Last night marked 28 days/4 weeks since my roommate and I have spoken to each other. We live in a 400 sf single apartment. We sleep less than 5 feet from one another. To say it’s been challenging is a complete understatement. I’m exhausted.
tl;dr (too long; didn’t read)
My roommate and I haven’t spoken in almost a month. Last night I initiated a conversation. We talked for over an hour. We’re sorted. I can move on. Continue to work through the issues this has bought up for me and he’s going to make more of an effort and possibly seek professional care. I’m proud of him. I’m proud of myself. note: I also go off on a tangent about 3 times in the past where people I love have given me the silent treatment or cut off communication.
The past month, this was me in survival mode:
This is my roommate in survival mode:
We were both operating from past trauma, which is really current trauma. For me, I knew that it wasn’t personal. We had a talk in late Spring when it had been 11 days since he’d spoken to me.
That first talk I didn’t speak up because I was feeling insecure and confused. I thought he didn’t like me, that he judged me for not being able to work and for being at the apartment a lot while I was healing from the car accident. I felt he didn’t care about me. That I didn’t matter.
I was at a point where I was in so much pain that I couldn’t go to the store to get water for myself. My other few friends in the city were busy but would help me from time to time when they could. But it was super embarrassing to reach out and ask. More than once people would ask, don’t you live with someone? Can’t you ask him?
I did a few times. I’d leave the water bottles with change by the front door. Sometimes he would. But mostly he was tired from work, or he’d forgotten. I stopped asking. When I could afford it, I bought a pitcher/water filter.
When we talked, he said it wasn’t personal, he just didn’t think about it. He needed to come home and just be to himself. He didn’t have the capacity to do anything more. He couldn’t do anything for anyone else. He told me he didn’t speak to anyone really. That he’s independent. He also told me he didn’t judge me. But he felt I was needy. I acknowledged that I like to be helpful. Being of service is my love language. I just want the people around me to have an easier time in life. If I can be a part of that I want to. We had a good talk.
I told him that we could have a much better life. We could be happier. I told him that with the world the way it is, the people we interact with day-to-day are where we could make a difference. Just like be decent to one another. We could play games, maybe cook together to save money. He said that he just wanted to come home and have his own little space in our space. To shut down and be in his own head. I said that seemed sad, that he seemed sad. He said I wasn’t responsible for his happiness. That was good for me to hear. I mean I knew that, but it was good to have him acknowledge it. I was like, but at the very least, just speak, say hi. Because I was feeling like I was a non-person. That I didn’t matter. That I wasn’t even worth interacting with. It felt gross. Inhumane. I was nearly crying when we talked that first time. After that, he put in a bit more effort. It was better/regular. We didn’t talk but it would be like, how was your day? Have a good shift. Basic stuff. He told me to not let things build up again and to just talk to him if I had any issues.
But then suddenly he stopped speaking to me.
What had happened was:
Sunday (10.27) early afternoon I messaged our mutual friend who was supposed to come pick up her cleats for a soccer game she was set to play that afternoon I had set an alarm so I’d be awake when she got here. She messaged me back to say she already had them. My roommate had dropped them off when he dropped his car off at her house on the way to the airport. He was on his way to Mexico! She’d forgotten he was going. I think he mentioned it in September but I didn’t remember either.
She said he missed his flight and I was like, Good! because I was mad. The thing is, I was awake until maybe an hour before he left. I heard him moving around but I thought he was just getting ready for work. If he’d have told me he was leaving I’d have set my alarm as a backup which I used to do with our other roommate. I can’t say he wouldn’t have missed his flight but he wouldn’t have overslept!
The other thing is that if she hadn’t told me he was gone I would’ve been up that night worried that he hadn’t come home! So I was hot. The next day I sent him a text:
A couple days later I texted him to ask what time he was getting back on Wednesday. No response. So I just was like, ok. I guess he’s not talking to me. I couldn’t be the one to initiate anything. First off I was too mad. I had already told him how I felt months ago and it was like again bringing up feelings of invisibility and that I didn’t matter. That my existence in this space meant nothing. A week into all this I got super lucky and got a call that I was next on the waiting list for a therapist at the local LGBT center. It had been about 4 or 5 months! But it was perfect timing to get that call.
My therapist helped me realize that this was echoing trauma from past relationships. I made the connection of when I was 16, the first girl I fell in love with, who’d been my friend for like 9 months, stopped talking with me for a few months after I told her I liked her.
And last week I made the connection that my last girlfriend (we broke up in 2014), also stopped speaking to me completely when our post-breakup friendship ended. We lived within 2 blocks of each other, went to the same school, would see other on the street, usually when she was with her friends. I’d speak, her friends would speak to me and she’d not even look at me. Sometimes she’d keep walking. And the thing about that is, she’s friend’s with her exes! We’d all hang out together at her house. I thought that was really cool of her. Our mutual friend said she started ignoring me to protect herself. She realized we would not be getting back together. She was hurt. I think she did it to hurt me because she knew it would. Obviously, it’s probably both. That experience was so painful that I totally didn’t think about it until last week. YIKES!
But the real kick to the head and guts, is that I have been steady playing back an incident from 2016 right after Trump was elected. With Thanksgiving coming up, it echoes something I experienced with my cousin and her now husband who voted for him.
We were at a rest-stop when we were traveling to Moreno Valley from Sacramento for Thanksgiving week. I was riding with my friend/cousin (The Trump voter’s brother) and we stopped at McDonald’s to use the bathroom and get gas. My cousin and her now-husband have 2 small children. The kids were 4 and 2 I think. Both under 5 for sure. When they saw me they came running up to me all excited. During the past year or so I saw them often because I lived with their grandmother, my Aunt. She’d babysit. They were my little buddies.
When I said hi to my cousin and her now-husband, they didn’t speak to me. They didn’t really acknowledge me. They looked away or straight ahead. Not a word. Not a nod. Nothing.
A few hours later when we got to Moreno Valley we had a family meeting and the now-husband said if I thought they were the epitome of all evil because they had voted for Trump that they didn’t want me around their kids.
I never said they were the epitome of all evil. I said that they had done a disservice to humanity by voting for him. When the now-husband made that threat, my Aunt said, in the smallest voice I ever heard from her, “How is that going to work?” I knew that it wouldn’t, so I said whatever I could to maintain the peace. They were the 4th set of people in my family who had said they didn’t want me around their kids.
1. My nephew’s mom wouldn’t let me see my nephew if I didn’t talk to my brother about how he spoke to her/treated her. I didn’t see him for over 3 years because I refuse to be emotionally blackmailed. So gross.
2. My mom and dad now have grandparent’s rights, my brother has no rights, and they told him if he took my nephew to see me, they’d not let him see my nephew the next time they had him for a visit. They went as far as to take him home a day early when they found out my brother, cousin, and I were taking him to see Blaçk Panther with us. My dad decided to take him while my brother was at work. Me and my brother ages 39 and 36 were crying/sobbing in the parking lot at his job. That was one of the worst days of my entire life.
3. My older cousin, the bully who’s physically attacked me twice for being queer/trans, told my other Aunt (who hosts Thanksgiving every year) that his son, her grandson, couldn’t be at her house or visit if I was there. Even though I had spent 3 summers and 3 holiday seasons with him before that.
I’ll say this now. When a person is cut off from the next generation of their family, it just feels awful. There’s just no place for me with them right now.
So yeh, trauma.
Essentially, I lost my family that Thanksgiving 2016. My home. My safe place. I don’t feel I can attend any family gathering without detrimental emotional repercussions. I felt I was/am expected to be silent and get along. I tried for about 8 months after that but ultimately started getting sick in my body and mind. Then I left for a two-week vacation and haven’t been back for over 2 years with the exception of 6 days when I came to get a few things in October 2017. Essentially, I’ve been dealing with homelessness since and feeling there’s no safe place to be. I’m so thankful, my friend is letting me stay here in her apartment, allowing me to heal and improve my life. But yeh, my time is up here. I need to move on. As soon as I’m able to I will. I’m ready.
This situation with my roommate was just bringing up stuff and making me feel not good about myself and embarrassed about being in this situation at all. Not physically being able to get around and dealing with my mental health has been a thing. LUCKILY, everything in my life is getting better. The past two weeks, the past 2 days, have been INCREDIBLE. So much so, that I was feeling sick to my stomach when I came back to the apartment yesterday, so I just had to talk with my roommate.
I didn’t talk to him before last night because I was too angry and hurt. I started pretending like I was living in a monastery. A silent retreat. To cope. The thing is, I knew it wasn’t personal against me because my roommate is generally very considerate about being quiet at night, lights low, headphones in. We both like our space and quiet time. He also very gently closes the door when he goes to work if I’m sleeping. We do really well to be in such a small space together. He’s a good guy but just my needs aren’t his priority. He said for him, it’s enough that I’m here. That’s company enough for him. He just felt no need to speak. He’s been doing what he needs to take care of himself.
I also coudn’t start a conversation with him before now because I want/need reciprocity in my relationships. Harmony. Mutual respect. I don’t want to engage with people who don’t want to engage with me. It’s taken a lot of energy from me, emotionally and mentally but I’ve learned a lot. This experience has given me gifts. I know my value. I know I can write, make art, do my physical therapy exercises, meditate (I’m at 56 consecutive days) and generally take care of myself the best I can, in the midst of not goodness.
I want to share this. The song lyrics that best represent the emotional mind-set that I have had over the last several weeks:
“Cause I can’t make you love me when you don’t. You can’t make your heart feel something that it won’t.”
-from Adele’s Live Version
I’m not sure how I’m feeling besides exhausted. I don’t feel relieved or lighter. Stronger maybe. Proud yes.
I’ve promised myself that I won’t live with someone who doesn’t love, appreciate me, and care for my well being.
I’m so happy that this part of my life is nearing its end. Like, so happy.
To all who have made it through this jumble of words/thoughts, cheers to you. I can’t re-read/edit now. I’m spent.
Thank you for reading/witnessing this time in my life of discovery, dealing with challenging personal isssus, and healing.
Know that I appreciate you.