Hostile Home Environment– Seeking Support

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    I’m a 25 year old girl who owns a business- a private massage therapy practice. I have two cats and live in a 2 bedroom apartment. My previous roommate was a nice guy who came from craigslist at a previous apartment and then he and I broke off and got my current place. He moved in with his girlfriend in September and I had to replace him. I did my best to post an ad describing exactly what type of environment and person I was looking for. I got an email that seemed really fitting. The girl was 21, which I thought was young, but she was graduated from college already with a neuroscience degree and a writer. The rent is not cheap here and I figured if she could make that work at 21 and had a degree she was ahead of the curve. I empathized with that as a person always mature for my age. The unfortunate reality is that she is not mature at all. She started showing signs of entitlement and a machiavellian way of traversing through life– every story she told me seemed about some guy she met or event she went to and what she was getting out of it. It was always a means to an end. Saying she essentially sleeps with certain people because they give her lots of free drugs or etc. She had a very princess like attitude, me being the slave role for her. I had already lived here a year– I own all the furniture, which is nice stuff. She came in, her rats chewed holes in my couch cushions, she broke a few of my things, she started smoking tobacco indoors, complained when I asked her to repair my couch, etc. The biggest issue for me was the smoking. I asked her politely face to face if she would please smoke outside. She said she understood and would. She continued inside. I brought it up again over text and got a hostile response shifting the attention onto me (had done nothing but be accommodating), so seeing where things were headed decided to bite the bullet and apologize (for nothing really) and say let’s make an agreement, you can smoke weed inside your room with a window open but not tobacco. She continued to smoke tobacco indoors and I had another sit down with her– explained my chronic migraines, that it’s a trigger, and she said she would stop if it was bothering me. I was happy about that because it was hard staying calm in the face of all that disrespect, but after a week she started smoking again. I got fed up of asking several times, so let the property management know. And I let her know I could smell it and it was giving me a headache. She begged me to believe her it was something else. A week before she had sprayed synthetic fragrance throughout the whole house and I was gagging on it in my room– I brought that up nicely too but she denied even owning such a spray. It was strong and undeniable. So during this conversation I stated that she was lying, that I know what I am smelling, that I furthermore have a headache because of it, and am not going to back down on what I know to be true. How can you converse with a liar? I have been so nice about everything. Every communication was made with thoughtfulness and empathy. “I understand this is inconvenient, but I would appreciate if you would X because Y” etc. I never was accusatory even when I felt I had the right to be. The last conversation I’m describing was one of strength and conviction for me that I am pretty proud of. Since the breakdown, she has told me not to speak to her and I have asked her to move. She wouldn’t respond about moving. Instead she has decided to spend each day in the kitchen/living room which is the only other room and all one room. She sits at my dining table all day long on her laptop, which she never did before to dominate the space. She walks around like she owns the place, she bangs things, she’s loud now, she leaves her door open all day and plays her radio for herself from her bedroom. She’s adding her own decor to the living room when the initial agreement was I have decorated the place as I want to and don’t want to add anyone’s decor to it. It’s very common for people to move into places that have an established aesthetic if another person is living there and owns everything. But the point being it’s all a dominance thing. She blasted her music the other morning and when I went to her door (open) to ask her to talk , she slammed it in my face. I have been told the landlord could only evict both or neither of us, so I should move. I am trying to move and she will not speak to me, she will not answer if she would talk to a sublet, and at the same time she is putting herself in my face at every opportunity. She slammed the door in my face twice the other day when I went and asked to talk, but then as soon as I’d go back to my room would open her door back up. She is obviously insane.

    Now, to my experience of this. I have PTSD and had an abusive mother I no longer speak to. I have panic disorder and generalized anxiety and depression. I have been in a PTSD flare up for a month since this broke open (it was panic inducing for much longer, I just handled it by not pushing too hard back against her until I had to). Even when I have been panicking or afraid I have initiated in person conversation with her. I have had to pep talk myself about leaving the room and going to confront her or else just doing my business in the kitchen, which she now guard dogs. It’s incredibly uncomfortable and I think I have been brave, considering. But the reality is that I wake up with severe morning anxiety, I never know what to expect, my heart races when I walk around or arrive home. I don’t want to come home and when I have to, my anxiety is through the roof. I am barely able to eat, I am nauseous all the time. I am lucky if I eat half a bagel all day even when staying with friends and family, which I am doing frequently now. There’s only so much time away I can spend before I have to come back and take care of my kitties, get clothes, etc. I don’t want anybody to tell me this anxiety can go away if I do x,y,z. I don’t want dietary suggestions or any of that. I’m a well researched person doing a lot of proactive things for my health and don’t particularly want to get into any argument about the uncontrollable nature of anxiety. I can’t control what my body does– that much is clear. I woke up paralyzed and in pain for 2 hours the other morning in my stomach. I’m trying to get out– I look at apartments every day but there’s only one I found that worked for me and they haven’t got back to me yet. They initially said no because of a strict no pet policy, but my cats are officially therapy animals and I have a doctor letter, which means a landlord is supposed to make a reasonable accommodation for me.

    So what am I asking here? I don’t know– this is one of the worst and most stressful things that’s ever happened to me– being bullied in my own home, being kind, generous, and generally peaceful and getting this as an outcome. There have been phases to this– I’ve been angry, incredibly angry, wanted to say and do so much more than I’ve done or said because I feel disrespected and enraged about my things being dominated, my space being dominated and knowing that realistically there’s nothing I can do about it. That’s the whole point of her doing it– the intimidation factor, the what are you going to do about it factor… I’m obviously not going to assault her or her things, much as I might like to, so… she doesn’t want me here, but she doesn’t want me to go, she doesn’t want to go, she just wants to torture me. She’s behaving like a child, throwing a tantrum. I just want someone to hear me, to see me, for a little support. What would you being doing or thinking? I have been constantly in the midst of the stress and panic searching for apartments, sending emails, making calls, and appointments. I have been on point with everything I’ve done to escape. I’ve not reacted when I wanted to. I’ve gone out into the kitchen in front of her and opened my door too and done things I needed to. Of course I’m avoiding it if I don’t have to. I’m not eating here really– I don’t feel comfortable being out there cooking with my back to her hating me. But if I have dishes to wash, I do it real quick then get out. That’s better than what I instinctually want which is to wait until she’s asleep to do my dishes. I’m trying to show that I’m not going to let her prevent me from living in my space. In reality, she is though. It hurts really more than anything. I’ve tried to stay zen. I’ve tried to think about how her suffering is her own and has nothing to do with me. But it’s in my face all the time. It’s really just very sad.

    I may be stuck here longer than I hoped. I’m scared of mornings– that’s when I break down the most. I can’t focus on anything while I’m here– work etc. Especially not with her constantly making a scene in the apartment. She never leaves. She “works” from home and places herself right in my cross hairs. I don’t know… this has tried me… what do you make of it?


    Hello Aetheria,

    Congratulations on owning a business at such a young age. I read your post and I see how stressful it must be for you to feel stuck in that environment. I was wondering if her name is on the lease or if it’s just yours?


    Hi Annie–

    Both of ours but it is joint and several liability. To my surprise there is no no smoking clause but there is a disturbance clause. Basically one of us violating the lease is the legal equivalent of us both violating it :/


    Dear Aetheria:

    Your story reminds me of my past experience: I lived in an apartment. For months it was a good experience, then a new neighbor moved in to an apartment below. She was in the habit of being awake all night and asleep part of the day. At night she would vacuum, wash dishes, move around, making a lot of noise, into the morning. And to supplement the harassment, she slammed doors, day and night.

    Nothing helped: talking nicely with her, talking angrily with her- asserting myself- nothing. At one point I knew: I was either going to survive this or not. I was sleep deprived and distressed. I could have died in a car accident or such. Eventually I moved out to a new place before it was furnished, slept on an inflated mattress bought for the purpose of moving as soon as possible.

    Some people we can do nothing but survive.

    I believe that moving out ASAP should be your first priority, in effort to survive her. In the meantime, before you move, I wonder if you had a friend that can move in with you, into the apartment, if that will help to make it easier for you being there…?


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