Monday, March 8, 2010

I Think I've Run Out of Other Cheeks to Turn

I know we're supposed to be forgiving, and we're supposed to turn the other cheek, but I think I've run out of other cheeks in regards to my roommate situation.

Don't get me wrong; I like my roommates. It's just the garbage that comes along with them that's the problem. I live in a 3 bedroom apartment. I have one room, my sister has another room, and the third room is shared by my 45 year old roommate and her 14 year old daughter. My roommate is separated from her husband, and they're sort of going through a divorce, but not really. (Meaning they don't live together, and when she moved in with me, she told me they were going through a divorce. That was two years ago and nothing has changed.)

The husband can't hold down a job and bounces around between his brother's place and his parents' place. (His parents live in a town about an hour away. I much prefer it when he's there.) He used to spend a lot of time at my place, too. My roommate felt bad and felt responsible for him and kept letting him stay. This made me extremely uncomfortable because I get bad vibes from him whenever he's around.

About a year ago, it got to the point where he stayed over every night for three weeks straight. He would also hang around during the day when the rest of us were at work/school. I told my roommate that this wasn't acceptable. I signed up to live with her and her daughter, not with her husband. We reached an agreement that he would no longer spend the night, and that he would no longer be present in the apartment unless either my roommate or their daughter was also there.

I figured this would be the end of the problem. Unfortunately, it wasn't. Now, instead of actually living in the apartment, he only practically lived there. He would stay until about midnight, when he would go and sleep in my roommate's car. Then he would come back around 6 in the morning to use the shower. He would leave after breakfast to go do whatever he does during the day. One day I was home sick from work. I was in the kitchen doing the dishes when I heard the key in the lock. My roommate's husband walked in (unaccompanied) like he owned the place. I didn't have the presence of mind to ask him to leave. (Partly because I was so foggy-headed from cold medicine, but partly because it probably would have been really dangerous of me to do so.) He went into my roommate's room and surfed the web all day, leaving a few minutes before my roommate got home from work.

I told my roommate what had happened, and she called him up and yelled at him for it. (Which he totally deserved.) We're not sure how he got the key, but we changed the locks and have been very careful about knowing where all keys are at all times. He returned to his parents' house and pretty much stayed gone for a long time.

My roommate lost her job a few months back, and she's been struggling to make ends meet. Her car broke down, so she's been carless for the last month or so, complicating her job search. Last week, her husband showed up again, supposedly to attend a school function for their daughter. He's been here all week! (Pulling the sleep in the car routine again.) My sister and I refer to him (only outside anyone else's earshot) as crabgrass because just when you think he's gone, he'll come back.

The situation is becoming completely untenable. My sister and I don't feel comfortable leaving our rooms when he's around. My cat, who loves everyone, is terrified of him. I've forgiven him for the whole stolen-key break-in incident. (Meaning that I hold no ill-will toward him about it. I still don't trust him, though, and I probably never will.) However, I don't want him around my living space. On the other hand, I know that talking to my roommate about it won't do any good. She feels responsible for him and she keeps enabling him. It seems like my two choices are to put up with the invasion of the creepy man or to kick out an unemployed single mother in the middle of a recession. Neither option is appealing to me. The first option is unfair to me (and my sister), and the second option strikes me as profoundly un-Christian. (The third potential option of me moving out won't work because my sister and my roommate don't have the financial resources to stay in the apartment without my income and credit securing the lease, and I can't afford to break the lease.)

At least the lease is up in 3 months. I have a feeling it's going to be a really long few months.

1 comment:

C.J. said...

I'm sorry, that's a terrible situation to be in.

There's a big difference between forgiving, which is good, and being a doormat, which is bad. Yes, we should forgive--but we should also stand up for ourselves. Your bad feelings, that's the Spirit prompting you to act; in your heart of hearts, you know this situation is unhealthy, and unsafe.

She's down on her luck, but she's also an adult who's responsible for her own choices. For my (un-asked for) two cents, I think you and your sister should consider asking her to leave early. It sounds like, honestly, she's her own worst enemy. In all likelihood, she gave her husband the key, and she's certainly inviting him over and telling him he can, and should, be there. She hasn't gotten a divorce but, on the other hand, she's not committing to her marriage, either. It sounds like she has some serious issues she needs to work through, before she can respond to other people, and her environment, maybe the way she wants to.