I haven’t written about this because it was too close to home, too negative and I didn’t want to offend her--- but because it is something so present in my daily life I feel I need to get it out so that I can feel better--- I no longer care about offending anyone.
Since the day I found out I have cancer my roommate, Michelle has been a constant source of anxiety and stress. She immediately tried to “help” with resources rather than offering a shoulder to cry on or a simple tissue to cry into. She right away said that I should move back to California—for those of you who know what it would mean for me to be back in CA you can hold the laughter a second… it gets funnier because she went on to assume that my dad or family would take care of me! OK, now you can laugh! Try not to wet yourself! I had to explain how I’d die in a week there--- probably from jumping off a roof rather than from cancer. She seems to not get the negativity and insanity that is my dad and his house.
For the record, even before this Michelle was a control freak. She would move my stuff around and treat me like I am a couch surfer in my own home—as if I’m not on the lease or paying the same rent--- she’s hardly cleared space for me and mostly I’m cramped in my room and everything has to be done or arranged her way.
When I had surgery I had to explain to her that I’d be limited as to movement and when my brother came to help she kept asking when he’d leave. Her boyfriend is over constantly, often with little or no advance notice, using the bathroom and leaving his things around and it’s added stress on me—she actually asked me once to get out of the bathroom because he needed to use it—yeah, I know! She made my brother really uncomfortable and never once got that he was here to help me. But it’s all about her; she hasn’t grown up enough to see that she’s very selfish and controlling and she she needs to chill the hell out.
Don’t get me wrong---sometimes she can be very nice and funny, and I’ve certainly had my fair share of total nuts as roommates, but I didn’t have cancer then. I think even some of the nuts would have been more understanding and sympathetic. This time in my life is going to stand out to me forever; I will never forget how people treated me and who was there trying to understand and be supportive, and who wasn’t. Michelle will always and forever stand out as this negative piece in my cancer experience. I wish this weren’t so but I have made attempts to get through to her and it seems like I’m talking to a brick wall. She’s too moody or too depressed and does not see that other people exist and that the world cannot revolve around her.
It baffles me that she’s here and sees me daily yet never offers help. As a matter of fact she does very little to make things easier on me, and I wouldn’t ask for much. She nags and nit-picks on cleaning the kitchen yet she has done very little to clean the disgusting bathroom. There are hairs everywhere (the tiny curly ones). There is a hair in the same spot it was in when I first moved in back in September. I keep waiting to see if she’ll ever clean it up… but I’m sure I’ll clean it soon because it’s really grossing me out.
I get that we’re all busy and I’m certainly no clean freak, but I do like clean bathrooms – especially since my cat is gone & I can control cleanliness more-- and I hate hair being everywhere. When I get out of the shower/bath I get pubic hair stuck to my feet. It’s black—not mine. I am capable of controlling my pubic hair!
I set things down somewhere and I never know if they’ll be there when I return. She moves my things, throws them away or puts them in my room when I’m not home. And I’ve asked her to stop but she hasn’t. she doesn’t take responsibility for doing something wrong either. The toilet was clogged with shit one day and it wasn’t mine. I’d been sleeping. She left it like that and when I texted her she wouldn’t admit she’d done it--- what, did someone else come in and shit in our toilet? She tried to claim I must have clogged it with a tampon or something beforehand--- I don’t use tampons! And if I had to use one I’d throw it in the trash not down old NYC pipes.
One day I said that my friend Shannon was sending me healing energy and that he’s wiccan and sending me healing stones to help me. She responded by saying she doesn’t want any witch craft in her apartment—she talked like we were sacrificing animals. Didn’t Catholics sacrifice animals in the bible? I ended up defending my previous religion and pointed out that I am tolerant of her Catholicism and all the religious artifacts and pictures all over our apartment despite my not agreeing with the beliefs behind them. What right did she have to demean my beliefs? Heaven forbidi ever mention I’m bi—she’d probably condemn me to hell or something, I get the sense that gay people make her uncomfortable.
She’s 27 years old—I expect a little more maturity. I mean, it’s young, but it’s not 21. last night when I asked her if she could take the trash out, etc before she goes out of town (she texts me weekly to remind me of this on my day like she’s my damn mom… yet she hasn’t stuck to our cleaning schedule at all)--- so she’s going out of town and she’s left it before so I wanted to be sure since I have chemo today and I’ll be too sick to stomach the smell all weekend. So instead of just saying ok she texts me to sweep the floors. I sweep and mop and clean EVERY MOTHER FUCKING WEEK! I told her this and that I was hoping she’d do it this week--- she gets home, takes out trash, stomps around like an angry teenager, leaves a bunch of shit all over the floor from the trash, then slams her bedroom door—if you want to have a tantrum like a little kid go ahead. I can’t keep up with her moods. She comes home happy one day and we talk about his or that, then she comes home depressed or pissed off and I try talking to her---it’s like walking on egg shells! When I was first diagnosed with cancer she said she didn’t understand my crying and screaming--- umm, I just found out I have cancer! I thought I might be dying! How she can’t at the very least empathize or sympathize with that is beyond me. She just treats me like I’m a pathetic creature yet never offers assistance. She gives me these awful pity looks and is so negative about everything—like she’s waiting for me to die. I guess that would save her wishing me away.
How can she be totally unaware of common roommate rules: like if I’m in the bathroom you don’t ask me to get out for your boyfriend- he can pee out the window, I pay rent here! I don’t have anything against her boyfriend personally but she treated my brother so horribly and was so awful during that time after my surgery—she doesn’t get that he was here to HELP me and her boyfriend, well what’s he here for…? I can’t deny I’m not scared of my sister & niece coming and how Michelle will treat them. I need the help a lot right now and she’s not understanding how much I need it. Heaven fucking forbid she offer it.
I’m tired all the time but she makes a ton of noise and I get woken up and lose sleep. I have enough trouble sleeping as it is. I hate that I have to ask her to be quiet because she then pulls her giant guilt trips on me---oh the joys of Catholic guilt! Like I said, sometimes she is nice—she likes music I like, she an actor too so she gets the whole actor thing, but she seems to have an issue with connecting with people. She seems to need to control every little thing on earth, and I get control, I am a control freak—or I was, now I’m a recovering control freak. I get the needs behind that, but having cancer, if it’s taught me anything, it’s taught me that there is very little I can control and if it’s something I can’t just relax and let it go. I can’t control Michelle & I’ve tried to tolerate the mood swings and nagging and her obvious disgust of my illness, but it’s been months and it hasn’t changed.
So many people at school are constantly saying how impressed they are with me and how positive I am; that I inspire them even. I try to stay positive even when I feel awful, and I try to bring all that home with me, but Michelle gives off so much negativity and so much inconsistent energy I have trouble keeping up. I really feel like she’s hating me for being at home, like I’m a squatter there. I sleep, eat, sleep, eat and when I’m up to it I clean and organize. I neglect my room to get the rest of the house clean so she won’t give me evil death stares or nagging tests and notes (oh, how I dread her notes!). I try to be patient—I know she’s young and I guess she has had no experience with cancer or with death, but I feel like she needs to go to a therapist or to her priest and work this out because her responses to things are baffling. My brother saw it and my friends have read her text messages.
She did apologize once maybe a month ago—when she was already upset about something else. It was nice to hear. I felt like maybe progress was being made. But then she took the water glass from my room. I laughed it off—she needs to control where things are. Finally I moved her cans from my kitchen cabinet because I needed space. I hate touching other people’s things but I really had no kitchen space for my food and it seemed unfair that she has so much space for her stuff. Plus I had to store my lollipops in my room which resulted in ants everywhere. She has a lot of stuff, things piled in the stairwell that I have to listen to the super yell about—my lease ends in September. I would have planned to stay but I feel like after all this I’d rather not. I need positive energy in my life moving forward and getting past cancer. The area is ok but I’m in no way attached to it so I’m ok moving on. Although I do feel like she’s leaving me no choice. She reminds me frequently that I have to move out then--- strange but her lease ends then too, why shouldn’t she move out? In all honestly I’ve had to seek legal advice to make sure I am safe as far as how I’m treated here. I look forward to being free of this situation but worry that come September I’ll be just out of surgery and unable to move things. It makes it a bit harder as far as timing goes. But I’m sure I can recruit some friends & I really don’t have much to move.
I don’t know that there is really anything else I can do to remedy the situation. She just doesn’t get it and she’s so passive aggressive I am too afraid to approach her--- plus it’s the same shit on repeat: hair in the bathroom, mildew, her boyfriend, my cleaning weekly and her cleaning one ot two things at random as loudly as she can, everything being hers and on her schedule, and simply the fact that she seems to pity me rather than sympathize—gawd you should’ve seen her face after I shaved my head—I was so happy and upbeat about it and she took that away from me (well she tried) by looking at me like I was a dying puppy! It was depressing.
I know no one can truly ever understand another person entirely but we can certainly try. I’m trying to be understanding and tolerant of her (awareness without judgment!), but I can’t see that she’s doing the same. I’m sure it isn’t easy for anyone whose roommate gets cancer, but in all honesty, it’s not about her. Yes, my situation limits certain things I can do and right now it’s at the worst part of chemo so I am most likely to need help and rest and I have to be lazy—hence the reason my sister is coming out here—but I fear that Michelle will ruin this time with my sister and niece and if she does I cannot forgive that; it’s too important for me to have them here and it’s only ten days.
Shit, I though writing this would help me release this weight but I still feel sad and uneasy—glad she’s out of town for the weekend. I need rest and peace… oh but she just texted me to “remind” me to pay the bills that are sitting on the table. And then she “reminded” me that my (apparently not hers) lease is up in September & I should be looking for a new place. I guess that negative people only change when they truly want to. She seems content in her misery so I look forward to moving onto somewhere calm and positive come September.
P.S. I apologize for the chaos of how this was written. I wrote it while waiting for chemo the other day & I'm now on chemo brain so I can't get my thoughts out as clearly as I'd like to. Oh well---halfway done & soon to be feeling better! :)