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    RUTHXG   44,804
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Dithering


Monday, June 03, 2013

This is not related to weight or physical health, but I need to think it through & my blog seems a good place to do that. Please don't feel that you have to read this whole thing--though if you do & have some wisdom to share, that is welcome.

Since September 2011 I've had a housemate, S. (Not a roommate--when you each have your own room, that college-era term can be misleading! emoticon ) She is a few years younger than me, was divorced long ago & not in a current romantic relationship, goes to the same church (where since last fall she has managed the small office). I offered her the room in my condo when I learned that, because her then-housemate was getting married & S had very little income, she needed a low-cost place to live. I proposed that she pay very minimal rent in $$ (as in just $100/month) & the rest in cleaning/organizing work for me @ $20/hour. She accepted gratefully.

Over the months, with her help lots of cleaning/organizing HAS been done, & my condo is much more pleasant now. We split most groceries & take turns with batch cooking; each of us makes her own decisions about what to fix, but fortunately our tastes are generally compatible. And we eat REALLY frugally but enjoy it--you've seen examples of my dishes here in the What's Cookin' Good Lookin' posts.

And S is a good person, very generous & altruistic. Some things she does get on my nerves, but that happens with anyone one lives with, right? I try to rise above it, saying something only if she's actually being dysfunctional in some way--which she almost never is. We're both quiet & try to be considerate.

But every single time she goes out of town, I am overjoyed. I guzzle the solitude as if it were a spring of water & I were desperately thirsty. I am a little disappointed when she returns. I've been paying attention to this & talked to my spiritual director about it: my responses are telling me that I really prefer to live alone, & eventually I'm going to have to tell that to S & ask her to make plans to find another home. But because she recently told me in a note that she is feeling at home in my place, I've assumed that would be a year or two down the road.

Here's the current issue: Recently S roasted a chicken--not one of my preferred dishes among those she makes, because I like big flavors, & even though S is trying out different seasonings (using a list, "20 Ways to Roast a Chicken") it always comes out pretty bland, which means we just have some chunks of plain chicken on our plates. But that's not a big deal, though maybe she was a little put out that I didn't offer enthusiastic praise for the dish when she served it. What happened was that last night she boiled the carcass with a LOT of water to make broth. Good thing to do--broth is useful. I spent the later part of the evening watching a Netflix film, & eventually she went to bed. When I went to the kitchen to take my nightly supplements, I found that she had left me a note asking me to put the broth in the freezer.

She had removed the carcass, but the broth was still in the stock pot. It didn't make sense to me to put it in the freezer in the pot, so I pulled out a couple of plastic containers with tight-fitting lids & filled them up. Before putting them in the freezer I put labels ("ch broth 6/2") on the lids with masking tape--a practice she asked me to start way back when, so that we always know what's in a container & how old it is. It was quite late & I wasn't pleased to have this sprung on me, but it wasn't a big deal & soon I was off to bed.

This morning when I went to the kitchen to get ready to leave for work, she thanked me for putting it in the freezer & said, "But I didn't expect you to put it in containers."

Me: Well, I wouldn't put a pot in the freezer--then we've have a hassle breaking off chunks of the broth when we wanted to thaw it.

S: It would have been fine--this morning I would have been able to skim off the fat and put the broth into smaller containers.

Me: [??] (thinking, wouldn't the broth be hard-frozen by then?)

S: [sudden flareup] Well, if you weren't so stuck in your ways & sure that you always know the best way to do things, you'd save a lot of time. You waste a lot of time doing things inefficiently.

Me: I don't think I waste a lot of time. [exiting]

Yeah, that was quite unexpected, & I've been reeling from it ever since. As you can see with the example of the labels, I've been flexible & willing to shift gears when something seems important to S. Of course I'm stuck in SOME of my ways--that happens naturally at our ages. I do take on new challenges in my work & my poetry writing, but I'd just rather keep things simple at home.

My own perception is that often S herself complicates things unnecessarily--for example, when she has guests for dinner (which is VERY seldom) she tries to fix numerous separate dishes, all from scratch, & is never finished with the cooking & table setting when they arrive. (This is despite the fact that she works only part time.) Or with this chicken itself the other night, which just involved us, no guests: when I got home from work at nearly 7:30 she had salad made but still wanted to make gravy. So we sat down to eat salad, & then she went back to the stove for maybe 20 minutes & I went off to work at my computer, still hungry. But I would not reproach her for something like this unless it happened on a regular basis; she is doing what she thinks best, & why stir up conflict & unhappiness?

Now she has stirred up unhappiness in me. I lived with people's irritation & anger for all my adult life--both of my ex-husbands' & my daughter's (fortunately she has matured immensely, & anyway we haven't lived together for a long time). And I'm just done with that. I've paid my dues. Plus I'm under some real freelance pressure right now, deadlines looming, & I don't want to make it worse by getting into a prolonged "working it out" discussion.

Of course I have to bring it up, though. SIGH. I was kinda hoping that she'd realize that she was out of line & send me an e-mail or make a phone call in the course of the day. That would make it much easier, but it didn't happen.

I'm wondering whether I should go a big step beyond that & ask her to start making plans to move out. Not because of this one incident, but because (1) her words showed that she has been stewing about my habits more generally & (2) I JUST WANT TO LIVE ALONE. (2010-2011 was the first time in my whole life I had lived by myself, & I just loved it.) Would that be evading Christian community, let alone the basic human value of negotiating a life with others?

My next appointment with my spiritual director is not till July 10. But maybe I'll ask for a special one soon to talk this through.

EDIT TO UPDATE: When I got home tonight, S came out & said hi cheerily as if there were no problem & asked how my day had been. I said not good & explained that her comment had been a really bad way to start the day, because it sounded as if she'd been harboring things.

She looked me in the eye & said, "Well yes, I have."

I told her I couldn't talk about it tonight because I have this deadline looming; she has a meeting tomorrow night, so we agreed on Wednesday evening. She returned to her room, & I pulled together a quick supper for myself & brought it to the living room on a tray; I've been working at my laptop ever since. And I e-mailed my spiritual director & we now have a Wed.-a.m. appointment, thank God.

Because of the way she responded--not even "Oh, I'm sorry" about the little outburst this morning--I'm thinking that it may well be time for her to move on. And just permitting myself a tiny spark of anticipation: that room could become my art studio! And guest room when needed. We shall see!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post:
BEATLETOT 6/5/2013 8:57PM

    Oh, Ruth, I thought I'd read this one, but it turns out I hadn't. I'm so sorry about this!

From my experience, I think if you're trying to help someone out by giving them shelter, it's better to not charge anything rather than a token amount. I had a girlfriend live with me for 17 months, and A and I said we weren't charging her, but she insisted on paying half the market value of the room, which was fine, but for me, it would have been more valuable to me for her to be able to watch Sammy when we were out of town, and because she was paying something, she was never available to do it. Not that it's a big deal, and we were so sad for her to go, but this was the biggest thing that bothered me (although of course, there were smaller things with all the people we had in and out of our house) with her. How dare she go out of town for the weekend when I need someone to look after him, and where is she getting the money for that, anyway???

So because S is a paying tenant, she thinks she can speak to you in less-than-pleasant ways, and it's not fair. I'm not sure now is a good time to tell her to get ready to get out, because it seems like a tense time, and I'm sure you'd like to have her as a friend (who lives in a separate household!), but maybe in a couple weeks, when things have cooled down, you could tell her that you are ready and hope she is, too.

I'll be anticipating an update on what your spiritual counselor said and how your meeting this evening went. And maybe we can get together soon?



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A_BIT_AT_A_TIME 6/5/2013 7:27PM

    thinking about you tonight & praying for a calm resolution emoticon

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RUNNERRACHEL 6/4/2013 10:57PM

    I am so sympathetic to the situation. I can relate to the way you've gone out of your way for her and how (seemingly) she does not appreciate all you've done.

You have done a lot for her and continuing to allow her to live there as a favor but at your expense would not serve either one of you. It sounds like she sees no fault in what happened, her habits, her lifestyle and is unwilling to change and holds some resentment that is not healthy to be around.

You may like things a certain way but it sounds from what you've said that you have been more than accommodating.

One thing I did in the past was to sacrifice my own happiness for fear of upsetting others. That is not healthy. We all need boundaries. You may need to define yours in this situation.

I pray God gives you clarity and I hope that your talk with your advisor gives you some good advice. emoticon emoticon

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BABY_GIRL69 6/4/2013 6:41PM

    OH Ruth!! I am so sorry you going through this. I love my kids but I am enjoying more freedoms now that I have (1) daughter out of the house & my oldest son is right behind her. Except this is now partly Christmas & Summer breaks but even then he is with his girlfriend. I find that I enjoy it more when he is not home because then I don't have to rely on him any longer. We have become different creatures in the last 2years. I used to crave when he came home & would talk to me for hours. Hubs isn't a big conversationalist and sometimes quite frankly even he gets on my nerves. My baby he stays mostly to himself but I am really counting the years when it will just be me & hubby & Shadow our boxer. Enjoying our wonder years with travels & things we used to enjoy doing but can't because kids are still in our pockets. Also, we used to live with my aunt & her 7kids & my mom had 6kids. You talking about fighting & getting on each other nerves?!! I am surprised we survived at all but when they move, it broke my heart. You may or may not have one of these experiences but I pray it all works out for both of your goods. Explain your feelings of not just that you want her out but you think it is time she find another space to grow in. I will keep you both in my prayers that it will work out for you... AND don't make me come over there?!!! lol emoticon

God bless & take care!

Don't let them get you....

Dee

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A_BIT_AT_A_TIME 6/4/2013 1:07PM

    It almost sounds like she recognizes (at some level) a need for her to move on as well.
I hope you're not spending all day "stewing" about it (I would). Great that you can get some wise counsel before you meet. I see some lessons in this that I'm going to try to remember. I hope it works out amicably. And I love the idea of an art room!

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SHANSHE 6/4/2013 11:15AM

    WOW!!! it sounds as if it may well be time for her to move on. It is hard to live with someone, even family that you love, much less anyone else. I pray that you all can come to an agreeable solution and that no bad feelings will be harbored by either of you... and if possible you can still be friends.
Hugs,
Shan

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