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“My chest caved in from the pressure. The elephant in the room was crushing my ribcage. I couldn’t say any of this out loud, at least not right then. I couldn’t tell him that unless shit changed in the next 8 weeks, I was leaving and not coming back. That conversation was just days away. I had to find the language to say it in a tone he would not read as emasculating or bitter and bitchy. I had to pick the right words and the right time and place, assuring that every variable was perfect or else. I would be accused of picking a fight, of blindsiding him with hate, and for not being loyal.

He saw this ultimatum as a betrayal of the promises I made, disregarding entirely the promises he made to me when we made those promises to each other. He saw my deadline as a challenge to be accepted, but not in the way I had hoped. He took it as the opening shots in a war where he would best me by proving that no matter what he did I would stay. He would do just enough to make it look like he was really trying to change before the expiry date, just to make me look like I was cruel and unjust for leaving him when the world had conspired to keep him from meeting the goal.

I know the difference between meaningful work and meaningless busy activity. I perfected that act in a hundred past admin jobs.”

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