have no idea whether she felt worse than the OP does now, though; pain that stays with you is by no means limited to the pain of high school, and you can be severely bullied and not have it give you lifelong pain. People have all kinds of responses, and bullying can be a bad thing for people to do without it requiring people who received it to follow a particular model.

        1. Another bullying victim*

          Things that you experience growing up have a much bigger effect on you. And there’s research that shows that bullying has worse outcomes than childhood sexual abuse. It’s the worse kind of pain a developing brain can experience at a time in your life when relationships outside of your family are the most important thing for you (puberty). I’ve been cheated on, I’ve had terrible jobs, I’ve lost my job, I’ve been homesick). None of it felt half as bad as bullying.

          1. fposte*

            That’s *you*. I was bullied as well, as I mentioned downthread, and it was painful at the time for sure, but it really didn’t provide me with the lifelong pain you describe. I get to have that experience just as you get to have yours.

            And yes, there are studies about increased likelihood of depression, etc., down the line; I’m not saying people should just gumption their way past it, just saying that there are lots of things that happen to people and we really can’t say from the outside how badly somebody’s suffering from any one thing. And it doesn’t matter, because it’s not a contest.

      3. Emi.*

        I have also been bullied and this is not a “dream come true” for me. Please don’t generalize like that–I don’t wish any harm on my bullies. I just wish they hadn’t harmed me.

        1. fposte*

          This honestly makes me think of the cycle of child abuse–that being a victim creates a well of anger that it’s all too easy to turn to again when the power is in your hands. I would prefer we break the cycle.

          1. Another bullying victim*

            Except that it’s not. The cycle of child abuse results in hurting innocent people who have nothing to do with your pain. Bullies are not innocent.

            1. TL -*

              Any time you buy into the world view that the winner is the person least hurt and the loser is the most hurt, you’re buying into the world view that supports cyclic abuse.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          +1 of many others–bullied as a child; not delighting in this; disturbed that people take savage joy in it.

          Mostly I find it a helpful reminder that sometimes you don’t even know a bridge is there, but you’ve burned it. You can say “But I thought it was a kudzu vine, I didn’t know it was a bridge” but that doesn’t actually change things.

        3. Pommette!*

          Replying to agree with you. I hope that the people who bullied me have learned how to be kind and empathetic to their peers, and can teach their own children not to bully. Asides from that, I hope that they have good, happy, lives, and that our paths never cross again.

          I want to add that as someone who was bullied and did not go on to thrive in the workplace, the idea that professional success/failure can serve as a reward/punishment for people, based on how good/bad they are is really disturbing and hurtful. That’s not how the world works. Professional failure is not a punishment for moral failure.

          It’s also not a fair characterization of what happened between the Rock Star and the OP (there is no reason to think that the Rock Star was concerned with anything but her own safety and sanity when she told management about the OP’s past behaviour, nor is there any reason for the OP to think that her job application was blocked by the RS’ vengeful intercession.)

          1. Relly*

            I hope that they have good, happy, lives, and that our paths never cross again.

            This this this. I don’t want bad things to happen to them. I don’t want bad things to happen to anyone. I’m okay with them living happy and fulfilled lives. I don’t even care if they ever realize what they did to me, or feel bad about it. Because I don’t want to think about them ever again. I want them to move to Fiji and have fantastic lives and never, ever be in the same time zone as me again.

          2. Cactus*

            Yes, this. I was bullied as a kid. My life is fine, but it’s not rock-star level. I’ve had bosses as an adult who were just as bad as my childhood bullies, but worse because they were more powerful (one of them yelled at one of my former co-workers at work and called her Satan. Toxic workplaces, oh my.) I don’t want them to suffer endlessly…I just want them to stay on the other side of the country, where I left them.

        4. SarahTheEntwife*

          Same here. I hope that they experienced some sort of remorse over what they did, but honestly if they just got over themselves and more or less forgot about high school upon becoming reasonable adults, that would be fine too. I would like the world to hold more happy, well-adjusted people, not malicious teenagers who became sad broken adults.


    Hi OP,
    From what I gathered, it seems like you are somewhat fresh out of college…you said you were in your early 20’s I believe??
    Either way, I don’t know if this will help you or not but these sorts of things happen to everyone during that time of their life(maybe not exactly like this, but hopefully you know what I’m getting at). Like another commenter stated earlier…this IS just a “thing that happened”. Your life is not over.
    However, I DO hope that you have learned something from this experience. Don’t beat yourself up. You are not the first person to have been a bully and you’re not going to be the last. Take the time that you need to have a meltdown. It’s okay.
    However, after that…GET UP. I know’s it’s not easy and if you really are having some serious mental health issues I think it would be wise of you to speak to someone professionally.
    If you really want to create a career for yourself in your industry(not sure what it is) but there are other ways…this company was not your only shot. I know that 100%!!
    Go to networking events, get on meetup.com, explore cities where your career choices have the best employment rates…I know moving away from family/friends was not your first choice but if where you are at is not a good area for your career-either you need to change your career or change your location.
    Something to think about. Everyone says this, but things DO GET BETTER. Keep your head up! :)

    1. sunny-dee*

      I think the OP is much closer to 30 — I think she said it had been at least a decade since high school and when she went to the other city, everyone “her age” was married with kids.

      1. NOTORIOUS*

        Ok. I see. Thanks, sunny-dee.
        Regardless, what I commented still fits…even if she’s older, these things happen. I’m 32 myself…we all have our ups and downs in life.

    2. Another bullying victim*

      Why wouldn’t she beat herself up? She needs to take responsibility and realize how bad her actions were before she can really change. Trying to minimize her bullying (which is one of the worst things a person can experience) is the opposite of helpful.

      1. NOTORIOUS*

        Hi, Another bullying victim
        I really do think that some of the commenters here are giving skewed thoughts and “advice” because of their previous bullying experiences. I was bullied myself as a teenager, so I do sympathize.
        I agree that she does need to take responsibility for her actions, but I’m not her mother. She clearly does not see the errors of her ways right now and at the time this letter was written-wasn’t thinking in a very clear-headed manner.
        LW doesn’t know me personally and nothing you or I say to that effect is going to make her “take responsibility for her actions.”
        BTW, what does that even mean?? Accept the fact that because she was a bully in high school, she is now doomed to live with her parents her whole life and never have a job that she enjoys?? Get out of here.
        This is supposed to be a helpful advice blog and that’s what I did. Telling her that she needs to take responsibility for her actions with no other recourse is certainly not “helpful” either.
        If you don’t agree that’s fine but make sure your criticisms are constructive.

        1. fposte*

          Yes, I agree with this comment. Look, lots of us were bullied in high school (or junior high, which in my experience was worse). But I question the ethicality of people deciding that makes it okay to kick somebody else when she’s down; that’s not being anti-bullying, that’s just being opposed to being on the receiving end.

          1. Another bullying victim*

            If OP was showing sincere remorse, things would be different. But she doesn’t. The only way for people to improve their character is realizing the full extent of the hurt they caused. It feels very uncomfortable and it’s also very painful but it’s crucial. You can compare it to how people losing their privilege feel.

            1. fposte*

              I would compare it more to fat-shaming; people who want to take out hostilities justify them by claiming they’re necessary and helpful.

              1. Another bullying victim*

                Fat shaming is just another type of bullying and it helps no one. People don’t lose weight after they’ve been made fun of. But bullies, narcissists and other people who harm others can actually benefit from a rude awakening. In fact, it’s sometimes the only way for them to get better. It’s similar to the how many kids (some already grown up) have shared that the only way they stopped the bullies from tormenting them was by fighting back despite all the adults telling them that violence is not the answer. It’s also supported by research that shows that teachers exposed to pain similar to bullying in a simulation had much more empathy for bullying victims. You don’t develop empathy towards other people’s pain unless you can feel pain yourself, especially if you took some pleasure into tormenting them.

                And I personally don’t care what the majority of my classmates that participated in my bullying are up to except for one person that used me and discarded me on top of bullying me. Nothing has hurt me as badly after that. So OP might benefit from developing some empathy towards the real victims.

                1. fposte*

                  I don’t think you can awaken people by being mean to them, otherwise bullied people would have found that a valuable experience that improved their lives.

                2. Another bullying victim*

                  You can’t awaken people who haven’t harmed anyone by being mean. But for people of questionable character tough love might be the only method that helps them feel remorseful. If you’re used to having all the power, then the only way you can realize how much you’ve harmed someone is by losing this power and feeling what it’s like to be on the receiving side.

                3. fposte*

                  @Another–I don’t think we’re ever going to see eye to eye on this, but I wish you less pain in your future than it sounds like you have now.

              2. Turtle Candle*

                See, I usually agree with you, fposte, but here I disagree. I disagree because the difference is that being fat is not actually a moral issue, the way that bullying someone is, or blaming them for your problems. In fact I think it’s really problematic to make that comparison. That I am fat harms no one. Even if we make the you-were-kids, byegones-are-bygones argument about the original bullying–which may be perfectly valid; people do change–having a yelling fit at them in a restaurant is not harmless. I’m actually a little surprised that you’d make that comparison.

                1. Marthooh*

                  I think fposte meant that both situations involve hurting someone and saying “It’s for your own good!” The similarity lies in the justifications used, not the moral culpability of the victims.

            2. NOTORIOUS*

              Another bullying victim,

              I fear that you are still hurting from whatever happened to you in the past since your commenter name suggests that. If that is what’s going on. I’m sorry that those things happened to you-but LW is not your bully. Either that or you are just trying to get a rise out of people. Either way, I would stop while you’re ahead.
              These types of unconstructive comments don’t help anyone and don’t stay on the thread for very long.

            3. TL -*

              “The only way for people to improve their character is realizing the full extent of the hurt they caused.”
              That’s not true. Plenty of people grow up and grow better, then, using their new world view, look back and see the hurt they’ve caused. People get better because they start wanting more out of life (closer relationships, the ability to be themselves around their friends, to feel good about the way they treat people, to have people like them) and empathy and kindness are ways we achieve these goals.

              Pouring every bit of hurt and pain onto another person, unless that person is your therapist, isn’t going to make that person more empathetic. Either they’re ready to do the work already, in which case, “You were a terrible bully to me. I spent every day scared of you” is going to prompt the introspection you want, or they’re not ready to do the work, in which case nothing you say to them is going to make a difference.

          2. sunny-dee*

            I agree you shouldn’t kick someone when they’re down. OTOH, a lot of the OP’s problems stem from not recognizing that her actions have foreseeable and predictable consequences. She is responsible for virtually everything that happened to her, directly. It’s not like she was in a random car accident or got cancer. She has consistently made really bad, self-destructive choices. Recognizing that and taking responsibility is (in theory) a step toward taking control and making better choices. E.g., going to therapy, picking a different field or location, taking control of her finances. These are things she can do, if she recognizes that she needs to take action.

            1. fposte*

              I totally agree with this, and I think there have been a lot of constructive comments to that end. I just don’t think they have to be mean or shaming to make that point, and I suspect those are in fact less effective.

            2. Not So NewReader*

              Cause and effect relationships.
              OP, how we treat people matters. It matters in the short run and it matters in the long run.
              If we don’t call into work for three days we probably will get fired.
              There are just somethings we call rules of thumb because the patterns are that predictable. If we do x then it is reasonable to think that y will happen because of action x.

              I remember a time in my life where it took everything I had to get out of bed and face the day. We have to ask ourselves why is this happening and how can we get some help for ourselves. It was a battle I would not wish on anyone. Some people around me at that time thought it was no big deal. Then I realized I was the one who needed to understand it was a big deal and I needed to take steps. I asked well-chosen people for small helps here and there as I inched my way through the mess.

              Ironically, when I went through points where I was absolutely sure I was losing parts of myself I suddenly found new and bigger parts of myself. Parts of me that I liked better. OP, do YOU like YOU? What would it take for you to get to a spot where you liked yourself more?

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I think I shared this last time, and it’s third hand, but:

        I remember a comment from someone who had been bullied in high school and went to her reunion. She had a long talk with someone she found really endearing, which included the reveal that Nice Person and her spouse had lost a child as a toddler. And later at the reunion, poster realized that the spouse was someone who had bullied her in high school. So, in the ensuing decades he’d become someone who could attract a Nice Person, and he’d suffered a fate the writer would never, ever have wished on him, or on anyone else.

        We can think OP made mistakes in high school and in the present, and that Rockstar did nothing wrong, and still cringe away from the gleeful “Ha ha ha bully got theirs!” reasoning. Because I was bullied–worse in middle school, as fposte intimates–and I don’t want it to seem like that’s me. I think you can move on without forgiving, and part of that is not going down the toxic well of whether people are suffering adequately for their past mistreatment of me.

        1. Another bullying victim*

          Having your baby die is tragic and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Not getting a job when you have a safety net is a totally different thing.

          1. NOTORIOUS*

            In all of your comments, I haven’t seen anything helpful or kind to OP…what’s your end game here? Why even comment? Need I remind you….?
            RULE #1:
            Be kind to letter-writers and fellow commenters, which especially means being constructive if you’re criticizing. If you want a steady supply of interesting letters to read here, people need to be willing to write in and expose themselves to public critique. Treating them kindly makes that far more likely to happen.

            A subset of that rule: Give letter-writers and fellow commenters the benefit of the doubt. Don’t jump to a negative interpretation of someone’s comment or situation; instead, assume good faith on the part of others, including people whose opinions differ from your own.

            1. Student*

              The OP needs help. The OP wants kindness. There is sometimes a difference – I feel strongly that this is one of those times.

              It’s not, ultimately, a kindness to let the OP believe that people in real life will be as sympathetic and forgiving as this commentariat is being today online. It costs very little for a stranger on the internet to say, “I forgive you OP! It’ll all be all right and work out for you!” It means they’ll get positive feedback from the OP, it makes the OP feel better, and, crucially, the commenters will not have to deal with any of the fall-out from this polite lie.

              However, if the OP takes it at face value and buys into this, it will actually harm the OP later, when the commenters don’t have to see it or hear about it. Such sentiment basically gives the OP a misguided impression that she’s a sympathetic figure, with permission to shrug off having to deal with serious obstacles to her future success, dismissing those obstacles as something beyond her control.

              In this case, there’s a bunch of stuff that is ultimately in her control that she could start tackling to build a better future for herself. I don’t believe it actually helps the OP to say, “Oh, you poor, unfortunate soul!” instead of, “You are headed down a bad path right now. Please don’t keep going that way. There are things in your control that you need to change or fix to get onto a better track in life.”

              It doesn’t make me feel good to say that. But I do think it’s the more honest and potentially helpful thing to say, if the OP hears it out.

              1. Observer*

                I don’t think anyone is being forgiving. The overwhelming consensus, from victims and non-victims alike, is that the OP needs to realize her role in this mess and take action to clean it up as best as possible, with the understanding that things are not likely to look like her ideal. And lots of people have even told her that if she doesn’t do that people are not going to cut her the kind of slack she seems to think she’s entitled to.

                What’s being argued here is that there is a kinder, more useful way to say it and there is a less kind and less useful way. Mirroring the unhelpful responses she’s likely to get in the rest of the world is not going to penetrate. What MIGHT penetrate is kindly trying to get her to see that the kind of negative repercussions she is facing are likely to continue of she doesn’t make significant changes.

          2. Falling Diphthong*

            There’s a wise saying that the opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference. (I DO NOT hold with the advice about how you must forgive your bullies because their bullying laid on onus of emotional work on you. You can skip forgiving.)

            But if, a decade later, you’ve gone from stewing about how they mistreat you to stewing about whether they have been punished enough by karma for how they mistreated you a decade ago–you’re doing that to yourself. They could have been dead for the past 5 years, while you continue to grant them headspace.

            1. Another bullying victim*

              Actually, no, I’m not stewing about how they have been punished. I used to fantasize about it as a kid but now I don’t devote it much time – I have a life to live! I still have some doubts about the letter – it just really sounds like a fantasy of a bullied kid, plus how did OP know that RS was celebrating her anniversary (which happened to be exactly on her birthday)? But still, knowing that karma sometimes works feels satisfying.

              BTW, indifference is exactly what I have used when I’ve come across my own bully later in life. It worked pretty well.

            2. Relly*

              I heard a saying about that once: holding on to hatred is like drinking poison and hoping someone else will die.

        2. Oranges*

          The want for vengeance is human. There is one person who hurt me very badly and do I want him to suffer? Part of me does yes. But the larger part wants him not to harm others and to never have power over anyone. Ever. Other than that, stay away from me, and meh.

          We all have the parts of us that want to run bloody in the streets. But that only leads to us harming other “bad” people (whatever “bad” means to us). Because anger feels good. And then you’ve hurt people and caused more suffering not only in their lives but also in the lives of everyone around them. Because people don’t suffer in a vacuum.

          I strive for the only thing I want is less suffering in life. For everyone. She’s suffering (mostly) through her own actions true but she’s still in pain. Ans she’ll continue to be in pain if she continues down the road she’s on. (Seeing everything in black and white, blaming others because she’s ashamed, blaming others because it’s easier, oh gods is it easier)

          Empathy isn’t a zero sum game. Physical help might be. But not empathy.

  59. Katherine*

    Just thought of one other thing that might help you see this differently. You say that Rock Star tweeted out *mental health* and *suicide hotline* information in the context of high school bullying. Reading between the lines, does that suggest that perhaps the bullying she experienced in high school drove her to suicidal ideation? Maybe. Now, obviously you didn’t intend to harm her that badly, and you may not have realized how your treatment affected her, but apparently it did. We don’t know what effect we have on other people.

    And here you are, looking at the wreckage of the last few months, and drawing a butterfly-effect-style line all the way back to this woman. She stopped you from getting a job, so you left town for another job, so you caught your boyfriend in the act of cheating, so you were depressed, so you lost your job, so you got drunk on your birthday, so you yelled at her, so you got blacklisted. If you’re honestly giving Rock Star any responsibility for this entirely unforeseeable (to her) sequence of events, then you should give yourself responsibility for any and all mental health issues she suffered as a result of your bullying. If she deserves blame (as you state in your letter), then so do you. And if you think I’m being unfair to you, then you should think you’re being unfair to Rock Star.

    Harsh, I know. I’m just trying to point out that you don’t want to be blamed now for being a bully in high school, so you shouldn’t blame this person for what happened to you. And another way to look at it is: Rock Star moved on from high school in spectacular fashion- and there is NO REASON YOU CAN’T MOVE ON FROM THIS!!! the world is full of people who came back from adversity. the AAM archives are full of those stories! Start today, focus on what’s in your control. Things can change beyond your wildest imaginings.

  60. Say what, now?*

    I can definitely see how you may be soured a bit by your experience, but I have to second what Alison has said… Rock Star didn’t bully you and she didn’t drunkenly yell at you in public, so I’m afraid that the onus is on you for that behavior. She didn’t cause your boyfriend to cheat on you, that’s HIS terrible behavior (that one is definitely not your fault).

    I think right now it feels good to think of it as someone else’s doing, but I think that your heartache will heal faster if you accept your part in it and work toward tangible actions to work through your next steps. For me, I find that taking back control over my mistakes and setting goals really helps both in terms of getting past them and relieving any lingering depression. Maybe for you that means finding a new town to work from in your chosen field (maybe another friend from high school/college is in another city and would be able to split rent with you for a while. Or maybe it will mean reassessing your skill set to see if there is another field in your area that you might fit well in.

    Whatever you do, I’d refrain from engaging with the Rock Star any further. Your paths should be separate going forward even if it’s just the two of you pretending that the other doesn’t exist.

  61. Shoe*

    Wow, that sounds really hard OP. It can feel so unfair when ghosts of who we were in the past haunt our present situations.

    It’s not doing you any good to try to assign blame to the situation. Neither “Rock star ruined my life!” or “I ruined my life!” is going to be that helpful at the moment. Try to remember that while maybe you felt Rock Star’s shop was your “dream” place and the only option for a happy life for you, there are many paths to a happy life, and with a little work I’m sure you can get there.

    It sounds like maybe you need to go through a grieving process to come to terms with not working at Rock Star’s shop. But part of that process is envisioning a life for yourself moving forward. It will happen. The world is a really big place with lots of chances for happiness in it.

    1. MashaKasha*

      This is a good point about Rock Star’s shop. I guarantee you that there are probably dozens of people at that shop right now that are actively looking. No workplace is perfect. While we are at it, OP’s hometown isn’t the only perfect place to live, either. Looks to me like an opportunity for the OP to start fresh after she gets back on her feet.

  62. R*

    Ouch. I mean, what’s happened sucks, but you’re coming off pretty entitled and unwilling to even consider you did anything wrong. Please seek therapy; I promise you it will help set you up to do better. I know it’s hard to accept that you’re primarily to blame for what’s happened (sans your boyfriend, who sounds like a really terrible person); it’s a tough pill to swallow. But you need to swallow that pill and accept it in order to move on and up. Therapy will help.

  63. Chai Tea Latte*

    Dear OP,
    You may not read this, since it’s fairly far down the thread, but consider this: You have actually been given an opportunity that many people don’t, although it sucks in the present tense and will require resilience and momentum to truly appreciate.
    I know it’s a cliche, but the adage that when a door closes a window opens is actually very plausible.
    You screwed up early. You aren’t at the end of a career with a ton of wistful regrets–your bad year hit early, and hit hard, but gives you the opportunity to get some help, get back up, and lead a remarkable life. I truly, truly wish you the best. Many commenters here have given you pragmatic advice; I would read through carefully and seek help so you can recalibrate and get back to the business of living.
    Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone.
    Much love to you.

  64. Beancounter Eric*


    I’m sure I am echoing others, but a couple of points:

    1. Don’t follow “Rock-star” on social media – in fact, cut back/get off social media. It’s a time sink, and will leave you even more depressed.
    2. Find employment outside of “niche industry”…if you can, stay close to the field, but you may be toxic in “niche industry” at present, and may have to do/go somewhere else to pay penance.
    3. When/if you can afford it, relocate. I suspect distance will be your friend.
    4. Your ex is a wanker, and deserves a series of swift kicks to points not needing to be mentioned.
    5. “That which does not kill me makes me stronger”….learn from all this, heed the lessons of your life to date, and grow from it all.

    Good luck.

  65. Fernando*

    That is sad, really.

    I was also bullied in school when I was a child and although what happened to you didn’t happen in my case, when I was around 20 years old my bully came out of nowhere and tried to be part of my group of friends (it is a long story, but we were in a kind of club, we would meet every week and they were my best friends). He was part of this group in the past (before my time) and tried to return. I think he didn’t have any friends anymore and was trying to expand his circle.

    I still remember that I couldn’t even breath when I saw him and wanted to hide again, as if I were a child.

    And I’ll be honest and admit that I made sure he was completely ostracized by the entire group, that was absolutely on my side. After a few attempts he gave up and never came back.

    I don’t regret.

  66. Jake*

    I don’t believe karma in the cosmic source of justice sense, but I do firmly believe that all actions have consequences, many of which are long lasting and unpredictable.

    OP, please take a look at your own role in all of this. The first step here is going to be to acknowledge that the rock star from beginning to end has done nothing wrong, and the shop has reacted appropriately to your actions.

    I’m sorry you’ve hit a rough patch, but without taking the first step above, I fear you will struggle to move forward in a better direction.

  67. Nita*

    I’ve heard many, many times that bullies often bully because they have some kind of issues themselves. It seems the OP was never fully able to put her troubles behind her, and has very unhealthy responses when a crisis hits. I’m not blaming the OP, I hope that’s not what it sounds like – just trying to say that she may need to look into having depression or something, and get treatment for it. And while what happened is a lot to take for anyone, in the long run it may turn out to be for the best. What if OP had never found her boyfriend cheating, and married him? What if she was hired at Rock Star’s company, only to discover after the fact that she works with someone who can’t stand the sight of her? What if she had smooth sailing now, only to have undiagnosed and untreated depression rear its head years down the road, at an even more inconvenient time?

    And no, Rock Star didn’t have that much to do with the mess. What are the chances they would end up in the same industry? What are the chances she would react with a shrug and an “oh, it’s OK” to someone who once bullied her to the point of being suicidal? What are the chances that she would not see the repeated applications and then the scene at the restaurant as being stalked, and would not go to HR to keep the situation from escalating even further? Would OP act any differently if she were in Rock Star’s shoes?

    So, yeah, it’s just a giant mess of no one person’s making. Hopefully OP will be able to use the chance to start many things over wisely.

  68. Sabrina Spellman*

    They say bullying ends in high school, but that’s not true. I think it will help you to reflect on your past and build a path to a better future. It’s going to take time, effort, and a lot of work, but you will be better for it.

  69. animaniactoo*

    OP, if it helps any – you might think of the tweeting local mental health resources as partially there for you.

    She may well have recognized that you’re in a tough spot which makes it in no way appropriate for you to be working in her circle, but at the same time worthy of needing help *yourself* – which may not be the job you’re wanting, as much as it is ways to help deal with the choices that are available to you without feeling forever like your life is ruined because of the situation you’re currently in. Which does, yes, suck.

    Also – while your (ex)bf is a superweenie, some of this is on how you handled the adjustment to living in a place that emotionally sucked for you. Being support to someone who is crying *every single night* for how long? A couple of months? Is pretty soul-sucking. I’m not saying that to tell you it’s all your fault. I’m mentioning it as part of things you need to address going forward with how you cope with sub-optimal choices/results because it’s wearing on your relationships with other people AND because it’s simply flat-out not healthy for you.

    I wish you the best in moving forward. You have a lot of life left to live. Please go find another place to invest your energy that you can be happy with (relatively) and reach out to the mental health resources to help you learn to put this in your rearview mirror as something you learned and grew from.

    1. animaniactoo*

      btw, when I say your bf is a superweenie – he should never have cheated on you. No matter how he felt about the situation. That is in no way your fault, not at all. If he was rung out from being emotional support, there are lots of ways he could have chosen to address it. None of which you would have liked, probably (breaking up with you, not breaking up with you but telling you he was going to hang up if you started crying again because he couldn’t take it, etc.). That’s the portion I am referring to as being somewhat due to the way you’ve been handling things.

      But here’s the big thing – life doesn’t come with an instruction manual on how to be an adult and deal with all these things. We all fumble our way through, screwing a lot of them up until we figure out how to do them right. I have confidence that you can too, and I really do urge you to avail yourself of the mental health resources to help get you moving in the right direction. It doesn’t mean you’re totally screwed up to take advantage of them. It means you need more help than you can provide yourself or those around you can, so it’s best to take it to an expert who can look at it and say “let’s focus on working on this part, that will help get things moving in the right direction”. When your car has issues, you take it to a mechanic when putting more transmission oil in doesn’t fix the issue. This is the same kind of thing.

      1. fposte*

        “life doesn’t come with an instruction manual on how to be an adult and deal with all these things. We all fumble our way through, screwing a lot of them up until we figure out how to do them right.”

        I really, really love this point, and the way it applies to multiple people in this situation. It’s hard enough to realize this about ourselves; we so often forget that it applies to the other people in a situation that didn’t go badly, too.

    2. Lexicat*

      I want to heartily second your third paragraph. I think the OP’s reaction to her new town – crying on the phone every night – magnified both her negativity towards the place and her emotional dependence on her boyfriend, and in turn the effect of his betrayal. It’s not her fault he cheated, and he’s a jerk for doing it. But that whole section of the story suggests to me that OP could really benefit from seeing a therapist to learn better coping skills that don’t rely on other people’s emotional support, since there’s no guarantee external support will last.

      I hope things get better for you, OP.

  70. Daffodil*

    Thanks for the update, OP. I’m sorry you’re going through a really rough time. I’d also suggest getting to therapy. A good therapist isn’t going to lecture you or focus on things you’ve done wrong, instead they’ll focus on what’s driving your emotions and how you can handle them moving forward. And just provide a listening ear, which is super important. Being unable to get out of bed or made a phone call for three days is a pretty major mental health issue, and you deserve support in figuring out how to deal and how to move forward from here.

    It’s very normal to feel like all this is RS’s fault, I’m sure I would feel the same in your shoes. But feeling something is different from it being true, and regardless of anyone’s fault, you’re the person living your life and you’re the one who has to figure out what to do now. You are in a very tough spot, and I’m sure it feels like things are never going to get better, but I can tell you from experience that that’s your brain lying to you and not reality. Dealing with this stuff is the hardest thing you’ll ever do – and it’s going to take a long time – but it will also be the most worthwhile.

    Good luck to you, I hope we get another follow up in a year that you’re happier and doing something that interests you.

  71. Kelly*

    Omg, letter writer … This is a horrifying update … but, it would make for a very good short-story read aimed at teens who bully. Bullying sounds like such a fun, harmless thing to do but it’s affects can be far-reaching as you sadly have learned first hand.

    Somehow you have to accept the blame for all that has happened, learned from it and move on. It WILL get better. Hang in there.

    1. Jake*

      Honestly, most bullies don’t even see themselves as bullies. Most I’ve been around would read this story and feel the same way about it as you or me because they don’t even think they are or were bullies.

      Look at the original post, even the OP for this letter minimized every aspect of bullying she did, and she only begrudgingly accepted the label. That was with dozens of people telling her she was a bully.

      1. fposte*

        I think the trajectory was more complicated–she called herself a bully in her own subject line, then the description was more amorphous, sounding more benign initially and then getting more complicated.

  72. JStarr*

    Wow, OP. Sounds like a lot of rough stuff happening all at once.

    I was stunned to find out that the girl who refused to speak to me at all during high school (for reasons never explained to me) would be in charge of seeing about vendors for my position, despite us working in two very different areas. I was polite in every email but she refused to answer any of them. I ended up having to cc my boss and hers on every interaction where she still only responded to them, leaving my boss to cc me back into the conversation. It was weird. So I get a little of where you’re coming from.

    There are good ways and bad ways and in between to handle any situation. It seems like a lot of stuff piled on you all at once and without a proper breather you made some less than great choices. But there’s a bright side, the only way past is through as they say. I have depression and I don’t always make the best choices but I always have to deal with the consequences. Take your time. Get someone outside your circle to talk to. Gear up. Move on.

    1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

      Wow, that sounds extremely uncomfortable. And so unprofessional on her part. She clearly wasn’t worried about looking ridiculous in front of her boss.

      I had someone like that at school. She absolutely refused to talk to me. No idea why. I can’t imagine having to deal with her now. You handled the situation really well. I’d have lost my temper!

      Hope you’re doing well and having a good day.

  73. Seal*

    OP – I’m so sorry about all of this. It sounds like it’s been a very rough couple of months for you; naturally you are disappointed and upset by the way things turned out. While ghosting on a job and making a drunken scene in a resturant are rather extreme reactions, it’s not the end of the world; people do stupid stuff like that all the time (trust me – been there, done that). It’s where you go from here that matters. Difficult though it may be, try to look at this as an opportunity. Since you know now that this particular door is closed to you, why waste any more time on it? You’re now free to pursue other opportunities that might turn out to be better in the end; no more tunnel vision for you. And good riddance to the cheating boyfriend! You deserve better.

    As you’ve discovered the hard way, life isn’t perfect and things don’t always turn out the way we sometimes desperately hope they will. All you can do is pick up the pieces and move on, hopefully wiser for the experience. Best of luck to you, OP – I hope things get better soon.

  74. Awkwardest Turtle*

    OP, I’m so so sorry for what you’re going through. For your own sake, block this person from all of your social media feeds if you haven’t already. You don’t need to compare yourself to her. You’re different people.

    I agree with the comments that have suggested an industry and/or geography change, although I realize the latter can be really difficult without a solid job in the new place.

    In the meantime, please practice self-care. Exercise if you’re able, go for walks, try a new hobby. Do something that makes you feel good. You deserve happiness, no matter what mistakes you’ve made.

  75. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

    Hey OP, that all sounds so rough. I hope things get better for you soon. And moving to a new place with no support system? That’s so, so difficult to deal with.

    I heartily recommend talking someone neutral about all of this. Not because there’s something wrong with you, but because you’re going through a difficult time. Whatever mistakes you’ve made, you don’t have an evil heart and you’re not out to hurt others. You deserve to be happy and get back on the path of living your life.

    If it helps, here’s something from my life: (trigger warning for suicide)

    I’m in my 40’s and due to mistreatment by health professionals, I find myself living entirely on the generosity of friends. I pretty much lost over ten years of my life. I have no savings, no retirement fund. I planned to commit suicide two years ago because doctors said there was nothing they could do for my health (which was a lie). I can’t begin to tell you how many job and educational opportunities I’ve lost. And there were people, including friends, who refused to believe that I was dealing with a physical illness. So I figured, better a quick death than a slow one. Thanks to a friend, I decided to hold on a little longer. I eventually found a decent doctor and support group, and my health is now back on track. I am scared about the future because my resume is very weak and I really don’t know what is going to happen. But things are changing, and there are people in my life who care about me.

    There are people in your life who care about you. It hurts when people don’t think well of us. It hurts a lot and it doesn’t go away. I don’t have a lot of advice on how to deal with that (I’ve settled on ‘well, it sucks, let’s go watch TV’).

    Hmm, this became longer than expected and it’s all about me. But I share this with you to say that you are not alone. This is tough and it hurts, but you are not alone. Complete strangers on the internet are with you. You have a family who care about you. You clearly have talents and skills that are desirable. It’ll take time to process all that’s happened. And it might hurt. But you’re not alone, and you deserve to get this all sorted out and back to building your life and career. Good luck and I’ll be thinking of you and sending you good thoughts.

    1. AnonAndOn*

      “This is tough and it hurts, but you are not alone.”

      I agree. And I’m glad to hear that things are getting better for you, Lady Ariel Ponyweather. Thank you for sharing your story.

      1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

        <3 Thank you. It's been tough and still is, although it's getting better. It helps to hear from others because life can be so difficult sometimes. Hope you have a lovely day, friend!

    2. CheeryO*

      This internet nobody is glad you’re still here. I wish no one had to suffer like this, but it does help to know that you’re not alone.

      1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

        Definitely not a nobody, not to me! Thank you very much. Life can be so hard sometimes. Knowing you’re not alone doesn’t magically fix things, but it does help you feel like you can handle the situation.

    3. fposte*

      Yet another person here who’s very glad you stayed with us, and I really appreciate you sharing your POV on this.

      1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

        Thank you! I am also glad, which feels good to say. I was very nervous about typing all that out, but it seems to have been helpful, which makes it worth it.

        Hope you have a marvellous day!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Thanks for sharing this, Lady Ariel.

      I am sorry for what has happened to you in life. But I hope you can find a way to use it to help others. There is a huge need out there.

      I think that once you get back into the swing of your career that you will find your work much easier than your life experiences and you will quickly recoup some of that lost time. Some times when we conquer our biggest battles then other battles suddenly shrink and become very manageable.

      1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

        <3 Thank you for your reply, and I really hope OP sees it as well because it's so important.

        I think that once you get back into the swing of your career that you will find your work much easier than your life experiences and you will quickly recoup some of that lost time.

        This made me tear up. Thank you. I honestly never considered that it might be easier. In fact, I’ve been expecting it to be much harder! It never occurred to me that things could flow smoothly for a change. You’ve given me a real gift.

        Thank you for kindness and support. I’m definitely doing what I can to help others. I’m active in my support group and sharing my experiences and knowledge where possible (and where it’s wanted). The way the medical community treats women, minorities and people with disabilities is abominable. I’m laying the groundwork to do more in the future. While there are limits in the meantime, they won’t always be there and I want to be ready when the time comes.

        Many thanks again, you are great! :)

  76. Honey*

    Just know that things can really go up from where you’re at, so work hard and look forward to it because you know if you work hard what you desire can be your reality. As for “rockstar” i think you missed the fact that in her post she added a suicide hotline; not that you were to blame for the reasons she was probably suicidal but she must believe you had a hand in it. That being said i think the way to start your journey of up i would apologize if i were you just so that’s not something you have to think about. I understand you were in high school but she obviously still feels it.

    Lastly don’t feel like you’re stuck now, you had your time of cradeling since you fell but now it’s time to pick yourself up. If you can’t find a job with your degree maybe you should get any other job until you can find one in your field. Do something, don’t stay stuck! Good luck to you!

    1. Barney Stinson*

      I thought that the mental health/suicide links were for the LW, not for Rockstar. I think Rockstar is being kind, under the circumstances.

      LW: what you did isn’t important. What’s important is what you do next. Learn from this so you don’t keep getting the lessons pushed to you.

      1. Been There*

        I agree, it was completely aimed at LW. She had told RS that RS had ruined her life. So I think the first half of the post was salt in the wound, but the second half, the part about mental health resources and the hotline were because she rightly knew that LW needs it. I worry about LW too as she posts how her “whole world” was destroyed by RS.

        1. Elizabeth H.*

          Wow! There is no way that was meant genuinely and kindly for the OP in her time of need and difficult circumstances. It was intended either, if I’m being generous, genuinely, toward high schoolers experiencing bullying (as Rockstar was) or, if being ungenerous, to make herself look better.

          1. Barney Stinson*

            I was just guessing, but it sounds like you have inside info the rest of us lack?

            If I were accosted by someone with that kind of chaos in a restaurant I could see myself being worried that the someone was really on a bad edge somewhere. Especially if I was uber-successful and content with my life.

            1. Amy*

              I don’t thin Elizabeth H is basing her response on some kind of inside info. I too took it as aimed toward high schoolers. I assumed it meant that “hey I was bullied in HS but now things are great…hang in there, it gets better.” I assumed the altercation at the restaurant brought back some memories from HS and she decided to post about that…not that it was directed at the LW.

              1. Barney Stinson*

                I can see it being interpreted that way, too. I just can’t say that there’s NO WAY it could have either meaning. At least not with that level of emphatic certainty.

            2. boo*

              I agree with this a lot–I’ve been around encounters like this, and while reaction #1 is “Run away!”, reaction #2 is “I hope that person gets whatever help they need, because that’s got to suck.” My first reading on the hotlines, etc. was the same as yours, Barney, but on second reading I agree with Honey that the resources were probably for the teens she’s referring to.

              Really, though, I can’t see the posting as malicious no matter how I twist it. People who post mental health resources and suicide hotlines generally just hope whoever needs them will use them.

      2. nonegiven*

        I think Rock Star tweeted the suicide hotline because the confrontation had reminded her of what she had needed in high school. It probably brought up memories of crying alone after school or in the bathroom at school and considering suicide or some other kind of self harm.

  77. NowYouKnow*

    This your chance to really look at yourself. Most bullies never take the opportunity to truly see the havoc they have wreaked on another person, and the damage to character that bullying inflicts on the bully themselves. Now you’re getting a taste of it, and it hurts.

    Experiencing the natural consequences of bad behavior is not easy. Change is hard. Truly looking within and taking responsibility is even harder. But if you can even attempt to do it, you’ll be a much better person for it. If I were in your shoes, I’d get help from a therapist to help you sort out your priorities, and decide which things you want to take on first. Right now it must seem so overwhelming, and a therapist can help.

    Good luck

  78. Not A Manager*

    Hi, OP. I haven’t read all of the other comments on here because I was re-reading your first post and follow-up comments. I remember that thread very well because I felt so bad for you and also for your former friend.

    What I’m seeing from the first thread and from this update is that you have some personal issues that are interfering with your functioning. Your current situation might have been precipitated by the issue with your former friend, but she’s not the primary reason that you’re having difficulty.

    You say that you are currently living with your parents. I suggest that you sit down with them and talk about whether they would invest some resources into your mental health and coping skills. Spending some intense time in individual counseling (it doesn’t have to go on forever, but should be more than simple crisis management) can help you understand your own patterns of behavior. I think that you will quickly discover that you can change some of those patterns and hopefully change your outcomes, too.

    Right now you’re in a crisis. Crises are scary and can be painful, but they can also precipitate healing and growth. This crisis is giving you the opportunity to really examine yourself and your situation, and to find ways to regain healthy control. There are other jobs for you, maybe in this career elsewhere, or maybe in some other field. There are other men than your cheating boyfriend. There are other ways to deal with setbacks than the ones you’ve employed up to now. Use this opportunity for self-growth, and you can come out on a better side of all of this.

  79. Snark*

    So I was actually working up some sympathy for OP, because Jesus, what a year, but…..

    “It’s hard not to feel like some of this is Rock Star’s fault, especially given how she rubbed salt in the wound after my whole world had come crashing down.”

    So you stalk her on social media, apparently, and you believe that she specifically posted that at you to rub the salt in the wound? And you hold her in any way responsible for your career’s collapse after you no-show for three days at what you knew was your last-ditch job, then scream at her drunkenly in a restaurant?

    Well. That straightened my sympathies right out.

    1. Half-Caf Latte*

      I do think that the OP deserves at least some credit for sending in this update (she notes it wasn’t solicited). OP has to have known that her behavior would be judged here, and that she wouldn’t come out smelling like roses.

      The first part of the letter does seem to acknowledge that she made some bad choices, although (as others have thoroughly covered) there’s some major blame shifting here.

      I actually see some parallels to the beer-run manager, and hope for another follow up down the line that OP, with time and therapy, has engaged in some serious self-reflection and growth.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Both are similar ages, too–late 20s. Not that you can never change later in life, but people are more forgiving of acknowledged missteps when you were barely into adulting.

    2. viva*

      Yeah, that pretty much sums it up for me too.

      I spent years with a victim mentality but it was actually immature entitlement. So I get it – the feelings part. But our *actions* are not controlled by others. That was also a painful lesson for me.

      But LW, there’s only one way to go from rock bottom and that way is up. Please do consider finding a good therapist, it can make the difference between floundering for *years* mired in emotional pain versus finally having clarity plus strength to tackle the next steps.

      1. Relly*

        I had this amazing epiphany when I was in college. I had gone through some legitimately bad shit, but I went full victim mentality, pity party, and so on.

        And I remember just soaking in all of it again and coming up with “it’s just not FAIR! Those things shouldn’t have happened to me and it’s not okay that they did!”

        And then it all hit me, like, okay, that’s true. But it did happen. What now?

        There’s no medal ceremony for a shitty childhood. You don’t get a 20% coupon at Walmart for being a victim of bullying. The karma police are not bringing a check to my door. It happened, it sucked, and I don’t get a free prize to make up for it happening.

        So what now?

        Now … I get to do the hard work of getting better. Is it fair that I have to? No. Fair isn’t relevant. I get a chance to get better, if I work at it, and the prize I get is that I will feel better. No more, no less.

  80. Anonymous Annie*

    Oh, dear, Letter Writer, I am so sorry! You life sounds like mine was when I was about 23, but it did get better. Yours will, too.

    It won’t be easy, but you can do it. If you cannot seek a counselor, try to find some good self help books. Take any work you can get and excel at it. Keep a journal. Appreciate your friends. Spend time reflecting. Be gentle with yourself.

    Please, my dear, update us in a year, or whenever.

  81. Optimistic Prime*

    I’m so sorry for what you’re going through now, OP.

    From a different angle – have you considered that it may be time for you to broaden your perspective on what would be a satisfying job/career for you? If there are only 30-40 of these jobs in a city with 3 million people, and you are effectively blacklisted from ever getting a job at one of the employers for it (and also burned a bridge with a different one in the region because of the internship issue)…that doesn’t give you many opportunities for success.

    Obviously, your mental health is most important – and take care of that first. But when you’re ready, this may be a great time to explore some other areas that will make you feel satisfied and happy. Some of them may be connected or intersect with your original niche industry/career. Some of them may use related skills or require you to do similar tasks. The career services office of your alma mater may still provide some support to you in determining a direction.

    That’s not saying that you have to give up on your niche industry altogether, but it may be worth considering how you can make lateral moves or take a zigzag path until what you really ultimately want to do while also giving yourself a way to support yourself in the meantime with meaningful work you enjoy.

  82. AcademiaNut*

    It might be helpful to switch around the perspective.

    Imagine that five years from now, you’re in a better place. You’ve got a decent job that you like, and are good at. Then your employer gets an application from your ex, the one that cheated on you. You find out, and tell them, honestly, that you have a history with him and aren’t comfortable working with him. Then, a couple months later you encounter him by chance on a night out, and he’s drunk and starts screaming that you’ve ruined his life, and has to be escorted out of the restaurant.

    You have no idea what’s been happening with him. Has he been successful, or has his life been spiralling downwards? is he sorry about what happened or is he still being a jerk to people? All you know is that he treated you badly in the past, and has just treated you badly again, and you want to make 100% sure that you don’t end up working with him.

    1. Detached Elemental*

      Agreed. I’m also reminded of the AAM letter from the woman whose ex was applying for a job at her company. When she let management know, they binned the application.

  83. Temperance*

    LW, everyone else has covered how this is obviously not any wrongdoing from RS. I think you know that, but aren’t ready for whatever reason to deal with it. You admitted in the comments to your last post that you ostracized RS from her friend group, and she graduated friendless. That’s over, and she’s moved on with her life and is apparently doing well. She’s not succeeding at you, and she’s not the roadblock to your success.

    You apparently have a wonderful, supportive family. That’s great. I think that it would be great if you can use that support to seek out some mental health support and career coaching. I had to make a similar choice earlier this year, and my life is much better for it.

  84. Argh!*

    Lesson learned: actions have consequences.

    Future lesson learned: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

    Perhaps being bullied makes people more resilient, and the opposite could also be true: that the bullies have a sort of privilege that weakens them. Now that you’ve experienced hardships (just kind of assuming you didn’t experience many before this) you have the opportunity to look within to learn more about yourself so that your future is more about what you do for yourself rather than what others can do for you.

    Don’t be afraid to ask a professional for help. Disappointment and betrayal are tough pills to swallow.

    1. SarahTheEntwife*

      “Perhaps being bullied makes people more resilient, and the opposite could also be true: that the bullies have a sort of privilege that weakens them.”

      Can we not go there? Sometimes what doesn’t kill you just injures you and leaves you with unhealthy coping mechanisms. It’s possible to be successful in spite of hardship, not because it gave you some magical forged-in-fire strength.

  85. Secretary*

    Hi OP, whether or not you’re to blame or she’s to blame or this is fair or not fair… this sucks for you. I’m sorry you’re going through all this.

    Here’s the good news: Out of your entire life, this is just a few years of it. You can actually take rockstar’s tweet advice! “High School will end, it does get better.” What about this period of crappy will end, it does get better?

    I think a commenter talked about moving? What if you picked up, moved to a new city, found a job that pays the bills until you figure out the direction you want to go? **Even if you don’t move*** that can give you the financial stability to think forward.

    Some things in the meantime for self care:
    -Start visiting the library and read some new books.
    -Have coffee dates with yourself at local coffee shops.
    -Take a walk on a trail or a park.
    -Deep clean your car.
    -“write” really bad (or really good!) sad love songs about el jerko (BF who was cheating).
    -Have a bonfire of anything that reminds you of el jerko.
    -Take a class or a seminar.
    -Join a gym and go. Exercise can be therapeutic and you can make friends with people there.
    -Join some MeetUp Groups
    -Pick up a new hobbie like knitting or rock climbing or teapot collecting.
    -Reach out to friends to spend time with and focus on talking about them (which will help you by giving yourself something to focus on).
    -Find lists like I’m making online of cool things to do. Plan them in your calendar and invite your (new or old) friends along.

    Do these things even if you don’t feel like it, because the feelings will follow action. Who you are is not defined on what you’ve done, but the direction you decide to go. You are worthy of an incredible life, and you can absolutely get through this!!!

    1. Jules the Third*

      Great list and ideas for self care, but please OP, please:
      See a therapist.

      Get some professional support for dealing with all the crap that’s happened – it’s been a lot.
      Figure out why you bullied in the first place – were you so unhappy in high school?
      Figure out some new coping tools for sadness – alcohol is only helpful short-term.
      Figure out why you are blaming RockStar – the bullying and the restaurant confrontation are why you were taken out of the pool.

      Your family and friends can only do so much. This level, a professional would be a big help to you.

      Captain Awkward has a guide on how to find some inexpensive therapy – google ‘Captain Awkward low-cost mental health care’ and it’s at the top of the results. CA also has some advice on ‘how to get through work when your depression or anxiety are causing problems.’ There may be some actions there that can help you, when you’re ready.

      I hope things do get better for you, but I don’t think it will until you start to accept how your actions contributed to this situation instead of displacing your unhappiness onto RockStar. (Your ex-boyfriend, oth, I can understand if you are unhappy at him all day…)

  86. Elizabeth West*

    I’m sorry, OP. I’d hoped for a better outcome for you. I think it would be a good idea to look into some form of counseling to help you get past this.

    There are other jobs–probably ones at which you’d excel, and you need to give yourself a chance to discover what they might be. As Alison has said many times, there isn’t any such thing as a dream job. And sometimes dreams change either out of necessity or just because life steers you in a different direction. We have to stay open to all the roads.

    As for Rock Star, I can’t exactly blame her for not wanting to work with you, and it’s not her fault you blew up. Once you get some distance on the situation, I think you’ll understand that. She is not to blame for your problems; she never was. It’s possible she posted those links hoping they would help you as well as other victims of bullying, but even if not, I think that might be a good idea.

    Use this time to take care of yourself and get your shit together. It can be done; you’re not doomed to anything unless you let yourself be. Good luck and please be safe.

  87. Anonymous Annie*

    And is it just me or does the Bullied One sound a bit like a whiner who can’t move on? I was really bullied in high school and I would NEVER bring it up in any workplace, period.

    1. BananaRama*

      I disagree. We have no way of knowing if the Bullied One or Rockstar was even aware of OP applying. If she was, it could have been a simple, “oh, I knew OP in high school.” We don’t know to what level Rockstar moved on; but we certainly know that being accosted and yelled at in a restaurant can make even the most level-headed person concerned for someone who might enter the workplace with her. Even if Rock Star moved on, running into OP in the manner she did cannot have at all been fun and probably brought up a lot of things that Rock star thought she moved on from.

    2. fposte*

      No, I don’t think she does. I don’t think you’re required to bring it up, but if it means you’re going to have difficulty working with a new hire, whether the bad history or romantic or otherwise, it’s perfectly reasonable to mention it. And if I found out a job candidate had drunkenly accosted and yelled at an employee of mine in public, I’d be pretty upset if my employee *didn’t* tell me.

      1. Jules the Third*

        Yeah, the first time it depends a lot on how bad the bullying was (see Alison’s first response for more on that), but the drunken restaurant confrontation would get most people fired, much less merely ‘taken out of the application pool’.

        I also think the post about bullying, it gets better and the mental health line was in part targeted at OP, in the sense of ‘this will get better too, please seek professional help to get your sadness sorted so that you stop undermining yourself.’

      2. Landshark*

        +1. I was bullied some in high school for various reasons, and it was nowhere near as extreme as many cases. If I discovered my coworker was one of the ringleaders of my bullies, I’d be uncomfortable at work. I’d try to get over it and be professional, but I wouldn’t be able to just immediately let it go. Add in the drunken rant and… yeah, I don’t think that Rockstar was off base here.

    3. Temperance*

      It’s just you. If my HS bully applied at my law firm, I would say something, even though we’d likely never have to work togehter.

    4. Pines*

      No way. I mean, I’d never bring it up myself, either, but that doesn’t mean it’s not completely valid for her too. And it certainly does not make her a ‘whiner’, that’s way harsh.

    5. AKchic*

      It depends on context.
      I used to work HR for a remote construction company. We were sending crews out for weeks at a time and if something went wrong, sometimes we couldn’t get a plane or helicopter out for days (depending on weather conditions), and the weather is extreme depending on season. No alcohol is allowed. No weapons are allowed. Serious background checks are required. Special survival classes are taken before anyone is allowed on the plane their first trip up. Physicals are mandatory.

      Now, if I knew someone was incompatible with the mental rigors of “camp life”, I wouldn’t want them up there. If I thought someone would harass others or cause fights or other kinds of problems, I wouldn’t want them up there. If I knew for a fact that there was someone who would cause trouble with another worker, I would say something.
      Sometimes, speaking up will save a company a lot of time, hassle and money.

      1. Anonymous Annie*

        Thanks all. After reading through many of the responses here, I agree. RS is not whining.

        I guess I really feel sorry for OP. Her recovery won’t be easy.

        It won’t be easy to put RS out of her thoughts and move on. But it can be done with discipline, help and other projects and goals

    6. Observer*

      You’re doing a lot of projecting here. We actually do not know if Former Victim was the reason that the OP didn’t get the job or not. But, just because YOU would not have a hard time working with your former bullies does not mean that other people can’t form judgements on character that they believe are relevant to their workplace, or risk being labeled a “whiner”.

      In any case the really big issues for the OP – her cheating BF, losing her fellowship and being blacklisted are NOT about anything Former Victim did or did not do. The first two issues are not even tangentially related to her. As for the third – what do you expect the company to do when someone makes a drunken scene so bad that the venue has barred her? If the company is at all sane, all FV needed to have done was to tell someone in HR “Just fyi – I bumped into OP at a restaurant the other day and she exploded in a drunken rage at me till the manager made her leave.” That’s not whiny or living in the past. That’s giving her company a heads up that this person is clearly capable of acting in ways that could harm the company as a whole and her as an individual in the present.

  88. President Porpoise*

    LW, you’re going through a rough time right now, and it s so hard to slog through every day when it feels like you’re climbing a mountain through deep mud with a 80lb pack on your back.

    Please remember: you deserve to be happy. You have no anchors right now, and that’s terrifying – but it also allows you to sail somewhere new on the winds that come with this storm.

  89. DoctorateStrange*

    It feels like you want to blame everything that went bad on Rockstar. Look, you lost a great opportunity at a place that will keep you close to your loved ones? I feel for you. I have lost good opportunities too. But your bf was always going to cheat on you (fuck him) and sometimes you have to move in order to get what you want out of life.

    Sometimes you will lose opportunities, but that does not mean they will ever stop coming.

    It’s unnerving that you want to pin everything on Rockstar and consider her Twitter “salt on the wound.” You need to look at this from her perspective. Imagine how Rockstar would have felt, enjoying her dinner with loved ones and then a bully came back to shout at her. I would have felt like that awkward high schooler I was all over again. She probably worked hard to start over in college from high school and she didn’t want anyone to stop that, including you, especially you. So she talked about suicide ideation and whatnot on her Twitter? Do you think maybe that confrontation brought back those terrible times for her? Be compassionate.

    I am not saying you can try to be friends with this woman. At this point, it is best you never make any contact with her again. You need to see you cannot blame her for a terrible period in your life. You need to see that in order to take on this terrible period, you need to take on yourself.

    Go to therapy. Look at prospects outside your home, try to look into cities you may feel like you could flourish better in. You sound like you have a loving family, talk to them about the next steps into taking your life back.

  90. Buu*

    I’ll add in the suggestion for therapy, and perhaps add that you ought to avoid drinking too much until you’re able to get some help. OP It sucks that you ran into Rock Star when you were at a low point, as that could have been a chance to apologize organically the fact that you yelled at her suggests that you haven’t gotten over your feelings as much as she hasn’t gotten over hers. The two of you working together just wouldn’t work. She obviously felt she still couldn’t trust you and then when you do run into her..you proved her point. You were drunk at the time true, but you could just have easily gotten a trial job at her company and gotten drunk at a Christmas party!
    Your plans haven’t worked out and that sucks, it sounds like you’d pinned all your hopes on working at this one firm and you harbour some resentment Rock Star has achieved ‘your’ dream.

    Right now you have two conflicting dreams:
    -Work at dream industry
    -Work close to home and family

    I suspect like a lot of us you feel that by achieving both these things you’d be happy and that would be your problems solved, but it hasn’t worked out. A lot of people her advise against the idea of ‘dreamjob’ and your situation shows us why. Whichever of the two you decide is a priority it doesn’t look like you can do both at the moment so you need to decide which is most important to you, then look at what you can do to prevent the mistakes you made happening again.

  91. Higher Ed Database Dork*

    Re: feeling like 5 years of your life has been wasted

    It feels like that now, but it won’t forever. I got a degree in English and spent several years trying to break into writing/editing with some graphic design (basically marketing). It just never happened. I had dreamed of doing those things, and built up a happy life in my head where I succeeded in my chosen field and applied my degree. That’s not bad in an of itself, but when the doors kept slamming shut, I had to accept the loss of that dream, grieve and move on. It was tough, and I was pretty unhappy for a few years, because I was in a job that I didn’t really like just for income, and watched all my high school and college friends go on to achieve their dreams, and do things I wanted to do. But good came out of it. I reconnected with my love of technology. I applied my love of systems and logic to database work. I found some opportunities within my organization and went for them. Many of those opportunities…I had more doors slammed in my face. I changed jobs earlier this year, and I finally feel like I’ve found my place. I’m doing something not at all related to my degree, but I feel like my degree and my experiences have greatly enhanced what I do. So the time was not wasted…it just took a little while to find a nontraditional way to apply it.