Scripts to fire a client?

I’m looking for some moral support, pep talk, and possibly scripts for how to say what I need to say to a client.

Long story sort of short:

I worked with a real shit client last year. I was subbing for a friend. The client was emotionally abusive and has an insanely toxic culture. (There’s a lot of nuance here I won’t bore you with). I stayed longer than I should have to support the friend but then shifted to other great work.

This year, I got introduced to a consultant group. They wanted to talk to me about a project I was really excited about. At the same time, they started bidding on a project for the shit client. They wanted me to advise them on it, and promised it would only be advising. It was pretty clear I wouldn’t get to work on the exciting project without the bad one, and I was short on work so I took both.

Flash forward, the consulting group is woefully unprepared for the shittiness of the client despite my warnings, and the only decent person on the team just quit. I’ve been trying to hold the boundary of “I’m just advising” for the last 2 months and it’s already been off the rails. Now they essentially want me to run the project. I’ve set boundaries that that’s not happening but I can see them already violating it three days in and they don’t have any talent to actually make this happen on their own. Meanwhile the actual project I wanted to do got deprioritized constantly and clearly isn’t really happening.

I’m feeling arm twisted and it’s setting off my anxiety and hurting other projects I care about. So it’s time to walk away. The question is what to say. No matter what, me walking away will screw over the consultant group. The client loves me and has actively complained about the other people who would run it. I just don’t care. My mental health matters more to me than any of these people. But I like to leave the least bad blood possible for business sake.

I have already told them I don’t have bandwidth for the project and they just keep finding shitty work arounds that don’t work and don’t remove the stress from my plate.

So how do I fire this client?

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