Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Using the fifth commandment

I am presently in one of those situations. I have a "tenant", a person I let stay in my place "while he looked for his own place". Sound a wee bit like my last post? There are some similarities.

Right from the start we agreed on rent. So that much is different. And intially I said it would be just for a couple of months. But then Paul brought it up: he'd looked at other places and how about if we make it more permanent? He had turned out to be a decent tenant - keeping to himself, keeping his stuff in his own room, that sort of thing - and he was working so I had time to myself. I worked part time so had afternoons alone in my house. I didn't mind having the extra income.

Paul also shared. He bought flowers. He bought wine. He supplied the biscotti and we both bought coffee. He took care of my cats when I traveled. So it was not a one-way situation.

Now, though, it is getting closer to one-way. Paul lost his last job last February. Or maybe January, actually, or earlier. He had money from the sale of his house (that he had owned with his ex) so he didn't rush to find a job. He said he was going to take a breather of a few weeks, then find a job. He said he was no longer going to be foolish and blow his money on a fancy car or motorcycle, as he had done in his misspent youth.

But he never did get another job. After several months he actually registered at the employment office but he didn't follow up. I guess he thinks they'll call him. But they don't do that. In the meantime Paul cashed in some kind of stock he'd gotten through his last employment and that kept him in cigarettes and beer a while longer.
He brought in some biscotti sometimes too, and shared his increasingly less expensive food purchases - bags of potatoes, bags of rice, split peas. He stopped going to Trader Joe's and went to Food 4 Less.

At this point I suspect he's clean out of money. He hasn't paid me rent since last February, which is why I remember that date. He's still doing anything I ask - taking care of cats, moving things from storage to here, hauling anything, taking out trash. I suspect he is trying to pay his way in this way, although he has always done anything I have asked. And he still keeps mostly to his room. We do share television time as our tastes are similar. So there is companionship there.

I have been playing with the "no" option. I know that once we make a decision our guts will tell us if it is the right one. So I tried it on: give him 30 days. How does that feel? Part of it feels good, part of it not quite good.

I am becoming more irritable. I think because I am thinking about this more and noticing and letting things bother me more.

When I have no choice about where I am or what I am doing I can make it work for me somehow. I can find the little pluses in a sea of minuses. Right now I am starting to choose to have a choice. But I am not quite there yet. Should this be a goal? How should I write it?


The Happy Guy said...

I read and then reread the post. What would you be saying "No" to at this point? I'm not trying to be flippant. But, nine months have passed.

You've progressed from unpaid rent to an acceptable rent-free tenant situation.

You have to decide what you want. Do you want all the back rent? Do you want rent starting this month and going forward? Do you want him out no matter what?

And examine your gut (figuratively, of course.) Do you feel good that you are taking care of an irritant or eliminating that innate sense that someone is taking advantage of you? Do you feel bad because he is in a tough situation and you're there to help him out or because he has become a part of your life and losing that will not be insignificant?

These are just thoughts and trigger questions, not judgments.

Keep at this blog. It is truly transformational. Well, deceptively so, like growing from a pre-teen to an adult. You don't notice too much as you change, but when you (or someone who hasn't seen you in a while) look back on how you were, well, it is nothing short of shocking. You'll wonder how you lived before.

I know I still have growing to do. Yet, I have changed dramatically over the last 20 years. (Yeah, I'm old.)

Pippa said...

Hm, I have LOTS of empathy for your situation. It is very difficult for me to say "No".

In the end, for myself, I realize that I often *first* have to figure out who I am. Only then do I know where my boundaries are. For me, it is a huge journey of discovery, just as for you. So, this is my 2 cents' worth:

First, find who you are. Then it is so much easier to ask yourself, "Is letting him stay who I am?" Perhaps it reflects your gentle, open-hearted nature. Or "Is giving him 30 days to either start paying or finding a different place who I am?" Perhaps you need to set boundaries to keep your own self intact and to show respect to yourself.

Whichever you choose, there is no right or wrong, as long as it ultimately feels RIGHT to YOU.

Lots of good luck with this challenge and opportunity for growth!

Judith said...

What thoughtful comments! I didn't even see these until today. I am going to chew on them and probably write another post when I have gotten more of a gut feeling for what I need to do. I think I'm almost there.