my dad is dating my boss, and they want me to go to couples therapy with them

A reader writes:

My dad started dating this woman (Jill) about two years ago, after he and my stepmom amicably divorced. As this was going on, I graduated from grad school, ended my student internship, and started looking for jobs. In six months, I applied to 275 jobs and didn’t get a single interview. I was desperate for work when my dad said Jill needed a new executive assistant. Jill is the chair of a nonprofit, and the job came with a good salary and a lot new responsibilities. I had an interview and was offered the job right away.

Immediately, things were much worse than I expected:

• She tells me when to start working either late at night or in the morning. My hours aren’t terribly long, but it is impossible to schedule anything since I don’t know my schedule in advance, and my health and self-care have taken a beating. I don’t have set hours, so she calls and texts at any time, and I never know when I’m done for the day.

• One of my main roles is to work on her book, a memoir about the struggles of being a minority and a woman. My dad, a white man, is writing the entire thing secretly; she hasn’t told her publisher that a ghostwriter is involved, and he is getting no compensation or recognition as she goes around telling everyone that she’s the only woman of this ethnic group to write a book on the subject.

• When I ask clarifying questions, she belittles me (“That’s common sense” or “You know as much as I do”).

• She’s rude and cruel to me in front of others at meetings, events, and on conference calls. Once when I said the way she was talking to me was making me flustered, she yelled that this is how she manages people, that I perceive things the wrong way, and that it’s a problem with me.

• She is always coming up with elaborate rumors about our out-of-state staff. She often says that her former assistant had brain damage; her reasoning was that she was born premature and therefore must have brain damage and be “mentally handicapped.” So-and-so is obese because her kid died and now she’s too emotionally unstable to work. So-and-so must be crazy because he chose to serve on a submarine while in the Navy.

• She doesn’t do anything herself because she doesn’t know how to use Word. She makes me come to her house to print things because she doesn’t want to open them on her computer. I write columns under her name, and then we go through upwards of six drafts as she makes minuscule tweaks, forgets she made those tweaks, and changes them back to the original, all while criticizing me for not making any sense.

• She volunteered to watch her infant granddaughter twice a week, but she started leaving the baby with me while she goes to her law office. I don’t get paid extra for this; she says that would be unfair to the organization.

We go through cycles where I think everything is fine, and then I get yelled at about something small that I didn’t realize was an issue. Every time there’s some sort of problem, I try to change what I do, only to have a new problem spring up that was never an issue before. My job has become one big game of whack-a-mole that I’m being forced to play when I really just want to focus on the mountain of tasks I’ve been assigned. She wants me to be just a personal assistant, but the job responsibilities I have are a lot bigger than that (helping to plan large events and writing for our publications), and tending to her has become a distraction from my work, which I know bothers her. I try to be polite and helpful, but I have so much stuff to do that it’s hard to remind her to respond to emails, especially when usually she snaps that I should know how to respond myself, even when she needs to review things to give the final okay.

She’s also always brought my dad into things. When I first started, she’d say she cared more about me being her assistant than dating my dad, and that if she needed to devote more time to making our work relationship better, she’d end things with my dad. I was constantly terrified of doing something that would make her dump my father. In the months since, my dad has moved in, and they started seeing a couples counselor (Jill constantly threatens to end their relationship).

Last week, I forgot to do something, she reminded me, and I quickly did the task. Hours later at 11 p.m., she accused me of not doing it and started sending me long, mean texts saying, “This is becoming a problem with you,” etc. When I said I had done the task, she said she shouldn’t have had to remind me. I thought I’d just ride the storm out. Everything I said was met with a different criticism, I wasn’t sure what to do, it was late, and this wasn’t productive, so I didn’t respond to her last text (which hadn’t asked anything of me). Soon after, my dad called to say that Jill had yelled at him for half an hour about distracting me from my work. The next day, they went on a weeklong vacation to Mexico, where she had sporadic internet access. She barely emailed me the entire time, leaving me to work on her book.

Yesterday, my father started giving me job advice: morning check-ins and updates with Jill, etc. — things I do every day and have been doing for the past 10 months. Then he said, “Would you be open to seeing our family therapist with us to help with your job?” I told him there was no way I was going to do that. I was really upset afterwards that he would try to put me in that position where they would gang up on me in their therapist’s office, especially when he knows I’ve started seeking out other jobs.

This morning, she told me to come over at 8:30 a.m. When I got there, she and my dad sat opposite me and spent 45 minutes scolding me, citing “complaints” by the out-of-state employees with whom I have great relationships and get along very well. Then she said that the only solution she can think of to deal with my communication problems is for me to join her and my father at their couples therapist. She said I hadn’t forgotten to do the task from the week before and that it was a deeper issue. I was literally cornered in her living room, and I could see from my heart rate monitor that I was at 115 bpm, frantically trying not to hyperventilate. When I said I thought it was inappropriate to go see a therapist with my boss and my dad, she said she would write it into my job requirement or put me on probation. She’s given me two days to agree to therapy or write a list of all the reasons I won’t go with them and what I’ll do to change my behavior. I seriously suspect she has narcissistic personality disorder, and I know from experience that she doesn’t respond well when I try to explain myself or disagree with her.

I’ve been depressed for months, but I’ve reached a new level of desperation. I would work anywhere else — I would do anything else. I’ve been applying to jobs for a couple weeks now, and I would be thrilled to wait tables while continuing my job hunt. My mom says that I won’t be able to get a good job if I’ve quit a job after less than a year and start doing something that isn’t on a larger career path, but all of my friends my age say that my health is more important. I feel so confused, gaslighted, abused — and then I feel like maybe I’m just being a millenial and don’t have what it takes to be successful. Am I just a bad employee? I probably don’t have the best personality for a personal assistant, but I try to work hard, keep organized and professional, and board members go out of their way to compliment me when we’re at meetings and events. Since getting this job, I never complained to my father about his girlfriend or brought her up, but Jill is constantly blurring the boundaries by asking about extremely personal things during work and bringing up work when we’re celebrating holidays and birthdays.

I am miserable and feel so trapped and confused. Is all this normal?! I have so many mixed signals about every aspect of my job, and this situation is taking over my life. What do I do when I have to give my answer to the ultimatum?

Let me say this very, very clearly: Jill and your dad are the problems here, not you.

This is a horrible, toxic, dysfunctional brew of a work situation, and not because of you.

Jill is a terrible boss, has wildly unreasonable and unrealistic expectations of you, is asking you to do things far outside the scope of what is okay to ask, and is behaving like an asshole. More specifically:

It’s not okay to give someone no set hours and just expect them to start working late at night or early in the morning with no notice, and then get angry if they’re not responsive.

It’s not okay to belittle anyone, and particularly not okay to belittle people one has power over.

It’s not okay to expect you to regularly babysit an infant — without pay! — as part of an office job and without your enthusiastic consent.

Her propensity to lie and gossip unkindly about people who work for her — and about their hardships, in particular — is, frankly, disgusting.

And it is insanely inappropriate for Jill and your dad to ask you to attend couples counseling. Insanely. And that’s before we even get into Jill’s ludicrous threat to make it a job requirement or put you on probation over it. This is liver boss / chemo boss / leave-a-work-note-at-a-grave boss level of insanity and inappropriateness.

On top of all that, Jill also sounds incompetent … and it says something that that’s the least of the problems here.

As for the immediate problem of the therapy ultimatum … If the organization has 15+ employees, it’s covered by the ADA, and thus Jill probably can’t legally order you to attend therapy. But she sounds horrible enough that she might not care if you point out that it’s illegal. If the organization is smaller than 15 people and/or she doesn’t care about the law, then try saying this to her: “If there are issues with my work performance, let’s discuss those. But I’m not attending therapy with you or my father. That’s inappropriate for a work relationship, and it’s not something I’m going to do.” If she pushes, say, “This isn’t something I’m going to continue to discuss.”

More importantly, though: please please please take any other job you can get right now so that you can quit this one.

This situation is bad enough that it might even make sense to quit now, without another job lined up, if you can afford to. But if you can’t — and there’s no shame in it if you can’t — then for whatever remaining period of time you’re stuck there, make a point of emotionally disengaging from the work. Go through the motions and do the bare minimum you need to do to keep a paycheck coming in, but don’t emotionally invest in the work or Jill’s expectations or Jill’s feedback.

Tell her you’re not longer available for babysitting, too. Use the words “I’m not comfortable being left in charge of an infant and will no longer be able to watch her for you. I need to stick to the work I was hired to do.”

And please know that your mom is wrong that you won’t be able to get a good job if you quit this one. One seven-month stay will not be a big deal. It’s a pattern of short-term stays that’s a problem, not one of them. And if interviewers ask why you left this job, you can say, “My boss started dating my father, and it became too awkward to stay there.” Believe me, everyone will understand that. You will receive sympathy gasps.

Last, no matter what else you do, stop being terrified that you’ll do something that will make Jill dump your dad. Frankly, it might be a better outcome for everyone if she does because she is horrid — but either way, their relationship is not your responsibility. It never was, but your dad forfeited burned to ashes any claim to consideration in that realm when he became an accessory to Jill’s mistreatment of you.

Read updates to this letter here and here.

{ 1,281 comments… read them below }

    1. Sylvan*

      Also, is this, like, the plot of a book or movie? I’m having trouble taking it all in.

      1. Amber Rose*

        It feels like the opening set up to one of those psychological thrillers where everything seems off somehow and an increasingly odd woman eventually goes on a killing spree or something.

        OP, if you’re reading this, any time you’re in a situation which would reasonably slot into a psychological horror/thriller, the problem is not you.

        1. babblemouth*

          It even has an evil stepmother making her stepdaughter work insane hours and mocking her. This is what Cinderella would sound like if it was a modern fairytale.

          1. RVA Cat*

            Oh yes! OP, mentally file away all of Wicked StepBoss’s outrageous behavior for your modern adaptation of Cinderella.

            1. JessaB*

              Forget finding a new job OP, now is the time to write the Cinderella remake version of The Devil Wears Prada, get a helluva movie deal, get some famous actress to play you and make a million bucks (pounds, euros, dinars, wherever you are, whatever currency floats your boat.)

              1. jo*

                Seriously! The OP is already writing things for publication under Jill’s byline! OP, go wait tables and write your memoirs of this experience. It’ll be therapeutic at the very least.

                But whatever you do, QUIT QUIT QUIT.

                1. Annonymouse*

                  B an an as!
                  Seriously though, OP YOU ARE NOT THE PROBLEM.

                  She is just all round bad. Bad at her job, bad at her hobby of writing, bad as a boss, grandmother and romantic partner. Also a bad person.

                  Your instincts to get a job then continue searching are good. Just make sure you aren’t going to put yourself in another bad position by not doing due diligence checks.

              2. Where do y'all get those wonderful usernames*

                I strongly agree with JessaB. Make mega-bucks off this experience, because you sure deserve it after what you’ve been going through here!

                In addition to the legalities that Alison mentioned (being required to attend therapy), I am also wondering about the legality of not giving someone set hours. How can you plan anything-including getting adequate rest-if you never know when you’ll be expected to work? Also, how can “boss” require OP to perform childcare? Aren’t there certain requirements that an employee has to meet in order to do this? And was this duty outlined in OP’s job description?

                1. RVA Cat*

                  Plus not having set hours also sounds like a setup for wage theft. Is there any kind of clocking system?

        2. Kelly AF*

          Maybe she can turn this into a book one day? I hope there’s some upside from this toxic swamp, anyway.

        3. Specialk9*

          It sounds scarily reminiscent of my abusive first marriage. Being abusive + threatening to leave as punishment + apparent chaos + them always getting their way + constant degrading.

          OP, read Lundy Bancroft’s “Why Does He Do That” – it’s written by a court-ordered abuser therapy facilitator. (Bc the courts have had a problem recognizing that women can be abusive, it’s written assuming the abuser is male — but the quality of the book is good enough to still be worth reading… I never found another that laid it all out so well).

          Your not-stepmom / boss is abusive. You can’t fix this or improve it, all you can do is find another job (temp agencies are a great option) and start putting some serious distance between you and your dad.

          When you have a new job, look into therapy, there is a lot that needs to be detangled, and they can help you sort through some of the messed up rules you’ve been raised with and internalized. We all have stuff like this, and it can be so freeing and liberating.

          1. MM*

            As I recall, he actually addressed at the start of the book that abuse can occur in lots of gender configurations, but because the majority of cases are of a man abusing a woman, he’s written it with that language. It’s less about the courts failing to recognize other possibilities than his making a choice to simplify his writing at the start, one he acknowledges. At least, that’s how I remember it. Regardless, I’d definitely classify Bancroft as infinitely more insightful about and sympathetic to the phenomenon of abuse than “the courts” as a whole generally are.

            1. A*

              He kind of at one point flat out stated something along the lines that in heterosexual couples it’s almost always gotta be the man. I thought that was a bit off, because the book wasn’t just about physical abuse; from what I can gather yes abusive men are more likely to do grievous physical harm than abusive women, but I think both genders are quite (equally?) capable of emotional abuse. I found the book very good except that one particular bit (and it was honestly only like a paragraph out of the whole thing).
              He does get into that abusers can be very good at claiming victimhood and coopting therapy language so ultimately if there’s some sort of question one really has to try to get verification from both sides AND externally if possible.
              In the LW’s letter, I really wonder what kind of therapist would allow the kind of suggestion StepBoss is suggesting. Isn’t it a therapist’s job to say something like “hmm, I don’t think that’s an appropriate thing to ask of your employee; what do you think are some other ways to build a more constructive working relationship?” etc etc

    2. Former Border's Refugee*

      It’s probably the same face I made.

      I think it’s frozen like this.


      1. And So it Goes*

        I am so sorry you have to deal with this. Get out now, this minute if you can. Do day labor, work for a cleaning company, landscapers, start your own house cleaning service, wait tables, go to Walmart, fast food, these are all options to generate immediate cash. Don’t discuss your previous employment with anyone, don’t re-pattern the synapses. Start anew.

        Walk away from this horrid environment as quickly as you can, just call up and quit and if your Father doesn’t support you emotionally shame on him. No one should be treated the way you are being treated. I wish you well.

    3. Erica the Red*

      I would be willing to donate some money towards the cause of having Allison help with your resume.

      Is that something we can make happen somehow?

      1. Old Admin*

        Excellent thought. I’m in, too.
        Allison, let us know (you can see our email addresses) if we can contribute to a resume review/fix for the OP. It would be a kindness.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          Also, if OP is in the Pittsburgh area, please feel free to pass along my email address and I will be happy to help connect her with some additional job resources.

          1. socrescentfresh*

            Ditto Seattle. There are many entry-level positions being created at my organization.

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              Join me at my job taking pizza orders, OP! This company has it all over that insanity.

          2. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

            If OP is in the Milwaukee area, my company has all kinds of entry level openings.

            1. Your Weird Uncle*

              Madison WI checking in – I can help with job openings at the university here!

              1. Alleira*

                Hey, neighbor! Also in Madison (but sadly no entry-level positions open at my company).

            2. Jersey's Mom*

              Also in Milwaukee WI area. OP, feel free to contact Alison for my email address. My company has entry level openings.

            3. Sakura*

              CS rep, Jersey’s Mom, Your Weird Uncle, etc – I’m a burnt out teacher in the Chicago area looking to move back to my family in Wisconsin. I’d really appreciate any help in just pointing me to companies that might be hiring, if anyone is willing.

              1. Your Weird Uncle*

                Hi Sakura – I work at the UW and if you’re good at admin or good with numbers, I’d recommend checking out the UW jobs website! It’s notoriously said that it’s hard to get into the UW but once you’re in, you’re set – and the benefits are fantastic. (I took a salary on the lower end for my role but once I was there for a couple of years had no problem moving into a better paying role in another department….there is always something available!)

                Other than the UW, I don’t know of any companies that would be hiring. Maybe someone else here has a good recommendation. Good luck! :)

              2. WI badger*

                We Energies, the electric/gas company, is usually looking to fill customer service positions and meter reader positions. Once you get in, there are possibilities for lateral and upward transfers. If you decide to apply, remember this in all your interviews (and I’m not kidding) you are there to provide customer service, and ensure customer satisfaction. The pay and benefits are very competitive.

            1. General Ginger*

              Countess, I may be relocating to the area later this year; would you mind sharing what industry you’re in?

              1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

                Finance! Look to the north/northwest of the city for a lot to do work-wise that misses the clusterf**k that is the Inner Harbor.

            2. You're Not My Supervisor*

              Also in Bmore! Hi neighbor. Didn’t know there were any regulars who were in my area. :)

          3. Sabine the Very Mean*

            Yep, Phoenix too. Think of how much you’d want to get away from them in order to move to the surface of the sun!

            1. libraryfrog*

              Aw, c’mon it’s a dry heat (says someone who moved to PHX from Madison, WI :) ) <3

              1. Anonymoose*

                That’s a load of crap (dry heat). I lived in Vegas for 8 months and the quality of the heat was like being buried alive in one of those underground luau BBQs. I’d take muggy ANY day.

                1. Optimistic Prime*

                  A hangi?

                  Yeah, normally I hate humidity, but the dry heat in Vegas and other truly dry places is quite possibly much worse.

            2. Mananana*

              Coming to you from Phoenix as well. No entry-level jobs, but I do have training in how to do federal government (US) resumes and would be happy to help.

          4. Hills to Die on*

            I am in Wyoming but also have professional connections in Denver, Phoenix and St. Louis. Happy to help in any way.

            1. Hills to Die on*

              Also, Jackson Hole has a serious labor shortage and I guarantee–absolutely guarantee–you can get a job here same day. It’s that bad. You can stay for the summer and leave or just stay. But we are dying for people and have free transportation anywhere in town. You can get a job in a hot second in the most beautiful place in the world. (Just my opinion).

              1. The Original K.*

                Hell, this is appealing to ME. Completely serious. I’m in the thick of interviews but often think that getting away for a few months would do me some good. Would welcome details.

                1. Hills to Die on*

                  Original K, I will send Alison my email address to share. Check out the Jackson Hole Daily for job openings–there are literally hundreds. Businesses often have to reduce the hours they are open not because of the lack of customers but because they can’t find enough workers to cover the shifts. There’s a bus that goes from the less-expensive surrounding areas through a storybook-beautiful canyon where I see everything from Amercian Bald Eagles to Moose every day. The less expensive areas–and I live in one–is just as gorgeous as JH but very affordable! Mountains, rivers, lakes, etc. We have it all in spades.

              2. MissGirl*

                Not to mention a lot of the summer work comes with housing. I’m afraid the OP lives with one of her parents, making her more stuck. I could see this being such a good thing for the OP. Get out of the family dysfunction and into a completely different environment.

                1. Hills to Die on*

                  Yes–housing subsidies and ‘powder clauses’ in the winter when you have a perfect snowfall and need to ski immediately. Those are both very common.

              3. SubjectAvocado*

                I’m from Wyoming, and can attest that it’s a great place to live and work. Jackson is BEAUTIFUL, albeit expensive. The rest of the state is pretty cheap to live in, so if you would like being somewhere really calm, Wyoming is definitely the place for you to recover from such an awful experience.

                1. Hills to Die on*

                  And speaking as someone who recovered from an awful job last year, I came here to heal really feel at peace. It’s impossible not to!

                  Yes, Jackson is expensive but you can takae the bus to and from neighboring areas that are very reasonable.

              4. Xyz 286*

                This sounds wonderful! If you have any leads or suggestions of places to look I would appreciate it.

              5. WakeRed*

                OP, summer jobs in Jackson are the best! If you have a way to get yourself to Jackson Hole or really any national park area, I’m sure you can find a seasonal job to at least float y ou for the summer. I did this in my early 20s about a decade ago, between undergrad and grad school, and it changed my life in small but meaningful ways that still reverberate in the best ways.

          5. Jadelyn*

            My org has locations all throughout California and in Chicago and Florida as well – and I’m happy to nudge a resume forward if OP is near any of our locations.

            1. Lorelai Gilmore*

              I’ve got connections in Montana and Idaho. Some in Northern CA too. Oh, also just heard of something in South Carolina! Let us know, OP!

              1. TardyTardis*

                South central Oregon–jobs are all around in *this* smallish town. You, too, can be customer service for a cell phone place. I also know three fast food places that would take *me* on about two hours’ notice, and I’m old!

              1. Just J*

                State College, PA here.

                As others suggested below, if you are in PA, have you checked Penn State’s website for jobs?

                This covers everything from staff assistants to professors to anything! It covers both main campus and all of the branch campuses.

                1. Sans*

                  Another Delco girl here. What field is the OP in? I could look on my company’s website. And I agree, get s server job. Anything. Just get out!

          6. Aiani*

            Also OP let me recommend looking into a security job if you want to move on right away. It’s not glamorous but security is almost always hiring and it would get you out of your current situation. You could try Allied Universal, Securitas, US Security, etc. assuming you are in the US.

          7. Aphrodite*

            If the OP is in California, I urge her to look at the California State University (CSU) and the University of California (UC) systems. It can be hard to get in–at least at the UC campuses many of the jobs already are “taken”–but at least at UCSB (Santa Barbara) they advertise part-time jobs on CraigsList. These are the way to get your foot in the door for a permanent position. Also, wherever you are call the temp agencies in your area and ask if they supply temp personnel for the city and/or county. That’s a way in to those jobs. (And they sometimes advertise on CL too.)

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Agreed! UC is always hiring temps, and it can be a way into a more permanent pool (UC also keeps its own in-house temp pool). Honestly, working for demanding professors with scant managerial skills cannot be as bad as OP’s current situation.

          8. Amanda*

            I am 40 minutes north of Boston. Big company always hiring. Be in touch if you are near Cape Ann, Southern NH or Boston. Good luck!

            BTW, Alison’s resume advice is magic. A few years ago she reviewed my resume and after editing it based on her suggestions I went from getting almost zero interviews to getting hits on approximately half the jobs I applied for.

            1. Val*

              Not OP, but I am in the Boston area and considering a job switch. I hope I’m not terribly overstepping, but if you’d be willing to share more details about what type of workers your company hires for, I’d love to know!

            2. quwarren*

              I am north of Boston as well and I know there are many support staff openings in the financial/investment field in Boston proper – I work for one of them in marketing. For instance, we need a senior admin like, yesterday.

            3. NotThatGardner*

              boston area here, quite a few entry level openings in my corporate retail industry office and happy to help!

            4. Polaris*

              Boston area here as well, my work often has openings, and I’ve also worked with several employment agencies that I can highly recommend!

          9. KR*

            Charlotte area – my employer is based there and frequently hiring for entry level positions! Comment and we can connect.

            1. Jules the 3rd*

              NC’s got great weather! Charlotte’s got jobs, the Triangle’s got jobs, and Wake Co has great schools.

              1. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

                I am in Durham/Chapel Hill and would be happy to help!

                1. Lady Register*

                  Seconding the Triangle! Great healthcare jobs here and the cost of living is low.

            2. Anonymous Pterodactyl*

              NC here too! Charlotte specifically, but my employer hires all across the state. Lots of entry-level positions.

            1. IvyGirl*

              Philly here. Mine and other universities and colleges always hiring.

              AAM – should we have an open employment post on one of the Friday/Weekend threads?

              1. Emily*

                And I’m wondering if we could start organizing get-togethers! I’m on your campus…

                1. History Chick*

                  Philly here as well. AAM get togethers would be amazing. I second this idea!

                2. IvyGirl*

                  It’s a busy weekend for us Development folks. :-)

                  I put my email in my comment so it should display in my gravatar.

            1. Lumos*

              Checking in for the tampa area. Not my company, but my fiance’s is usually always hiring entry level.

            1. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day*

              NYC as well, but specifically have some good recruiter connections for admin/assistant work

            2. LT*

              New Jersey, here. I know we easily get split into the “greater NYC area” and the “greater Philly area,” but there’s plenty in between!

          10. goorgoahead*

            If OP has any interest in entry level work in the legal field (junior paralegal, practice assistant, but also general admin/executive assistant type roles in various departments), my firm has openings primarily in Chicago and NY, as well as several other cities throughout the US (can be more specific outside of the comments, hah :) ), with generally above-market pay and great benefits.

          11. Not So Recently Diagnosed*

            Central South Carolina representing! My connections are OP’s connections.

          12. Es*

            Woo Pittsburgh.

            Agreed. I’d be happy to help anyway I can. I’m also in the Pittsburgh area.

          13. nom*

            I can help with North Carolina, Washington, Idaho, Montana. Possible reach to DC area as well.

          14. Nita*

            Or NYC. I’m in a fairly specific line of work, but will do what I can. I’m adding my email in case I can help.

            1. JessaB*

              This is what I adore about this blog and it’s commentariat. Anyway checking in from Dayton OH and I still have some connections in Clermont, Ocala and Gainesvile FL. And a friend of mine might be able to hook you up in Carbondale IL.

            2. Anonymoose*

              If I was the OP I’d totally be crying sentimental tears about this blog’s community right about now, because I’m a big ‘ol baby when I’m touched by kindness! *sniff sniff*

            1. First Time Caller*

              Gah…i’ll learn how to properly reply one day. Meant to add…my company is hiring and I know a few others in the area that are as well. Happy to help if I can!

            2. Sled Dog Mama*

              Southwestern VA here too, my company is hiring and I’ve got contacts here, southern NC, Ohio and randomly southern Florida but that’s IT only

          15. Environmental Compliance*

            I’d be happy to help any way I can if OP is near north central Indiana.

            1. Where do y'all get those wonderful usernames*

              Also in SE Texas’s house! OP, if you are in our area, my company is hiring for a newly-vacated position.

              And OP… please do understand that this employment situation of yours is far from average. It’s extremely toxic!

            1. selenejmr*

              I work in East Lansing also! Unfortunately my employer is not hiring at this time.

          16. Nines*

            I’m out here in Portland, OR and would be happy to help! It’s not the most employment friendly city, but if it’s where you need to be, something can be worked out.

          17. Secretary*

            I’m in SF Bay Area! Although if you don’t currently live here don’t move here because it’s bonkers expensive even with a well paying job…

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              I’m happy to cover metro Sacramento—the Bay Area’s more affordable, much smaller, country cousin. ;) I can do LA and metro Fresno, also, if OP’s on the best coast.

          18. yourfavoritenurse*

            Minneapolis here, my office is hiring entry level admin positions!

          19. On Fire*

            I’m not seeing any Arkansas, so I’ll represent there. I have contacts all over the state, if OP happens to be here or interested in us. (Hiking! Kayaking! Wal-Mart!)

          20. Friendly Neighborhood HR Lady*

            If OP is in the Kansas City area (or interested in moving to the KC area), pass on my email address. I have a spare room that I will rent out cheap (free first month so she can get on her feet) and help connect her with job opportunities in the city. She needs to get out of that toxic environment, not just at work but at home as well.

          21. OlympiasEpiriot*

            I’m in the Northeast US and am in construction…aside from my rants down-thread about running away out of the country (whichever country you are in), I’m happy to help around here. Lots of contacts in a variety of places.

            I still advocate going abroad, though. Based on personal experience, when things get really hairy with family, it is good to have physical distance — even though one time it didn’t work for me as a family member *moved to the same small country and even lived in the same county!* (Lolsob) So, in the spirit of my pushiness, here is another link that could help you go abroad: Put “Business Services” in the space on the left and then scroll on the right to wherever you might be interested in being. Unless you are in law, then I guess “Entry Level Associate”? I thought of them as a friend works for them in not-the-US and, well, she’s very happy living in not-the-US for the last 30+ years and switching around between 4 languages.

            1. Poppy Bossyboots*

              Here is another commenter who swears by going abroad. ;) Happy to help OP explore ESL options, both in-classroom and online. These days I’m just a freelance writer (living abroad) so I can offer help in that regard as well—while it can take time to find a niche, build your portfolio, and locate long term clients, if the OP is really strapped for cash they could get started getting paid for writing work today.

              1. Lacie*

                Not OP, but I’m curious about freelance writing and would love to hear your tips. I’m not strapped for cash, but my job gives me great hours and vacation time that I’d like to try filling up with writing.

                1. Poppy Bossyboots*

                  Sorry, totally forgot I commented on this thread! Anyway, that’s how I got started as well—my job had generous hours and I started writing on the side. I’ve put a link to my online portfolio, which has my email address :)

          22. Nursey Nurse*

            Shoutout for Alaska! Our economy isn’t great, but there are jobs to be found in retail and food service, as well as a smattering of entry-level jobs in other professions. Bonuses are it’s beautiful here and we’re almost certainly over a thousand miles away from your boss!

          23. crochetaway*

            I didn’t see Chicago mentioned, but I have lots and lots of contacts in the Chicago area.

            1. JayemGriffin*

              Chi-town here too; I work in higher ed and we nearly always have openings at the university. I’d be happy to put in a good word for OP if they’re interested!

        2. OlympiasEpiriot*

          Point her at the link to Doctors Without Borders employment page I put into my name. I think this is bad enough she needs to leave whatever country she is in to get some distance.

        3. MuseumChick*

          This reflects one of the many reasons I have so much respect for you Alison.

          1. MsChanandlerBong*

            I’m bawling my eyes out (happy tears) over how kind everyone is being. Makes me so happy to see everyone coming together to offer assistance.

          2. PizzaDog*

            Mte. Reading through the above commenters offering help and city after city of recommendations warmed my heart.

            1. Spooky*

              It took me well over 800 applications to get a position, and that was with Alison’s approval (matter of fact, after I paid her and she took a look at my resume, there were so few things that she’d change that she offered me her e-book instead). 275+ applications is very, very common for post-2008 grads.

              1. Spooky*

                To clarify, she offered me the e-book in exchange for the money I’d already paid, because she felt guilty about charging me when she couldn’t find much to fix.

              2. Batshua*

                I graduated in 2007 and it took me basically 7 years to get steady employment.

                Granted, in my case I was also limited by the fact that I can’t stand for more than 4 hours at a stretch on a good day [hooray for fibro!], so I couldn’t bolster my resume with retail or food service.

                It took about 3 years of applying to get into an AmeriCorps program (the first time). That one lost funding and folded a couple months before my term started, and it took another 3 years before I got into another one. As grueling as the program was for me, I credit it with convincing employers I could hold down a regular job and do well at it in a truly terrible economy that wasn’t hiring me to even answer phones with a college degree.

                1. Anonymoose*

                  Ugh, fibro girl here too. I had to recently move to half time so that my home life wasn’t so terribly depressing. It helped, but I really miss money.

                2. Optimistic Prime*

                  I hid out in graduate school.

                  (Well, sort of. I had already planned on going to graduate school, but since I graduated college in 2008 it ended up serving a dual purpose. I know friends who graduated college with me, didn’t go to graduate school and still ended up finding steady professional work shortly before or around the same time I did.)

                3. seisy*

                  Starting in 2007/2008/2009 ish was literally the worst – to a degree few of my younger collegues scarcely can appreciate. Starting in 2012/2013 might not have been fun, but it did not stick them in nearly ten years of limbo or mark them as non-career track.

            2. Cafe au Lait*

              Possibly. It’s more likely that she isn’t skill at writing CL’s. I was really bad at it after college. I couldn’t see the nuance of how CL’s needed to be written.

            3. Frankie*

              It can be tough if you’re fresh from a graduate degree. People assume you’re looking for placeholder work and won’t be committed to non-academic jobs long-term.

          1. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day*

            Eh, I believe it. I was at 500+ at one point (I had to keep track for unemployment purposes). Granted, this was at the height of the recession, and before I stumbled upon AAM, but my stuff wasn’t horrorific. It definitely improved after using AAM tips/techniques, but my stuff was just a bit more boring/mediocre, nothing truly awful.

            1. Autumnheart*

              I believe it too. Tens of thousands of new graduates flood the market every year, and these days employers think “entry level” should come with 5 years of experience and a degree.

              1. Anonymoose*

                Preferably with an MS/MA in non-research positions! That trend is really pissing me off, and I’m not even looking.

          2. SpaceNovice*

            Considering I’ve never had success on online applications and have gotten my jobs through other channels? Yeah, I believe it. My success rate at converting blind cover letters to interviews was way better than any job boards. (100% to 0%, respectively.) Job boards are, for a lot of people, pretty useless.

            1. Triumphant Fox*

              Exactly. Every job I’ve had has been through connections. It’s part of why I really recommend temping/tutoring/volunteering. Those put you in touch with a lot of different people and (as someone who now hires) if I know you are great in one context and show the skills, I am going to feel so much better hiring you than someone who only has a resume and an interview.

              1. SpaceNovice*

                Those are all definite ways to get your foot in, but I haven’t ever needed to go THAT far. I’ve gotten in with just a good cover letter that gets human eyeballs on it. Simply being enthusiastic about what they do is enough. But in my case, I have an advantage of having an aerospace engineering degree with previous/current software engineering jobs. It’ll take more work to be noticed–and I really suggest OP might want to do some English related tutoring, volunteer work, etc. That’s an incredible letter. (Teaching adult ESL is also a possibility.)

                My brother and dad have both been hired away by old managers/coworkers.

            2. Michaela Westen*

              I’m so glad I’m not the only one! In 20 years I never had a job longer than 2 years and never got one through a job board (or classifieds before that). I usually got jobs through temping, and before I did office work, by applying in person at restaurants or stores.
              I got the job I have now when I heard socially the company might be hiring and looked at their listings on their web sites. Been here almost seven years. :)

              1. SpaceNovice*

                I’ve tended to have my jobs for longer, but I’ve always gotten them through either being found, ending up in an internal resume search system, or sending email cover letters with resumes attached directly to a corporate inbox for that exact purpose. Temping is definitely a good way in the door and to build your network. It gives you experience immediately with offices, too!

                :) That’s awesome! I basically got my first job through being “omg what you do is awesome” in the cover letter and firing off one blind. And if you’re pleasant to talk to, people remember you. Even if you accept another job offer, they might reach out again when they have more opportunities to try and tempt you away.

          3. Nita*

            It’s probably not uncommon when you’re entry-level and just trying to break into your line of work. Where I live, there are always openings for things like entry-level cashier jobs, but it’s ridiculously hard to land a white-collar job at entry-level without connections. A family member who was trying to get out of a toxic job took two years to find a new one. He was looking for things that were either in his field, or entry-level in adjacent fields. He didn’t send out this many resumes, but definitely over 100, and only got three interviews, two of which were kind of a joke.

            But, yeah, the minimum wage jobs are out there if all else fails, and they definitely don’t have to be a dead end. The same family member started his career by working night shift at a gas station while putting himself through college (don’t ask me when he slept, I really have no clue!) Obviously the effects of having a difficult start are still following him around, but at least in terms of salary, he’s making a decent living and can support himself and his family.

        4. Kathy*

          Holy crap this thread is beautiful. Faith in humanity has been restored and I totally teared up at my desk.

            1. JLCBL*

              Same. Love seeing so many good people standing up. I hope she takes someone up on it.

          1. Beth C.*

            It really is, my heart is warm with all these wonderful, considerate people.

            Good luck, OP! I hope one of these kind folks can help you out or that you can find something else fast. You don’t deserve what you are dealing with.

        5. PB*

          I love this! I would be so happy if OP had a job quickly thanks to AAM readership rallying.

        6. Victoria*

          Allison, I just had to scroll down six pages to get past all of the people offering to forward the resume of the Letter Writer.

          Just wanted to point out you have an awesome community here.

        7. boo bot*

          OP, if you’ve been working on Jill’s book in a writing or editing capacity, that is a skill you can leverage even though she hasn’t published it (and even if you’re not credited, which I suspect may be the case given your dad’s ghostwriting work.) Mostly that is freelance work, which has the advantage (or “advantage” – it’s a gift and a curse) that you can do it on the side while you still have this garbage fire of a job.

          Possibly you are already looking for those kinds of jobs, or possibly your work on the book is the most soul-sucking piece of this whole dementor-ridden hellscape. But if you want to keep doing the writing and editing stuff:

          (1) List the work you’ve been doing for Jill’s book separately on your resume as freelance work, refer to her as a private client who was writing a memoir, and don’t talk about who the client is on the basis of confidentiality (it’s totally different from a PA job, I don’t think this is a stretch of the truth. You can note that she’s the same person you were PA-ing for, but the reason I wouldn’t is because I would treat working on someone’s memoir as confidential regardless of whether there are NDAs).

          (2) Be specific about exactly what you are doing for Jill’s book- if you’re editing, are you proofreading (looking for typos and inaccuracies)? or line editing (revising sentences, making suggestions on the content of the text and the writing style)? or developmental editing (analyzing the text as a whole, noting major issues or inconsistencies)? (Or are you ghostwriting it, which still counts if you’re only doing part of it)?

          (3) – (10) REDACTED [I wrote something much longer, but it became egregiously long, and just boiled down to, “if you are interested in editing and writing, you should write, edit, read about writing and editing, and read other stuff too.”]

          There are all kinds of writing and editing jobs. There are also a bunch of scams in that vein, but just don’t go for anything where the focus is more on the “Work from home! Make $ in your pajamas!” than “Commas! Commas! Commas! Wait, that’s too many commas!” Legit jobs will be far more interested in what you can do for them than in what they can do for you. You can still work in your pajamas if you want to.

          1. Lore*

            If any of the work on the ms includes proofreading or copy editing, I may be able to help with decently paying freelance gigs if you’re interested.

          2. CountessAurelia*

            Also, if that’s something you have interest in or are good at, tech editing can be a very good job. And I have a friend who went from editing PhD theses while she was getting an MA in English to writing proposals for a contracting firm and makes in the 6 figures now. EVERYONE needs someone who can write well — or make someone else look like they write well!

            1. Gab*

              Oh wow, how does one get into such a thing? I think all the time about how I should be able to somehow market my ability (and oddly, fondness) for proofreading and editing other people’s writing into a lucrative thing, but haven’t a clue how.

          3. IvyGirl*

            This is so, so helpful. What a great point. I love how supportive everyone is being.

        8. Uncle Cheese Wiz*

          The sentiment in these comments officially confirms AAM as the best place on the interwebs and has inspired me to officially join the commenting community. So you can all thank (or blame) OP for that as you see fit.

          OP this is what a healthy environment feels like. Seek this out in all walks of life and avoid people/things/situations like your current one like a hoard of unholy, undead, flesh eating zombies. Even if (especially if?) it comes from your family.

        9. Database Developer Dude*

          Please feel free to pass along my email address. I work for a fairly large management and technology consulting firm in the metropolitan Washington, DC area, and I’m sure I could help try to hook up the OP with a job somewhere….

        10. enigmaticblue*

          Lincoln, Nebraska, here. Low cost of living, and my organization is actively looking for assistants. I just hired someone with a MA who had a gap in employment, and he’s been awesome. If you’re in the Midwest, or are thinking of relocating, hit me up.

        11. Candace Green*

          I am in Grand Forks, North Dakota. There are a TON of places desperate for entry level employees here. Even WalMart and Burger King are advertising jobs at $11-$15/hour to start, and there are good factory jobs at Cirrus Aircraft and others being advertised on the radio, on buses, everywhere at $15/hour with benefits. There are often office jobs at the university too. Rent is pretty cheap here too. I know ND isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it is possible to make a decent living here.

      2. Turquoisecow*

        I would donate to the cause of helping OP move out of state/far away from these people and maybe getting her own therapy. This is traumatic-level of horror right here, and OP needs to get away. Her dad is either complicit or clueless, but she needs to get away from him, also.

        OP, this is not normal. You are not the crazy one. You’re not doing anything wrong, and know that other bosses and fathers are not like this. You can have normalcy, too. You can have another job. It will get better.

        1. Jesca*

          And like who is this therapist anyway that would *allow* their client to bring her employee/boyfriend’s grown ass daughter to therapy sessions? And why isn’t this therapist seeing the abusive tendencies of this woman?

          1. A Family Therapist*

            There *are* terrible therapists out there, but there are also clients who insist that unwilling other people come to therapy without even mentioning it to the therapist, and then just show up for a scheduled appointment with another person. It’s happened to me more than once. My money’s on the therapist not knowing that they are demanding she attend with them, and if I’m right, the outcome of that stunt is likely to be very different than what the boss and dad are hoping for.

            1. Jesca*

              That makes sense. And if this woman is as boundary crossing as she seems, then I can see that being a totally plausible scenario.

            2. Mallory Janis Ian*

              I know when I scheduled an appointment with a therapist for myself and my 21-year-old daughter, the very first thing the therapist did when we arrived was ask my daughter if she was there willingly. I guess because I was the one who had scheduled the appointment and she was the younger and the non appointment scheduler, the therapist wanted to make sure that her presence wasn’t coerced. Hopefully all therapists would do that?

              1. Hamilton Reference*

                You would think so, but it’s happened to me.

                Very (very) long story short, my abusive stepmother signed me up for therapy after I tried to report her to CPS for child abuse. (She somehow made them believe that -I- was beating -her,- and also put me on probation for being “out of control”.) She signed me up for therapy as a way to psychologically torture me for being “crazy.”

                I would go in, talk to the therapist, and then she would go in immediately after me and talk to her. After the first appointment when I realized what she was doing, I just spent my appointment time crying. I knew it wouldn’t matter what I said because she’d just tell lies about me and I’d never get out.

                That was about 11 years ago when I was 16, but I’m sure therapists like that are still out there somewhere.

                1. A Family Therapist*

                  There definitely are therapists out there like that. I’m so sorry you had that experience, especially as a kid.

            1. Samata*

              Agree! It sounds like dad is on the boss/girlfriends side of the spectrum, so if they are mentioning problems with OP I wouldn’t be surprised if they were framing it as the OPs issue. And the mom in all this, saying to ride it out…OP I just am sending you so many virtual hugs I might break the internet.

            2. SarahTheEntwife*

              Agree, or is a terribly therapist. In a normal couples-therapy situation, this could totally be a reasonable suggestion, even with an adult child. Here it’s just a bucket of nope.

          2. Observer*

            I agree. If the therapist has any idea of what’s going on and is on board with it, then that’s conclusive proof that they are an incompetent danger to society.

          3. Yvette*

            However, it may be done under the umbrella/guise/excuse (not sure of the right word here) of family therapy, they are a couple, she is his daughter.

          4. Kella*

            Folks like the OP’s boss who are this good at manipulating and controlling the opinions of others are usually EXCELLENT at winning over therapists and using therapy to learn more ways to control the emotions of others. It’s likely she’s a totally different person in front of the therapist and that the therapist doesn’t know the OP also works for her.

            1. Naptime Enthusiast*

              It scares me that people can be so sociopathic and manipulative that trained professionals can’t tell who they really are.

            2. Another therapist*

              I got the impression from reading it that the therapist was a new happening, not that the couple has been seeing the therapist for a while.

              It might be more of a permissable thing if the therapist is like a random church therapist or something (no offense to any good church therapists out there– I did have one myself once, but I also had a close friend see a counselor through her church when she was trying to divorce her abusive husband and that counselor told her she needed to stay with him because divorce was not right, etc.), but any therapist abiding by the ethical guidelines (and legally we have to) cannot see an adult who doesn’t consent to it. There are documents that must be signed in the first session. Even if OP did get dragged to a session, she can’t be seen without consenting to it.

              Also, and this is also a huge thing, she can’t be an ongoing part of a *couples therapy* process. She could be what is called an “informant”, where she comes to a session, or maaaybe two, or comes only very very occasionally, and provides perspective to the couple situation, but that would have to be limited to be acceptable as well, and she’d still have to verbally consent to that.

              Couples therapists treat the couple as the client, not the individuals within the couple. And not their daughters/employees. If “couples therapy” is being used as a misnomer here and they really meant FAMILY therapy, as suggested above, again, consent would still be required if they are doing anything even remotely legally, and if they aren’t, then the OP would be able to ask them about their licensure and report them to the state board. (Of course I’m talking about this from a US context, but I sort of assume based on what we were told that this is happening in the US. If Canada, then I’m sure there’s similar legal guidelines in Canada as well.)

              I remember in one of my therapy practica, a young woman (early 20s) came to me as a new client and her mother came with her. First session, this seemed a little odd, but I didn’t press either one of them about it as anxiety was part of one of the concerns mentioned. When they both came to the second session, I had to ask clearly whether they were looking for family therapy together, and also make sure that the mother wasn’t horning in unwanted by her daughter.

        2. Kelly AF*

          Ditto. If there’s some way for Alison to verify that a GoFundMe (or similar) is truly the OP’s, I’ll gladly throw in a few dollars.

          1. General Ginger*

            I can’t afford to contribute but I’ll gladly share the GoFundMe or other link on various social networks!

          2. Old Admin*

            I would contribute, too.
            Another suggestion: Create a GoFundMe run by Alison to help such people in general.

          3. Summerisle*

            Me too! The number of people on this thread offering to help in so many practical ways has reinforced my faith in humanity. Toxic jobs are horrendous and can destroy your mental health; I’m glad the OP has asked for help and will get it.

        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Agreed. If OP needs a rainy day fund, please let us know. I’m happy to contribute to freeing OP from Jane’s influence. This is such a nightmarish scenario that the most important thing right now is to Get Out.

          1. Stargirl*

            +100. Absolutely will pitch in. OP, please let us know if you’re okay. Love to you. <3

        4. Michaela Westen*

          “This is traumatic-level of horror right here”
          That’s right. I have post-traumatic stress from growing up with similar people.

      3. Indoor Cat*

        Chiming in with a donation! Also, possible donation towards getting LW a career coach of some kind, I mean, literally anyone who could help get a job, like, tomorrow.

    4. The Person from the Resume*

      I stopped reading with a few paragraphs left because I couldn’t take the insanity any longer and had to see Alison’s response.

      This is liver boss / chemo boss / leave-a-work-note-at-a-grave boss level of insanity and inappropriateness. was gold.

      I’m sorry, LW, run, run for the hills now.

      1. Arya Snark*

        Same. It was too much! I got less than halfway through it all before I started ranting “Get out, OP! Get out NOW!!!!!”

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*

          Oh GAWD! It wasn’t just me.

          Yeah, I couldn’t read all the way to the end either.

          (And, DAMN!! This is not about millennials! I’m at the early end of GenX! I’m well into middle age! I seriously want to find out where she lives and go pick her up and get her out of that place!)

          1. JessaB*

            I’m a boomer and I’m totally agreeing, this has nothing to do with the op being a Millennial or any other group. This has happened in all our generations and it is totally on Jane and OP’s father, and maybe this is why OP’s mom divorced him, if he has a tendency to side with Jane…but this is not about your age or generation OP, get out, get out now.

          2. teclatrans*

            The part where OP fretted about maybe just being an entitled millennial *broke* me. No, OP, this is abuse — scary abuse. The commentariat here has many times urged people to get out. The fact that they are offering to help you in such concrete ways? That’s a reflection of how scary this situation is.

            Your mom is wring, your friends are right. I am so sorry your dad is caught up in perpetuating this woman’s abuse. It sounds like he is very likely being abused as well.

            And yeah, this does sound a lot like classic narcissism. OP, trust your response and instincts and insights. They are correct, and are giving you good information. Don’t let doubts about future employability or being “a millennial” or not good at your work creep in. Run, run, run.

        2. Ella*

          Same here. I got to OP’s second bullet point (about writing her boss’ memoir, which her father is also writing) and then internally threw up my hands over the whole thing. Holy shit, OP. Run. Run fast. There are so many ways that this is crazy-making and wrong.

          Also, I fear that any boundary-setting with this woman will just result in OP getting fired, which makes me want to advise OP to go to that fucking therapy session with a laundry list of all the bullshit that her boss has subjected her to, but that is Very Bad Advice which is just one of the many reasons why I am a mere commenter and not an adviser.

      2. Guava*

        When I started reading this, I thought, this is the Devil Wears Prada boss…and then I got to the part with the dad.
        This is worse than that. WORSE.
        Run, OP. Don’t listen to your mom. RUN.

      3. Friendly Neighborhood HR Lady*

        I totally expect to see this boss in the running for the Worst Bosses of 2018!!!!

    5. Matilda Jefferies*

      I made that face when I saw the title of the post. Then as I read the article, I made an exponential version of that face, and started screaming in my head GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT.

      1. Sylvan*

        I was repulsed by the title, but thought, “Surely it can’t really be that bad. Alison just gave it an eye-catching title.”


        1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

          I read the title and just thought “Oh. God. No.”

          I almost didn’t read the letter because I figured I knew what the advice was going to be.

          Imagine my horror when it just kept getting worse.

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*

            This was pretty much my exact reaction too.

            (side note: have you heard anything yet?)

        2. Decima Dewey*

          Adding to the chorus: take up running for your health and don’t stop until you reach the county or state line. Find another job. Any other job. Get out of this mess.

        3. RabbitRabbit*

          Yup. It got worse. My brain went into “get out get out get out” mode as well. That is batshit levels of WTF.

        4. Optimistic Prime*

          I had the same thought. Not only was the title accurate, it didn’t even capture half of the horribleness of this letter!

      2. Jadelyn*

        My eyebrows kept creeping up…and up…and up…and up as I was reading this. They’re stuck in the A/C vent now I think. I kept thinking it couldn’t get worse…and then it did.

        1. MtnLaurel*

          and my jaw kept dropping down till it was on the keyboard. Unreal.

          But what is great is seeing so many offers of help in so many ways! You all rock.

    6. Jesca*

      I have no comments. I am just OMGing my way through this.

      This is horribly abusive – I mean you have gas lighting, putting the responsibly of a relationship solely on how OP behaves, emotional manipulation, and the constant criticism. Not to mention the no set hours, boundaries, or basic respect you would give another human being no matter who they are in relation to you!

      I feel the need to help OP!

      1. Specialk9*

        Adding to this: “putting the responsibly of a relationship OF TWO OTHER PEOPLE solely on how OP behaves.”

        F#@$ me.

        1. Kali*

          The boss saying she would end the relationship if OP was unhappy reads like a kind of love-bombing to me. “Oh, you’re the most important person here!”.

          1. boo bot*

            Yeah, and I bet she’s telling the OP’s dad that she’ll fire his daughter if he’s unhappy with the situation, because the relationship is what’s most important.

    7. FortyTwo*

      And it just. Kept. Going. I scrolled down, wondering when the letter would end, but the abuses kept escalating.

      Get out. Now. Once you’re out, don’t answer ANY calls from your ex-boss, because you already know they’re going to be emotional blackmail about your father, and you shouldn’t have to listen to that.

      If your father calls, I suggest not speaking to him until he has broken up with your ex-boss, but I don’t know enough about your relationship to advocate complete radio silence.

      Good luck.

      1. Oranges*

        I actually couldn’t take reading the entire letter. I just was like… I’m gonna look away from this epic train-wreck now because I can’t stomach more right now.

        I think it was worse than the bad bosses because it’s constant high levels of abuse. At least that’s what it felt like for me.

      2. Annie Moose*

        100% agree. As soon as possible, cut off all contact with her. Don’t tell her about any new job you’re taking, don’t tell her where you’re living if you move, don’t tell her about your financial situation. She is not a safe person.

        You should also be prepared for her to use your dad against you, as she already has done this in the past–I don’t know anything about the relationship between you and your dad personally, but him giving in to her and pressuring you indicates that he doesn’t have your best interests at heart either. I would assume that anything you tell him could end up going to her, so be careful about what you tell him too.

        1. JessaB*

          And I hate to say this Do NOT give your number to your father OR to your mother if you think she might “innocently” pass it on to him. Because if your dad gets your number he will give it to Jane.

    8. The Original K.*

      Probably the same one I made. Alison teased this on Twitter earlier in the week and it’s SO MUCH WORSE than I thought it would be OH MY GOD.

      OP, run like you are being chased by an ax murderer in a horror movie. No no no no NO NO NO this is NOT NORMAL. At all. I promise you when – WHEN – you get a job where your boss respects professional boundaries, treats you with respect, and … isn’t dating your dad, you will be so relieved and realize how not normal this is.

    9. Lady Blerd*

      That is the only word that came to mind as I’m reading this. I’ll throw in two more: Get Out! DO NOT listen to your mom!!!

    10. Anonyna*

      Same. If this were someone describing their spouse, I’d be googling local divorce lawyers on LW’s behalf.

      1. Oranges*

        Or trying to get a copy of “Why does he do that” into her hands and telling her to hide it from her spouse.

        1. Specialk9*

          Yeah. Seriously. I don’t usually think “actually my abusive marriage wasn’t THAT bad”!!!

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            On the plus side: OP now has experience of what to watch out for in abusive partners?

            OP, this is all ‘your boss sucks’. REALLY sucks. Run.

            1. Specialk9*

              It really is a plus side – I see them from miles away now. On the down side, without a lot of therapy it can be a cycle of abuse with new people.

    11. Wendy Darling*

      You know the scene in Get Out when someone finally says the title?

      That is how my face is.

      1. Camellia*

        Ooh, I just watched that movie…then recognized the guy when we watched Black Panther last night!

        1. Sapphire*

          Look up the episode of Black Mirror called “15 Million Merits” if you want more Daniel Kaluuya. He’s amazing.

          1. Easily Amused*

            He is also in a good paranormal type BBC show called The Fades that was on Netflix awhile back

    12. Tuxedo Cat*

      I’m sure we were making the same face, and I only got halfway through the post. I never worked for my father’s girlfriend but she sounds like Jill.

      OP, you can’t “win” someone like that. You are probably fine. If you were the best employee ever, Jill would still find fault. You need a new job ASAP. I’d sign up for some temp agencies too and see if there are any long-term temp positions or temp to perm. People like Jill will do horrible things to your self-esteem and self-worth. Getting out sooner is better.

    13. Hey Nonnie*

      To be blunt, I would treat this as fundamentally the same as a domestic abuse situation. I grew up in a toxic environment, and reading what OP described made me sick to my stomach. It is THAT bad.

      Go to a trusted friend. Make an escape plan. Maybe it’s necessary to crash on this friend’s couch for a while, and that’s okay. But make a plan and get out. Get out as quickly as you reasonably can.

      And don’t allow your father to drag you into ANY conversation about Jill anymore. Sadly, he made it clear he’s not your ally the second he agreed to try to bully you into going to therapy with them. (!!!!!) Any reasonable person, much less a parent, would have called Jill out on how absolutely, preposterously inappropriate it was to even suggest such a thing.

      You may be able to repair your relationship with your dad later (though certainly not before he stops dating Jill), but right now you need to put that aside and focus on your own safety. Gaslighting is dangerous. It’s grooming you to be compliant to worse abuse later. And Jill clearly has no concept of appropriate work/familial boundaries, so I would expect worse to be coming down the line. Sometimes situations force you to triage, and this is one of those times.

      Get yourself safe. Everything else can wait.

      1. Specialk9*

        Yes, all of this. OP, please listen to those of us who are abuse survivors. That is what is going on. This is not safe.

        Here’s the metaphor that works for me. Evil Worms slither into your brain, and come from abusers. Their messages in your mind (you’re useless, can’t ever find something better, you’re pathetic, dumb, fat, ugly, etc etc) are NOT yours, they come from others who want to harm you for their own benefit, and they’re lies. My own Evil Worm still pipes up sometimes, but I know its voice now and I know it’s lying.

        But I’m not gonna BS you. I *crawled* out of my abuse, and it was a near thing. People who haven’t been there think it’s easy, and for some reason like to say that loudly (“oh I woulda just…”), but it’s not. But it’s SO MUCH BETTER than where you are now.

        Talk to an abuse professional.
        CALL 24/7/365

        1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
        1-800-787-3224 (TTY for Deaf/Hard of Hearing)

        1. Michaela Westen*

          Another metaphor: Jill has crawled into OP’s head and built a nest.
          Kick her and your father out of your head, OP!
          I second that anywhere is better than the abusive situation. I left my hometown and moved to the big city by myself when I was 22. My first apartment was with a roomate who was a drunk, and after a week I moved into a different one with a drug addict and a 2nd roomate who hated the addict and stayed in her room all the time.
          The neighborhood was bad, whenever I left the building creepy street people tried to hit on me or grab me. After six months I moved into a studio across the street and the married building manager made a pass at me. After a few years I moved to another neighborhood that wasn’t as creepy but still dangerous, with a really bad roomate. Then I moved to a different neighborhood with a so-so roomate, then I got fed up and got my own place in an inexpensive neighborhood, and ended up staying there 21 years. :)
          This may sound bad, but it was light-years better than being with my family. A little at a time I learned better ways to live and put a lot of effort into learning how to have healthy relationships, and moving to the big city was the best decision I ever made. :)

    14. CMF*

      IKR? This letter horrified me more than that guy who ghosted his ex then she was hired to be his boss!

      I started fantasizing about the therapy sessions imagining the therapist taking LW’s side and letting Jill and Dad have it.

      I gasped when I go to the part about her mother because it hadn’t occurred to me she was involved – my reaction was “her mother is putting up with this too?” Maybe mom doesn’t want to get involved with dad and Jill, but just because your kid’s out of school and working doesn’t mean you can’t still offer them sane guidance through the world. LW is a millenial in her first job, cut the kid a break and allow her to be free!

      Oh LW I am so so sorry for you. I hope you follow Allison’s advice and run far and fast from this job, and I hope you get some counseling on your own to recover from the abuse Jill has subjected you to. I wish I could hug you and tell you that it’s not supposed to be this way – no hug but for reals THIS IS NOT NORMAL.

      I hope you’ll update us.

      I nominate Jill for worst boss of the year.

      1. Froggy*

        I was thinking not only is Jill the worst boss of the year, but she is definitely in the running for being the worst in a decade!

      2. Not So NewReader*

        OP, your family is very good at give the wrong advice. They excel at it.

      3. scn*

        My God, yes. And I just realized that LW’s mom hasn’t had a relationship with the dad since at least two serious relationships ago (stepmom and Jill the Terrible.) So the mom should be sufficiently emotionally distant enough to see how abusive this is. It’s like LW’s mom just zoned out.

      4. scn*

        LW, you will not get a good reference from this job. The way Jill talks about former employees? That’s how she’ll talk about you. She’s emotionally incapable of giving someone a good reference.

        It literally does not matter what you do. Stay for a year or two vs leave now. Do a great job vs do a terrible job. Resign in writing, with plenty of notice vs vanish without any notice at all. Go to therapy vs laugh in Jill’s face. None of it matters because:

        You will not get a good reference from this job.

        You can’t really put a job on your resume if you know that when they call that job they’ll hear terrible things about you. So your mom is just plain wrong. The best thing for you to do is say you took some time out before joining the workforce. And leave that job asap.

    15. MJ*

      Right? My eyebrows started normal but now they’re so high they’re just part of my hair.

  1. Valancy Snaith*

    Oh dear.

    OP, you are not the problem. Get another job, get out, and do not worry about this one short-term stay. Get out now, and take solace in the fact that one day this will be twenty years ago and you will have amazing stories to tell at dinner parties to horrify people.

    1. Hills to Die on*

      You have all of my sympathy. This is so far outside the realm of normal that ‘bizarre’ doesn’t even cover it. Quit now. Do whatever you have to do to send a text message quittinng your job, then block her and do not look back. You will be fine. Better than fine.

      1. Happy Lurker*

        Yes, and allow yourself some space from your dad if you need it.

        You need to remove yourself, recoup and recover. Heck, I would even go back to my teenage jobs (fast food and Grocery store) to get away from this situation.

        Good luck OP and please update.

    2. Long Time Reader, First Time Poster*

      Yes, get out now! But — if you can’t — if you need the paycheck and can’t just quit, the advice to disengage is spot on. Do the bare minimum. There is the chance you might get let go, because this will enrage Jill, but if you are let go you may be eligible for unemployment, which will help you stay afloat until you get a new job.

      Hang in there and just remember — it’s not you. She’s bonkers.

      1. Blue*

        I mean, Jill is frequently enraged and sounds likely to fire OP on a whim, regardless, so OP really, really has nothing to lose by disengaging.

        1. MsSolo*

          I have a horrible suspicion she won’t, just hold it over her head. Abusers rarely actively send their victims away, they just use the idea of separation as a threat. The bingo square to look out for here is “you’ll never get another job that treats you as well as I do”.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        “…if you are let go you may be eligible for unemployment, which will help you stay afloat until you get a new job.”

        This is exactly what I came here to say.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          Can you even imagine being the UC processor who reads Jill’s denial for the LW?

          “LW refused to attend family therapy with me and her dad and was fired for cause.”

          1. bookbot*

            I hope OP starts keeping a journal of day-to-day incidents because I can only imagine what stories Jill might cook up if she tries to deny an unemployment claim.

          2. Cactus*

            I initially misread “processor” as “professor” and wondered why a University of California professor would be reading about LW’s issues with Jill.

    3. Kathleen_A*

      Exactly. OP, I’m pretty sure your mother means well when she counsels you not to quit, but for one thing, she’s *wrong* in her assessment that quitting this job would be some sort of serious blot on your resume (it will not), and for another, she clearly doesn’t understand what’s being inflicted on you here.

      So quit right away if you can, and if you can’t, quit as soon as you can find something that will keep you going for a while. Once you’re out of this awful situation (that is definitely not your doing), you can take a few deep breaths and assess where to go from here.

      BTW, jobs with no set hours will kill ya. I’ve never had one, but my poor husband did. He was hired to work second shift, but his God-awful supervisor would have him work split shifts sometimes; second shift one day and first shift the next sometimes; and then goodness knows what other times. He lasted four months on that job, and it really did just about kill the poor guy.

      1. Yvette*

        If she is worried about references, perhaps some of the clients/other staff that she worked with at the organization would be able to provide her with some. Once potential employers hear “My boss started dating my father, and it became too awkward to stay there.” , I am pretty sure they will understand why her boss is not being asked to provide a reference.

        1. Midge*

          Yes, I was going to suggest this too! Talk to some of those board members who’ve praised your work and the coworkers that you’ve built solid relationships with, preferably before you leave and Jill has a chance to start badmouthing you with her made up claims. I’m sure they understand that Jill is completely unreasonable and unhinged, and they would be happy to serve as references.

          Come to think of it, maybe you could also discretely (very, very discretely!) start talking to these board members to see if they have any open positions at their organizations. If I was in their shoes, I’d want to help you find something better.

          1. Michaela Westen*

            The only thing is, are the board members influenced by Jill? She might have them believing and following her without question. In that case they might not be good references or good to ask for jobs.

            This reminds me of a woman I heard about – wonder if it’s the same one! One of my colleagues worked for a woman in local politics who seems nice and reasonable in public, but in the office is an abusive nightmare. My colleague says she was verbally abusive towards everyone and made her peers cry in meetings. She has a husband and son who also seem very nice.
            I really don’t understand why anyone puts up with such treatment, but she’s gotten away with it for several years. Maybe one day it will come back on her.

    4. Eye of Sauron*


      So I think this situation is one that I would strongly recommend looking for some of those less desirable jobs. In this case I’d seriously look for a customer service call center (second shift) or manufacturing/line work (again second shift).

      This will get the OP a good income for the short term but leave plenty of time and opportunity for applying and interviewing for a more permanent position.

    1. Temperance*

      You know that whenever we say that, someone even more horrible and toxic comes out of the woodwork, right? It’s like shitty bosses read AAM and then decide that they can top whatever terrible thing some other boss did.

      1. MuseumChick*

        So true. Every time I think “Ok, this is the craziest letter ever. Nothing will top this.” I am always very, very, wrong.

        1. Temperance*

          It’s kind of impressive, right? I honestly didn’t think anyone could get worse than Liver Boss, and then Chemo Bully showed up.

          1. Jadelyn*

            It makes you wonder if there’s some Evil Convocation of Evil Bosses out there, and they’re all competing for some award there based on who can get the most horrified comments from us.

            1. MuseumChick*

              The scary part is there isn’t. It’s just random individuals being terrible independent of each other.

            2. Admin2*

              I think the issue with all such conspiracy theories is the level of competence it suggests.

              1. mrs_helm*

                “If she were organized, she’d be dangerous.” (Well, she’s dangerous to OP, but …)

            3. Drago Cucina*

              Someone like Bad Horse and his Evil League of Evil is vetting these folks for membership and annual awards.

            4. boo bot*

              I actually kind of wonder if the horrible boss stories embolden people in terrible situations to write in about their own horrible bosses.

              Like, I’ve been in situations where I wouldn’t think to ask for advice because what was happening was so outlandishly awful that I’d expect people to (a) not believe me, or (b) say I was stupid for even being in the situation in the first place.

              So, if I were in a situation analogous in some way to the OP’s (and I have been, OP – different in almost every detail, but otherwise exactly the same. Many of us have been, it’s Not Just You and it’s Not Because of You.)

              Anyway, if I were in a similar situation, seeing Alison’s compassionate, insightful response, and all the comments taking her seriously, believing her and empathizing with her and offering real concrete advice and help would make me feel like this was a safe place to ask advice of my own.

              TL;DR: my theory is that the horrible boss posts do indeed spawn further horrible boss posts, but it’s not a bad thing at all.

          2. Tara2*

            Yea, at least Liver Boss had extreme desperation to make it more understandable, if not forgivable.

    2. Elle*

      I was just thinking about how I look forward to rereading this at the end of the year in the “Worst Boss” round up. Egads.

      I hope we get a follow up letter from Letter Writer in a few months talking about the great new job she found with a sane boss who understands what boundaries are!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        OP, some how you found AAM. This means you are going to find more resources if you just keep trying, Don’t give up now. If you keep going you WILL get out of this HOT mess.

      2. Michaela Westen*

        I usually have to set a few boundaries with a boss, but that doesn’t mean they’re bad bosses.
        OP, when you get another job, set whatever boundaries make you comfortable. A good boss will respect that.

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I’m afraid to comment along these lines anymore, because it’s like all the horrible bosses see these comments, and take them as a challenge.

    4. Fiennes*

      Plus it seems that WTF Wednesday, despite all plans for its abandonment, lives on.

  2. Kate*

    This is one of those times I wish we could use gifs in comments. A baffled, blinking gif is the only appropriate reaction I can come up with here. OP, you in danger, girl.

    1. SeluciaV*

      +1 million

      I’ve worked for a strange, overbearing, irrational, boundary-crossing, red-flag-waving toxic boss before but she seems like a fluffy lamb in comparison to Jill. *shudders*

      Make like The Flash and bolt OP. RUN FOR YOUR LIFE. I’m not even sure what a minimum safe distance would look like from this whole clusterf**k but I’m thinking at least a continent.

      1. Suzy Q*

        Run. Get out. Today. NOW.
        Block all communications with that woman. Respond to NOTHING from her. Keep your dad at a distance.
        Hugs for a stranger and all the best to you.

    2. DaniCalifornia*

      At first I read gifs as gifts, and I thought ‘Yeah I would totally send someone money/gofundme/chip in to someone with this level horrible boss.’ Then I realized what you meant lol!

      My gif would be Lana going NOOOOOOPPPPPPEEEEE

      I hope OP reads Alison’s response and the comments and RUN. Fast food/waiting tables/babysitting for actually money would be better than this!

    3. CristinaMariaCalabrese (do the mambo like-a crazy)*

      I absolutely read your last line in Oda Mae Brown’s voice.

    4. Jules the 3rd*

      OP, your feeling of gaslighting and abuse is right, and real. Trust yourself, trust your gut.

      You can’t live your dad’s life for him, he’s going to have to run on his own.

    5. On Fire*

      Sometimes there are letters that I don’t want to believe. Not that I think they’re fabricated – I just don’t want to believe that people can be so awful. This is one of those letters. I don’t WANT to believe it, but I do. OP, please, take whatever job will let you pay bills and buy food, and GET OUT NOW.

  3. Temperance*

    LW, don’t listen to either of your parents and GTFO. Your dad sounds like he’s in a bad relationship, but that’s his choice. Don’t let him guilt you into going to therapy with them. It will be a huge mistake.

    On the personal front, it sounds like Jill has serious psychological issues, and you are right to avoid therapy with her. Without armchair diagnosing her, I will say that she sounds like exactly the type of person who will use family therapy as a weapon to further damage and manipulate others.

    1. Sylvan*

      I agree. I’ll keep it short but Jill has some similarities to a relative, who I was luckily never targeted by, but who I saw in action enough to understand. If they are similar people, engaging won’t help you. It’ll enmesh you.

    2. Marillenbaum*

      Precisely. She sounds remarkably like my stepmother, and the smartest move I ever made was to stop speaking to her when I was 21 (shoutout to the really good therapist who helped me make that choice). OP, this is not your fault, and there is literally no way that you can fix this. Run for the hills, and never look back.

    3. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

      Yeah, I read the headline thinking “wow, that’s an overstep” but it’s not even that they inappropriately want OP to help their relationship, they want to use their therapy sessions as a way to exercise power (threatening probation if OP doesn’t go?! absolute garbage).

      It is also possible Jill will respond to disengaging and doing the bare minimum with escalation and increasingly abusive behavior. There are people who enjoy inflicting distress on others because they like the power trip, and if Jill is one of those (sure sounds like it), all OP can do to cope until another job comes through is remember “this is a her problem, not a me problem, and her reactions do not reflect my worth.”

      OP, if there’s any way you can get out, at all, run and don’t look back. Your mom’s advice is well-intended but off base. Waiting tables can bring in great tips while you job search. Consider temp work if you want to expand your office experience and build up references from people who are not Jill.

      1. Liane*

        ” they want to use their therapy sessions as a way to exercise power”
        Yes! That bit reminds me about warnings I’ve read that couples therapy can be risky when abuse is involved, because it’s not uncommon for the abuser to con/charm/fool a therapist into teaming up on the already-victimized partner.
        If OP has the energy–and I totally understand if she doesn’t–I’d notify the baby’s parent/s that Granny-Dearest isn’t taking care of the child and report the therapist to the appropriate state board.

        (Side note, I came here 30 minutes after it was posted and saw no comments. My initial thought was, “This is so bad everyone has been shocked into ‘silence’!” Then I remembered that I just installed the “Shut Up” Firefox extension (because I am so tired of those comment balloons on Yahoo and hadn’t yet told it that AAM comments were welcome.)

        1. Jadelyn*

          My (abusive alcoholic) father went to couples therapy with my mother, and years later I learned that he opened their first session by basically saying “Here’s what’s wrong with her: [litany of unreasonable complaints]. Can you fix her?”

          That type of person has no concept of personal responsibility. None. Everything is always someone else’s fault. And with as charming as many abusers can be to other people than their victims, it’s not at all surprising to me that they might be able to fool a therapist into siding with them and piling all the blame and responsibility for the relationship onto the victim.

          (Thankfully the therapist my parents saw didn’t fall for my dad’s BS. My brother and I also saw this therapist, separately, for support during the eventual divorce, and when I was in the last stages of trying to salvage my relationship with my father I asked if he’d be willing to go see that therapist with me to try to work things out. He said he’d see *a* therapist with me for a few sessions – but not *that* one. Because he knew the guy was already wise to his shit and wouldn’t side with him against me in making it all my fault.)

          1. Lara*

            I’ve heard it argued that couples therapy often ends up being an extension of abuse in this kind of relationship.

            1. Jules the 3rd*

              It really depends on the therapist. I recommended a Therapist I’d visited to a friend of mine, because I was confident Therapist would recognize the abusive behavior and behave appropriately. From the few bits friend told me, Therapist picked up on it within two visits and gave quiet support to the ‘communication should be respectful not angry’ norm. Abusive Partner stopped going, and thankfully they broke up.

              1. Lara*

                Oh sure. It’s just (reportedly) easy for emotional abusers to abuse the therapeutic relationship. Domestic violence groups often repeat that “abuse is not a “relationship problem.””

                If you were able to recommend your therapist to OP’s dad, I’d be all for it. However going to family counselling with a therapist primed / recommended by Jill seems like it would be a continuation of, rather than solution to, the emotional abuse.

                1. Specialk9*

                  This was my experience. Soooo smooth in therapy but vicious every drive home and night after a session.

          2. GreyjoyGardens*

            That’s a good point, especially the fact that narcissists and abusers can be very charming with people outside their family, or even with *adults* within the family. This whole family screams “bad narcissistic people” – Jill is a terrible, abusive person, Dad at the very least is an enabler who chooses his new partner over his child, and Mom appears to enable the Jill and Dad team as well.

            LW, this is NOT normal and NOT acceptable and you are NOT entitled to want a healthy job and family life. RUN!

            1. Worker Bee*

              I think you meant “and you are entitled”; the last not seems to be a typo.

              1. Lara*

                I read it as “It is not ‘entitled’ to want a healthy job”, as in ‘hey, the desire for a scream free workplace doesn’t make you an entitled millennial snowflake’.

        2. Beth*

          To be fair, I think any competent therapist would look at this scenario and go “Wait, you ordered your *employee* to come to family therapy, on threat of dismissal if she refused? What???” That’s just….so objectively shocking, in its basic facts, there’s really no amount of charm that could explain it away.

          1. Specialk9*

            Right but who’s going to say that? There’s so much pressure to keep the job that Jill likely figures that OP will go along with it as voluntary.

            1. Beth*

              True, Jill probably didn’t frame it that way (if she told the therapist at all). But if OP does end up pressured into going (which, OP, don’t, it’s not a good idea, run away), it might well be something they could bring up to make the scope of the dysfunction clear

              1. Thlayli*

                I was actually thinking if I was OP I would love to go to therapy and state clearly every thing that Jill does. That might shake the therapy sessions up a bit!

          2. Melissa*

            Yeah, right? I’m really wondering just what this “Family” therapist has been told.

            OP, did boss ever discuss any of this over text or email? Normally, I’d say refuse therapy, and continue to just do your job. And boss would either back down on the threat of writing you up, OR she’d hand you a lovely case for constructive dismissal in write-up format.

            But given your age and experience, and the fact that both your parents SUCK so badly, I think you need to just run from this. Now.

            You didn’t say in your letter whether you were financially dependent on one or both parents. If you are, please don‘t let that keep you stuck. I really think you would be better off just quitting with no notice, and blocking both of them from any form of contact. Get your phone number changed. Ask friends to help. Just get out.

            This won’t get better.

        3. Another therapist*

          Oof, but how terrible would a therapist have to be to not pick up on that? The thing about personality disorders (and the abuser in the post almost certainly has one), is that they are difficult to completely hide for any length of time. Even sociopathy or psychopathy have hints, especially for those who are trained to look for them. Yes, they can try to be charming, but I really get the impression from the OP’s letter that this person is probably not the type that can handle that level of charming long enough. I shouldn’t assume, of course, but we aren’t hearing any of the classic abuser apology stuff, where there are times that they are faking being sweet. It’s just a litany of endless torment.

    4. Sara without an H*

      And I’m wondering hard about a therapist who would agree to involve OP in sessions. Really hard.

      1. Sylvan*

        The only information the therapist has might be that this couple is having issues with a child (described by Jill as a Problem Child?), which I can’t imagine is out of the norm for couples or family counseling.

        1. Jesca*

          I would think the therapist would ask age and relationship? A good one would anyway and then find this request hugely gross.

          1. Seriously?*

            We don’t actually know if the therapist even agreed to it. They could just be planning to bring the OP and assume that the therapist will go along with it.

            1. Hey Nonnie*

              Yeah, I’m guessing Jill’s plan is to simply show up with OP and Dad in tow and expect the therapist to go along with it.

              That’s the thing with narcissists — in their mind literally everything is about them, and other people mere extensions of their own identity/ego, such that they cannot conceive of other people disagreeing with or not going along with them. Until it happens, and then of course the disagreeing person is “incompetent,” and the narcissist gets really mad because it pokes a hole in their carefully constructed version of reality.

      2. Temperance*

        I frequent forums for adult children and partners of people with personality disorders, so I’m honestly not surprised since I see it so often. Some people can be really, really manipulative, and the dynamic here (Jill and Joe are in family therapy, and Jill works with Joe’s daughter Jane) might pass muster.

      3. Irene Adler*

        Really. But I would love to find out what Jill has explained to the therapist as to why the OP must be involved in their therapy sessions.

        1. Naomi*

          I wonder if Jill has even told the therapist OP is coming. I would not be surprised if Jill and Dad were planning to simply show up for their appointment with OP in tow.

      4. Slow Gin Lizz*

        I kind of wish that OP *would* go to the therapy sessions just to see if therapist knows Jill is insane or if the therapist is also insane. But even more so than that, OP, I want you to QUIT THIS JOB AND GET OUT ASAP.

        My apologies if you have problems with the phrase ASAP (see yesterday’s post).

        1. Oranges*

          I would love to be a fly on that wall but the risk/reward is so highly tilted towards going will seriously damage the LW that… nope. But holy crap I’m gonna daydream about it.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          There is nothing wrong with yelling, “Fire! Fire! Get out ASAP!” When we are talking about life and death the rules change a bit. OP, these people are killing you at your very core. Yeah, you can keep on living but life will feel robotic and joyless. This is what happens when our souls die and our bodies continue on.

      5. Samiratou*

        It’s possible the therapist hasn’t been brought into the loop yet and will be all “oh, hell no” when they show up with her.

      6. Beth*

        Therapist might well have only been told that LW is Dad’s daughter. It’s not unheard of to talk to family members in a therapy context; that alone wouldn’t necessarily raise red flags.

    5. Larry Sanguinetti*

      I worry more that Psycho-Boss will threaten to break up with Dad and blame OP. Don’t fall for her traps, as they are intended only to continue the tormenting power she holds over you. The only way to get out from under her is to stand up for yourself and get out.

      And honestly, her breaking up with your dad, however hard it’ll be on Dad, sounds like a good thing. Second only to continuing to work for this witch would be having her as your step-mother. I feel for you, and wish you well.

      1. Suzy Q*

        The dad is in an abusive relationship, and people in them don’t always recognize it. I HOPE that asshole breaks up with him.

        1. eplawyer*

          I noticed that too. Dad is doing the same things the LW is doing — desperately playing whack a mole in an effort to please Jill. He thinks if he can convince daughter to go to therapy which is what Jill wants, Jill will stop threatening to leave.

          Jill plays both sides. She tells LW she will break up with dad because of her actions. Then she tells dad she is ending the relationship because daughter is horrible to her. It’s all about being the center of attention and controlling others.

          LW get out. Just go.

          1. Totally Minnie*

            Honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me if Jill was telling her boyfriend “I’ll fire your daughter and nuke any chance she has at getting another job in our industry if you don’t do what I want.”

            Whatever the case, OP, leave as soon as you can and don’t worry about any fallout between Jill and your dad. If the worst she can do is break up with him, is that really a bad thing?

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Meanwhile her industry cohorts know or hear rumors that she is a nut-job. OP, always remember there is more than one side to any story line.

      2. Jules the 3rd*

        It would be good for Dad, but she isn’t going to to it. Dad’s thoroughly under her thumb. My experience has been that the only reason an abuser does the leaving is because their victim starts to get out, mentally, and the abuser leaves first.

        So, Jill will fire OP if OP starts to refuse unreasonable requests (ie, ‘Jill, I am available from 9 – 3 M – Th; please email a list of tasks you want completed’) but she won’t break up with Dad.

      3. Specialk9*

        She’s not going to follow through, it’s her trump card. I had threats of leaving and divorce for YEARS, but as soon as I finally had it, the whole narrative turned on a dime to the opposite. I don’t want to give tio many details that could be connected back to me, but this all sounds SO familiar.

        PS, remarried to a delightful person who respects boundaries and is kind. It’s revolutionary. Just a reminder that abuse can be left and things can be better.

    1. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

      I mean we were all thinking the same thing.

      I’m really looking forward to voting for Jill at the end of the year, though.

    2. Wendy Darling*

      It’s “send helicopters and a SEAL team to extract the OP from this situation” Wednesday.

      1. Sara M*

        Heehee. Best comment. :)

        (OP, my heart goes out to you! Take Alison up on her offer to help.)

        1. JessaB*

          Nah, the Winter Soldier is a decent guy but she needs a woman’s rescue team send in the Dora Milaje.

          1. Totally Minnie*

            Yes! Okoye and Ayo would knock Jill on her ass and sweep the OP away to safety!

  4. AvonLady Barksdale*

    Your mom is WRONG. So wrong and so insensitive it makes my head spin. I think that stood out to me because I also had a father problem and my mom, instead of supporting me and backing me up, refused to do anything. And you definitely have a father problem (and a Jill problem). I say this to tell you that I am so, so sorry that there’s no one going to bat for you in the way you need, and to please continue to lean on your friends because they sound supportive.

    1. Kathleen_A*

      So wrong. She – the mother, I mean – probably means well because that “Those who quit a job after less than a year are DOOOOOOOOMED” belief *extremely* common – but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s wrong.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        And there is no room for “meaning well” when your child is suffering. People can tell me 1000 times that my mother “did her best”, but since her “best” included things like, “He’s your father, you have to go over there” and the recent, “Your job is making you miserable and you have no vacation time that I demand you spend with me and you’re completely burned out but YOU HAVE TO STAY,” it’s all just bs in the end.

        This is hitting very close to home for me, so I’m trying hard to focus on the OP. And basically, I just want to tell her that her mom, her dad, and Jill are all WRONG WRONG WRONG. You can be the most sullen and absent-minded person on the planet, yet you still do not deserve such treatment. You can be inexperienced, too. Still don’t deserve this.

        1. Frank Doyle*

          We don’t have a lot of information on the OP’s mom, just that she gives bad career advice. It’s very possible that the OP sugarcoats everything she tells her mom, because she doesn’t want to talk shit on her dad and Dad’s girlfriend.

          1. Kathleen_A*

            Yeah, we reeeeeeally don’t have enough information to judge the OP’s mom – but we can definitely judge her advice here, and the consensus judgment is: It’s very bad advice. You not only can quit a job after only a few months, but if it’s as awful as this one, you should quit.

        2. GreyjoyGardens*

          Oh yes, “I did my best!” That’s the cry of abusive and/or enabling parents everywhere. And it’s weaksauce and needs to be treated with contempt. When it comes to kids, “your best” isn’t necessarily good or even acceptable.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          OP, your mom is not good at teaching you when to say NO. She probably does not say NO often enough herself. Look for other people to show you how to do this. It’s not our fault if we weren’t taught this growing up, but we CAN learn it as adults.

        4. A*

          How did this get straight to blaming the mother when it is clearly the father that is the problem. Yes, the mother isn’t being perfect, but it is the father that is actively hurting his child. He doesn’t deserve to be a father.

      2. Jesca*

        Yeah, I am thinking (hoping) she just isn’t getting the whole breadth of this situation and maybe still sees her daughter as her little kid. That can be common from parents of kids just emerging from school. She is probably not “seeing it” because she thinks her father is just trying to father her a little inappropriately. I don’t know. She is wrong. I encourage OP to seek emotional support outside of her family while going through this!

        1. Jesca*

          Oh, and create healthy distant boundaries with her parents for the time being as well.

    2. smoke tree*

      Yes, this really stood out to me too. Obviously this boss is the worst, but it’s troubling that neither of the LW’s parents has her back (and her father is actively working against her). Listen to your friends, LW! It isn’t entitled to want a job where you aren’t abused every day. And I would take all of your mother’s work advice with a grain of salt if she doesn’t recognize how awful this situation is.

    3. Amber T*

      I wonder if mom is taking the advice of “never speak ill of the father of your child or his partner” to the extreme. On the one hand, it would add another layer of (non work related) conflict if mom said “wow, your boss is a nutcase,” because while true, it also starts the Mom vs. Dad’s New Girlfriend dilemma. So instead, she’s trying to remain “neutral” by offering (wrong) pure job advice that isn’t against Dad’s New Girlfriend? Idk, this is a messy situation all around… I feel for mom too because she probably doesn’t know how to advise her daughter here either.

      1. Frank Doyle*

        I said this above, but it might be that the OP isn’t giving her mom the whole sordid story, as she wants to remain neutral between her parents.

    4. Seriously?*

      This job is not going to open doors. It is toxic and seems to be getting worse. Cut your losses and get out.

    5. Indie*

      I think some people really fall for that myth that youre not supposed to talk smack about the other parent after divorce. That being a good divorced parent is to be ridiculously amicable. Even if they’re just sympathetically discussing the bad parent with an adult like the OP. I mean, sure, dont rant about your own issues to your joint progeny, or put them in the middle, but you’re allowed to say ‘That sucks and I get why you’re angry’ when other parent lets them down for weekend visitation AGAIN. Or, you know, when his new squeeze has decided to make your kid a workplace kickplate/slave. You’d have to hold my mother down if a new girlfriend in the family was doing this to me. But of course its the dad who takes the prize here.

      1. GreyjoyGardens*

        There is definitely this, and unfortunately, while it’s meant well (“don’t use your child as a pawn”) it can lead to gaslighting the child. Also, in some family systems, there is the belief that adults – especially parents, but adult family members as well as teachers and other authority figures – have to “stick together” and “present a united front.”

        1. Indie*

          I will (and have) totally stuck up for a bullied/yelled at child against another member of staff at my school. You dont have to do anything drastic, just sympathise with the upset child in the moment and say you’ll look into it, and refer the other staff member/their boss to some modern training that doesn’t rely on Victorian hierarchies.

      2. SarcasticFringehead*

        From the other side, as a child of divorced parents (with a stepmom who’s also a bit manipulative and jerkish, although not nearly to Jill’s extent), it was also really hard for me to know what was appropriate to talk to my mom about – I didn’t want to be playing my parents against each other, and I was always aware that this was her ex and she wasn’t coming at the situation the same way I was. In retrospect, I should have told her more, but it’s a tough situation to navigate.

  5. neverjaunty*

    Oh LW, this is heartbreaking. The people in your life who you quite reasonably expect to have more maturity and wisdom than you are failing you horribly. It’s not you, it’s them. And they’ve gotten you turned around so much that it’s hard for you to see a way out.

    You do not have to live this way and you can get out of this situation without your boss’ or your parents’ approval.

  6. Trout 'Waver*

    OP, none of this is normal. At all. Anyone who tells you otherwise is gaslighting you. Protect yourself.

    1. SarahKay*

      Yes! OP, really, truly, in this case it’s not you! It’s them! Jill’s behaviour is incredibly, wildly, absurdly unreasonable, and your Dad not supporting you is horribly disappointing. But absolutely none of that is your fault.

      You’ve done your best to make an awful, toxic situation work – now please just do your best to get out of there. And until you can do so, please look after yourself as best as you can, and know that none of this is your fault.

    1. Amber T*

      Now that that’s out of my system…

      I quit my first job out of school at ~6 months with nothing else lined up. It was horribly toxic and dysfunctional. At this point, I don’t really remember the answer I gave during interviews as to why I quit (something about it being dysfunctional and being concerned about the financial stability of the company – which, true-ish, something about not using my degree, which, also true-ish). Getting out of a dysfunctional work place was the best thing I did for my mental health (and physical health at the time, considering the black mold, but anyway).

      I didn’t have the family drama involved in that, which adds another layer of holyshitballsness. You will find another job. You will find something that works for you. This isn’t the end all be all. You can leave. You are not a terrible person for quitting a job less than a year in. You also don’t sound like a horrible worker for not being able to juggle all of her asinine requests.

      Also, your dad kind of sucks right now. That’s not how you let your girlfriend treat your kid. I don’t care if it’s your adult kid, it’s still your kid. So quit that job, take a step back.

      You’re going to be okay.

      1. k.k*

        I quit my first job out of school after 9 months. It was a crazy toxic workplace and I didn’t realize how bad it was until I was out. Quit without anything lined up. At the time I felt like I was making some horrible mistake that would haunt me for years.
        But guess what? Everything turned out just fine. Did some temping and part time stuff for a few months, and then found another full time job. It’s really not as big of a deal as it feels like, I promise. You can do this and you’ll be so much better off once you’re out!

        1. Samata*

          Me too! And my mom really pushed me to stay. I waited tables for a couple months and found an amazingly great job that launched a decent career path for me. Best decision I ever made.

        2. EddieSherbert*

          I WISH I quite my first job sooner. I let myself be talked into staying a year before applying elsewhere…. and then it took another 6 months before I GOT another job… and I was so miserable. I was just beyond unhappy, depressed, dreading getting out of bed in the morning, crying on the way to the office…

          Once I got into a functional office, I realized just how damn ridiculous it was to stay there a second longer than I had to. And I would have 100% been happier doing ANYTHING but that. Hindsight. As someone who stuck with a terrible job because of dumb advice, I highly recommend you don’t make the same mistake!!!

          1. Minocho*

            @EdditSherbert Me too. The best thing that happened for me in that job was when they let me go. I didn’t realize how messed up my perspective was until I got out. It helped that they were so messed up, after telling me Friday would be my last day, they begged me to stay another week when they realized how much I was handling. I was on a week to week basis as they continued job searching, until I found employment and gave them a week’s notice – I avoided any bad financial consequences that way.

            It was a crappy experience, but either way, these things are good for helping you recognize that at the end of the day, a job is just a job, and it’s okay to set healthy boundaries.

            Good luck, OP! Know that your perspective is the correct one, and that there are sane employers out there. You deserve a sane workplace, don’t give up!

          2. Bella*

            Same here!
            Because I was new to workplace I didn’t realise how dysfunctional it was and I assumed work was always going to be this hellish experience. It was only though another job I realised that sometimes going to work could be fun.
            I wish I’d left a lot sooner because it took a while to undo the damage it had done to my confidence.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Yes, OMG YES to your last point. I have not had a significant other who did not know from the start that my (adult) kids were off-limits. One tried testing that, which led to all the red flags going off in my head, me googling his court records and finding a lot more than I’d expected to, and me ending things over text two weeks after he and I had met. You do not mess with my children. Period. I don’t care that they’re in their 20s, they are my closest family and you do not mess with them.

        1. Jesca*

          Yeah … I google and run background checks on anyone I am considering introducing to my kids. Even if they were adults, I would still do it. I don’t personally feel its right to introduce anyone into my family and friend circle that could cause damage, and I am generally going to do any background check AND watching their behavior closely before introducing anyone in my life to them. I think the dad here could learn this lesson.

        2. Merci Dee*

          Significant Other: ~general whining and belly-aching about my kid~
          My Maternal Instincts: [Mama-Bear Mode engaged, prepare to rip off subject’s arm for fatal beating in 3 … 2 … 1 …. ]

        3. Detective Amy Santiago*

          So I just read the LA Times ‘Dirty John’ series over the weekend and your comment made me think of that.

          1. Bloo*

            I just thought the same thing. If only she’d googled him it would have raised a lot of questions.

      3. GreyjoyGardens*

        Yeah, your dad sucks. Putting a new partner above your children is a big no-no. I don’t know what LW’s dad’s issues are, but he’s not behaving as a loving parent should.

        Meanwhile, it’s fine to quit and get a stopgap job. Starbucks, temp agencies, Craigslist, Mechanical Turk, driving for Uber, whatever you can get to cobble together a living while looking for something more permanent. As Alison said, it’s a *repeated pattern* of quitting that is suspicious, not quitting once because you got a lemon of a job, which can happen to anyone.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I would add here that a retail or food service job might be a great move at this stage. Something with clear, set hours and clear (or clearer) goals. Something to erase this hell of an institution that you have fallen into. Structure, even for minimum wage, might be a good thing to strive for as you figure out your next move.

          1. Samata*

            Yes, my favorite part about restaurant work is that at the end of your shift you go home, leave the job behind and start a new shift the next day.

          2. mrs__peel*

            Unfortunately, many retail jobs don’t have set schedules these days. A lot of places expect people to be “on call” basically 24/7. (Like a doctor, but without the pay or respect).

            1. Snazzy Hat*

              Enough of them at least don’t stray from the schedule. Sure, during my retail days I would occasionally get a call that I didn’t need to come in, or a call on a day off asking if I could come in. But the manager wouldn’t not post a schedule and expect me to leap out of bed from a 5:00am phone call and be ready to work at 6, or cancel a doctor’s appointment with fifteen minutes notice.

            2. Avatre*

              I used to work in a grocery store and would often not get my schedule for the following week (starting Sunday) until Friday or Saturday. It would be posted in my department on the bulletin board.

              This made planning anything a pain, and I did get occasional “can you come in on your day off” calls, but it was A HUNDRED TIMES BETTER than only finding out my hours via text message the night before I had to work them—which is how I’m reading OP’s situation. Also, I could specify what hours I was available and knew that I would *probably* be working closing shift or whatever.

              Even a small increase in schedule predictability sounds like an improvement for OP at this point.

          3. Chatterby*

            If she’s been an admin, she can sign up for a temping agency, or I’d say looking into reception jobs at places like hotels, hospitals, or schools.

            1. SarcasticFringehead*

              I think OP’s feeling beaten down because of how terrible Jill is, but it sounds like she has a lot of skills a temp agency would be really happy to see (especially the ability to, um, adapt to new situations, is a nice euphemistic way of putting it)

        2. Observer*

          It’s not just that he’s putting his partner over his kid, although that’s bad enough. It’s that he’s enabling utterly ridiculous behavior, actively joining in the abuse and gaslighting the OP.

        3. Annie Moose*

          It’s also extremely normal for new grads to have a period of shorter stays and stopgap jobs when they’re fresh out of school! Nobody is going to look at OP’s job history and go, “oh no, she had a 9-month job and then worked at Starbucks for awhile, we can’t possibly hire her”. If you had ten years of 9-month jobs? That’d be a red flag. If you have ONE 9-month job, your first job out of grad school??? Extremely normal.

      4. Aspergirl*

        I quit my first job out of undergrad without a real backup (I lined up a part-time thing and then added two more on top after quitting, ah ye early Millennial goose juggling) after 5 months because I couldn’t survive emotionally in the place. It wasn’t even like this, I just had nothing to do most of the time and my boss was excessively bitter and unhappy. The day she told me that maybe I could have her job in 10 years was my “get out” day. But it was just like … mundane bad.

        I now have a career. I’ve been steadily employed ever since. I’ve left a few jobs after only a year and I’ve stayed in others for over 5. I feel very good about where I am right now. Sharing my story because every time I did leave it was an intolerable person and my intolerable people all pale in comparison to yours.

      5. Genny*

        I was fired 8 months into my first job out of college. I was absolutely devastated, partially because it took me about seven months to get that job. Six weeks later, I had a new job closer to my field of study that offered real career growth. LW, you can absolutely recover from several months of job hunting and a short stint at a job.

  7. BananaRama*

    The only word blaring like a klaxon through my head is, “RUN!”

    OP, you are totally not at fault for the amount of dysfunction being thrown at you. As Allison suggested, new job ASAP; eventually you’ll look back and realize how insane what you are putting up with is. Also, if you can, on your own – no couples stuff, therapy to help you talk out these issues with a person who is actually committed to your betterment and will be very helpful to keep you centered around what is and isn’t normal. (p.s. what Jill is doing is very very not normal.)

  8. MuseumChick*

    So many giant cyber hugs to you OP.

    Most not profits have board of directors, if you have a good relationship with any of the board members it might be worth bring her insane behavior to their attention. But please GET OUT. Find a bunch a part-time jobs at Starbuck, the Gap, McDonald, whatever it is you have to do because this House of Evil Bees is going to be more stressful than working multiple part-time crappy jobs.

    1. Work Wardrobe*

      I agree. OP, please leave now and find PT work to sustain you until the next career position comes around. And/or sign up with placement firms to help with your search while you enjoy a mindless PT job or two.

      You will feel SO MUCH BETTER instantly which will help re-set your heath and wellbeing and prep you for a better future. All the hugs.

    2. lyonite*

      I was going to say the same thing, particularly about the any-job-is-better thing. One short tenure and a job or two outside of your field aren’t going to do you much, if any, long-term career harm, and certainly not as much as the psychological damage you’re going to incur if you stay in this crazypants disco for much longer.

    3. k.k*

      Gig based jobs (Uber, Task Rabbit, Wag, etc) can also help fill in the financial gap while you search for a new full time job. The flexible schedules fit nicely around other part time work, interviews and such.

      1. Jadelyn*

        Also try Doordash, Eat24, those kinds of things. Just to help keep you afloat while you’re looking for other work.

    4. Tmonster*

      I second going to the board, whom you mention being on good terms with. Let them know you are going to quit, and explain why in as much dispassionate detail as possible, focusing on specific inappropriate requests (babysitting, therapy, etc.) and documentable patterns (email threads, text chains) as much as possible. They should know what she’s doing, as they have a fiduciary responsibility to the organization that she seems to be putting at risk. They might even (if they’re reasonable) offer to write you a letter of recommendation based on their own observations of your work.

      It will likely come down hard on your father. That is okay. He is a big boy, he made his bed, and he has completely thrown you under the bus this woman is driving. Hopefully he will end up out of the relationship and will someday apologize and the two of you can toast to being free of her.

      1. Amber T*

        Yes, to Tmonster’s last point – OP, YOU ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT HAPPENS BETWEEN YOUR FATHER AND JILL. If she treats him poorly (which is sounds like she does) and he decides to dump her, that’s not on you. If she dumps him “because of you,” that’s STILL not on you. She is making a lot of choices, he’s making a lot of choices, but they’re both adults. PLEASE DO NOT LET ANYTHING BETWEEN THE TWO OF THEM INFLUENCE YOUR DECISION OF WHAT’S BEST FOR YOU.

        1. Hills to Die on*

          A resounding yes from someone who lived in a very dysfunctional family and separates herself.

        2. Frank Doyle*

          Agreed! This is like when a comic book villain is like “rescue your girlfriend or this train full of citizens!” It doesn’t make it YOUR FAULT that your girlfriend (or a train full of citizens) dies, it’s the villain’s fault.

      2. MuseumChick*

        I think the Boss crazy is so far gone the OP’s father kind of fades into the background in this letter but I just what to say WHAT THE HELL DAD??? The fact that he is letting someone treat his daughter this way and contributing to the problem is INSANE.

      3. Observer*

        I’m going to say that whatever happens between Dad and Jill has nothing to do with the OP. I don’t just mean that it’s not her fault. I mean that it will make absolutely ZERO difference, no matter WHAT the OP does. Because Jill is a sack full of mean crazy and people like that do what they do for their own reasons.

    5. Mustache Cat*

      Yes–OP you mention that board members have gone out of their way to compliment your work before. Speaking as someone in nonprofits, this doesn’t happen as much as it should, which tells me that either you’re stunningly competent or the board members are unusually kind. Either way, you should reach out to them, express some professionally worded concerns about your boss and ask for help with the situation. You can probably even ask them for help with a job search, frankly. I strongly suspect that the board members must have some reservations about your boss that they don’t have enough information yet to act on.

      1. MuseumChick*

        What’s great here is just stating the facts calmly will be enough for any halfway reasonable person to know that boss if off her rocker. All the OP really has to say is “(Boss) has asked me to attend a couples/family therapy appointment with her and my father, who she is dating, to discuss work related matters. I feel extremely uncomfortable about this. When I expressed that (Boss) stated she would make it a requirement for my job. I’m not sure what to do here.” Then as the conversation goes along she can talking about all the unreasonable demands being places on her.

        1. Jesca*

          Yeah, and maybe I would broach in the sense that you wanted to let them know you are actively looking and are hoping to get some recommendations at a later time due to the unreasonable behavior your boss is showing.

      2. Hapless Bureaucrat*

        I think it depends on what OP knows of the Board. If Jill is the founder of ther organization and got to pick the Board, they might be sympathetic to OP but disinclined to do much. Some Boards seem to have brought into the idea that big Personalities get more leeway in their behavior.
        In which case OP going to the Board could backfire– sadly I’ve seen that happen more than once.

        1. Specialk9*

          Yeah but what’s the worst that happens? She loses this job that she already needs to leave, and works at Starbucks? Great. Going to the board might result in a new job with a board member, and/or get her a reference from someone other than Prada Boss.

        2. Apari*

          Yeah, I wouldn’t bother trying to fix the boss situation – I think it’s unfixable and will just cause extra drama for you when you are WAY over quota already – and would focus on trying to fix the ‘I need a new job’ situation. If you approach the board, do it to ask for a reference and if they know anyone with an opening.

    6. blackcat*

      If you at all enjoy caring for the child, register as a babysitter on and the like. You now have experience!

      Do whatever you need to do to get out NOW.

  9. Snarkus Aurelius*

    I’ve been meaning to write a Friday post on all the dysfunctional, unrealistic work environments in television and movies. I was going to come up with a top ten list of most unprofessional, inappropriate workplaces in television and movies. The Mindy Project, specifically Mindy’s and Morgan Tookers’ relationship, was going to be at the top of my list because all the nonsense would never happen in reality.

    Then I read this letter.

    Never mind, OP, never mind

    1. Yes indeed*

      Oh there have been so many terrible ones. At the top of the list are probably like Cheers and House. I never saw The Mindy Project though, but it’s hard to imagine anything topping those two.

      1. A*

        Ally McBeal comes to mind. I’m not even sure why I watched the few episodes that I did; vaguely fascinated horror I suppose.

  10. LemonLime*

    Literally the only thing in my mind as I read this was “Get out, get out, get out!” If there’s any possible way you can quit immediately do it, this job is messing with your health both physically and mentally, and the longer you stay the bigger the impact will be. If it pushes you to a complete burnout/breakdown it will be so much harder to job search and get on a healthier track.

    1. Judy*

      This. Also, if you stay too long it will affect your attitude toward work and your idea of what’s normal, which I think is something Alison has talked about before.

    2. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

      Also, I would not let yourself be fired by this looney tune, I think that would rankle with me for a long time.

  11. fposte*

    OP, others are going to deal with the horribleness of the situation. I’m going to say that if you applied to 275 jobs without getting an interview, read Alison’s resume columns and rewrite your resume, because I bet it’s not helping you the way it should, and right now you need all of the help it can give you.

    Good luck–you need to get out.

      1. Cruciatus*

        I wouldn’t tell either of my parents about applying to anything else or updating my resume. None of it. GET OUT OP!

        1. Hills to Die on*

          I think that’s important. Don’t discuss it with any of them. Just pick up the phone and do it without any hestiation. You have so much support just right here. It will all be okay, I promise.

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*


            And also, if your dad tries to interfere, just keep repeating “I am not discussing my professional life with you.” And if he wants to spend time with you, it can be without Jill.

      2. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

        +1 to all this.

        Also, think about getting in touch with people from your student internship to line up non-Jill references.

      3. serenity*

        In this instance I’d advise OP not to listen to advice from the parents on anything, not just resumes.

      4. General Ginger*

        Yeah, if your mom is giving you such useless advice already, OP, do not involve her or your dad in any of your worksearch stuff.

    1. paul*

      This is major point; read up on resume’s and revise them.

      Frankly, in the meantime, I’d be inclined to work the grill at McDonald’s again rather than stay with Jill.

      1. Hills to Die on*

        Yes! I’ve done it and it was nowhere near as bad as this sounds. Just…anything. You will never regret quitting right this second.

        1. Alldogsarepuppies*

          Same. I quit my first job with less time and less toxic bosses and was able to find a new (great!) within 2 months. Paid me more and better benfits right away.

      2. Nonnon*

        Yep. At the very least, a fast food joint will have some semblance of scheduling and your dad isn’t likely to be dating the manager there. (If he is also dating the manager there, then at least you’d be primo material for the Jeremy Kyle show?)

        1. Breda*

          Jesus, yes. Your schedule won’t be the same from week to week, but you will definitely know what it is the week before, and you will know exactly what your tasks are. (Or, as proposed below, a temp agency!)

        2. Iris Eyes*

          Yes! Because of the bizarre and ever changing schedule it may make it near to impossible to interview for another job while still trying to work with Jill. (This may be part of her strategy, who knows)

    2. Ray Gillette*

      Based on the rest of this, I’d wager dollars to donuts that her parents “helped” with her resume.

      1. Sara without an H*

        Eeek! You’re probably right. OP, DO NOT, DO NOT, DO NOT take any job advice from any of these people.

      2. Hosta*

        Yes, I think this, too. I think Dad helped, and given that Dad and Jill were dating while LW was job searching and Jill is a controlling, invasive monster, I bet she ‘helped’.

    3. Eye of Sauron*

      Agree with this!

      Also going to throw out one more suggestion… get thee to a temp agency to get you out of this situation in the short term. They will probably help you with your resume to get you into placements. You can concentrate on finding a new forever (ok, more permanent position) while you are temping. It’s a win win… exposure, experience, a less crazy workplace, and getting you some independence from your questionable family members.

      1. Washi*

        Another place to look is AmeriCorps positions if you’re at all interested in nonprofits. While they don’t pay much, they’re aimed at new grads without much work experience and I feel really confident that with a half decent resume you wouldn’t have to apply to more than 200 to get accepted. I did an AC role for two terms and am happy to answer questions in the comments!

        1. Eye of Sauron*

          This is a great suggestion. They do a lot of relocated placements too (IIRC), this may be the ticket for the OP to get some space from her family and get some independence.

        2. Flinty*

          Can confirm this. When I was right out of school I applied to like 50 jobs and 3 AmeriCorps positions and got offers from all three AmeriCorps places. I actually ended up turning down a final interview for a “real” job to do the AC one because it was such a good fit for my career! With a grad degree under your belt, you would be even more attractive to AC employers.

        3. August*

          Seconding AmeriCorps positions! There are quite a few (especially the ones based in colleges) that offer housing and meal plans along with the living stipend, I would absolutely recommend looking into them!

          (Also, Washi, I’m currently serving as a VISTA and working on finding a job after my term ends. Any advice? If this is too off-topic, I’d love to discuss it in Friday’s thread!)

          1. Washi*

            You should post on the Friday thread! More details about what you do and are looking for would make the advice more helpful, plus I know there are a bunch of other AmeriCorps alums who read regularly. I’ll keep an eye out for your post :)

      2. RB*

        Yes, this might be a situation where a temp position (or a series of such) is the perfect solution.

    4. WellRed*

      That flagged for me too. Is your resume ok? Are you applying for appropriate jobs?

    5. Marcy Marketer*

      I don’t know, as a new grad with no experience it can be pretty rough out there. You’re competing for entry level jobs with hundreds of applicants. I applied to I think 500, got 11 interviews and 2 offers over the course of five months. I finally got a job in August after graduating in May (but I started applying in March/April). Not saying that Alison’s advice won’t help, but just that it’s tough out there!

      1. AnonymousInfinity*

        To make it a little bit more difficult, LW isn’t just a new college grad, s/he just finished GRAD SCHOOL. I have friends who went from undergrad straight to grad school and then tried to find non-academic work afterward – they were underqualified for half of the jobs due to lack of job experience and overqualified for the other half of the jobs due to the graduate degree (e.g., very few hiring managers are going to consider looking at a Master’s-level applicant for an administrative assistant opening).

        My gut tells me LW needs to be tailoring every cover letter and resume to every job s/he is applying for, and explaining why s/he wants that specific position at that specific company.

      2. fposte*

        It’s rough out there, but it’s likely if she’s getting literally no interviews, her resume could be better than it is.

    6. Midge*

      Also lean HARD on your school’s career center network of employers. (Maybe their advice would also be helpful as well, maybe not. Career centers are known for giving advice like your mom’s about job hunting, so take it with a grain of salt.) They probably have alumni they can put you in touch with who work in the area and field you want to be in. They may even have their own job board with postings that are targeted at new grads.

    7. DrPeteLoomis*

      Thank you for saying this! I was coming here to basically say the same thing. OP, if you are using the same job search strategy now that you used back then, you need to re-evaluate right now and change tactics. Please, please read through the archives here, especially the “resumes” and “cover letters” tags.

      I also want to say that I totally feel for you and I really hope you get out of this situation soon.

  12. A Person*

    My heart breaks for you that you had to ask if any of this is normal.

    May I suggest you try a temp agency if you need income until you find a permanent placement? They may even be able to find you one.

    1. SoSo*

      Absolutely. Everything in this letter is Not Okay. Remove yourself from that job, revamp your resume, and apply apply apply! Get in with a temp or staffing agency in your area and see if they can place you somewhere for the time being- I would be seriously surprised if they couldn’t find you SOMETHING; they usually have open spots all the time that need filled. Even if it means taking part time retail/food service/customer service roles, you can use your extra time to continue job hunting and maybe even take on some volunteer work to help network and find your in for a full time job someplace that isn’t completely off the walls inappropriate.

      1. essEss*

        If you are halfway competent, employers are usually amazed at getting a temp that can do the job and gets your foot in the door for permanent positions. I worked for a temp agency when I had to emergency quit a job (toxic, but nothing like yours) and each place I temped at wanted to find a way to hire me permanently because they kept getting temps that couldn’t even file in alphabetical order. The third place I temped succeeded in creating a position and hired me.

        1. Long Time Reader, First Time Poster*

          Agree — every company I ever temped for offered me a permanent job!

        2. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

          I started my career as a temp when I couldn’t get a job after graduating from college – they sent me to the same place a couple of times to file, and on the second assignment they mentioned a permanent entry level position that had opened up and encouraged me to apply for it. By the time I left that company 8 years later I was senior to the person who supervised my temp assignment! Temping can be a great foot in the door.

        3. The Original K.*

          Yeah, I’ve temped before and would get comments like “How’d you do that so fast?” “Oh, it’s a mail merge, it doesn’t take long.” “The last temp took a week.” ” …?” I temped at one place for a few weeks doing data entry for extra money in between my summer job, which had an end date, and going back to school, and I actually had people tell me I was making them look bad. They wanted to hire me but I was a student returning to school.

          And OP, that will do so much for your confidence – even if the temp positions are “just” temp and don’t lead to anything permanent, it will feel so good to hear “thank you for your help!” vs. the bile Jill spews at you all hours of the day and night.

          1. Snazzy Hat*

            This is an actual conversation I had at my first office temp job (my third time temping, first time working in an office). For context, I was speaking to “Ann”, whose boss’ boss was the department director.
            Ann: Great job, Snazzy! You’re the best!
            me: Thanks! Tell your friends! And your supervisors! Haha!
            Ann: Oh, I already told them!
            me: Wait what?

            Also, don’t worry about temp jobs making you appear flighty. Hiring managers know temping is just an employment style, and good hiring managers and HR folks will either be impressed at your ability to learn things regardless of industry, or be glad to hear you’re more than ready to settle down into something permanent.

    2. AnonEMoose*

      Yes – a temp agency could be a great option. I’ve gotten two jobs (including my current one) that way. Temping can be a great way to learn about different office cultures, meet a lot of people, and get exposure to different companies.

      Probably not much in the way of benefits to be had…but it is a way to keep income coming in, and gain/increase some skills. And even if some assignments are crappy, at least then it has an end date!

      At this point, OP, if there’s a Costco near you and there’s no physical reason you couldn’t handle the work…consider applying there. I hear great things about how they treat their employees.

    3. Indie*

      Temp agencies rock and it’s a good way to ‘date’ a company before marrying them. The last thing you need is toxic workplace #2.

    4. Future Homesteader*

      Plus a million to this! If you happen to be near Boston, my name is linked to the temp agency I used. They were wonderful, and I ended up getting offered several (and taking one very good) permanent job through them!

    5. LilySparrow*

      Temping can be a great resource if you’re just starting out or in transition. They are very strict with the employer about about hours and working conditions, you always have someone you can ask for advice, and you can totally opt out of personality drama.
      If you have basic — really basic — admin skills, you can get work quickly.
      A lot of larger companies use temp-to-perm roles for hiring, because they allow management to really see how you fit in the job. Some of my best permanent jobs came from temp placements.

  13. Caramel & Cheddar*

    Somehow the couples counselling turned out to be not the worst part of this letter? Like it’s bad, but it seems like the cherry on top of a wildly dysfunctional sundae rather than the sundae itself.

    1. Hera Syndulla*

      I know, right?

      If I were a cartoon figure, my mouth would be hitting my desk, halfway through reading this. ööööö

    2. Amber Rose*

      Imagine trying to fit all the not-good stuff here into the title. The title would basically be the length of the letter. =P
      Alison gets brownie points for even coming up with a title, I wouldn’t know where to start.

    3. Observer*

      Yeah, but it’s the one detail that gives you a hint of the craziness about to be unleashed. “My boss wants me to babysit her grandchild, unpaid” doesn’t quite have the same ring. This title does kind of warn you that you’re about to read about some wildly boundary crossing behavior.

    4. CoveredInBees*

      Seriously! I saw the title and thought, “There must be some way that is makes sense…” No. None of this makes sense! It made less and less sense as the letter went on. There are just mounds and mounds of inappropriate going on here. Take it from someone whose 6th grade teacher busted up her parents’ (already rough) marriage while she was in 6th grade in a tiny, gossipy middle school.

      Allison’s suggestion of emotional disconnection is a great one, albeit one that is tough especially earlier in your career. I think you’d be a great candidate for online/ video chat therapy to develop a toolbox for dealing with this situation and not letting it scar you. OP, your boss does not represent the rest of the working world and remember that, due to her incompetence, she probably needs you at least as much as you need your salary.

  14. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

    OP, I don’t know if you’re a regular here or not, but I want you to understand how incredibly rare it is for Alison to advise you to take any other job you can possibly get.

    Forget the possibility of going from the frying pan to the fire — right now you’re somewhere near the surface of the sun, and a frying pan will feel nice and cool by comparison. Get out, and get out now, because this is only going to get worse, and it’s going to take your sanity with it.

    1. Secretary*

      I second this. I read Alison say to quit with nothing lined up if you can afford to and I did a dramatic gasp. I’m not sure she’s ever advised that before.

      1. Jackie Paper*

        I spent at least two years once trying to get out of a toxic job situation and was getting nowhere. It was nowhere as bad as this, but I was still grinding my teeth in my sleep and was diagnosed with dangerously high blood pressure at the age of 29. Finally I decided I couldn’t do it anymore and put in my notice.

        Six weeks later I had a job that paid significantly better than my previous one, with an awesomely nice and reasonable boss, walking distance to my house. Not to say it would necessary work out that way for the OP, but hopefully it would. Sometimes not working frees you up from the stress so you can devote all of your time to the job search. I wish I had left years earlier …

        OP, you don’t deserve this kind of treatment, and my advice would be get out asap. (Also maybe only see your dad alone without the boss from now on, or not at all for awhile if that’s what it takes)

        1. Lindsay Geeee*

          I had a similar situation! Horrible boss, similar tactics to Jill in this letter for a year and trying desperately to find something after graduating with a masters. I took the plunge and put in my notice- within a few weeks I had 3 job offers- one which was in my field and basically my dream job. Not saying that will necessarily happen but I genuinely believe good karma comes to you once you get the courage to stand up for yourself and get the F outta there.

          1. AnonymousInfinity*

            Yeah. This is big advice.

            If it helps, OP: I left my last job with nothing lined up for the sake of my health (mental, emotional, physical). I couldn’t truly afford it (but I also didn’t manage my money the way I should have after I left). I landed at my current company within two months, and, although it took 3 years, I now make more money than ever before, have far better benefits, have incredibly supportive bosses, and have built a dream career from the crater that was my life in 2015. About four times a week, as I drive to work, I think about all the work-choices I made and how easily I could not have ended up where I am, and it scares me how close I came to not having This. Leaving my last job with nothing lined up was the best thing I ever did for myself, in that moment and in the long-term.

      2. Jules the 3rd*

        She has, about three times that I remember.

        In 10 years.

        Yeah, OP, congrats, it’s *that* bad.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        It’s also rare for Alison to offer to do a free resume review. OP, please, please let Alison take a look. She can make a difference in YOUR LIFE! Life does not have to be this hard. It just doesn’t.

    2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Also, to combat that “what if I’m just an entitled millennial” brainweasel, think of the number of people on this post, the vast majority of us well into our professional lives, who are breaking out in screaming hives at the mere thought of your work environment. It’s so not just you. Based on this description, I wouldn’t trust Jill with a houseplant, let alone an assistant.

      1. k.k*

        Most post have a bunch of comments disagreeing or playing devil’s advocate, but not here. OP – your job is so bad that you got and internet comments section to agree on something.

        1. Goya de la Mancha*

          “your job is so bad that you got and internet comments section to agree on something.”

          Jill has managed to produce a unified and peaceful comment section, does that mean we have to give her an award now? :-/

            1. Tardigrade*

              Wait, I read that wrong. I see you’re talking about OP’s boss and not OP herself.

              1. Creag an Tuire*

                I’m fine with OP’s boss getting “promoted to customer” (or donor, rather), too. :P

          1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

            No, it means she’s now qualified to handle the Middle East conflict and we should send her there with immediate effect!

    3. smoke tree*

      Yeah, one thing to consider is that apart from eroding your health and well-being, spending time in this job is exposing you to really toxic workplace norms, and so the sooner you can move from that to a sane workplace, the easier it will be to move on.

      1. Galatea*

        This this this, OP!!!

        Shedding the weird habits from a bad workplace can be astonishingly difficult — GTFO-ing for your mental and physical health is definitely priority one right now, but please believe me when I say getting out of this unbelievably bad environment sooner rather than later will help you in your professional life down the road.

    4. Beth*

      That line stood out to me too. It’s unlike Alison (in a way I totally agree with, given the situation!!) This work environment is destroying your sense of normal, killing your health, and destroying your confidence and sense of self-worth. Get as far away from it as you can, as soon as you can.

    1. Half-Caf Latte*

      And now that I have regained the ability to form words:

      what kind of therapist would agree to this?!!?!!!

      1. Hills to Die on*

        It wouldn’t surprise me if Jill has that therapist in her manipulative grip as well. People like Jill surround themselves with other people who they can control and who believe their lies. There is a reason why Jill wants OP at therapy so badly, and it’s not because the therapist is calling Jill out on her behavior.

        1. Old Admin*

          I agree.
          I have unfortunately met therapists who were manipulated by other family members and fed the sickness instead of addressing it.
          A later acquaintance boasted to me who many female therapists he’d gotten laid with! 0_o

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            WTH. W T H. Laid by the therapist? OH HELL NO. Just him *trying* do that would send any decent therapist running in the opposite direction.

            1. Old Admin*

              Oh yes. He was very good at seducing them.
              One reacted professionally after seduction and terminated therapy, others were not so preofessional.
              This is just an example that therapists are frail human beings who can also stumble, be manipulated etc.

      2. Clorinda*

        It’s entirely possible that the therapist HASN’T agreed, and it will be sprung on him/her under some version of “this adult child is part of our couple issues” rather than the shambles it is. On the other hand, I wouldn’t take the chance on the therapist being the voice of sanity. Don’t go there. Do all the other things everyone is recommending. You may need therapy when the dust settles, OP, but go by yourself!

        1. DivineMissL*

          Agreed. When I left my husband, he suddenly decided to go into therapy to “work on himself”. He told me that the therapist wanted me to come in to speak to him to get some background information, and I went in in order to help him. When I got there, it turned out that my ex had told the therapist that he wanted me to come in for “couples” therapy, but the therapist had told my ex that he had a long way to go to work on himself first, before there could be any chance of talking to me about reconciling. Ex had told the therapist that I wanted to come in to talk to him, which was his way of getting me there for the “couples” therapy without actually telling me or the therapist that that was what he had in mind. It did not work, and there was no reconciliation. Jill may be trying to manipulate the therapist as well.

          1. Ama*

            I worked for a family therapist years ago and she was *more* likely to agree or even request that other family members come in when she suspected that the original patient was giving her a very selectively edited version of what was actually going on. If she thought it wouldn’t put the additional member at risk she’d quite often have them come in and talk to her separately so she could get their thoughts without the other party interrupting or intimidating them.

  15. Not Maeby But Surely*

    Yikes. You have my sympathy, LW. I think ANY job paying at least minimum wage has got to be better than this. Move up the ladder at a fast food place; with admin skills you could probably be a supervisor in a couple months, manager within a year or two, and then you’ve got a nice solid job history to help you move back into your preferred field. Get out as soon as you can.

  16. Sled dog mama*

    Two things
    1) RUN as far and fast as you can. Once you are out go see your own therapist because this woman will still be dating your father.

    2) Alison if you want us to stop believing in WTF Wednesdays you’ve got to stop posting these on Wednesdays

    1. Angela Ziegler*

      I didn’t realize WTF Wednesdays were a thing here, but now that you’ve mentioned it, it makes sense!

      1. MuseumChick*

        Alison has asked that we stop using “WTF Wednesdays” as it can come off mean spirited to the letter writer.

      2. Hills to Die on*

        haha –Alison doesn’t like htem because she doesn’t want the posters to think they are the ones being called crazy. But I think we’ve all been pretty clear on where this crazy blame lies….

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s really not a thing! I have made a pointed effort to ensure outrageous letters are not always posted on Wednesdays, but occasionally they will be because it’s one of the days! This is like the “40% of sick days are taken on Mondays and Fridays” thing.

        1. I Like Pie*

          Because by Wednesday we’re all likely ready for something to help propel us towards the weekend. Letters like this, the outrageousness of it all, can keep me going for the next two days easy.

          “Man the boss is a real *@#^@ today!… at least they don’t want me to go to therapy” kinda feeling.

          I feel so awful for OP. I would’ve lost my cool and snapped by now. Either directly at Jill or document and report to anyone higher up that I could. Unless your not an Exec Assist. for her at the actual non-profit. If it’s just her personal Executive Assistant, oh man. I’d burn that bridge and tell my dad to call me when he makes it across, too. Good luck OP. You deserve better.

      1. Green*

        I came here to say that I actually had no idea what day it was this week until I read this letter and realized it must be Wednesday. I KNOW YOU WANT WTF WEDNESDAYS TO DIE, but then you taunt us with … couples counseling with dad as a work requirement? I feel like you’re just messing with us now. :)

  17. Kat*

    “It’s a pattern of short-term stays that’s a problem, not one of them. And if interviewers ask why you left this job, you can say, “My boss started dating my father, and it became too awkward to stay there.” Believe me, everyone will understand that. You will receive sympathy gasps.”

    100% this! Take care of yourself LW! We are rooting for you and your wellbeing.

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Yep. I think “My boss and my dad started dating” is an ironclad reason to leave a job. You don’t even need to get into the “and then things went absolutely friggin bananas” part.

      (On the other hand, it is almost certainly helpful to gloss over the part where they were dating before you were hired.)

      1. LouiseM*

        Yeah, this is…actually a total lie. She got the job *because* her boss was dating her father. It was a personal favor. I wouldn’t address this at all on a job interview.

        1. lyonite*

          I think “my boss and my dad were dating, and it was a total disaster” would fit the bill of being both true, and a totally understandable reason to leave a job, however she got it in the first place.

        2. Detective Amy Santiago*

          I would think the best way to phrase it would be “my dad is dating my boss”. That doesn’t get into any timelines or make it obvious that she obtained the job because of this connection and it’s also not an outright falsehood.

          1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

            Agreed. This is terrible and you get sympathy from folks you tell about it, but the key is to present yourself as calm, professional, and clearly separate from the dysfunction. Absolutely do not prevaricate or mislead folks — that would place you right in the middle of the chaos rather than setting yourself apart from it.

            You could say something like: “My father is dating my boss. I knew that when I was hired, but I didn’t realize how many problems that would cause. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished there, like XYZ, but it’s not somewhere that I can stay long-term.”

            1. Midge*

              I like this a lot. It represents the situation accurately and allows you to talk about your accomplishments. I don’t love the phrasing where it sounds like they started dating after you got the job, because that’s just not true. (And the perception that you’re misrepresenting what happened is probably worse than admitting that you made a judgement call that went way sideways.)

            2. AnonMurphy*

              AKA “I promise it’s not MY good sense/judgment that’s in question here”

        3. k.k*

          It could be reworded to “My boss and my father are in a relationship and it became too awkward to stay.” Most interviewers will think that’s totally reasonable and not dig in to clarify when they started dating or other details.

        4. Colette*

          Generally, I’m in favour of telling the truth, but in this case, “my boss started dating my dad” will explain why she left as well as why she can’t get a reference from her boss. If she wants to phrase it as “I left because my boss was dating my dad” without mentioning when that started, that would be more honest, but either way, she should explain leaving that way.

        5. Observer*

          It’s not a total lie. And while I wouldn’t get into the timeline with another boss, the person to blame here is Dad, who should never have brought his kid into the picture. As soon as I read that he offered to get her the job I started thinking “NOOOOOOOO, Don’t DO that! This will NOT end well.” Which turns out to have been an understatement.

          But, from the point of view of an interview “My Dad was dating my boss and it got really uncomfortable” is true.

          If an interviewer digs and figures out the time line, all the OP needs to do is to acknowledge that it was a rookie mistake and that she should never have taken the job. Now, she’s looking for a hob where she can do good work and stay away from drama.

        6. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Oh gosh, you are right. I worded it badly and didn’t mean it to be misleading. But the gist is the same — a very brief explanation. Victoria Nonprofit’s wording is excellent.

      2. SoCalHR*

        I don’t think a lie/lie by omission is necessary. Saying something like “I started working for my dad’s girlfriend and, as you can imagine, it ended up not being the best situation.” As Alison notes, most interviewers will totally think “oh yeah that’s not a great situation” and since she’s young and it was her first job I think there will be grace for that ‘mistake’.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Yes! Other people may have to make noises about seeking different challenges, but OP, no one is going to find “My boss and my dad started dating” an inexplicable reason to look for work with people categorically uninterested in dating your father.

    3. Creag an Tuire*

      Although as LouiseM points out, that wording is a little misleading, since it implies the relationship began after OP started working there (which would be extremely inappropriate), when the reality is that her dad convinced her to work for his girlfriend. (A nuance I think AAM might have missed?)

      OP, I think you’ll still be fine if you just say “Cruella McAwfulBoss is actually dating my father, who’s also heavily involved in the business — I’m grateful to them for giving me to opportunity to gain some professional experience, but I think it’s best for me to separate my career and my home life.”

    4. StrikingFalcon*

      I don’t know that it’s even necessary to get into that much. “The work hours were never established even a day ahead of time and I need something with more predictability” alone is a good reason to leave. There’s so much else here it’s mind boggling, but seriously this piece alone would be a reason to get out.

  18. ContentWrangler*

    Holy guacamole. This entire situation is so bonkers. And it is clearly not good for you at all, OP. The fact that you are wondering if this is happening because you’re a bad worker or a millennial (which I just bet is the result of some of Jill’s insults) means that you are losing perspective on what’s normal in an adult working relationship. You are absolutely not the problem. Run run run away from this job. And also, even if eventually your father comes to his senses and ends his relationship with this horrid woman, he is going to need to do some serious work to regain your trust.

    1. Fish Microwaver*

      Yep, you are starting to circle the drain when you begin to believe that you could be the problem. Get out any way you can.

  19. bunniferous*

    Is this a family systems therapist? It might be grossly inappropriate for a work relationship but in a sense this is family dysfunctionality as well as work hell-is it possible the therapist would be willing to tell THEM what horrid people they are being?

    But yeah, don’t go, let her fire you, get workman’s comp, because this is NOPE to the highest power.

    1. Whitley*

      I’m a family therapist intern and my eyes just kept getting wider reading through this letter. Family therapists are generally encouraged to get as many members of the family in the therapy room as possible since systems thinking needs us to assess how any issue is impacting each person and conversely, how any person impacts the issue. However, it seems to me that this is clearly an attempt by them to triangulate you into their couple relationship, like maybe she’s threatening to leave him because she’s so stressed out aka her assistant isn’t great? I would be hopeful that a good therapist would see this and call this out, but even so I completely understand why LW wouldn’t want to go to that session! There’s just no telling what you would be walking into at this point. LW, your dad and his girlfriend have NO idea what proper boundaries are/look like. It is not only perfectly acceptable for you to set a boundary by quitting this job ASAP and maybe taking a communication break from them after, it’s something you need to do for your own mental health. I tell my clients all the time, “Don’t set yourself on fire to keep others warm.” Their relationship is not your responsibility to fix. Good luck and hang in there!

      1. Jesca*

        “Don’t set yourself on fire to keep others warm.”

        Beautiful. Love it. Stealing it as a personal mantra!

      2. Gadget Hackwrench*

        Oh good, I’m not the only one who thought this was triangulation. I got pretty far down this page before I saw anyone else use the word. It really is.

    2. EB*

      I’m definitely mostly on team “do not step foot in that therapist’s office” but the thought had occurred to me that it might not be the WORST thing assuming the therapist is a true professional and will gently call out how ridiculous the entire situation is.

      On the flip side, I have a friend that “shops around” for therapists that reinforce her worldview and will keep her on a specific set of meds. Because most therapists are pretty great from my experience, they typically tend to eventually figure out what’s going on but yeah… I’d run away from “this is the fifth family therapist we’ve found but s/he is great!”

    3. mrs__peel*

      “let her fire you”

      I wouldn’t assume that the girlfriend-boss would fire her. She’ll probably want to keep her around as long as possible because she gets a kick out of being abusive.

    4. Tardigrade*

      I am hoping for a delicious update to this letter that includes a big helping of the therapist telling boss and dad what jacked up people they are.

    5. A*

      Hmmmmm… LW could both satisfy [our] curiosity AND avoid the session by asking for the therapist’s contact and then calling to ask about the planned session and then let them know why they won’t be going

      [no don’t really do that LW it’s best to disengage entirely ]

  20. bumbletea*

    This is like a horror movie. Run, OP! I hope you find a better place and are able to move on from this. Definitely don’t go to the couple’s therapist from hell, but it could help to find your own therapist (later on, if you can’t now) to work through what this had done to your mental health. This is a hard situation to be in.

  21. strawberries and raspberries*


    Seriously, I’m hyperventilating right there with you. I’ve done PA work for similar delusional charlatans and been treated the same way, and it’s so absolutely demoralizing. I am sure you will be able to find another job with no issue, and I’m so sorry that your father seems like he’s so twisted in Jill’s snare that he permits this treatment of you.

  22. Jill_P*

    I think this is the work version of a House of Evil Bees? Please get out however you can, OP. This is bonkers.

    1. SeluciaV*

      YES. THIS. The OP’s life has been invaded by a swarm – nay, a veritable HORDe – of Evil Bees!

      It is not in your head OP. There is nothing wrong with you and everything wrong with this situation you find yourself in. Trust your instincts, let Allison help you with your resume (what an awesome opportunity!), and get the hell out of there.

      I feel like this is another letter that would have made for an awesome AAM/CA collaboration. Work issues! Family issues! Boundary crossing left and right! HORDE OF EVIL BEES!

    2. MuseumChick*

      YES! This is text book House of Evil Bees. I would say its also the work version of Leave the Hoard.

  23. Drew*

    My dearest OP, everything Alison has said is true.

    You are not the problem. Jill is horrid. Your father is wrong to put this situation on your shoulders. Your mom is wrong to tell you not to leave. This entire situation is (to borrow a Captain Awkward-ism) full of evil bees.

    Concrete steps to take:

    1) Stop telling your mother about this situation except in the vaguest of terms. She is giving you bad advice and urging you to stay somewhere that is bad for your health.

    2) Flatly refuse to attend any sort of counseling with Jill. She is your boss, not a family member, and it is extremely inappropriate of her even to suggest it. And I wouldn’t go to counseling with your dad, either, until you’re out from under Jill and the counseling can be about your relationship with him without involving your job at all. (You needn’t do this, either, unless you want to.)

    3) Get a new job. ANY new job. This is not a time when you need to consider your career; this is a time when you need to consider your health and, frankly, safety. This is an emergency situation and you don’t have the luxury of waiting for the exact right job to come along. Get clear of Jill and her horrible, toxic ways and then you can be more choosy.

    4) Keep telling yourself that you didn’t do anything wrong here. This is a terrible job working for an abusive boss and you have gone well above and beyond what anyone could ask. You aren’t being disloyal for leaving. Take care of yourself.

    Hoping to hear a positive update very soon!

    1. Lindsay Geeee*

      I would add to this- quit immediately. Don’t resign or give notice, because it will likely escalate once she knows you’re leaving and will make things much much worse before you leave. Just get out of there. Also, as someone whose father married the evil step mother from hell, make it very clear to him what your relationship will look like (hopefully without Jill) and stick to that.

      1. Indie*

        Oh good call. Any notice period would get even more toxic. Quit by text and never set foot again.

        1. Iris Eyes*

          And if it is your personal cell number she has know that there is a strong likelihood that you will need to block her number, and possibly also your Dad’s. You will need to probably set strong boundaries with your Dad which should at minimum be absolutely no Jill, none, no messages from her, no comments about her, nothing and also no job talk. Know that as long as they are together anything you say (like where you are applying) is likely to make it back to Jill who could attempt to sabotage your attempts.

  24. Rachel01*

    Quit. Than look at temporary and job placement agencies in your area. You can get an income working through a few of them. I’ve gone that a few times if moving into a new area. You may be able to find something temp to perm. This job will suck the life out of your so that you will not have the energy to job search. It will also distort your reality and turn you into someone else.

    Self care is mandatory in this case. Just quit (tell them they are both crazy — if you want to), wait tables, do something to have an income while finding another permanent position elsewhere. If you can, take 2 – 3 days to mentally decompress before job searching.

    1. Beancounter in Texas*

      Yes – this. If you can afford to, take some time off to mentally & emotionally refresh yourself.

      I worked for a small business with very similar behavior from the owner. Fortunately, I had the means to quit on the spot, but it took me a couple of days to come down from the stressed-to-the-hilt panic to which I had become accustomed. Eventually I joined a temporary agency and found a great regular job that way. Good luck.

      And send us an update!

  25. Cheesesticks and Pretzels*

    OP, this sounds like it may be your first job out of school. THIS IS NOT NORMAL! Real jobs and professional workplaces do not operate like this.
    Listen to your friends and leave.

  26. Leave it to Beaver*

    Quit. Seriously, take a retail job to hold things over and quit. An irregular, unscheduled, toxic job is not a way to make ends meet. And quit x2 if the job has nothing to do with the career you want to pursue (which it sounds might be the case, which means there’s even less of a reason to stay… you can find other unrelated career jobs that won’t be massively dysfunctional).

    1. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend*

      Yes to taking a retail job while you continue to job search! I worked in a grocery store after I left my first job out of college (which was dysfunctional AF, but nothing like this next-level-banana-pants-toxic situation), and my only regret was not quitting that first job sooner. The grocery store turned out to be pretty fun. Those were the best coworkers I ever had. OP, please know that your workplace isn’t normal, you are not trapped, and this isn’t forever. Good luck!

    1. babblemouth*

      This sentence made me sad: “I feel like maybe I’m just being a millenial and don’t have what it takes to be successful.”
      So many awful thinkpieces on entitled millenials have been written that it now feels like we’re gaslighting half a generation to not see red flags when they are there.

      Jill is like a cartoon evil stepmother. Listen to your friends. If you don’t quit immediately, start saving money like crazy to build a cushion so you can quit ASAP.
      I’d also like to add that no therapist worth their salt would think forcing you into therapy is a useful idea. Either the therapist will nope out of this as much as you, or they are not any good.

      1. many bells down*

        Seriously! You’re not being an “entitled millennial” for wanting your job to have regular hours and clearly defined tasks. You’re not entitled for not wanting to be screamed at, verbally or in emails, and especially not over tasks you’ve already done. Those are all perfectly normal things to want from your job.

      2. Angela Ziegler*

        That got to me too! A lot of that anti-millennial mentality comes from older generations who have had stable jobs for 10-20 years and own homes. It was really heartbreaking to see OP believing those lies and blaming herself!

        1. Dust Bunny*

          Yeah, this. (I’m Gen X so I’m neither, for the record.) I don’t want to hear about entitled millennials from Boomers who had affordable-er college, pensions, etc. I’m generally over the generational wars but when my parents used to carp cluelessly about how they had insurance through the university and a nice stipend . . . just zip it. That’s not how grad school works any more, or my siblings would have taken advantage of all those things.

          1. SpaceNovice*

            Yup, my dad was able to pay for his college with summer internships. Which were a dime a dozen for him because the need for programmers/software engineers were exploding at the time. (Both my parents understand how affordability works in this day and age for a variety of things, though.)

          2. Elizabeth West*

            Gen X here too, and that makes me so mad. Even our generation is having problems because of this stupid attitude. I watched this situation change over time–those of us who didn’t get ahead from the get-go are in the same exact place as millennials, only we’re on the sunset side of that and it will probably never get better for us. :(

            1. JessaB*

              And us boomers who didn’t get the 20 years and gold watch are finding that every year we survive we get farther away from a Social Security cheque. A not very great one either, but we have to work longer and longer to get even what our “greatest generation” parents got. It is highly possible that by the time I cross the current requirement it will have moved up to 70 if the government has their way. And I was a white collar worker, I pity the blue collar who has to haul hay or drive trucks or work an assembly line.

              It ain’t easy and it isn’t the fault of the young people at all. They got it worse than we did. And probably given the way the world is going their kids will get it worse than them. Especially in the very very non labour friendly USA.

              It makes me sick that people are trying to convince the OP that she’s some kind of entitled person because of when she got born. It’s stupid and it’s wrong.