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February 27, 2020

Toxicity isn’t just in Romance: Walking Away from your Sh*tty Boss.

In less than a month, I’m leaving a job I’ve had for more than three decades.

I don’t have another job lined up, and I’m too young for Social Security or Medicare. I’m a little freaked out over how the bills are going to get paid, but leaving is far and away the best decision for me.

Why?

Because I have a crappy boss.

Bad bosses are nothing new. I’ve had others in the past. Lazy ones, stupid ones, cruel ones. I kept my head down, did my work, and steered clear of them. They never lasted. I had some great bosses sprinkled in among the bad ones, and everything kind of evened out.

And then, I got this one. A truly sh*tty one.

At first, I told myself it was nothing new, just another young, inexperienced boss who was in over her head. She’d settle down in time. Eventually, she would improve. I told myself, hey, it’s just a job, just eight hours a day. You can handle this.

I turned to my Reiki practice for healing energy. I meditated. I turned to my friends for support. I rescued two kittens.

Turns out, I couldn’t seem to shake off the effects of a crummy boss this time. The constant negative feedback started to depress me. I started stress-eating at work. It seemed like I couldn’t do anything right. From the time I arrived, to the work I was doing, to the times I asked for leave, nothing I did was okay with her, and she always let me know.

I tried to please her. I tried not to make the same mistake twice, tried to learn to turn in the work that would satisfy her. For every mistake I corrected, she found more. If she couldn’t find mistakes, she changed her mind about what she wanted and made me re-do the work I had done.

I eventually started drinking when I got home, to eradicate the day. And then I knew I was in trouble.

In a 2017 study of 1,200 participants in a variety of industries by the University of Manchester’s Business School, researchers found that employees with toxic bosses experienced lower rates of job satisfaction, as well as psychological distress and clinical depression. Often this misery would spill into the employees’ personal lives, the study found. Yep.

The week before Christmas, I took a week off to fly to San Diego for a desperately needed break from the workplace. While I was there, sleeping 14 hours straight and barely able to leave my hotel room, I realized I had to get away from my job before it was too late.

And so, the day I returned from vacation, I gave notice of my intention to retire.

You know what? The minute I did it, I felt about a thousand times better. I actually smiled at work.

The worry over finances? I am employable. I will find something. I will be okay. I’m a Reiki master, a blogger, an editor, a cook, a dog walker, a Tarot card reader. I’m not afraid. In the weeks since I announced my retirement, so many possibilities have found their way to me—none of which would have captured my attention had I continued to struggle to work for a toxic boss.

And there is the blessing.

The benefits of leaving a toxic boss are many. Leaving a bad boss opens the door to finding something or someone who will make you happier. Standing up for yourself and putting your needs first can be a liberating and heroic act of self-love. Finally, leaving a bad boss can vastly improve all aspects of your life, including friendships, marriages, and family dynamics.

My friends, anything that costs you your peace is too expensive. But that is a difficult message to receive when you are in the middle of just trying to get through the work day. When your coping mechanisms are chocolate chip cookies and screwdrivers, it’s hard to remember that you have a self, and that that self is worthy of protection, of rescue.

I don’t need booze to forget the day. I don’t need to “treat” myself to junk food. I don’t need to ask myself how in the world I am going to be able to drag myself into the office every morning.

For me, it took a pretty long line of bad bosses and one real stinker of a boss to open my eyes to the reality that it was time for me to start an entirely new chapter in my life. It’s been exhilarating, terrifying, exciting, and perfect. I honestly could not be happier in this moment. I cannot wait for my next chapter to start.

May your next chapters be everything you can imagine them to be. You’re worth it.

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