should I write a letter telling my old boss what a jerk she is?

A reader writes:

I was laid off from my position of 30 years 12 months ago. The woman who laid me off was fairly new to the company and a complete narcissist and elitist who thought only about herself and and made life pretty miserable for most of the staff. I was a very loyal and respected employee who just had a great review two months before the layoff (from my direct supervisor, not her). I truly believe she didn’t care for me for some reason and decided to “eliminate my position” when we were already understaffed.

At first, I was devastated. This was a job where I spent more than half my life, had many friends, and considered some of my coworkers family. After a few months, I realized that I was much happier away from there (and her) and now have another job that I love with a amazingly supportive supervisor.

I would love to write to her and thank her for letting me go. I would love to let her know just what I think of her and how she took an office of hardworking, dedicated employees and ruined it (almost half of her staff have quit in the last year — staff, like myself, who had been there many years). I have nothing to lose with this woman and letting her know just how much she is despised by me and others would be cathartic for me. What do you think? Do I write the letter or let it go?

Let it go.

By continuing to think about this to the point of seriously considering contacting her, you’re continuing to stay enmeshed in the situation. You’re allowing it to take up space in your mind and allowing your anger and hurt to live in your soul.

It does hurt to give your all to a job and be treated the way you were! But ultimately, regardless of how long you spent there and how much you liked your coworkers, this was still work — you were trading your labor for money. They let you go, and you landed in a situation where you’re much happier. By all means, consider her a jerk, a bad manager, a bad person — but don’t keep dwelling on it the way wanting to write a letter indicates you are. You won — you got away from her and are happy, while she is stuck with herself for life.

I think you’re feeling the desire to mete out some justice to her, and I understand that impulse. But you’re not the judge and juror here; justice isn’t yours to dispense, and you can do damage to yourself by trying (for example, someone you respect hearing about the letter and wondering why you haven’t moved on or what you thought you’d achieve … but even if it’s only the damage of not letting yourself fully move on, that’s not insignificant).

Personally, I believe the world will deliver its own justice anyway — not necessarily “she gets fired” or “she falls in a sewage drain,” but someone who’s truly a horrible person will be affected by that as she goes through life. (For example, do you really think someone who’s as awful as you described her can sustain long-term, warm, healthy, fulfilling relationships in her life?)

Besides, even if you dismiss all of that, the reality is that your letter is highly unlikely to make her see the error of her ways. The most likely outcome is that she’ll read it, roll her eyes, decide you’re a hothead, and maybe badmouth you in the future. It’s more likely to produce scorn than to force her to confront the errors of her ways.

Let this stay in the past where it belongs, and keep yourself in the present.

{ 221 comments… read them below }

  1. LilyP*

    Write the letter, but then ritually burn it (with proper safety mechanisms, obvs) instead of sending it ;)

    1. Lord Ye old*

      You could also make a post on Glassdoor to warn future applicants, but do note that sometimes people can guess your identity from contextual clues.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        +100. If you can get away with this and are comfortable with it, do future applicants this service. I’m not really a fan of the pressure that our culture puts on people in less powerful positions get to “be the bigger person” and just shut up and forget about it when more powerful people do them harm; I like seeing accountability and public reckoning to the extent that it’s possible.

      1. Amber T*

        I did this. I received a letter that I didn’t particularly want, wrote a scathing response… and put both in my (metal) sink, poured a bit of rubbing alcohol on it (all I had on hand) and lit a match. So incredibly cathartic. That letter, and everything I wanted to say in response, had been bothering me for a long time. Getting out everything I wanted to say, then getting rid of it, was honestly the best thing I could have done. Highly recommend it.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I like this idea. It lets OP get the feelings out without the risks of actually sending a letter, like a mini Waiting to Exhale moment.

      OP, if you’ve watched Brown Sugar, there’s a scene where Taye Diggs’ character finds his wife out on a date with another man. As he approaches her, he offers to buy the bar a round to celebrate his divorce (and sings it out). It sounds like you’re so much happier, now. You won—she lost. Celebrate, and don’t let her take up any more of your mental space. And congratulations on your new gig!

    3. lyonite*

      Eh, I’m going to disagree. Every moment you put into thinking about her takes you further from getting her out of your head and moving on, which is where the real happiness is. Better to put that effort into enjoying your current life, and evict her from your mental real estate.

      1. Observer*

        I essentially agree with you. But sometimes people have a hard time letting go. For that kind of situation, something like this can work out because it give the person a way to put and end with some action.

        1. Ermintrude*

          Holy heck, do I know those feels, from experiences with people whom I deeply trusted. OP, you might need to just ride it out. Pick a person or two whonis eminently suitable for a venting session so you can fume to a sympathetic ear, maybe write and burn that letter, and know that Allison is right and your ex-manager sucks hard but you and your new colleagues are having the last laugh.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          One thing I have found that helps me with letting go SOMETIMES, is to figure out how I will recognize this situation sooner if I see it again and extract myself sooner.
          This won’t make sense for every situation, but when the tapes keep replaying in my head, this is one of the things I try.

          OP, it’s not wrong to get angry. Certainly your anger is justified here. The tricky part is what to do with that anger.

          Anger is a bunch of excess energy for some folks. I worked with an angry cohort who actually ran FIVE miles every day to burn off steam before going home from work. (That’s a bunch of anger!)

          If running/jogging doesn’t strike you as a good idea there are many other ideas to consider. Write the angry letter and burn it. Do it in Word, not email, right? Going in a different direction is there something about this new job that you could put energy into? Do you need special certifications or some course work?

          Thirty years of your life is a big chunk of time. I’d like to point out that when we leave a company we take ourselves with us. They DO notice you are gone. Things are NOT the same there. You, OTH, have learned so much over the years and defined yourself as an employee. You get to KEEP that part. Your years were NOT wasted, AT ALL!

          Sometimes letting go is really hard, like you show here. Fifteen minute walks each night can be a supportive activity if done on a semi-regular basis. Making lists of things you are grateful for is also a good activity. This person will eventually harvest what they sow. I always say, some of the people in the nursing home never get visitors for Real Reasons. It may take a life time for this to play out, don’t spend YOUR life waiting to see her comeuppance. Know that it is in the pipeline, it will probably happen and just keep going with your own life.

          Congrats on your new place.

          1. buffty*

            “I’d like to point out that when we leave a company we take ourselves with us[…]Your years were NOT wasted, AT ALL!”

            This is such good framing, I love this! It really applies to any relationship that has ended, whether it’s a friend, partner, family member, or workplace that you are no longer involved with. Much better than dwelling on a sunk cost fallacy. I am keeping this in my mental pocket.

          2. JSPA*

            It’s a corollary to, “no one ever steps in the same river twice.” Workplaces change slowly or quickly, but inexorably, they do change. You can’t hold them static forever, for better or worse. (If you could, they’d become museums, not workplaces; the meaning of the same procedures and interactions changes, as the context around them changes.)

            You had 30 mostly good years, as a rock affecting and directing the flow of one stream. Then you were first jostled, then dislodged. You’re in a different (welcoming) place, in a different (comfortable) position, affecting a different (currently much more enjoyable) riffle. The stream that was, is past.

            The rogue boulder, whether it fell by accident or was unleashed to force change, isn’t going to roll in reverse. Entropy, and all that. It’s a kindness to warn people that past warm and fuzzy glassdoor reviews are no longer relevant, but beyond that, your boss may (sadly) be doing exactly what she was hired to do. Castigate her, and it’s a feather in her cap, if she was brought in to do as much downsizing as possible, with as little unemployment due as possible, as part of someone’s corporate raider mentality.

            If the people who hired her were not looking, euphemistically, for a “shake-up,” they already have been given notice of the problem by the resignations. If it’s what they wanted, your displeasure isn’t going to sway them. Especially if you can say that you’ve come out of it smelling like a rose.

        3. SarahTheEntwife*

          I agree. I think there can also be a factor where a lot of people, especially women, are socialized not to show anger, especially directed at other people. So anger can instead kind of fester guiltily, and giving yourself permission to just Be Mad for an hour can really help let go of it.

      2. T3k*

        For some, writing and burning is a way of letting go so you can heal. I find when I’m really upset over something (whether its grievances, anger, anxiety, etc.) writing down everything with no intention of sending it (burn it, delete the word doc) helps me let it go and forget about it so I can move on, otherwise my mind has a way of recalling it over and over until I get it out in writing.

      3. Avasarala*

        I agree, but sometimes it’s helpful to have an exorcism, so to speak. Kind of like exercising to get out anxious energy, or punching a pillow, or screaming your frustrations in a death metal voice at karaoke. Let it all out and focus that energy on living well.

      4. Mookie*

        Sometimes the act of practicing and refining the contours of an act of mild vengeance or rebuke (in the form of a letter, conversation, whatever) is enough. Once you get the words out there, the performance—get the spelling done, lose yourself in the editing and proof-reading, start to subconsciously memorize the script and beats and emotional twists and turns, rhetorical flourishes, logical deathblows—a lot of the emotion and the reason gnawing away at you has been released, directed outward. You’ve tested the substance and moral weight of your own grievance. You stage or simulate the argument to win it. Now you have some distance from it, you can apply clarity to it; is this worth it? Am I trying to do myself good or trying to best an enemy? What do I gain from the latter? Am I giving them the attention and energy they no longer deserve? Up until now, the exercise has been entirely for your own benefit, and often times that’s what you needed and all that you want. Self care.

        It’s a common enough creative exercise. Lots of ideas for novels and art and business proposals have been born and have subsequently laid to rest within its confines. What sounds good in your head, a pleasant, even exciting, formless gauze-y thing, once given shape and subjected to the harsh light of reality, falls apart, either as objectively bad or subjectively not worth the effort of trying to salvage.

        I mean, I am my own biggest fan and the world’s most brilliant but unknown filmmaker because I don’t care to subject an unsuspecting world to the mental screenplays and films forever running in the back of my head. Alison’s right; this person is not going to care and though it may seem like a coward’s way out, I personally prefer the security of other people’s ignorance of my brilliance over the deafening silence of an unimpressed shrug. We stage these fantasies about confronting our bullies because we control them and know their outcome and genuinely do crave, no matter what we say, a reaction should we ever actually decide to put one in motion. But experience suggests doing so is rarely as satisfying as we imagine.

        1. Ermintrude*

          This is beautifully put. Perhaps you could grace the world with some of your writing, but in any case AAM commentariat can appreciate you.

          1. Mookie*

            Wow, that’s nice of you to say. AAM commentariat is home to some very good wordsmiths (the high emotional IQ here is also intimidating), so I suppose they rub off on us amateurs!

        2. tape deck*

          “We stage these fantasies about confronting our bullies because we control them and know their outcome and genuinely do crave, no matter what we say, a reaction should we ever actually decide to put one in motion. But experience suggests doing so is rarely as satisfying as we imagine.”

          Ain’t that the truth. Designing Women gave me unrealistic expectations for how often people were going to cower in shamefaced self-reflection at my pithy elucidations of all their personal failings.

      5. Sparrow*

        She’s already taken up permanent residence in OP’s brain, though. If putting all of this into tangible words will help OP evict her, so to speak, then it’s a worthwhile ritual.

        1. OrigCassandra*

          The truly bad ones, in my experience, hate it just as much when we do well as we hate the thought of them doing well. (Which is a point to think on, too. What are we doing to ourselves with this much directed anger? What kind of person does it make us, and is it a kind of person we want to be? I’m grudge-prone, so believe me, I’m calling myself out here too. “Fake it ’til you make it” sometimes works for me and kindness.)

          So here’s a small suggestion that may diminish the urge to send that letter: when something good is happening in your worklife, imagine Awful Ex-Colleague looking on with lemon-sour jealousy, wholly unable to harm you. With luck, this will diminish their stature in your backbrain and help you to move on.

          I’ve actually had the good fortune to have this happen in real life. Not gonna lie, it was satisfying.

          1. MtnLaurel*

            That has been my experience. I always say (to myself and friends in that situation), “Living well is the best revenge.” And I have seen it play out in real life, and it’s always so very satisfying to watch, even from a distance.

      6. Zennish*

        Yep. The best “revenge” is moving on to a place where this person and situation is so insignificant and in the past that you never even think of her. Right now, you’re still giving her power over your life, and is that what you really want?

      7. Quill*

        The ritual helps in some instances, in others, it helps you stew. OP probably knows their own tendencies regarding stewing or letting go best.

        (That said I did have a lovely time at a burn party once in college. A sorority that lived near me had found documents in their official book of sorority songs that they all decided were offensive (see, slut shaming) and decided to burn them. We got kicked off the beach by security. :) )

      1. Return to Sender*

        OP, I once wrote — and sent — a letter to a narcissistic person who had done me wrong in my personal life. I’d hoped it would make them Come to Jesus, apologize, and make an effort to repair our relationship. Didn’t happen. Alison and the other commenters are right, OP. People like your ex-boss will not be swayed by such a letter, no matter how much you hope and pray they will be. Write your letter. But don’t send it. Discuss it with a therapist instead.

    4. Ms. Ann Thropy*

      You beat me to that very advice! OP, there are only two possibilities: either your old boss won’t believe she’s a jerk, OR she knows it and doesn’t care. Your letter won’t change her.

    5. Alex*

      Is this a good time for me to admit that I write letters to online advice columns as a way of catharsis? (I don’t send them, I just write them, pretending it is a letter to an advice column and that I don’t know what to do). I type them out on my computer but never save them.

      Sometimes it just helps to write out the problem, how you feel about it, etc. Sometimes I gain new insight by writing the letter from someone else’s perspective.

    6. Elizabeth Proctor*

      Same. If you don’t have a fireplace, find a friend who does. Write it, burn it, and then enjoy something that relaxes you.

    7. Cookie Captain*

      And if you burn it, or write it and delete it, when the resentment comes up again remind yourself “nope, I burned this, no more dwelling. It’s gone.” Try to make the burning not just about the letter, but the whole situation.

      I don’t do anything physical, but with those upsetting things my insomnia likes to bring up, I will take some time to deliberately spend a few minutes dwelling on it and doing the worst kind of wallowing in how unfair/cruel/miserable the situation was. I’ll let myself be angry or sad or think about all the things I should have said or done differently–all the things I usually try to suppress. Then I focus on imagining all those thoughts burning up, and the ashes floating away in the wind.

      Then the important thing is that whenever my brain summons it up again, I can sternly tell myself “nope, that sadness just isn’t there anymore for you to summon when you’re anxious or can’t sleep. It blew away in the wind.”

      1. Not sayin'*

        I play a game I call “nothin’ but net.” When I have a difficult, angry, or otherwise not helpful thought, I picture myself wadding it up in a ball, as if on a sheet of paper, and tossing it into an imaginary basketball hoop and into a trash can. “Nothin’ but net.” In my mind, I tell myself that once it is through the hoop, it is out of my hands. Sometimes my imagination shows it rolling back to me (some things are harder to let go of than others) but I imagine myself picking it up and tossing it back through the hoop. Some things take more tries than others, but I just keep at it until it no longer rolls back. It has been very helpful in teaching myself to let go of things I either have no control of or negative feelings or thoughts that are not serving me.

      2. TardyTardis*

        Absolutely true. Once I fumed a bunch because a person owed me some money and was never going to pay it back Because Reasons. Then I read THE LIGHT THAT FAILED about the hero fuming over a similar minor amount. And so I paid *myself* that amount, kept in a small box, and that worked.

    8. LGC*

      I like this. The more I think about it, it’s really that LW needs to validate that Old Manager is a jerk and not that they need to let her know she’s a jerk.

    9. Abogado Avocado*

      OP: I totally agree with this idea.

      If it helps, I experienced something similar to your horrible experience earlier in my working life. I seriously weighed sending exactly the type of letter you outlined; my therapist, fortunately, convinced me to make a ritual for expelling my tormentor from my thoughts, so I did what is recommended here and is outlined further in the comments.

      Also, with my therapist’s help, I resolved to act kindly to my tormentor, who I renamed “Mr. Misguided” in my mind, whenever fate threw us together (which, being fate, it did). I moved onto what turned out to be a much better job that subsequently led to an incredible leadership position. As it happened, Mr. Misguided ended up running the organization into the ground, my former colleagues sought me out for help in getting new jobs, which I was able to help with. I was sad to see the organization’s diminishment by Mr. Misguided, but higher management eventually figured it out. And, so, some years later, the higher authorities who allowed my departure to happen apologized profusely and admitted they’d been wrong not to overrule Mr. Misguided.

      And thanks to the ritual and all that therapy, I was able to act graciously in response and say that all had turned out for the best (well, except for the organization, but that longer was my affair).

    10. Amber Rose*

      Alternatively write it and send it… to a friend. Or your own email address. Then you’ve written it and sent it, but just to someone sympathetic. I have done this for people before, where they need to let off some steam before moving on.

      Closure is something we give ourselves, LW. I feel like you think you can get closure on this abruptly ended 30 year journey by unleashing all your hurt at her and making her see the truth. But it won’t happen like that, and when it doesn’t you won’t get catharsis, you’ll just feel unsatisfied and sad. Like throwing a punch that hits nothing. You’re going to need to close the door yourself and let the clicking of the lock allow you to move on.

      1. Arabella Flynn*

        If you have a gmail address, you can address it to etc. Hit send, and it magically vanishes – into your own spam folder.

    11. Matt*

      I was thinking the exact same thing. Write it out- by hand, even- and say everything you want to say- all the pent-up thoughts, negativity, etc. And then shred it.

      It’ll be great catharsis.

    12. LunaLena*

      This was my first thought too. I’ve often found that writing things out gives me closure, so I’m not constantly going over it in my head and trying to come up with better wording that would make my case stronger.

      I’d also like to add, if you did send this letter to ExBoss, it’s just going to give her written proof that she did the right thing by firing you. People are always the heroes in their own movies, and the hero can do no wrong, so it’s really unlikely that it will give her a moment of deep self-revelation. Just like you think that you’re right and she’s an awful boss, she thinks that her decisions are the right ones. She’s just going to think “yep, just as I thought, a nutcase” and possibly talk about it with all her peers, in a “remember LW? You’ll never believe what she did now…” kind of way.

    13. iglwif*

      Was coming here to say exactly this (as were a bunch of other people, it appears). Get your mad out on paper, by all means! It might be very satisfying and cathartic. Just never ever ever share it with her, because no good can come of that.

      And also: it feels awesome to succeed at something right in the face of people who want you to fail. I have a super toxic ex-coworker way in my past, and when a memory of how she treated me wanders up to my conscious mind, I am usually able to banish it by contemplating how much more successful I’ve been at several specific things that she prided herself on being much better at than me / told me I was terrible at when I was young and naïve. I have no idea whether she knows what’s become of me since she left our mutual ex-employer 20 years ago, but *I* know!

  2. Gaia*

    I was laid off from a job I’d given everything to and the circumstances definitely felt personal. It was a year and a half ago and it still hurt sometimes. And yes, sometimes I do think it would feel great to rub in their face how their project failed exactly because I was the only one who could do what I did and they didn’t believe the work was as valuable as it was and now they’re hiring for my role again and haven’t been able to fill it for 9 months while I’m happier elsewhere.

    But of course I’ll never actually do that. Instead I maintain professional relationships because I value those more than the short lived sweet feeling of “I TOLD YOU SO”

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      My spouse was laid off the day he went back to work after one of our children was born. (It was a last-in/first-out layoff, so he was laid off over far less qualified/competent coworkers.) It has taken all my power not to write those people a thank you note because he got (a) a new job that paid more, had more advancement opportunity, and is more flexible/allowed significant teleworking; (b) a month at home with me and the new baby (paid by his severance); and (c) a signing bonus for the new job. OldJob did another round of layoffs and lost one of their largest clients shortly after he left, too.

      It definitely stung and was not the first time he got laid off (he also worked at a major telecom when it was going under, so everyone was getting laid off), but we ended up in a much better position and he’s happier.

      1. your favorite person*

        I can’t imagine how stressful that must have been for you two! I’m glad to hear everything worked out. A blessing in disguise.

    1. The Tired Energizer Bunny*

      I was bullied and harassed for 2.5 years at work and ended up hospitalized for 11 days, on short term for 6 weeks, and working with accommodations for 1.5 months.

      I wanted to take legal action. My doctor told me the same thing. And he was right. I live a great life now and have very little regrets about how it turned out

    2. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

      Exactly – don’t even give her the curtesy of your headspace.
      She is nothing to you any more OP. She’s *less* than the twerp who cut you up on your commute 20 minutes ago (p*ssed off in the moment, but are you really going to hunt him down and slash his tires?!) because she left your life *12 months* ago.
      Be your best self and be happy – because as Alison says “she’s stuck with herself for life”.

      (Or – if you prefer a more seasonal analogy – Scrooge was a miserable and lonely old man at the start of the book *not just* because of his miserly ways, but because he was a genuinely horrible man. If you want to imagine your old jerk boss changing her ways, picture her being visited by three spirits)

    3. Mookie*

      This has been my experience.

      There are many species of bullies and as individuals we are not experts in all of them, but one of the comforts of surviving and then escaping them is the knowledge that the next time you encounter one familiar to you, you’re in a better position to neutralize them and save others from their toxicity and time suckage.

    4. Emily K*

      One of my favorite mantras.

      Demonstrated so succinctly in Don Draper’s fictitious elevator exchange:

      GINSBERG: I feel sorry for you.

      DRAPER: I don’t think about you at all.

    5. Librarian of SHIELD*


      My jerkboss made me cry at least once a week for two years. But I got out. The people I work for now both trust and respect me, and I never have to see her face or hear her voice ever again if I don’t want to. She made me powerless. But now I’m the one with power over my own life.

      OP, you’re free. And never seeing or speaking to her again is your new superpower.

      1. Rainy*

        I was relentlessly bullied by a part-timer in a job that I left almost 20 years ago now. She was a miserable human being and couldn’t bear anyone around her being happy.

        I left that job, went back to university to finish my bachelor’s, went on to grad school, lived abroad for several years, have a fantastic career, etc etc. But if she hadn’t been so horrible to me, I might never have gone back to university.

        1. Marie*

          “…you’re free. And never seeing or speaking to her again is your new superpower.” These are beautiful true words and much like Allison’s answer very spiritual and freeing, and what I need to read and know today. Anything in the past that chews me up in the present hurts me and keeps me from living this day. I also need to add: never speaking to them again in my own mind. Let it all go. Don’t be unjust to myself today by rehearsing/reliving past injustices against me. Live the life before me now, and be open to all its present blessings. (Even as I’m currently on disability, and working just a bit on my own, reading this column helps me so much with all aspects/living/working/being/being of service. Thank you, Allison, and all commentators!)

    6. Mel_05*

      Yup. When I was very young I worked in a toxic office where a coworker would undo my work and then tattle on me for not having it done.

      Management was awful, other coworkers were awful.

      My next job was a delight and the next one was even better. I didn’t have to tell them how awful they were, being happy, and them seeing I was happy, was plenty rewarding

  3. Corporate Cynic*

    Great advice, and I needed to read it too. I had a verbally abusive boss who I stopped working with OVER 6 YEARS ago and still feel the impulse to tell her off, so I completely understand. Don’t give her the satisfaction of your energy and time (and, I promise I won’t either!)

  4. (Waving not drowning (formerly Drowning not waving*

    Any suggestions on how to let it go? I’m not the OO, but, I’ve escaped from a similar work situation. I still work for the same organisation, just not their department any more, so still occasionally interact with her. I have friends still working in that team.

    I still feel anger 6 months later. Not as strongly as when I (voluntarily) left, but it’s still there. I know I need to let it go, but, really don’t know how.

    1. Observer*

      Well, time helps. It’s also a bit harder when you have to see that person. But overall, the best thing you can do is keep yourself busy. And when it comes up acknowledge the feeling, and the fact that your are RIGHT. But then remind yourself that you don’t want to give her any more power and go do something else.

      1. (Waving not drowning (formerly Drowning not waving*

        Thanks, I’m trying. After I left, even seeing her name on screen was anxiety inducing, and I don’t now, so, I’ve realised I’ve come further than I thought.

      2. Thankful for AAM*

        It took me a year to feel I had let go of about 95% of it.
        So what helped me:
        1. Time – as the others said, more time than I hoped.
        2. AAM’s advice to observe the person/situation like it is a play. I kept rereading the posts where she says that (and thinking, “no way, how do ppl do that?”) when suddenly I realized I was doing that. I’m an outside observer watching the drama unfold. I wish I could explain the magic that led me to be able to see it that way.
        3. A supportive cohort, work and friends, around me who understood. Not a gossip group in a Mean Girls “lets get them back” way but in a “I’ve been throught it, I get it” way.
        4. Focusing on my work, my reputation, the department mission. Others see that and it is gratifying.

        I wish everyone going through this the best, it is hard!!!

        1. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

          These are all excellent recommendations.

          Six months is almost nothing depending on how toxic the situation was, especially when you have to still interact with the person. It has taken a couple of years for me to get to the point where I could interact healthily with a former toxic boss. You will get there.

    2. ProudDuck*

      Time is the key. Keep working on yourself, and your self esteem. I escaped from a very damaging work situation, it’s awful and stays for a long time, use what you’ve learnt from it to be a better person and grow.
      Be kind to yourself! X

    3. Avasarala*

      One thing I’m learning to understand is the phases of experience. There are things I did gleefully, then realized they were wrong, and now feel shame about; I have learned from the experience and taken what I can from the feelings of shame, but beyond that there’s not much to be gained from wallowing in it, or feeling suspicious every time I feel gleeful in case I’m wrong again. Same with times I feel sad or hopeless or in pain–it’s helpful for me to remember that I will feel differently about this tomorrow, next week, a year, ten years from now.

      It took me a very long time to let go of much of the anger I felt about Old Job (it’s been 2 years, with therapy!) and the other day I still found myself rooted to the spot in a flashback, reliving the fear and shame and frustration and anger. But most days I don’t feel angry, and can speak about the experience neutrally. This is not progress, it is change. I felt so excited when I took that job, and so miserable when I was in it, and so angry right after I left, and so happy now that I have built successes and skills in my new job. You will feel differently than you do now.

      Figure out what you want to learn from the experience (if anything), and think about what your feelings of anger (and others) are telling you. This is information that can help you going forward. Don’t worry about trying to change or dictate your feelings about a bad situation. Just be patient with yourself, and remember that we will feel differently about this than we do now.

    4. Asenath*

      I echo those who say time is important – maybe, more time than you think. The symbolic action of writing – and then destroying! – a letter can be helpful; I’ve also used the technique. As the memories began to fade, I found it easier to simply tell myself that I’d dealt with that and turn my mind to something else – and to do the same thing with any fantasies in which the person who hurt me discovered the error of their ways! And I gained enough insight to realize that old hurts sometimes came back because I was neglecting other parts of my life – I was tired or stressed, and needed to deal with that. Eventually the old hurt became just a faded memory, and even that only when something (like this discussion) brought it back. The worst thing you can do is let the person and the harm they did you live rent-free in your head, as I was told. That hurts you and does nothing to the person who hurt you. Ignore their existence and live well, that’s the best revenge.

    5. T2*

      Look at it this way. If you were not being paid, you would not be working.

      So you aren’t a part of that team anymore, so even one thought about them is you working for free.

      I never ever ever work for free.

    6. J.B.*

      I was in a position like yours for a while. I decided that I needed to do a good job FOR ME and to be proud of my own efforts. On occasion there were still confrontations (because of this person’s role in the organization) and if the confrontations crossed my line I could and would go to big boss. That helped me take back my own power and helped reframe my thoughts around small the other person was.

      That noted, the solution was workable for a while but there was underlying dysfunction. I eventually left the organization and am happier for it.

    7. Mockingdragon*

      You’re not alone either…i left a toxic job almost two years ago and I still get middle of the night angries about it. I’m so much happier now but I was treated badly and it was unfair:(

    8. Yra*

      Two things that are difficult for most people to understand:

      (1) Closure is a myth
      (2) Either justice is elusive or you won’t be around to see it

      Sometimes, all you have is knowing that you were in the right. Sometimes, all you can do is step back and evaluate your reactions you missed red flags out a desire to be kind or out of a desire to recoup sunk costs.

      Our society trains us to put up with a lot because we are supposed to preserver, to get along, or to be the bigger person. Often, that’s exactly the opposite of what we should be doing.

      I’m personally dealing with an obnoxious relative know who I’ve told “no contact.” They keep leaving emotionally-manipulative messages. This individual is in their late 80s and not likely to change. They’ve had a life of no one setting consequences. All I can do is set boundaries. If they don’t respect them, they get blocked out of my life.

      1. Yra*

        I highly recommend some reading on the “myth of closure.” Starting with what Captain Awkward has said about closure in romantic and sexual relationships.

      2. Dr. Pepper*

        You’re absolutely right. Closure- as it’s usually portrayed and talked about- is a myth. What many people are looking for when they seek “closure” is actually more about trying to retroactively change what happened and make the pain go away by magically vanishing the painful thing. “I didn’t like what happened/what you did/the answer I got/whatever, so I want you to take it all back and say what I want to hear.” Which is a ridiculous thing to expect and not going to happen.

    9. elsa was right*

      It’s been nearly 5 years for me, and my new job puts me into contact with my old boss and coworkers on a semi-regular basis. It’s taken me a long time (and some actual therapy) to get to a good mental place about it. It helps that the new job appreciates me a lot more, and has given me a lot more room to grow. But I was angry for a long time, and I can’t lie, there’s still a clutch in my stomach every time I see my old boss’s name pop up in my email. It may never go away.
      It’s not the sexiest answer in the world, but time is the only proven solution. A good therapist helps a lot as well. And if you have a good relationship with your new boss, keep reminding yourself that *this* is the way it’s supposed to be, that you’ve won just by being here and experiencing a functional workplace.

    10. Zennish*

      FWIW, I find it helps me to realize it’s not about me, it’s just who they are, which is probably pretty horrible for them too. I mean, think about a person who goes through life like this… abusive, angry, vindictive, suspicious of everyone, etc. They’ll never totally trust anyone, never really enjoy life, and probably spend every day being mad at the world, convinced it is out to get them, while never understanding that they are the source of their own misery. These sorts of people punish themselves enough just by being who they are.

      I find thinking of it in those terms helps me let things go, once I accept that it isn’t personal, but merely a screwed up person being screwed up.

    11. Frankie*

      I’ve had some kind of messed up workplace experiences that were hard to let go of at the time.

      At the same time, I saw some others I respected having their own career issues, and how obvious it was when they wouldn’t let things go. It didn’t exactly damage what I thought of them professionally, but from the outside I saw how it can look like you’re still fighting the battle even though it’s over. So without judging them (and myself for similar times I’ve done the same thing) over the last several years, I’ve been trying really hard not to display a chip on my shoulder if I’ve got one. The truth is, people are perceptive and will pick up on it to a certain extent, and I don’t want to be seen as someone who gets locked in the personal, even when it’s really justified.

      So when I feel that start to happen, I try to focus on the work itself and make everything about that, and tasks, and accomplishments, to the extent I can (and I’ve been able to do it even when the work itself is locked up in whatever drama is going on. you can kind of compartmentalize, in a healthy way, to just get through the situation). And that itself helps me detach, although it’s never complete.

      I’ve also found the more introspective types of yoga extremely helpful for moving anger out of the body when it’s been locked in there for a while.

      1. Frankie*

        Just thought to add–I also tend to hold onto things because I’m waiting for some answer or accountability about why it happened. But often I need to come to realize that there may not be an answer, or if there is one, it’s one you’re never going to hear. So as Captain Awkward says, closure is the gift you give yourself. I still really struggle with that so wanted to add it in case it’s relevant. Is there an answer you’re waiting for before accepting what’s at hand and getting on with your life?

    12. Dr. Pepper*

      How to let it go? Stop trying. Pushing that anger away will only make it come back stronger because it’s there for a reason and until you listen to its message, it will be there. Anger (and other difficult feelings) gets a really bad rap in our society but we feel things for a reason. Our feelings are there to help us if we let them. Think of anger like a body guard. It’s there to protect us and let us know that we’ve been hurt.

      This is why people swear when they stub their toes or accidentally hit their fingers with a hammer. You feel pain but also anger, right? And that anger passes very quickly. You’re not sitting there wondering how to let go of the anger you felt when you stubbed your toe last week. It’s long gone and that anger is easy to let go because physical injuries are easy to figure out and healing is straightforward. You also feel anger when you’ve been hurt emotionally or mentally. These aren’t so easy to figure out, and coupled with the fact that we (bizarrely) think that non-physical injuries aren’t as important and should be easy to get over, that anger stays. You’ve been hurt, and unlike the stubbed toe, that hurt is more difficult to understand and heal.

      Just understanding that can be helpful. Acknowledge that you were hurt. The anger is there for good reason. Allow yourself to feel it. Think about what exactly it was that hurt. Maybe it was the whole situation, maybe just part of it. For example, maybe you would have been okay with being let go if it had been done in a different way or the person laying you off had treated you differently during the process. Find that pain and acknowledge it. Not doing so is like leaving a splinter in your finger. Yes, it sucks to dig it out, but you feel so much better after and the healing can begin. Emotional injury is no different.

      Note: feeling your anger is not the same as acting on it. Acting out of anger means you’re throwing it like a grenade, which is not helpful and is essentially the same as denying it. You’re refusing to hear the message. “No! I’m fine! I haven’t been hurt! I’m fine!!” You’re not fine. You’ve been hurt and you need to allow yourself to heal. Feeling your feelings is more like meditation than any outward action.

      1. Anon for This*

        I agree with this. We have emotions like anger or sorrow for a reason. In the past I had a tendency to ignore when I would go into denial about painful or challenging experiences and things would linger in my mind for a very long time. Sometimes my reactions would manifest in really dysfunctional or self destructive ways. What I’ve found helpful is allowing myself (in a safe place) to feel those emotions, really allow myself to live in the discomfort. Then find things that bring me joy (a good movie, fun songs, self care) and fully focus on those activities. I found over time (shorter than I expected) that I needed to feel the painful emotions less and less until they were more passing thoughts than painful memories. It isn’t the same thing as OPs experience but it really helped me to move forward when I miscarried earlier this year.

        1. Avasarala*

          Yes. There’s no value in thinking, “I should be over this” or “I shouldn’t feel angry about this anymore.” You do, and it’s a natural reaction to something terrible. Give yourself space to feel those feelings. You will feel differently in the future.

    13. lemon*

      I recently had to leave a job due to a bully boss (I left “voluntarily,” but only because said boss created an unsafe working environment). Reading The Bully at Work has been helpful, mostly as a sanity-check. It’s been helpful to have a name for what I experienced (workplace bullying), to understand a bit about how/why bullies operate, and how I can better prepare myself to deal with bullies in the future. It also gives some advice on how to pick a therapist who can help with workplace issues, if you decide to go that route. It’s been helping me let go, bit by bit. Might be worth checking out (along with other books), if “why did this happen to me? / what’s wrong with this person?” type questions are what’s making it difficult to let go.

    14. Other Meredith*

      Make sure that the people you understandably complained to (friends and family) stop bringing it up. You can even ask them to stop mentioning it. I had a much easier time moving on once everyone else stopped remembering how miserable I had been and reminding me of it.

    15. Just Another Manic Millie*

      I once had a job at a branch office that lasted eight weeks. Everything was great until my next to the last day there, when an executive told me in front of another admin that I was better at shorthand and typing than she was. She immediately burst into tears, shouted “I’m going home!” and ran out the door.

      Five minutes before closing time the next day, the branch manager told me that he was firing me, because the admin had told him that if he didn’t fire me, she would quit, and he decided that he would be better off keeping her (because she had been working there for years) instead of me. Since I was fired before I completed my three-month probation, I was ineligible for rehire by any of their branch offices. I was also ineligible to get COBRA. Since this happened on the last day of the month, that meant that in just a matter of hours, I wouldn’t be covered by health insurance.

      I don’t know if this counts as a toxic company (because if the executive had complimented me privately, who knows how long I would stayed there and been happy), but I was so very angry. Alison claims that firing shouldn’t happen out of the blue, that the employee should be put on a PIP. Well, I was never put on a PIP, and I got fired anyway. You know how I let it go? By getting even.

      Even though Alison claims that you should be classy and polite when you’re fired or laid off, I don’t see how that would have helped anything. She says that if you’re classy, then people will remember that you’re classy, and if you should run into them again in a future job search, they will want to hire you. I respectfully disagree, because if I had run into that admin again, she definitely would not have told her company to hire me. Even if the executive remembered me, if he said that he remembered me from the time we were both working at the XYZ branch office, TPTB would have seen that it wasn’t on my resume, and they would have called either the branch office or the headquarters of XYZ and found out that I had been fired and was ineligible for rehire by any of their branch offices.

      Fortunately, the branch manager allowed me to return on the following business day to type up a new resume. I took advantage of that in order to get even with the company. Of course, the admin found out about it (after I ran out the door), and I’m sure she told the branch manager about it, but what did I care? I had nothing to lose. I was already declared ineligible for rehire by any of their branch offices. They couldn’t do anything to me that they hadn’t already done. And it was nothing that they could call the police about. In fact, they never called me about it afterwards. I wouldn’t be surprised if the admin had asked the branch manager to call me, and he refused, because he was angry at her for “forcing” him to fire me. My getting even caused the admin and the branch offices to have to do a lot of work in a very short time, but I didn’t care. Even if the people at the branch offices got angry at me, there wasn’t anything they could do to me. I had already been fired and made ineligible for rehire.

      When I think about this company, I start out feeling angry, but the feeling goes away very quickly, and I wind up smiling. Not because I let it go, but because I got even.

      1. Avasarala*

        I think you intend this to be read a certain way…but it sounds very cruel and vindictive and unprofessional to brag about “getting even.” The branch manager allowed you leeway and you took advantage of it (“after I ran out the door” so you knew it was wrong). Just because they “couldn’t call the police” doesn’t mean what you did was not wrong. Plus, now they can say why you’re ineligible for rehire, and it’s not because of your probation period. You might have seriously screwed up your references and future career just for a moment’s sick satisfaction.

        1. Just Another Manic Millie*

          I didn’t screw up anything, because I obviously didn’t include the job in my new resume. If I sound cruel, vindictive, and unprofessional, then what about the branch manager who fired me and told me that I was ineligible for rehire, and refused to put it in the record that I had quit (meaning that I would be eligible for rehire), and gave in to the other admin instead of letting me stay there for one more month so that I could “quit” and get COBRA, and who laughed at me when he denied me COBRA and said “Don’t get sick!” And remember – I hadn’t done anything wrong! Yes, I know that I did something wrong in order to get even with them, but I hadn’t done anything wrong before that.

          When I said that they couldn’t call the police, what I meant was that I didn’t destroy or steal any of their property. That would have been stupid, because for all I know, they could have had security cameras in the office. I didn’t call the IRS or CPS or the FBI or the Secret Service or anyone else. I just got even in my own way. To this day, I have the feeling that the branch manager figured that I would do something if I had the opportunity, and that’s why he told me to come in the next business day and type up a new resume. I figure he was angry at the other admin for being so unreasonable, but not angry enough to tell her that I was staying on and she could leave if she wanted to.

          As for the company having a specific reason for my being ineligible for rehire, I don’t see what difference it makes. As I said, I was already told I was ineligible for rehire. And, as I said, I never put the company on any future resume, and I never ran into anyone again who had worked there, so I got away with it.

          You just don’t know how horrible it was to be told that once seven hours have past, you won’t be covered by health insurance through absolutely no fault of your own, and that everyone who calls that company for a reference will be told that you are ineligible for rehire at any of their branch offices, even though your only crime was being good at your job and having a very insecure co-worker. Before that executive complimented me in front of her, we got along great. Maybe she should have waited until I completed the big project involving all of the branch offices before she complained about me, but she didn’t.

          I remember reading a post here by someone who was hired by a new company and then gave two weeks notice at his present company, only to be told eventually that the new company had changed their mind and didn’t want him to work there any more. That sicked me. I couldn’t decide if that case was worse than mine, or if mine was worse than his. I finally decided that my case was worse, because (1) I was denied COBRA, while that poster didn’t say anything about not being able to receive COBRA, and (2) I was told that I was ineligible for rehire by any of their branch offices, while he, who had given two weeks notice, did not appear to have been told the same.

          I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree, because I doubt if I can convince you that my satisfaction wasn’t “sick” as you put it for getting even with that company, but it’s difficult for some people to understand that suddenly being fired from a job which you had been doing very well and hadn’t gotten any complaints, and being told that it was because someone else got jealous, and because of that, you’re not going to get COBRA, and not only are they going to tell everyone that you got fired, they’re also going to tell everyone that you are ineligible for rehire not just at that branch office but at every single one of their branch offices.

          It’s funny that you criticized me and did not say one single word of criticism about the branch manager or the other admin.

  5. don't do it*

    Alison is right that these letters are never received in the light the writer intends. I’ve worked at companies that have received them, and almost universally the response has been, “Wow, terrible lack of judgment – make sure to update their HR file to say ineligible for rehire.”

    Secondly, these letters are usually sent by what were considered by the senior team to be poor employees (not saying you, OP!), and are usually riddled with falsehoods or one-sided opinions that aren’t ‘truthful.’

    Be thankful for your new job and supportive supervisor and start enjoying your working life without this painful memory hanging over you.

    1. Exhausted Educator Was Exhausted*

      Yes–better to be remembered for a graceful exit than for a letter that conveys the unintended message that you can’t let it go.

      If verbalizing/writing helps you process things, how about a “gratitude journal” of sorts (just for your own consumption) about your new job and new lease on life?

    2. Kendra*

      This. To the person who laid the OP off, this kind of letter would just serve as proof (at least in her mind) that she was right to do so. It’s not worth it.

      Goodness knows I sympathize, though; I occasionally remember arguments I had years – decades! – ago, and finally think of the perfect comeback. But there’s no possible way for me to deliver it anymore without coming across as a crazy person, so I have to tell my brain to knock it off and let it go. When it’s really bad, I actually mutter to myself, “just walk away,” or “let it go, and walk away.” Verbalizing it seems to help knock my brain out of the anger spiral; not sure if that would work for anyone else, but it might be worth a try?

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        To the person who laid the OP off, this kind of letter would just serve as proof (at least in her mind) that she was right to do so.

        Agreed. If she had sharp judgement and strong self-awareness, would she have laid OP off in that way in the first place? There are not the words in the English language to convince someone “narcissist and elitist” that they have done anything wrong – and if the senior management aren’t unhappy that she has driven out half her staff in a short period then their minds won’t be changed by a letter either.

    3. AndersonDarling*

      Yep, if the manager is a narcissist, then sending a letter will be completely pointless. There is noting written that could open her mind and she will likely not even finish reading it.

      1. Frankie*

        And as Alison noted, might prompt her to badmouth OP. I’ve seen a lot of Ns go around destroying the reputation of anyone who they think might have their number. At best this will make her alert for openings to discredit OP.

    4. RC Rascal*

      The problem with this kind of letter is the recipient chalks it up to a “disgruntled former employee”.

    5. Polly Hedron*

      The response might be worse still: laughter.
      I worked for a narcissist who got a letter like that and read it aloud to her pals. They all thought it was hilarious.
      OP, don’t give them that satisfaction.

  6. Heidi*

    It’s probably a mistake to assume that such a letter will hurt her at all. A true narcissist will probably write it off as the bitter raving of an employee that she fired and proof that she made the right decision. The fact that it’s been an entire year also could make it seem like you’ve been overly consumed with this. It’s not a Miss Havisham in her wedding dress plotting revenge on all men level of consumed, but it’s still not a good look. You’re living a better life, don’t let her keep you from enjoying it.

    1. Lena Clare*

      Yes exactly!
      OP, write the letter then burn it. It’ll still be cathartic, but will allow you to move on without damaging your reputation at a place you worked for for so long!

    2. Cottleston Pie*

      Absolutely this. Some people just live in a different reality than the rest of us — for them, a letter from our reality reads like the their own deranged rantings do to us, and is easily ignored.

      I have had a similar toxic ExBoss. Time will help. If I were to run into her now (10+ years later), I would pretend not to remember her — for someone like that, not being recognized would be 1000 times more painful than anything else I could say or do.

      1. EPLawyer*

        As I tell my clients, your narcisstic abuser is not going to stand up in court and say “I was wrong. I was a total jerk. I’m sorry.” Your former boss will not suddenly see the error of her ways because you wrote a letter. As noted, the best revenge is living well. The worst thing you can do to a narcissist is ignore them.

        Also, consider your own approach to work. You gave a lot to this company and your co-workers were almost “like family.” This is a job. You do the work, they pay you. You can like your job. You can even be passionate about your job. But it is not family and it should not be the center of your world. Jobs come and go. You leave jobs. Jobs leave you. If you are overly invested in a job, you might not leave when it is best for you to do so. Or you are devastated if you are laid off for any reason. A little detachment makes it easier to move on.

        1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

          The worst thing you can do to a narcissist is ignore them

          This! This x1000!

          Don’t give them even a microsecond of your thoughts or feelings. They are not worth it, and you are worth so much more than the power they have over you if you let them into your head. They love knowing that they can have this power over you – so take that power away.

          (I sort of like the (grammatically incorrect, but it’s now a recognised meme -ugh!) text response of “New phone who dis?” There is so much *impact* in these four little words. When you can sucessfully get to the point of saying “I’ve moved on with my life and I have no idea who you even are any more, you are truely free)

        2. Dr. Pepper*

          “I don’t care what you think of me. I don’t think of you at all.” Always loved that Coco Chanel quote. What you give your attention to is the only thing we have true, complete, and absolute control over. In a world of things vying for that attention, remember that it is your one true power. Think about who deserves that attention and who does not.

        3. NotAnotherManager!*

          Yep. One of my parents was a narcissistic, and the fact that I cut off all contact and refused to engage regardless of what they did really burned them more than if I’d engaged at all. EPLawyer is exactly right on re the narcissist never acknowledging they are in the wrong – it is all about them and how they’ve been victimized by you.

          Don’t let them live in your head rent-free.

  7. ProudDuck*

    I survived two years of abuse from a manager similar to this person you’ve escaped from. My therapist become to write such a letter, and I did. It felt great!
    I went one step further and posted it to her.
    Not long after, I learnt she was made redundant.
    Write it, then decide how you feel after letting it all out. Posting it was the right choice for me, but see how you feel one it’s on paper.
    If you post it, don’t expect a reply, just move on.
    So please for you that you are away from the crazyness a person like that brings to a workplace.

  8. Argye*

    Thank you for this. I was laid off from my job with a horrible, horrible manager and even worse CEO some 7 years ago. I *still* have fantasies of letting them know just how much contempt I have for them. NB: The CEO was forced out and my horrible manager took his place 5 years ago. This does not impact my fantasies of letting them both and the co-worker who bullied me with impunity have it.

    I’m in a much better place now than I was then. But those fantasies persist. I won’t do it, don’t get me wrong! But the thought that they got away with it just grates.

  9. Isabelle*

    Write the letter and shred it.
    Write a glassdoor review if you haven’t already done so. Make it as fair and objective as you can while still pointing out the dysfunction.

  10. Poppy the Flower*

    I personally left a toxic workplace this year (similar in that it started out well), and… I was kinda brutally honest in the exit survey. I don’t regret that because I do think the people at the very top are honestly trying to fix things and maybe it will help. We were also expected to do 360 evaluations including on supervisors (anonymous). I purposefully left any where I had strong feelings about the person, until the very last minute so I wouldn’t be using them to vent in the moment. I feel like I was fair, but one person could possibly tell it was me. I don’t think this person would hold it against me (they were more just a bad manager in terms of stuff like feedback vs mean), but may be a bad idea with someone vindictive. I like the idea of writing the letter, then burning it.

  11. Anony Shark*

    I didn’t write a letter but had a face to face confrontation with an ex colleague who caused a tremendous amount of stress. I told her exactly what I thought of her and how glad I was to not work with her anymore. I had fantasized about that conversation and I thought it would feel cathartic to get it off my chest.

    Except it didn’t. While everything I said about her was an accurate reflection of her (crappy) character, it also made me feel bad for lashing out in an unprofessional way. I felt embarrassed for calling her out with the intention of embarrassing her. I don’t regret calling her out but it would have made me feel much better to do so with professional restraint.

    We all think it would make us feel better to speak sharply our raw honest feelings to those who deserve it but the truth is it rarely does. By all means write her an email but don’t send it to her. It will achieve nothing other than confirming to her she was right to let you go.

  12. Batgirl*

    Loyalty, caring about co-workers, being invested in a company’s mission are all great traits until they cross a certain line.

    If you write the letter you speed past that line at 100mph. All the great things people know about you turn into extremes. Loyalty and caring becomes ‘obsessed’, being invested becomes ‘has no lines between personal and professional’.

    Of course it BECOMES personal when you’re badly managed and unfairly sacked. But try to get back to the place where it was a job, a place of calculated decisions. Imagine that instead of being side swiped you had been given time to decide if this was really the best place out there. The best outcome was always going to be leaving.

    Wait for the proper time and situation to give your opinion of her professional standing. You’d be surprised how often it comes.

    1. T2*

      I agree with your first paragraph. Loyalty, caring about coworkers and a company’s mission are great traits. For the company.

      As long as the company pays me, they will get them. The minute they stop paying me, my obligations stop as well.

      I work for one reason and one reason only. Money. Pay me and I work hard and get the job done. Stop paying me and I don’t.

      Work is a financial transaction. Never give them your identity or piece of mind.

      1. Batgirl*

        I think your attitude is hard to fault and it’s much easier to stay professional when you keep it very transactional.

        And you know, even companies who lap up the loyalty and dedication initially expect you to disappear whenever they choose to end things. Someone who finds it hard to let go is always going to make management uncomfortable.

  13. Impy*

    I can relate – I wasn’t there for 30 years but it was a job I loved and was objectively good at at this manager… just hated me for some reason, and bullied me until I left. I’m now in a much better, higher paying job but I do still feel bitter occasionally. It’s worse because she held my exit interview in the break room, with people wandering in and out. I hadn’t planned to be rude or give her both barrels, but it meant I couldn’t even give her the polite feedback I’d planned on.

  14. Marmaduke*

    Write a letter, not to her, but to yourself. Write about the signs you saw that you wish you’d paid more attention to, and tell yourself how you plan to recognize them better in the future. Review the hardest parts of the experience and promise yourself that you won’t stand for that again. Figure out what aspects of your boss’s behavior were early symptoms of big problems and plan to watch for those. And then turn that page and write to yourself about your new job and your bright future.

    1. J.B.*

      That is a great idea. Another letter you could write to yourself would be what specifically is so much better now. That could be a way of thinking in detail about now positive things.

    2. MamaSarah*

      This is a great idea! OP, the focus should be on you. What did you learn? What parts of your former professional self do you want to bring with you to this new chapter? Anything from the experience you are truly grateful for?

  15. Audrey Puffins*

    Another vote for “yes, you should absolutely write the letter, but then you also absolutely MUST NOT send it to her”. It’s a technique that’s pretty widely recommended for getting closure on a toxic relationship.

  16. StellaBella*

    This is so timely. I worked for a narcissist for 3 years and it was not only toxic as an org with a narc boss, it was super bad for my physical and mental health. Just yesterday I was looking up some work accomplishments to review for my LI profile and was reflecting on this boss. The anger I had is gone and it just took time, nearly 3 years, and therapy. OP and others, if you can access counselling please do so as it can help. Being bullied and targeted by these kinds of people seems very frequent (not just reading this blog but in the city where I work, too), and as many have said, if you care or have any level of empathy, the aggression against your psyche just hurts. We as a western ish working culture seem to be trending down a path of hyper aggression, in my view. It does not bode well. So, OP and others, care for yourselves and others and be strong, but don’t give narcs and bullies any power, yours is too precious, and they suck as humans. Live your best life and reflect that these kinds of people will eventually get some karma one way or another.

  17. WannaAlp*

    If you have difficulty letting go of that impulse, just remember that actually writing such a letter would reflect back badly on you. Basically, if you contact her, you’re just giving her ammo.

  18. BRR*

    I was laid off earlier this year and I definitely understand the feeling of wanting the decision makers to get whats coming to them. But don’t do it. My own realization was that the only satisfactory outcome would be like them realizing how awful they are and the organization going under and them never getting another job again because they stink at their jobs. And there’s zero overlap between my desired outcome and realistic outcomes. Write an honest Glassdoor review and focus on some hobbies.

  19. Ginger*

    Layoffs generally have some unseen “logic” behind them meaning although it feels super person (because of course it does!) it doesn’t necessarily mean she was going after you personally. Especially if the target of your anger is not your direct supervisor. So I’m wondering if this person was brought in to clean house a bit. My point is, your anger is directed at one person but there was probably more going on. Don’t let this one person occupy valuable real estate in your mind.

    1. Daffy Duck*

      My first thought was – 30 years, I bet they let her go just because they could get a newbie for cheaper. Not that a new employee would be able to do the job as well, just for the $$. Remind yourself the decision makers will run into karma even tho you will probably never hear about it.

  20. sheworkshardforthemoney*

    Write the letter, then ritually destroy it. If she is a true Narcissist, she will either not remember who you are or use it to damage you in some way in your new job. The best revenge is living well or if you ever run into her again, greet her warmly and call her by the wrong name. Petty but for some reason the wrong name sends people like that into a frenzy.

    1. Bevo's Left Horn*

      I love that call them by the wrong name thing. I had never thought of that, but damn, that is powerful.

    2. Parenthetically*

      “greet her warmly and call her by the wrong name”

      Hahahahahahaha oh shoot, this is so great. I’m cracking up imagining it. So smooth.

  21. T2*

    Let me tell you a story. A long time ago I was in charge of IT for a company. I hired several people to assist in varios jobs. I put my heart and soul in to this because I was young. 100 hour weeks were not uncommon. And the company did well.

    One guy didn’t do his job, which was backups. I didn’t know this because I trusted him and thought he was my friend and shared my values.

    Until the day when I found out he was running a porn distribution ring on my servers. (See the phrasing there? 15 years later to was still “my” servers.) He would download porn, burn it on to DVDs and then sell them downtime during his lunch hour. So he had to go.

    A week and a half later we were picking up the pieces of his work. And our system had a cascading failure that took out our domain and email. (It was unrelated to him and involved circumstances that could not be foreseen.) The thing is our most recent backup was 4 months old.

    I worked 121 hours over 5 days getting the system up that week. I ended up only losing 1 day of email. (A major miracle given the circumstances). My reward for doing this: as soon as the system was stabilized, including backups. I was unceremoniously let go. They didn’t care what efforts I did. How many hours i worked or what i sacrificed in family time to do the job. I was the leader of the team, and the team lost a day of email.

    Never put your heart and soul into your work. They pay for your mind, or your labor or your skills. But they will not pay for your dedication and commitment or your lost family time. As soon as you are expendable in their opinion, they will cut you lose. The sooner you realize that the better.

    1. Bevo's Left Horn*

      Exactly this. That’s why i consider myself a self-employed, independent contractor no matter how any particular employment arrangement is legally defined. Everything in life is a temporary situation and business circumstances can change at any moment and literally overnight. If an employer wants loyalty, they should get a dog.

    2. Pobody’s Nerfect*

      I was *just * saying this to myself yesterday: why the hell am I busting my butt and working so incredibly hard for these people that could care less and treat me like crap? Do your job, do it well, but do it for you. Don’t get invested and don’t think anyone else is going to go to bat for you or protect you. It’s the cold hard truth of the working world.

    3. Meepmeep*

      Yup. I learned that lesson the hard way after my first layoff. Company loyalty is a waste of energy when the company feels no loyalty to you. I was only 24 when I got laid off, but some of the coworkers who also got laid off had been there for decades. All thrown out like a used Kleenex.

      That experience was the biggest factor in my decision to become self employed.

  22. Delta Delta*

    I had a similar situation happen a few years ago. I was incredibly hurt. I wanted to tell the narcissist bully and moron grandboss what I thought. Instead I spent a lot of time during my commute for my new work saying out loud what I wished I could say or write to both of them. I was alone in the car and nobody could hear me and there was never any danger my words would get out. Also – no written record.

    I decided I would take the highest of high roads approaches when people in the industry would ask about the former job/grandboss/narcissist bully. It does not go unnoticed. And since I have left I have achieved some things that any employer would love to be able to brag about in their marketing materials. I have been told it kills them that I am out there doing great things in my new work and they get no benefit from it. To them I say, such is life, suckers!

  23. NYWeasel*

    OP, I totally understand where you are coming from. I still occasionally find myself getting angry about injustices that occurred over two decades ago, and I guarantee you that I’m way better off having left those environments than I would be if I’d stayed and “prospered” (ie experienced the best those jobs/companies could have possibly offered me). I would love if the bosses and coworkers that upset me so much then could finally gain an awareness and shame for how their actions hurt others. Unfortunately, as many other commentators have pointed out, it’s very unlikely that these people will receive the message as you intend, and it may even backfire and make you feel worse about everything.

    So, my recommendation to you is first: make sure you remove them from view. If you currently see them on FB or LinkedIn, block them, and if you still keep in touch with previous co-workers, set up those accounts so that you aren’t getting their updates automatically in your feed. The less you see things that make you feel like they are still benefiting from screwing you over, the happier you will be. You can still occasionally take a look at what your coworkers are up to, but you want to limit seeing happy posts about how awesome everything is at OldJob.

    Second: When you feel that rage bubbling up inside, find the right outlet to get rid of it fast. People have suggested writing and burning letters, or you can try yoga, throwing axes, or singing Metal karaoke like Retsuko does. For me, it’s usually a feeling of anger over the extra struggles I had to go through, so I try to turn around my thinking to how strong I’ve gotten by facing those struggles.

    Finally, acknowledging what you’ve gained from the experience is also helpful. I look at how I’ve taken the painful “lessons” and used them to become a better coworker/manager/person. I often use direct examples of the crappy times when I’m coaching my team now—I find that they appreciate knowing that you don’t have to handle every horrible moment perfectly at the time it’s going on, and that you can still get to a good place later.

    1. new kid*

      “I guarantee you that I’m way better off having left those environments than I would be if I’d stayed and “prospered” (ie experienced the best those jobs/companies could have possibly offered me).”

      That’s such a powerful thing and something I think about sometimes with my past jobs. I had one job that was particularly hard to leave because it seemed to have such a ‘bright future’ potential for me, but now I look at colleagues who are still there, still in the same positions, still doing the same exact projects 5+ years later and I’m even more grateful for the decision I made and the experiences I’ve had since then (even the bad ones! At least I was still growing and learning rather than sitting stagnant.)

  24. LGC*

    Thank you, Alison, for being far more charitable than I initially was.

    I think the best way to frame it is in two parts: what are you looking to accomplish with this, and what are the costs? On the first part, it seems like you’re looking to make her feel bad about what she’s done, but…I don’t think that’s likely. To be honest, if I got a letter from one of my old employees that left a year ago telling me that I was a bad supervisor and I ruined the company, my first reaction would be…that the employee writing me was overly invested, because they’ve nursed a grudge against me for a year and are now coming back into my life to let me know this. I suspect you’d feel similarly if you were a manager and someone you laid off a year ago told you that you suck.

    I probably wouldn’t rethink my wicked ways just because of that message, and although I might feel guilty that I made someone hate me, I’d also feel like their problem is far bigger than whatever I did.

    The costs are…numerous, especially since you’re still working and might still be working for quite a few years. (It sounds like you’re in your mid to late 50s, so possibly 15 years more.) This sort of stunt tends to get around, especially on social media, and it could very easily follow you back to your current job and your real life.

    Overall, this seems like it’s extremely high risk for very low reward. And in general, I think that unless you’re a singer/songwriter, it’s generally not a good idea to torch your exes in writing. (And even then, it can be risky.)

  25. Lance*

    For the OP: you say you have nothing to lose, and that may in fact be true… but what do you have to gain from this? Tell her all about the error of her ways? Well, she’s not going to change, and if she is, the influencing factors will be people that are still around, not someone that was gone a year ago. Let her know how mad you are? Well, now you’ve put yourself back in her mind, even temporarily, and she won’t have anything good to think about it. Let her know how much she cost the business? She will, again, get that from those still around, from how the business is currently doing with her in that position; not someone she laid off a year ago.

    All in all, I’m sorry to say, it may feel good in the moment, but it would ultimately be a rather futile gesture.

  26. Jam Today*

    Don’t send a letter, but definitely write one. Exorcise the demon. There is something very cathartic in getting all those thoughts and emotions out on the page. Write it all out, then tear it into little pieces and throw it away.

  27. Adlib*

    Excellent, excellent advice from Alison here. The damage this is doing to yourself is worse than any effect a letter or other communication could have on her. I worked with someone like this for a few years and only got out this year. By forgetting about her, it’s been a weight off my mind and psyche. Like Alison said, you WON and that’s the best way of looking at this!

  28. Cochrane*

    The OP went on to find an enjoyable job after 30 years of this job without being dinged for being “old” or perceived as a one-trick pony staying there for so long? The OP won. Not just won, but beat some pretty grim odds for older people in the job market. Take that victory and don’t waste another second thinking about this.

  29. UbiCaritas*

    Not sure if this kind of comment is allowed – but you could write a few choice words on TP and then use it for its intended purpose.

  30. Greyduck*

    Little bit of devil’s advocate here, hut was the woman truly awful? I can’t imagine a scenario where someone laid off from a job of 30 years would love and admire the person responsible for the decision…

    1. Marthooh*

      “…almost half of her staff have quit in the last year — staff, like myself, who had been there many years…”, so, yeah, probably truly awful. It’s hard to tell from where we’re sitting whether the layoff was actually a matter of personal dislike, as the OP suspects, but I don’t know why you doubt that the OP knows more about this person’s character than we do.

      1. SomebodyElse*

        Depending on circumstances this isn’t unusual when there’s a regime change, even if the person is the bestest best boss of best inc.

        It can be especially true if the team leans heavily toward long tenures.

        It’s also possible that cruella de ville was the new boss and assigned the team to make a coat out of puppies on the first day.

        Whichever the case the OP is going to feel hurt and victimized by being laid off, and is not likely under the best of circumstances to wax poetically for the boss. So I don’t think it’s out of line to point out that there are likely more versions of the truth than what we are getting in the letter, even if we accept that the OP’s version is a valid one.

        1. SomebodyElse*

          LOL… and the very next letter has sort of proven my point of 2 versions of the same truth. (Not sure if it was planned, but it’s very funny that in two letters we see both sides of the coin)

          (and I am not saying that this OP is like Sally)

  31. MM55*

    I am of the opinion that the pain you are feeling needs to be processed, and this site is a great place to do so. I hope the comments help in your healing.

  32. blackcatlady*

    I think you should write a letter – the old fashioned way with pen and paper. THEN set it on fire and let it burn to ashes. While you are watching it go up in smoke try to let all you negative feelings go with it. BTW you need to realize the woman who laid you off doesn’t give a rat’s furry behind about your opinion. She’s not worth the space in your head that you are giving her.

  33. Eric*

    I understand the feeling. I worked for a hydraulics company for nearly 14 years and was let go without warning last year. After 2 days of panic, relief set in. It was probably the most miserable experience I’d ever had. I wanted to leave, but was working on a degree and figured I’d be done when that was done. My boss–who actually WAS fired shortly after–was an epic bully and hired his wife to help make people miserable (I’m sure that’s not why she was hired, but it worked out that way) would do things like pull me into a meeting in front of all of my coworkers and berate me and tell them that they had to say what they hated about me without my being allowed to defend myself. (This stemmed from using the restroom, I kid you not, when he thought we shouldn’t.)

    I blasted the company on Glassdoor and actively encouraged people to stay away. I personally root for their demised (and I’ve heard they are not doing well). I wanted to do the same thing…email or mail the folks still there that allowed this to happen, but resisted.

    I’ve been working for a much better company since then, for more money, better benefits, MUCH BETTER CULTURE, and for employers that really support me entirely. In the end, I didn’t want to stoop to their level.

  34. Caroline*

    I wrote a letter to a former boss who treated me like crap and then made me redundant – and I sent the letter. I said all the things I’d wanted to say while I was in post but didn’t because I feared they would jeopardise my redundancy payout. It was hugely cathartic – but not as cathartic as hearing that she’d been made redundant too.

    There was nothing to lose at the time as I went freelance and didn’t think I’d need a reference straightaway. As it happened, I did need one a few years later. It was fine – no mention of my crazy letter and no bridges burnt.

    I wouldn’t advise advise anyone else to do this, but I’ve never regretted it.

    For what it’s worth, I learnt a lot from that experience. I’ve worked for myself ever since and spent a lot of time reflecting on why I was so angry.

  35. CatsAndGuitars*

    I’m on the other side form many of the posters here. if you are at least pretty certain it can’t come back to burn you (and honestly, it’s highly unlikely to), a letter like this can he greatly cathartic and enjoyable. I wrote one myself (an email) to my former bosses at a startup, basically unloading on them for all of their many, many mistreatments and flaws. It felt great, and I can see no negatives around it. It felt like a weight off mys shoulders to actually tell them they didn’t have the management skills or intellect to be able to manage even a hotdog stand without turning it into a flaming dumpster fire. You’d be surprised how easy it is to get under somebody’s skin when you know just where to attack; in one case my old boss thought of himself as an impressive businessman and success study, so I made certain to point out the evidence of him being a failure, including how much more a disliked personal competitor made than he did. From his response, it was clear I hit home, so in my case, writing the letter was definitely worth it.

    1. fposte*

      “You’d be surprised how easy it is to get under somebody’s skin when you know just where to attack.”

      Okay, but if you’re in a situation where that’s what feels like power, that’s something to step back from.

    2. Anononon*

      But what’s the point? Even if the OP manages to hit home all of the issues as perfectly as you did (which I somewhat doubt), what does it matter? This woman is now out of the OP’s life. Why invite her back in? Why invite the negativity?

    3. Parenthetically*

      But apart from needling someone (maybe? I mean you can’t really know you got under their skin, even if your barbs were super-pointed — narcissists aren’t known for being self-aware enough for criticism to affect them), what did you accomplish? It’s unproductive (and frankly a bit immature) to see “I successfully insulted my former bosses” as a personal win.

      1. CatsAndGuitars*

        Sometimes just “feeling better” is a win. I know that’s how it felt to me. Everyone is different, and that may not be a “win” to many others, but the very expression of the sentiment was freeing. Basically, it costs nothing (to me), made me feel better, and (from the response) made my previous boss feel bad/angry at least for a short while….so minor benefit, no cost. Why not?

        1. fposte*

          There are a whole lot of comments giving good reasons why not. It may have worked out for you once, but it’s kind of like running through busy traffic at night wearing all black–the odds are against you, and it’s not a great character mark to deliberately do it.

          1. CatsAndGuitars*

            I’m not trying to be argumentative, really, but I’m genuinely interested in what you (and others) see as the negatives. if the former boss already hates you, then they’d be giving you a terrible reference anyway, so the letter won’t increase the odds of them being able to harm you. if you tailor the letter right (correctly using their flaws and weaknesses against them), then they can’t really use the letter itself, since they will be drawing attention to your (presumably correct) observations about their flaws. I understand the arguments against it, and I am not telling the OP that it is necessarily a good thing for him/her; but I genuinely don’t see the negatives here if done correctly, and in a situation that warrants it. It may be distasteful, and not to everyone’s liking, but how are the odds really against you? The OP asked for perspectives on writing the letter, and many have given good reasons not to; just offering the argument for doing so.

            1. fposte*

              It’s an interesting discussion, and I’m down for it! To me, it’s almost certainly not going to change the boss’s behavior. It looks like it’s trying hard to change the fact that they had more power than you and screwed you over, but it’s not successful at that, and it gives you less gain than stealing post-its as you left (the traditional petty last-minute attempt at equalization) would have. If anybody else hears about the letter, it’s likely to damage you in their eyes.

              Most importantly to me, though, is that is an action that’s deliberately trying to inflict sustained pain on somebody for personal gratification. That’s just not an okay thing, no matter how we can rationalize that the time we do it is an exception; it’s exactly the kind of behavior that the OP is *responding* to and that hundreds of pained letters to AAM ask how to protect against.

              If you write the letter and burn it before sending, you get a pretty similar level of fan-ficcy retcon satisfaction without those downsides.

            2. Parenthetically*

              For me, it’s just that investing that much time, effort, and emotional energy in reaaalllly nailing a cutting insult says a lot about the writer and is going to have virtually zero impact on a narcissist — and that even if it DID devastate them, do I want to be the sort of person who derives personal satisfaction from devastating someone?

              As silly as it is, the thing that comes to mind is You’ve Got Mail, when Kathleen manages to come up with the most perfectly cutting retort to Joe — “You are nothing but a suit.” — and then regrets it, because she sees how cruelty, even towards someone who sees her as nothing, reflects on HER more than on HIM.

            3. Avasarala*

              I agree. Contrary to my username I don’t think you’re on the noble and good path when you spend time tailoring insults that cut to the core of a person’s self worth just to make yourself feel better. How are you any better than them?

  36. Kesnit*

    About 5 years ago, I started working for a retail company while looking for a job in my field. After a few months, I switched shifts, leaving me the only person in my role on my shift. (I made the shift change willingly.) Over the course of about 8 months, I ranted in my head about how stupid the store manager’s policies were. I mentally composed a letter to the store manager about all the things I felt would make more sense. I had every intention of actually writing and delivering the letter once I found a new job.
    I finally found a job in my field and left, that mental letter still there. Over the next few months, I thought about that letter, but was always more occupied with my new job or my life after retail “heck.” I never wrote it.
    The store is now closed (for nothing related to that manager). I feel sorry for the people who were stuck there with the manager and hope they landed on their feet somewhere else.

  37. Three owls in a trench coat*

    Don’t do it, no matter how tempting it may be.

    I’ve always been told that you should never completely burn bridges between yourself and old colleagues/workplaces (though of of the letters I’ve read on AAM are a definite exception!). As unlikely as it may seem, you never know if or when you’ll need to go back to them for a reference, networking, etc. In my opinion, the only time “my boss is a jerk” should be brought up in this situation was during an exit interview, and even then it should still be done with care and professionalism.

    Someone also gave me some great advice recently about not letting others take up so much space in your head. Because that means you have less space for yourself and the things that really matter!

  38. Pretzelgirl*

    I worked somewhere that I put my “heart and soul” into. It was a small staff and we were incredibly close. It was a flexible working environment and as long as my work was done, I could come and go as I pleased. Long story, short something happened out of my control and my boss was very upset with me. He made it a toxic work environment. He didn’t find a replacement for my maternity leave, so I had to work during it (no FMLA). I had PPD/PPA. The organization starting failing, we didn’t get paid for almost a month (not my fault). It was terrible. I finally left, but felt horribly guilty. I left right before the biggest event of the year for the org. I had no choice, my mental health was suffering. Thankfully, I found an amazing job, where I am thriving. But I had horrible feelings of guilt and anxiety I had to go therapy (still am) to work through. I took me almost a year. I still struggle with it from time to time. I thought about writing my boss a letter but I know it wouldn’t do any good.

    Point is…. move on. Go to therapy to work out your issues. Its totally normal to have feelings of guilt, anger and depression. But have professional help you. Good luck.

  39. Rivakonneva*

    I had a bad group meeting with the new Big Boss. We were asked for our opinions on a topic, and I got slammed hard when I politely voiced me. That let me know we will be working for a micromanager who loves numbers and easily quantified data, despite working in a field that DOESN’T have much data like that.

    When I got home I wrote a very long and vitrolic email detailing my feelings and why I had them. I worked on it and off for a couple of days, until I finally started calming down. But………………I made darn sure to leave the TO: field blank. That way even if I accidentally hit ‘send’ it would not go anywhere. It did feel good to write the email, and it felt good to delete it. It felt wonderful to know there was no way BB would actually get it, and use it to burn my butt. :)

  40. Duff*

    I agree with other posters who said to write the letter and hide it away.

    Write the letter. I think it will feel really good, especially if you saying things aloud while writing. Then hide it in a drawer. Read it when you feel yourself getting upset about the situation. I bet that you will go longer and longer without reading it until finally you are ready to shred the letter.

    I completely understand how you feel and went through the same thing, including writing a secret letter!

  41. Admiral Thrawn Is Still Blue*

    May I say how much I love the image of the bad people falling in a sewer drain?

    I understand your pain and hurt. I went through something similar. I did write emails telling them exactly what I thought of them. And… Crickets. No response at all.

    I wish I had some wisdom for you but I’m still tangled in the emotional and financial fallout from my firing. I hope you can move past yours.

  42. Jennifer*

    Write the letter but don’t send it. You seem to be holding on to some anger here, justifiably so, and people say move on but sometimes that’s easier said than done. Write it. Scream the words as you write if you need to. Working out helps me stay in the present and let go of anger. Find something that does the same for you. Some people hike or journal. Then make like Elsa and let it go. Let it gooooooooooooo. Best wishes!

  43. Ms Fieryworth*

    I agree with Allison and many of the other posters- there’s not value in sending that letter. It’s not going to change anything, it’s going to be written off as bitterness, and likely will result in you getting marked as ineligible for rehire. If your goal is to hurt the former manger any action there will damage you more than her. If she’s that bad she’ll be found out eventually. In my experience, the only way to get past a bad work situation is to do the work to let go of the hurt and anger you feel, with a qualified therapist/counselor/etc. If you want to be a little petty about it use your former work places EAP but don’t send nasty-grams to the former workplace.

    As for the Glassdoor comments- anything that reads as extremely personal, over the top, or vindictive I usually assume is just sour grapes, not realistic feedback.

  44. Jean*

    Anonymously mail her a chocolate poo or a glitter bomb. your source for all petty/harmless revenge pranks!

    In all seriousness, OP, I’m glad you’re out of there and doing so much better. Sorry you were treated so poorly. I understand the desire to put someone like that in their place, but it’s not worth it.

  45. Kimmy Schmidt*

    Please do not send it. If any of your friends are still there, the boss could take it out on them. It may inadvertently make life harder for the people still stuck with her.

    But absolutely agree with writing the letter and destroying it in the most satisfying and dramatic way you can think of.

  46. Meepmeep*

    I’d just write a thank you note, without any other commentary – and then not send it. Every time I was in a situation like that (laid off by a mean boss), I landed in a better one, so I honestly did feel grateful to the mean boss. I find it helps to cultivate that feeling of gratitude. I mean, it would be miserable if the mean boss hadn’t laid you off, right? So it’s something to feel thankful for, that you’re not stuck in that awful situation anymore.

    But don’t send the letter, even if it’s a thank you letter.

  47. Argh!*

    I was transferred in a reorganization, winding up with a horrible supervisor, and was super angry at the old supervisor who turned my department over to my narcissistic jerk coworker. I left after six months in the new position.

    I never contacted any of them, but I have stayed in touch with some coworkers so I learned that:

    The last supervisor got fired.

    The supervisor who didn’t keep me died from breast cancer.

    The coworker who took over my department didn’t want it, negotiated for half time in a department he preferred, then used that other 20 hours to look for something else and he is now gone.

    I finally had to decide that none of them deserved my time or attention, but it did take a long time to let go of the bitterness. I was 50 years old & had intended to stay there until retirement, so it was tough.

    1. gmg22*

      One of my worst-ever bosses died a few years ago, relatively young and when his kids were still teenagers, and that was really hard to hear about even though somewhere in the back of my mind I am still ticked-as-all-get-out at him for the part he played in making the tail end of my 20s as miserable as possible.

  48. Peaches*

    I totally get the urge, OP.

    I was at a horrible, toxic job several years ago, before my current job (which I very much like). Management was awful to employees, training was non existent, and employees often took the brunt of errors that had nothing to do with them. I would LOVE to write my previous manager a letter and tell her how happy I am now, how valued I am (I certainly wasn’t valued there!), and how glad I am that I didn’t stick around because she made my experience so miserable.

    I agree with other posters’ idea to write a letter and then just dispose of it. I might take that idea myself. :)

  49. S*

    My boss was such a jerk/mess/psycho that I left after a year. She was engaged to the CEO and took that as license to scream and berate people because of her connections. I left a review on Glassdoor describing realistically how horrible it was to work there, and she responded by posting a fake review the next day. I could tell it was her because of the writing style and vernacular, plus it was so cheesy no real employee would post it. Karma is a bitch, you just won’t be there to see it.

  50. Senor Montoya*

    Let it go, and don’t talk about it at your current job, either. If you’ve been doing so already, stop.

    If I’m your new colleague and I hear you going on like this about a previous job, I’m going to wonder about your inability to get over it (are you like this with other situations or issues? am I going to end up on your list? are you going to share all this stuff with clients?) and I’m also going to wonder what the other side of the story is — I haven’t worked with you for 30 years, so maybe there was a reason you’re not sharing or you’re not self-aware enough to recognize. Not saying this is the case! just that anyone who does not know you and who was not at your previous workplace doesn’t know.

    In other words, you need to protect your reputation and you need to project an air of professionalism. Not bitterness and anger.

  51. mark132*

    I’m not a big believer in karma. For instance cheaters very often prosper contrary to the saying. And this person likely has very fulfilling personal relationships in spite of being an awful person at work.

  52. WorkIsADarkComedy*

    OP, your injury was double: not only were you unfairly treated, but the boss trashed the “home” you had for 30 years.

    The latter is a separate hurt, and one that for some people is even harder to let go of. But you would do well to let that go too, if you can. You still have inside you the good memories of the community that you had. Let that be what you hold onto from here on in.

  53. Narise*

    Keep in mind once you send that letter you no long have control over it. She could edit it or simple publish it as is with your name attached to it. Future employers may read it and think they don’t want to work with you. I had an employee write a letter when she quit right before being placed on a PIP for failing to learn her job. She blamed everyone in the company but herself and her letter came off as proof that she was not self-aware, not mature enough at 40 to work in an office, and that we were headed in the right direction with a PIP because she was never going to improve. I truly want to publish her letter and attach it to her name so it follows her with her career and yet I have not done that either.

    1. Parenthetically*

      Yeah, I think this is good feedback as well. Writing the letter and burning it keeps it within your control. Writing it and sending it allows ToxicExBoss to open her address book and forward it to every person you might hope to work for with the addition, “I was very concerned to discover this strange and disturbing email from Sally Smythe in my inbox this morning, and thought you should know about it in case she ever applies with your company — over a year ago, Sally’s position unfortunately had to be downsized as part of our restructuring, and she took it very emotionally. I’m concerned and distressed for her stability that she is still this focused on a normal layoff!”

      In other words, once the letter is in her hands, she gets to control the narrative around it. Don’t give her MORE control.

  54. SM*

    “Though Darcy may be no more of a black-hearted villain than your average rich man who is used to his own way.”

    1. SM*

      Speaking as a person who had to let a long term employee go not too long ago, I can see the other side of this letter. What if the new boss was actually just making a choice to better the environment for the company?

  55. Junior Assistant Peon*

    I wonder if this was some kind of change management stuff that was poorly communicated to the employees. As a market matures, the transition from a specialty manufacturer to a commodity manufacturer can look like “our new management team is a bunch of dumb MBA bean-counters who don’t understand our industry and destroyed our company” from the perspective of a longtime employee.

  56. The Rafters*

    Was at an office party where a coworker trashed the boss very publicly (and truthfully), but all it did was make the coworker look really spiteful and small. Everyone in the room was appalled. The boss took it with grace we didn’t know he possessed. Our opinion of coworker dropped dramatically that day, and opinion of the boss raised a tiny bit (and not for long, but that’s a different story). Word of your letter will get out and your former coworkers opinions of you will drop. That might not matter to you now, but trust me, it will in the future.

  57. It's the little things*

    Every time I find myself thinking about how abusive, and small my last boss was I look at the anonymous reviews I left on Glassdoor and Indeed. They’re short, no invective or shouty caps – just an honest appraisal of what it was like to work for an organization that was being mismanaged at every level.

    I like to think by now that some job seeker has seen my review and thought, “Oh $%^ no!” and I’ve spared them the pain I suffered. I also feel some relief at the idea that my review (alongside a few others) has damaged my former employer’s ability to attract talent.

  58. Zona the Great*

    Save letter-sending for the truly abusive and toxic boss. I once worked for such a disgusting bigot, a woman so vile and hateful, that I could not let my feelings sit unsent. I did it about 2 years after I quit. I did so because I couldn’t live with the feeling that I should have said something to stand up for those she spewed hatred on.

    LW, I think in your case, that you’ll have the opposite feeling. I think you’ll wish you hadn’t said anything instead.

      1. Zona the Great*

        I cannot know for sure what the result was. No response and I doubt she read past the first few lines. But this person would rage about never hiring Native Americans again because my two native colleagues needed the feast day off and requested it more than 2 months in advance. She declared it in front of said colleagues. This was the tamest of my examples and I felt so so good when I sent it. Nothing abusive, but totally honest.

        Not long after I sent the letter, I read that the Inn (yes this person owned and operated an Inn where humans go for rest and hospitality) had closed down and that she moved to the East Coast.

  59. Third or Nothing!*

    Bit late to the party here but I wanted to share my husband’s story. He spent 2-ish years at a pretty terrible place. I am extremely biased, but by any objective measure he was one of their top performers – fewest mistakes, fastest turnaround, etc. It didn’t matter, though. He was treated so poorly by his manager that we had a mental health scare and he realized he needed to get out ASAP.

    Despite all the crap his previous place put him through, he hasn’t held a grudge or tried to retaliate. I mean, it would feel good in the moment but it doesn’t really solve anything. When you hold onto anger and bitterness it only hurts yourself and the people who love you.

    My advice: write the letter. Pour all your frustration into it until nothing is left inside you. Then burn it. Imagine the flames are burning away all your negative feelings about that person, the situation, etc. Then don’t let those feelings come back and take root again. Actively work to re-frame how you think about her and what happened. Repeat if necessary.

  60. Mr. Tyzik*

    OP, write the letter and burn it.

    I wrote the letter. Two, in fact. It felt great. I emailed them. Even better! Then came the shame. And the replies. And more shame that I had sent the emails instead of deleting them. I had thought baring my soul would make me feel better but it just made me feel more raw and MORE affected by the stress and PTSD and overall toxic atmosphere.

    That was three years ago. I still shudder when I think of it. I know this is based from personal experience and nothing to back with science or data, but don’t send that letter. It might make you feel good in the moment, but then what?

  61. Elizabeth West*

    Write your letter in Notepad. Really unload if you feel like it. Name it youre_a_jerk_jane. Put it in a folder and leave it for a while. Then go back and delete it without looking.

    Seriously, nothing good will come from sending it. You don’t need to make yourself responsible for her jerk behavior, only for the way you respond to it. This is good practice for letting shit go.

  62. just trying to help*

    I can understand the desire for justice, whether real or cosmic. OP realized indirect justice by being able to move to a much happier place and situation. I have been there, and dwelling on it only makes our self suffer, not the intended target of our anger. We can never truly know the intent behind another person’s actions no matter how they made us feel, and we get it wrong so often when we try to mind read.
    Allison is right – let it go.

  63. Jessica Noyes*

    When I am tempted to do tell off a former employer, I remind myself that consultants get paid huge amounts daily for critiquing the inner workings of a business. If ever one of my old employers asks me for feedback and offers to pay a consulting fee, I will be glad to do so. However, why should I work for free? My motto, after processing any errors of mine that led to the situation is, “Don’t look back.”

  64. Death Rides a Pale Volvo*

    Condemn your old boss to her own life, OP. That’s the worst curse there is for people like her.

  65. mananana*

    OP, as others have said, please don’t send a letter. Because if this boss is as bad as you believer her to be, it will most likely be used to make you the butt of a joke.

  66. Kaaaaaren*

    OP – Maybe consider writing an anonymous Glass Door review of the company, in which you outline how management has gotten terrible, turnover is out of control, and the company is now an awful place to work? You can’t tell off the boss in this letter – and it’s probably a great idea to de-personalize it so no one knows you wrote it – but it could be a way of approximating what you want to do with the personal tell-off letter and you could be helping people who are thinking about applying for a job at this company by letting them know the true situation there.

  67. boop the first*

    She won’t get it.

    Are you still close friends with your old coworkers though? I hope so! If you are able to carry on the relationships outside of the workplace, then all that’s left is the work and the boss, and who misses that?

  68. JDR*

    Thank you everyone for your great comments. I think I knew that I would never mail the letter, but boy did I want to. Your advice to let it go and move on is just what I need to do. My reputation means more to me than letting her know what I think about her and you are all correct, I doubt it would make any kind of an impression on her. She is a woman in her late 50’s and all she has in her life is work, which is really very sad and as you some of you said, I’m sure Karma has it out for her!

    1. Sunflower*

      OP- I can tell you’re still hurt by this lay off but I’d really advise for you to let this go and not take personal jabs at this person. How do you know their whole life is work? And if it is, why does it matter? And their age matters because….? You yourself said you considered some of the coworkers family- does that mean your life is also sad?

      I’d suggest you really take a step back here- layoffs are business decisions, not personal. It sounds like your lay off, while maybe unfair, is pretty in line with how layoffs work (they usually lay off long term employees who are making much more than others in the same position). As with most business decisions, I doubt this person was the sole decision maker in your layoff.

      You’ll be well served to not take these decisions so personally. I fear if you don’t, you may end up in the same place somewhere down the line.

  69. Chocoholic*

    OP, I feel for you. When the choice to leave, even if you were not happy there and are happier elsewhere, is taken from us, there is something legitimate to grieve there. Let yourself grieve. I’m experiencing some similar feelings right now, though it is not job related. But don’t get stuck in the grief. You have a new job you like better! That is wonderful! What’s that saying, the best revenge is living well? That is what you’re doing! Happy Holidays!!

  70. RC Rascal*

    OP— I f you received any sort of severance package you need to check the wording of the agreement you signed. It’s typical of these to include language prohibiting you from interfering with the future operations of the company, or from defaming company officers. If this person is as bad as you say she will interpret the letter as both an attempt to defame her and interfere with company operation. Then she will consult with her HR Dept & possibly Legal. Then you will have a mess of trouble on your hands.

  71. DJ*

    Hopefully you gave feedback on her to HR or higher ups through an exit survey when you were laid off. And hopefully others are doing the same thing so the evidence builds!!
    Glad you are in a better job now

  72. Somuchempathy!*

    Did you work for my old boss? I was similarly forced out by an awful new manager. Although I had been there for years and was well liked and effective, a perfect storm of managerial incompetence up the heirarchy let her get away with everything…right up until it didn’t. Eventually she was demoted and left abruptly. I used to have revenge fantasies about her and to this day, I’m momentarily seized with anger if I see someone who looks like her. However, the truth is that I was severely underutilized in my old job. And while it wasn’t comfortable, her forcing me out set me down a path where I have a great reputation in the industry (not just in the company), I’m truly valued, and have developed skills I never even contemplated back then. The bottom line is that just like any other traumatic life experience, it takes time to let it fade into the background. Good luck in your new job!

  73. Yuh, yuh*

    While I agree with the general sentiment that you shouldn’t send a letter, I was in a similar situation and I did send a letter detailing the horrible treatment of the staff by the CEO to all of the board members and staff excluding my former supervisor (it ended up getting forwarded to her though). Former supervisor was making everyones lives miserable and I knew if an investigation was prompted that my former co-workers would agree with my statements. A few weeks after I sent it she was forced to resign which was satisfying but of course I wasn’t offered my job back. Despite how things ended up for her I truly believe she has a personality disorder that will never allow her to see that she was the cause of her own misfortune and that she thinks she was the actual victim in this situation, you will never win with these people.

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