If I were in charge of the world at this moment, you wouldn’t be reading this post. Instead, I’d have sent four letters to their intended recipients directly, privately, using stamps and envelopes and the secrecy the US Postal Service allows.
But I’m not in charge of the world, and I have been burned by the recipients of these letters — sufficiently so that I cannot trust a privately communicated missive would be accurately represented by any of them.
Person 1 was my work bestie for years. Our offices were in the same suite, and I would often find myself visiting their space, sitting in a guest chair, and talking over our classes, our students, and our lives. Their friendship was the relationship that helped me feel accepted at the institution; their advice and laughter made my job easier and more enjoyable. And then, over spring break 2022, they just … stopped. No more conversations, no more smiles, no more stories filled with laughter. It all ended, and I still have no idea why. I wrote them a letter and posted it (privately) in early July. A week later, I read the emails on the jump drive, and that’s when I learned that the first letter I sent this person, this trusted work bestie, was reported to my supervisors. My immediate supervisor wrote to my dean:
“[work bestie] recevied a letter from Liz Norell at her home (personal address) this weekend. [Work bestie] asked for advice as to what to do with it. I told her this: if she chose to open it, to consider meeting with [HR] and open it in front of him/with him just in case its [sic] a harrassment letter. [HR] is equipped to deal with it at that time. If its [sic] a letter simply mitigating her behavior, she could just choose to ignore it. Or, she didn’t have to open it at all. [Work bestie] indicated to me that she probably won’t open it at all, but hang on to it in case its [sic] needed later. I said that was fine.”
Had I read that email before I wrote the letter I sent privately to this former friend, I wouldn’t have made the same decision to send it to their home.
And so, I made the decision to add that letter here, again to mitigate any potential disinformation or defamation anyone might spread about me.
As for the other three —
The depths of their dissembling, individually and collaboratively, are such that private information cannot be trusted in their hands. They have misrepresented my actions, misimputed my intentions, and betrayed my trust. I will not foolishly make those private-communications mistakes with any of them again.
And so, that’s why — after speaking at length with trusted confidantes over the last several weeks/months — I have decided to post these letters on my blog.
The identifying details are sufficient that their intended recipients will know I’m writing to them. Only those who were close to the situation would have enough information to determine who these three people are. The general public would not be able to deduce their identities, and I’ve redacted any specific mentions of departments, titles, or leadership roles.
I never wanted to publish these letters on my blog. For more than a year, I’ve been planning to write and mail — with the stamps and such — these letters to these three specific people. That was still my plan as recently as a month ago, when I hopped into the jump drive about which I wrote a few weeks back. The fact that my letters would unquestionably result in more slanderous characterizations of my actions or intentions is what persuaded me to take a different tack.
If you know these people, you have my permission to tell them I have posted these. I will not contact them myself. I am not attempting to hide these attempts at closure, and my intention in posting them is only to release the anger, betrayal, and deep hurt I’ve been carrying for the last 18 months.