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What’s an Ugly Scene Between Roommates Look Like?

July 12, 2013

Deadbeat groggily opens door of bedroom wearing sunglasses, scratches head, puzzled, speaks in froggy, bewildered voice.

DEADBEAT: Hey. The electricity’s out.

ROOMMATE WHO’S HAD TO EAT EVERY EXPENSE SO FAR AND BEEN LIED TO ABOUT MONEY FOR MORE THAN A MONTH (RWHTEEESFABLTAMFMTAM): Yeah. I turned it off so I could permanently disable the air conditioner.

DEADBEAT: You can’t do that.

RWHTEEESFABLTAMFMTAM (Clips the wires dangling from the wall with tin-snips): I just did. I’m not paying for it anymore. You lied about paying the rent.

End

I have come to understand that the reason I have been used in my life is because I accepted being used.

Someone I used to care for published something today, essentially blaming me for his lack of self regard. You can’t put that shit on me. That’s what I would say to him if I had the chance to tell him anything.

That relationship, like so many in my life, was based on me expressing more regard for someone else, at certain points, than I did even for myself. It was a bond formed on emotional pressure. I felt important because I could help and I could advocate and I thought that the balance would change sometime. The person in question (PIQ) was so ill at a certain point that I wondered if he might die if I weren’t there. I spent time worrying, long hours at his side or nearby at the expense of my own life and the deteriorating relationship I had with my boyfriend at the time. I was under pressure, holding down two jobs (one of which kept me in close proximity to PIQ) and lived an hour and a half by bus away in a working class neighborhood in Buenos Aires.

Much later, I grew tired of PIQ because I saw how ungrateful and self-serving he was. It wasn’t even on my own account that I first realized it. Someone had held a benefit for him, raising cash and handing it to him on the spot. This Woman (TW) had rallied, gotten the OK of a bar and even a substantial alcohol donation, solicited auction items from the community for books and photographs and things for his benefit. He was about to move and needed a suitcase, and she had told him she’d bring one.

The event was over and PIQ was quite drunk, to the point of slurring, and a guy we know was walking with us to the bus stop. It was quite a trek. PIQ was in a foul mood, his cadence like sea waves cresting and crashing, and each statement a negative one. He was much better than he’d been when I’d feared for his life, but was sick and fed up with his situation. Despite everyone’s kindness to him that night, or maybe because of it, he spewed what was stupid and why about this and that. Finally he lit on TW, brandishing the large duffle she’d given him and saying, “Does this look like a fucking suitcase to you? What the fuck is wrong with her? Now what the fuck am I going to do?”

“I don’t know. Get some fucking boxes?” I said in a bitchy tone. He hadn’t thanked me for my effort (albeit a small one) in helping with the event and he had hundreds of pesos in his pocket, maybe around a thousand. “TW helped you a lot tonight. I’m fucking sick to death of your negativity.”

The conversation changed quickly then and the guy we were with hung out so we could make sure PIQ got on the bus. He was so drunk, we were afraid to leave him there on his own. We waited for nearly an hour, then PIQ decided to get a cab, but it was almost impossible to find an empty one of those. I was very tired. The guy we were with and I saw busses that would take us home at dwindling intervals as we attempted for nearly half an hour to hail a cab for PIQ. He didn’t appreciate it if he even remembered it and it took me another hour of waiting to decide to give up and take a cab home, wasting time and money.

I saw then that there was no slack for any perceived transgression. TW’s effort was unacceptable. You might forgive this as a drunken outburst, but it showed me something fundamental about him as he had yelled at me several times, accused me of things, even once screaming at me for making fun of a teen television drama he insisted I watch with him. In every case he was sick or drunk. He never apologized for it, and I had seen the pattern by then. Everything that was wrong in his life was someone else’s fault.

That’s why today, I was not at all surprised to read that it’s apparently my fault now that he won’t go to the doctor. His disregard for himself is brought on by the enormous blow to his spirit it was when, for the last time, I asked for an apology. He’d screamed at me after I’d spent four hours every day for a week visiting him in the hospital. I found him a place to stay, even after he’d insulted me in front of a room full of mutual acquaintances and friends. I felt responsible. But I was angry that he’d treated me the way he did.

About a month later, he asked me for a favor. I said I would do it if he would apologize for yelling at me. He became irate and told me that the aggression he’d felt free to unload on me was justified because he was upset and in a lot of pain. That was the moment I decided I’d had enough, that I’d been used enough. “After all I did for you, you can’t even bother to apologize when you’ve treated me badly. Don’t ever ask me for anything again.”

Training yourself not to be treated like shit can take a long time. I’m no master, and I’m closer to 40 than 30. But now that that’s one of my primary goals in life, I have no doubt I will succeed. Now, if you want to listen to a cheesy hair metal song from the ’80s, this would be the time.

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