DTMFA?
February 10, 2019 7:41 AM   Subscribe

I have this friend, who is a complex character that I have seen a therapist about and THEY didn't know what to make of him. He's costing me my mental health with a ganja habit that has very clearly, for years, been terrible for me to be around - words that have come out of my mouth - and there are too many behaviors to ask for behavior changes. And he is my roommate now because Life and Stupidity. How do I DTMFA with my circumstances?

This friend, let's call him O, met me in March 2014. We quickly bonded over - oh yes, smoking weed. At the end of 2014, O asked me to move in to replace his roommate, who had to leave because him and her had a thing/didn't have a thing ... ?

It was odd. I let it slide. There was ganj to distract me from the first, gigantic glaring warning sign this person has some issues around boundaries. To this day, I'm wondering if he did the coercive sexual assault thing and can't quite wrap his mind around "That's what I did" and maintain a cohesive sense of self identity as a good person.

We move in and he's like whoa, martial arts? So I taught him some martial arts ... yowch. I got my face shoved against a wall hard enough to leave some PTSD triggers around neck and facial massage, practicing martial arts with other people, and him.

I moved out in a panic, wrecked mess when our lease ended. My life fell apart in the subsequent year. He was, after a few months, there - one of two friends who was. Patiently listening, doing some of the emotional labor pieces we belabor men to do here on MeFi.

It took a while - October of 2016 before I move into a home, April of 2017 to move out of the first immediately apparent abuser's living room for my mental health ... and the whole time, he's there, always supportive and supplying the ganj as we pave our way to having a good time together. We train for an ultramarathon, try for it, fail together, play guitar together, pave our way through the solar system in Warframe together ... the best of friends again. My craftiness, my queerness even - by proximity of who he hangs out with - is pushed to the side for this relationship. I love those pieces.

I assert a boundary around substance somewhere between the first 3 month ultra thing and the second one. Just need space from it, I said. I caved in the end, but there's pressure there too that in retrospect I cannot own.

Time flows on. He meets this girl at work! The girl is 17, but living on her own without parental support when they meet, and they start hanging out a lot. He confesses that he read her journal entry, and I'm still silent about it to this day even though as they're cuddled up now, in the other room, I can't help but think about the metaphor of building a house on quicksand.

She turns 18, and they're dating. YAAAY! I flip out because in the process of getting to know her as a coworker, I quickly saw she had some fear of intimacy stuff and was catfishing around sexuality at work. I do not feel safe, now, with her proximity to my life. Her behaviors match the woman who did not nice things to my brain a little more than I'm comfortable.

Life goes on, as it does, and suddenly it's December of 2017 when - plot twist- O has a really big problem. In his work as an massage therapist, sometime really early on in his career, he'd met this client and they'd had this thing ... where she paid for his apartment partially, helped him buy his truck, bought him a 1000$ guitar as a graduation gift? I had always wondered about all of the above ...

For the record, I had to edit the above the line post here and rather than ask for simple "Help?" make it clear that this ... this is already waaaay too much as I'm typing it out. DTMFA should have happened years ago. Like right then. When I tried!

I SNAP when I find this out because the woman comes into work. NOPE NOPE NOPE what a DUMPSTER FIRE and NO MORE DUMPSTER FIRES NEAR MY LIFE I tell myself as I block him on all social media and make it clear to friends what he'd done was NOT OKAY. I think his girlfriend is insane for staying with him, and mock him openly in front of her at work for a few weeks before settling into a weird, fucked up silence.

Outside of that, I go on a music writing spree over three months the likes of which I hadn't seen in a decade, notice the profoundity of my relationships increase as I suddenly am not using substance, and feel like my sleep habits/mental health stuff starts to stabilize! I feel giddy as life begins to crystallize.

Friends, universally, take his side. She was abusive. She stalked him after. She was ... you bring on the hot takes, they said it directly or indirectly. You should talk to him. He misses you. I hadn't made any new friends outside of work, sighed, and tried to pick it up again. Substance immediately came with it, and has to this day.

Final pieces: at the end of last year, a van drove into my living room. If this has read like an episode of Arrested Development, it feels like one from where I'm standing. I was taken in by family, and because Oscar's lease was up, he was going to get a place! Yay! The first place we applied, we were denied. But he REALLY WANTED IT so he applied on his own ... and here I am, off the lease because I'd rather deal with all of the above shit than my extremely abusive aunt who will destroy every part of me that's sacred in her need for control over people around her. Wait, is this her or O? Anyway, I'm left wondering when I consented to this particular apartment and REALLY would love to have yet another conversation in my life where I go, "So this thing?" "You're an asshole for bringing that up?" and instead of dropping it, hound him. Be low grade psychologically abusive and taunt him about it if he can't cope with being asked a challenging question around consent. Is that a fair conversational tactic around something this big? As you can hear, I'm used to being shut down when these kinds of questions come up and finding ways to slide sideways through it.

Anyway, that's him. Onto me - what a hot mess!

I clearly have a problem with the ganj. I spent 80$ this check that should have gone towards feeding me on it, and it's REALLY dumb luck I have meals for the rest of the pay period. The ounce I bought on 1/30/19 is gone ... by any standards, that's a REALLY big problem. I've had the conversations with him before, as noted above. I'm up to 3 times now - once at the end of when we lived together, once between the two rounds of ultra training, and once after I invited him back into my life after shutting him out at the end of 2017. I'm grateful for the quiet place he's provided, but I'm just as triggered as when I lived in the roach infested shithole with the ex convict who made gay sex advances and was generally one of the creepiest pieces of shit I've ever known. Because I'm sick of being hungry, and sick of being fogged over while I try to do the emotional work for my PTSD, and sick of his bad boundary bullshit, I've snapped where the drug habit is concerned as of a few hours ago, sleeping only 4 hours because cannabis is a REM inhibitor. Waking up angry from PTSD ... I better learn to cope, to love and accept that the anger is there to keep me safe, and not make it anyone elses' problem because masking it this way sure as shit ain't workin. I mean, what a dumpster fire O is, and he's not the worst dumpster fire who smoked weed that's entered my life!

My family isn't willing to have me stay or will compromise my mental health to just drop O like he's hot and stay with them, universally. I've asked already. Cuz, gotta be real mefites, as I typed this out it's as crystal clear as it gets that DTMFA is in order for this dumpster fire of a boundary mess and I am too old to be playing with fire this way.

Currently, out of the roughly 1500-1800/mo (commission based income) I make, 800-850 of that goes right to Oscar for living expenses. Another 400 goes right into my face because of an autoimmune/inflammatory response to all 8 of the most common allergens (had bloodwork, self tested repeatedly as I told myself, "The bloodwork's full of shit," and watched my health magically improve only when I adhere to the diet super strictly. I am aware of the psychological elements concerning diet, reading studies here on mefi and all, and don't care to deal with systemic joint pain/3 day long dull headaches/puffiness/inability to heal from the stresses of massage on the joints). That remaining amount goes into student loans (150/mo because I want it out of my life), cell phone and two subscription services (gym and Spotify), and (has in the past) gone towards some tiny measure of entertainment, which somehow went over budget and ate into food when ganja or other addictive habits (not substances) are concerned. I live and work in the west side of Portland - you know, the expensive side. Yaay for societal pressures that we post about daily on MeFi. The list of mefites who have posted about the intersection of politics and mental health, combined with Johann Habi's Lost Connections book, helped me put my mental health issues into a greater context.

Handling the social consequences will be easy, once the initial breakup is over. "How is O? I haven't heard from him in a bit, and he's bad about texting. What's he up to these days?" goes a long way towards (A) Maintaining the fiction of warmth (B) Using subtext to be clear, "We haven't talked in a while," and directing the conversation away from why we haven't talked and towards him and his life. I do wish him well, just ... whoa, maybe I shoulda dealt with the abusive aunt an extra month to get out of this mess. Wait, her 19yo son uses too, and is happy to share!

Anyway, enough scathing commentary about my life. I want a living space that's cleanable, quiet, where I can fucking wear a skirt and not have to deal with a stoner. Is all 4 of those too much to ask? I'm at my wits end. How do I get him out, ASAP, and not have to sleep outside again? Budgetary, social and boundary commentary, and self emotional work to look at related to this all appreciated.
posted by thebotanyofsouls to Human Relations (25 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Find someone else who is looking for a roommate in your price range and move in with them. What's stopping you?
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:47 AM on February 10 [19 favorites]


You need to sober up. This is not comprehensible as-is. What is comprehensible indicates a persistent failure to take responsibility for your choices, instead, blaming O. If you want to live on your own, sober up so you can mentally handle the planning work that goes into moving out. If you don’t want to work with this person, sober up so that you can mentally handle the planning work that goes into getting another job.

Alternatively, perhaps concurrently, you need professional support. The disjointed nature of this askme is likely due to substances. But it’s worrying.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 7:49 AM on February 10 [101 favorites]


This is a rather difficult question to follow. But the important bit seems to be "Yay! The first place we applied, we were denied. But he REALLY WANTED IT so he applied on his own ... and here I am, off the lease"

If you're not on the lease then you can't "get him out" but the advantage for you is also no obligation to him. Find a new place to live (perhaps with less ganj / drama) and move on with your life. Good luck!
posted by JonB at 7:49 AM on February 10 [10 favorites]


So to be clear, you're not on the lease? Start looking at Craigslist and the like. Find a place. Could just be a room. Probably won't be perfect. Just find a place and move. Get some distance and then figure out the rest later.
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:50 AM on February 10 [7 favorites]


Yeah, I agree that this sounds a lot like you were in an altered state when you wrote this. Specifically it sounds a lot like an Ask I once wrote shortly after starting Adderall, where everybody said, "Hey now, pump the brakes there buddy you sound super speedy and are not making your best decisions." Everybody was right. You sound like that, to me.

But the only things that matter in this wall of text are that you don't like your roommate and want to move out. So, move out. Find another roommate, one who doesn't use substances. Move in with them. Stop using substances for a while, put a moratorium on that shit. Get yourself into some healthier circumstances and get your mind right. This is all fixable, but it's 100% on you to do the fixing.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:54 AM on February 10 [58 favorites]


Also you could go to an AA or NA meeting today, and make a decision about stopping the weed. You don't need to wait until you disconnect from that guy to take this step.
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:58 AM on February 10 [16 favorites]


I don't understand who is on the lease in your apartment and tbh I'm not going to reread your tome to find out. If it's not you then just LEAVE. You owe him nothing. Find a share on craigslist and leave while he's at work or otherwise out of the house. Don't even tell him beforehand.
posted by poffin boffin at 7:59 AM on February 10 [2 favorites]


And hey dude, drugs will always be there if you decide someday you want to use them again. They're not going anywhere. But try just not doing them for a while, I think it would help you and it sounds like you think so too. It's not a huge thing if you don't smoke pot tomorrow, even though maybe it feels that way if it's been a while since you didn't smoke. You'll be fine, promise.

For instance, at one point I went from not smoking before bed, to sometimes smoking before bed because it was a nice way to unwind, to always smoking before bed because it helps me sleep, to being afraid that I couldn't sleep without smoking before bed. But you know, that fear was unfounded. If I'm tired, I'll sleep. What really matters is how tired I am and whether my brain is all wired up from caffeine or anxiety or whatever, not whether I've got THC in my blood. THC can help me get into a good state for sleep and for that and many other reasons I find it beneficial to smoke fairly regularly, but I don't actually need it and if I don't suffer if I go without. I know it can feel like you need it if you've been using it as a crutch or an escape, but it actually doesn't make a very good crutch and it sounds like you need to face your reality rather than escape from it. You can do it, it's your choice to smoke or not.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 8:23 AM on February 10


Anticipation, I marked your first answer as the best one because you parsed through that wall of text to find the really important tidbits. Thank you for your critical reading skills - your comments in the megathreads show similar clarity.

I want to ask the community a follow up: as I'm not on the lease, do I owe this person rent money and 30 day notice? Legally not, but ethically I'm not sure what to do or say. I am tired of dropping people in a way that burns other friendships, and this person is deeply connected to both my friends circle and my family. My dad thinks it's the greatest thing that I've moved in with O ... in spite of knowing all of the above (except for the journal entry), if that gives you an idea of where this person stands with friends/family.
posted by thebotanyofsouls at 8:30 AM on February 10


This is a dozen pages of really complicated... Venting? I didn't understand a lot of it, honestly.

But it sounds like you are not beholden to him in any way? You are living in his apartment? Why? Spending half your income on rent is far from ideal.

Why do you keep coming back to him? You sound like you have a addictive personality and he is one of your problems.

It's not easy to upend your life, but you have the power. If O is toxic, don't be around him
posted by Jacen at 8:31 AM on February 10 [5 favorites]


I’m sorry, it’s very hard to make sense of your question. Maybe you could get the mods to edit it to something like, my room mate is into drugs and drama filled relationships. I am not and want to leave. I’m not on the lease. What is the best way to move out and do I owe rent money and 30 days notice. (Or whatever your ask is, if I’ve not understood it correctly.)
posted by Jubey at 8:37 AM on February 10 [3 favorites]


Leave now. Work out the money later. Otherwise you're going to end up procrastinating about that for months on end. Trust me. Get out.
posted by howfar at 8:39 AM on February 10 [2 favorites]


Ethically, you should give him notice, yes. He doesn’t sound perfect or evil. He seems like someone it’s not healthy for you to live with. But given what you’ve said here, it doesn’t sound okay to leave him in the lurch even though you are very distressed. Instead, it sounds like you need to manage your own mental health and make concrete plans to improve your living situation over the next 30-45 days.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 8:40 AM on February 10 [4 favorites]


When I wanted to leave someone who I considered bad for me but was in the space similar to yours I want to AlAnon meetings. He was the addict; me not. You have more than one problem though. Seems like you use pot to bad effects...look where it's got you. I don't mean this to be cruel. But here's your chance to make some big changes. Get professional help and at least cut back on drug use and being around people who don't have your best interests at heart.
posted by DixieBaby at 8:43 AM on February 10 [2 favorites]


I don't comment in the megathreads, you may have me confused for someone else. For what it's worth though I think you're getting a lot of basically the same advice here—move out, stop using drugs or at least use less, seek professional support—and it's all basically good advice.

When there's a strong consensus in an AskMe like this, it's usually because the right answer is clear.

I think you should let your decision to give notice or not be guided by what you think is best for your own mental health, in this case. I don't think you have a strong ethical obligation to give 30 days' notice, or at least not as strong an obligation as you do to make decisions that are good for your mental health, which seems a bit fragile right now. That's not a character judgement, my own mental health has been fragile at times too, but you gotta take care of yourself my friend. If you can take care of yourself and O as well, great. But first take care of yourself. O will be OK.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 9:10 AM on February 10 [2 favorites]


Quitting pot is pretty difficult, once you have gotten accustomed to getting high as a lifestyle and kept it up for years, and living in a space where it isn't around is very helpful. If you are trying to make this change, I strongly advise you to find a living space with either no other people, or people who don't use drugs.

I've also seen a lot of people think that they have some sort of moral imperative to make no changes at all with their friendships when they get sober but.......most people find that they had not much in common with SOME of their friend group except they liked to get high or drunk together. It's OK to drift away from those people. It's OK to stay away from people you still want to be friends with, but who still smoke, if that is a threat to your sobriety. Eventually you will be able to be around them again and it won't be a problem. If they are really your friends, they will understand.

Here, though, you sound like you are looking for permission to end a friendship that is actively harmful to you and which is troubling you a lot, and, aside from any question of drug use, of course you are allowed to do that.
posted by thelonius at 9:14 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]


I mean this with intense kindness, but this question is exactly how I sound when I'm knee-deep in the horrible throes of hypomania. I think talking to a mental health professional would be a good idea for you. I am in no way saying that you have any kind of diagnosis or that you share my diagnosis, I'm not a professional, but this post is very familiar to me in a visceral way.

For me what works when I am hypomanic or manic (in addition to taking my meds) is: cutting myself off from people, including blocking social media (interacting can make me really spin out); eating healthy meals at regular intervals; lots and lots of time at the gym; shutting myself in a dark room with no tech from 10pm until 7am and meditating/trying to sleep; not making any big life decisions; and going to my therapist more. I would also gently suggest that you may be trying to self-medicate with marijuana, which is very common. Seeing a professional could be a very good idea.

Take care.
posted by sockermom at 9:18 AM on February 10 [32 favorites]


Seconding that you sound high or perhaps a bit hypomanic in this post. It was hard to suss out what the real issue is because you're venting, and that's okay - it sounds like you have a lot to vent about.

When O decided to sign that lease himself, he was choosing to be on the hook for the cost of that whole apartment by himself. You don't owe him anything. If you want to be polite you give him a week or two of notice, but find a room to move into on Craigslist or similar first. If he's a charismatic younger guy in Portland he'll easily find another roommate to help him pay his rent - don't worry about that. You need to do what is best for yourself right now, not what he thinks you should do, or what your family thinks you should do.

Reach out to a counselor or your physician for support in taking a break from cannabis after you move into your new safe place. You don't have to quit forever. But right now, it sounds like taking a break would help you focus on things like finding a different job, or meeting people who bring out the best in you, unlike O. Withdrawing from daily use can make some folks queasy/anxious and give you insomnia to a distracting degree - if you react that way it's ok for help in the short term.

On a side note, this: "In his work as an massage therapist, sometime really early on in his career, he'd met this client and they'd had this thing ... where she paid for his apartment partially, helped him buy his truck, bought him a 1000$ guitar as a graduation gift?"
I'm a licensed massage therapist and this made me nauseous. He is blurring the lines between his licensed work and sex work. I know of other therapists who have done this. They seem to keep doing the actual bodywork part of it, but the "tips" progress to "loans" of hundreds of dollars and extravagant gifts. I guess it's how they keep from admitting to everyone around them that they're being paid to provide some kind of sexual act, whether actual intercourse or not. In our industry this is a huge violation of ethics and the law. We are aggressively trained to avoid dating clients or even making any sexual comment when we see them. I guarantee you he has been told at least fifty times in school and by experienced people in his profession NOT to do this. He sounds like a manipulative, opportunistic guy behind his loveable stoner vibe. I hope you're able to move out soon.
posted by zdravo at 9:42 AM on February 10 [3 favorites]


Be low grade psychologically abusive and taunt him about it if he can't cope with being asked a challenging question around consent. Is that a fair conversational tactic around something this big?

it doesn't matter if it's fair; it doesn't make any sense. You have consented to live with him. You don't need his consent to move out. if you can't afford to move out immediately, it's finances forcing you to stay, not him.

this person is deeply connected to both my friends circle and my family

you need to massively upgrade the quality of your inner circle, then. I mean, first get some sleep. and no, don't give this horrible person money for anything you don't have to -- pay rent up through the last day you or your possessions are in his space, but no more. you can't afford to throw money away. when you're out of there, detach yourself not just from him, but from people who think grooming teens and creeping on clients is ok. get it straight in your own mind that these things are not ok. it is not in your interest to start a fight with him about it, especially not a big conceptual fight about consent. it is in your interest to no longer be acquainted with him.

I can't tell if your family thinks it's great you were living with this guy because they really like and approve of him, or because they were just glad to see you living with anybody. you're better off not worrying about your family's opinion unless you rely on them for material support, and it doesn't sound like they're offering you any.

if you can afford to rent a room somewhere else, you need to live with quiet, responsible, non-drug-using strangers. If you can only afford that by living in a different and less convenient neighborhood, DO IT. you will not be able to set this up if you are using drugs yourself, or if you're in a mental state where you're talking the way you're writing. because responsible strangers will look at you and see another O -- you will be the potential disaster drug roommate. so the short-term goal is get to a calm well-rested state with no non-prescribed drugs in your system. if you rely on pot to manage pain or insomnia or other things, see a psychiatrist to work on alternative methods if possible. your current regime is not doing good things for you.
posted by queenofbithynia at 9:48 AM on February 10 [18 favorites]


It's like the flight attendant says: put on your own oxygen mask first. You sound like you're in a pretty bad way right now, and I wouldn't necessarily call it selfish to prioritize getting your own life in a better place over making sure this other person is OK with it.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:03 AM on February 10 [3 favorites]


I want to ask the community a follow up: as I'm not on the lease, do I owe this person rent money and 30 day notice? Legally not, but ethically I'm not sure what to do or say.

Just get out and settle up later if you can.

As far as the larger situation, a number of people have said you sound hypomanic. I agree, and as I was reading about you hitting a great creative burst and writing a ton of music in a short period I thought "sounds like mania". A lot of people who have bipolar or similar issues also have the kind of history of substance use that you're describing for yourself, and I think you need to tell a doctor about this, about these symptoms. I know that the meds for this can be tricky, but they're really helpful for a lot of people and just knowing what's going on will be a huge step toward getting it under control and also it will make a ton of difference in dealing with your substance use.

I wish you the best of luck, but you've got to be pro-active - no one can fix this but you.
posted by bile and syntax at 10:49 AM on February 10 [7 favorites]


Go to a (AA/NA) meeting today--I'm sure there will be meetings in a place as big as Portland all day and part of the night. Ultimately that type of approach to substance use may or may not work for you, but it is an immediate step towards addressing your life problems. Then: (a) make an appointment to see a doctor to rule out mental health issues and (b) get on Craigslist or whatever Portland uses nowadays and start looking for inexpensive rooms in unfashionable locales. There's still time to find a place for March--just don't confide in potential roommates the way you've confided in us!

This guy, while he sounds extremely unpleasant and unethical, is just a symptom of your current inability to take responsibility for and control your own life. Fortunately, it doesn't sound like you've done too much permanent damage to your life, as long as you can get a grip on the substance use and deal with any potential mania. (I mean, that's a lot, but it's not the same as having third parties aggressively after you, i.e., being in legal trouble or deep in debt. Both are likely to happen if you carry on in this way.) Good luck.
posted by praemunire at 11:55 AM on February 10 [4 favorites]


Would you be comfortable printing this question off and showing it to a mental health professional?
posted by easy, lucky, free at 1:00 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


Why are you asking whether you should DTMFA when you've already done so multiple times?

Lookit here:
"NOPE NOPE NOPE what a DUMPSTER FIRE and NO MORE DUMPSTER FIRES NEAR MY LIFE I tell myself as I block him on all social media and make it clear to friends what he'd done was NOT OKAY. I think his girlfriend is insane for staying with him, and mock him openly in front of her at work for a few weeks before settling into a weird, fucked up silence."

You mocked him openly at work for a few weeks? Sweet, and you admit that in writing in an online forum?

And then you go on to say,
"[I] REALLY would love to have yet another conversation in my life where I go, 'So this thing?' 'You're an asshole for bringing that up?' and instead of dropping it, hound him. Be low grade psychologically abusive and taunt him about it if he can't cope with being asked a challenging question around consent. Is that a fair conversational tactic around something this big?"

No! Mocking and taunting are not fair conversational tactics, low-grade psychological abuse will only contribute smoke to the impenetrable fog of war that is your interpersonal relationships.

This shit is dangerous, so you need to stop it. Stop ruminating about other people's sins, stop smoking, STOP TALKING, stop acting like an ungovernable child.

Start to simply be, as quietly and peacefully as possible, right where you are in this dumpster you keep setting alight and then complaining about because it's on fire because you filled it full of incendiary materials and then sat in it with six zippos flicking like a wildman 'til you lit it up.

Consider: a dumpster that is on fire may not be optimal, but it is at least warm. It is at least not the open air in the middle of a crazy climatechangeinfluenced winter in Portland. Consider also Maslow and his hierarchy and start using what animal wit you have to keep yourself sheltered and fed so that you can stay alive. Quit smoking, go to the therapist, cease to act like a donkey with gadflies in the workplace, tone it down at home so you don't get thrown out.
posted by Don Pepino at 7:34 AM on February 11 [6 favorites]


To expand upon what Don Pepino mentioned, I'll add this:
Here's the thing about dumpster fires, if you so happened to have carelessly lit one aflame: you can throw into them everything you no longer want and that no longer serves you, allow the fire to keep you warm through the fallout and help see you through the darkness, and then from the ashes, begin anew and leave it all behind you.
But in this, you must remember that there's only one dumpster: your own.
posted by OnefortheLast at 8:37 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


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