because some things must be written

On the day I moved in 1-1/2 months ago, I was told about the roommate who proceeded me, Lynn

She was not spoken of in glowing terms. From the gist, her issues and behaviors gave cause to want her gone.

However, every story has two or more sides. It wasn’t long – about a week – that I wished I could sit down with Lynn and hear her side.

Of her various behaviors reported to me was that in time she hardly left her room. She kept the door closed, smoked like a chimney and watched TV. She’d come out only for meals and eat them in the room. She came to dislike or fear Marcy (smoker, retiree) and would not come out until the other roommate Kris (worker, daughter) returned from work.

Those must’ve been loooong hours spent in the bedroom since Kris works long days.

Also I was told that after her departure, the room so reeked of tobacco that they had to repaint. I find that ironic from two smokers, one in particular whose heavy habit recognizes no boundaries. She is at liberty to smoke wherever she wishes (including kitchen; food preparation and smoking don’t jive in my mind; that’s just me), including in her bedroom with door wide open.

At the same time, a trail of smoke from a stick of incense behind my door whose only “escape” is the clearance between door and floor is deemed offensive. The scent, with occupant, are to be controlled (isolated?) behind my bedroom door firmly shut by the cohabitant, who proceeds to light another cigarette for herself.

I’m beginning to understand the possible reasons for Lynn’s retreat and why she refused to leave her room until the younger Kris was home. Kris is a balanced, warmhearted, kind and approachable woman. Her mother is not. She can be frightening and mentally unbalanced. Unfortunately for renters, because she’s retired, her presence dominates the house. Dominates.

The situation is quickly heading south. I smell it.

She is beginning to isolate the outsider / perceived threat to her subtle iron-fisted rule. Sometimes it’s the elephant in the room; more often it’s the devil in the details that sensitives detect.

Examples:

In one (early and foolhardy) attempt to contribute to the house and find use of all things outside the garbage can, I set a small collection of paper napkins mostly from cafes into the napkins cup on the counter (for all to use). The next day, they were gone, tossed I imagine; only their brand remained.

The harsh scoldings I received for (again in an attempt to do good) mopping with the wrong mop, unplugging a machine (without instruction that it was to be kept plugged in), leaving a sticky note on the ground (it had fallen unseen in night’s darkness), forgetting once to lock the least significant of three locks on the front door, “forgetting” to set a washcloth back in the sink (no prior instruction) and setting a spoon the wrong direction in the dishwasher are, latter excepted, recorded here.

Those are the ones of which I’ve written publicly.

Today, for the second time in about as many days, I was approached by the smoker while in my room, door latch loosely resting against the strike plate, and dictatorially told that the stick of incense I was burning was bothering her and she was shutting my door.

The incense wasn’t burning; it had extinguished 30 minutes prior. But that was moot. The smell bothered her. Door shut.

In the meantime, she is at liberty to smoke abundantly wherever she wishes throughout the house. Were I to dare ask her to take it outside, open windows or shut her door as thick fumes permeate the house, my decapitated head would spin and hit the ground faster than one could say “suicidal request.”

Today I found a food item for which I’d found precious shelf space in a cramped refrigerator (about 97% is claimed by roommates) moved into my little dedicated drawer. Isolation. Excessive control. It is happening; it is happening in seemingly minor insidious fashion and that’s the most dangerous of all

I assure that my doing likewise, moving an item of the smoker’s and sticking it into a drawer, well, I’d be beaten meat on a hook.

There’s more not written. This is not intended as a list of Things Going Badly. Some things must be written. Some parts of life are to be recorded for Consciousness and Spirit. Things are stirring beneath the tightly ordered and organized and controlled surface. I sense it, I smell it, I perceive it in its secreted subtleties.

And for the core challenges and concerns I face in the deterioration of the home state into excessive control, unhealth, unease, toxicity and diminishing of those few rights with which I arrived — even as I fight not to sink into troubled depression — my mind hearkens to the former roommate.

I so would like to talk with her. Did she retreat for safety and respite? Was it forced isolation by a mentally unbalanced bully? Some of each? Something else. I’ll never know.

I wonder also whether they’ll find my room so polluted by a handful of incense sticks that they’ll repaint (meanwhile, leaving the remaining nicotine-soaked walls untouched).

More, I wonder, after I leave and am replaced, of the ill that will be spoken of me.

Update: In the short time after this writing, the smoker unbalanced roommate exploded in an irrational violent verbal assault and invasive intrusion into my room without respecting my peaceful request to leave. This is getting serious; the clock is ticking. I cannot move at this time; however, I will at the soonest opportunity.

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. SuperSparky
    Sep 14, 2011 @ 15:17:04

    That, my friend, is the sign of someone with a mental disorder. From what you describe it has hints of sociopathy and obsessive compulsive, but mostly the desire for order and control.

    Such things get worse not better. I’m sure you are a nice person, but let me ask you, is this their house and you rent from them, or is this a shared house? If it’s shared, you have to lay down your own law. Do not give this woman any slack. You apply her rules to her as well as well as your own. Unreasonable (for sick control only) rules you let her know she has no right to make and that the place is just as much yours as well.

    Do not justify her controlling behavior because of her age. “No” and “live with it” is an appropriate response to such an individual. However, she needs to know she has no right to make such rules. If she gets worse, tell her you will make it a point to “break” them until she gets the signal you aren’t going to follow them anyway, as you don’t have to. I’m serious, put every utensil “backwards” in the dishwasher. Go close her door or bring your incense out with you. Play musical “leave one lock unlocked” every day.

    I am dead serious. The key here is she needs to see that the more “control” she exerts, the less she has. I used to know someone (for 20 years) with narcissistic personality disorder, and boy do they have similar issues. Especially the need for control.

    This is not being mean. This is actually for your benefit, and frankly, hers. Such a person gets worse and worse if allowed to continue. This is therapy. The key is being calm about each “rebellion”. Never get angry. Heck, make your own rules about her smoking. Say the incense will stop when she smokes outside or in her room with the door shut.

    You need to make yourself a list of the unreasonable rules and reasonable rules. Post both, with your rules added to the reasonable ones. Indicated the unreasonable ones will not be followed; then stop following them.

    I’d still vacate the insane asylum er.. place anyway, ASAP. It’s not healthy for you to be there, both physically and mentally. Look what happened to the last roommate. She let the hag get to her.

    Reply

    • allycatadventures
      Sep 14, 2011 @ 16:14:07

      @SuperSharky – To your question first – it’s their house; they rent out a room to help with the mortgage.

      The mental unbalance is evident. Nothing I can do about it; I can only choose my responses in my time remaining (conditions do not yet permit a move; the exit sign in the distance, however, has come into view). I’ve lived (too often) with women like this. They’re dangerous and engaging has dreadful consequences, particularly if you don’t yet know what they’re capable of. Caution, high alertness, care and distance are the best lines of defense and protection for the moment. That may shift (and I expect it will) as things develop/proceed.

      I totally hear what you’re saying and genuinely thank you for stepping up and sharing your experience, observations and suggestions. RE: “Say the incense will stop when she smokes outside or in her room with the door shut” — so happens that I thought today about doing that very thing! She won’t of course. She does not respond to reasoned logic, fairness, assertion of rights or constructive dialogue. Her stubbornly closed mind makes her tough, her unbalance dangerous. There are additional (undisclosed) factors that call for careful treading for now.

      Talk about timing! Just as I was penning this, the smoker appeared at my door (closed but unlatched) forcefully annoucing that she was shutting my door (for the incense). I requested that it be left closed but unlatched. She dictatorially refused and proceeded to slam it shut. Taking your suggestion, I stepped forward and proposed a “fair trade” — her smoking in her room (a mere feet from mine) with closed door for the same.

      She *exploded!* her face twisted into violent shoutings of “Do you want me to call the police!! I’ll call them and have them escort you out!” (she’s tight with our patrolling officer) … “you need to GROW UP!” … “Do you want me to call (daughter) Kris?! I’m calling Kris!” And she did, her body slammed against my opened door (so I couldn’t shut it and ignoring my calm offers to close it), bellowing distortions and lies and BS into her phone and again threatening to call the police to get me out.

      So I’ve got one tremendously unbalanced roommate and one roommate very possibly on her side. (Neither’s ever yet asked for my side of a story when developments unfold, which bodes poorly for “fair hearings” or reason.)

      Then she did SLAM MY DOOR AS HARD AS SHE COULD and held tight the knob so I couldn’t get out until finally letting go and going about her business.

      Nice home life, eh?

      As I said, I don’t know what this woman’s capable of though I’m getting glimpses daily! Today’s eruption of irrationality only reinforces the tack of Safety First. Whatever its form.

      Reply

  2. SuperSparky
    Sep 14, 2011 @ 18:35:36

    Ok, it’s their house? You’re screwed. Their home, their castle, their rules. However, most renter’s laws forbid abusive and unreasonable living conditions, especially in a liberal city like Denver. If you are leasing, you can get out of it quite easily. If you are renting, then why haven’t you moved yet??? Judas Priest woman, I’d be out in a flash with such a nightmare.

    As to escorting you out. Every state requires due process for any eviction. Any cop violating those rights loses their job and you can own the city. Threatening you with eviction for everything is abusive behavior and qualifies for you being able to exit without notice, provided you have gathered the evidence to prove it. Note, the previous tenant makes a great witness. The hag’s just blowing hot air.

    If you have a webcam in your room (not elsewhere), leave it on record facing the door. Logitech has great software that records only when it senses movement and makes a great security device. You can even tell it to leave the camera’s light off. It works with every Logitech cam and is free from their web site. Recording the psycho’s tirade is a great method of proof.

    Also, if they come into your room without prior notice and there is no emergency, it is trespassing as you are renting that space from them. That part of the castle is off limits to them unless supervised. If there is no locking door knob, put one on there. The webcam makes a great evidence gatherer for such invasions of privacy.

    Spray silicone on the outer knob before you enter each day. I’d pay real money to see if she can hold on to that knob now. You can get enough of a grip to use it normally, but you can’t hold tight to it. Silicone isn’t greasy, so it’s not noticeable. A simple rag and a light wipe is enough to do it. Use grip-tight (non-slip) spray on the inner knob so you can get a good grip. Keep the cans with you or in a non-obvious place.

    Reply

    • allycatadventures
      Sep 14, 2011 @ 18:58:26

      @Sparky – I wonder how it is you came to know this abundance of information and suggestions but then again that’s not as important as having walked the walk and gained it.
      As for moving, I’m just not in the position where I’m able to do so presently and look forward to when I can.
      As of today, I’m recording (written) intrusions, verbal assaults, threats and abusive behaviors and I will involve the police if need be. She is very tight with the patrolling officer, as I said; much as I wish I could trust that he’d be professionally objective and helpful, I don’t know that he would (or wouldn’t).
      Secondly, there’s the risk that even if he’s above-board and professional, it will further set her off; she could get really ugly or irrational in her behavior.

      As for a webcam, I don’t have one (neither the means to purchase one). However, it’s a great idea, not only for authorities if need be but her daughter who I fear may be unaware of her mother’s unbalanced and threatening behaviors.

      RE: “Also, if they come into your room without prior notice and there is no emergency, it is trespassing as you are renting that space from them.” – Also, I was unaware of this and wonder whether it is renter’s law and whether it applies in private domiciles. I must look into this further, perhaps through a renters’ association, perhaps also the officer with whom she’s friendly so that the next time she intrudes, I will have some recourse.

      I’m gaining a crash-course on why the previous roommate likely sealed herself in her room. As I recall, she was here four months. I don’t expect to last that long.

      Many thanks again for your ideas and sharings. They’ve not only given me food for thought and ideas but some support that I’m otherwise totally lacking. Merci.

      Reply

  3. lexiemom
    Sep 14, 2011 @ 19:24:56

    Ally – I disagree with Sparky. I would NOT confront this woman! She is obviously mentally unstable, and considering her gerth, she could do some serious physical damage to you in her rage. I think you are doing right to just try to get the heck out of there A.S.A.P. However, Sparky is correct about Renter’s laws. She DOES NOT have the right to enter your room uninvited. I think keeping a written log is an excellent idea, and the next time she tries to invade your space or verbally abuse you, let her know that you are recording her and keeping track of her abuse. It will get her attention, and may make her think twice before attacking again.

    Also, does the other Roommate, the daughter, have any ownership in the house? If so, and if she is more reasonable than her mother, you should let her know of the confrontations, and that you require respect and privacy. Let her know that her stake in the house is under threat, as you will take legal action if her mother continues in her tirades. I don’t know the situation you are in, of course, but I would recommend you use this course rather than direct confrontation of this unstable person.

    Don’t know if this might help: http://www.ehow.com/info_7799218_apartment-renters-rights-denver-co.html

    Good luck!

    Reply

    • allycatadventures
      Sep 14, 2011 @ 19:40:30

      @lexiemom – First, thanks for the link. because this is a private domicile and not a rental property, I don’t know to what extent renters’ laws protect. It’s something I need to explore.
      The house is in fact the daughter roommate’s; her mother pays rent (as do I) to assist with the mortgage.

      To be honest, I had not considered broaching the topic with the (more reasonable) daughter, in part because I know that they have “compared notes” and talked behind my back about the “things I’ve done wrong.” They are very close and involving her might work against me, even set two women against little ol’ me, creating a VERY painful and tense home situation. Of course I can’t fly below the radar forever and it sickens me that a place of supposed respite and rest (home) is again a place of risk, abuses, invasion, threats and unsafety, especially with SOOOO very much on my plate already. None of that is new (indeed is a legacy from childhood) but really tough to live in nonetheless.

      I will move as soon as circumstances allow. In the meantime, I understand now why the previous tenant virtually lived in her room; I reckon I’m next. Thanks for your input! Much appreciated.

      Reply

  4. SuperSparky
    Sep 18, 2011 @ 23:45:52

    There is a problem with both approaches, confrontation, or passivity. This type of person is enabled by the victim allowing it to continue. You should be noticing this. Yes, this type of person is evil and only gets worse, which is why you must move.

    As to “walking in your shoes”, I lived with such a person my entire childhood, my oldest brother. He terrorized and abused (mentally, physically, and sexually) my fellow siblings. He got off on the control he had and the fear of him he generated in them. Fortunately for me, I only had the mental abuse (amazing that is “fortunate”). When my parents found out about it, when we were adults, they were devastated. My mother was raised with the philosophy of allow the children to learn how to fight their own battles. In any normal household (like where she grew up), this worked marvelously. However, when a controlling monster was in the house it backfired, as when a child would run crying to a parent, the parent would direct the child to stand up for themselves (toughen up). Had they known the crying was for a serious matter, they would have reacted differently.

    My siblings lived in terror of him and feared “telling” on him as how do you? Me, I was the house cry-baby and was always sick. Mom kept a close eye on me, I guess, because of that. That must have saved me from the full on abuse.

    However, my oldest brother was and is a coward, and continues to be a sleazebag. When he is confronted, he cowers like the coward he is. When everyone sees him as he is, he runs and hides. Suddenly he isn’t the tough guy anymore. It’s always everyone else’s fault for his actions.

    My “best friend” of 20 years had Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Which is this behavior on steroids, but in a stealthy manner. Thank God I finally came to reality with all of this and left the abusive “friend” (after 20 years of abuse from him) and I stay away from my oldest brother.

    Nothing is worth staying in that kind of environment. Get the heck out of there. Take it from someone that has actually been in similar shoes, get out of there. Meanwhile, do not let her take your rights, happiness, and humanity away from you.

    Do the webcam thing. Burn a DVD with a few good videos of her on it. Give it to her police officer friend next time she calls him over to intimidate you. Just say it’s a gift, and you think he’d like it. I guarantee he hasn’t seen the real her. My former friend was a master at painting a kind facade to others and being a beast to those under his control.

    Reply

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