Thursday, December 20, 2007

Saying "no more"

When I wrote here of knowing that I need to tell my non-rent-paying tenant to leave that this was the biggest step I could take toward my own vision of happiness. I knew that I had to stand up for my own needs and desires. I felt that until I took this step I couldn't keep on posting in this journal.

Over the past several weeks I have had visions of my house without any tenants or roommates, of having it all to myself. These visions remind me, of course, that I had gotten into "when X is taken care of I will be happy" mode. I have been here before. "When I lose weight I will be happy." "When I pay off my IRS debt I will be happy". I have learned that it isn't that simple, that happiness is not a state you attain and then stay there. Instead, I get a momentary rush and then the thrill fades.

Even so, some of these things are important and get in the way of finding peace. In my case, having a tenant who takes recyclables to a nearby center to pay for tobacco was a concern, but more than that having a tenant at all was weighing on me. I am by nature a loner. I get along with others but am not a social animal. It tires me. It drains me. The only reason I managed to accept a tenant for so long (other than my unwillingness to tell him to leave) was that he was not particularly social either! So we tend to go about our business separately and don't spend a lot of time together.

The upshot is that I knew I had to tell him goodby. I had to give him a date. Day after day passed and I resisted. I talked about it with friends. One understanding friend suggested that I make the date January 31, 2008, making it a full year that he has not paid rent, and telling him I am happy to be able to give him the gift of that rent. That sounded like a good plan and a generous one, yet I still held off saying anything.

Until yesterday. I put together a holiday card with some cash and a pizza gift card and told him I had good news and bad news. I handed him the card, said I thought it would be useful, an early Christmas present, and then I said I need my house back and I would like him to be out by January 31. He was taken aback and stumbled a bit but recovered gracefully. He said that was more than fair but that it might take him a little longer to be able to get out. I mumbled a bit about some flexibility (am I in for it here?) because I realize he has to 1) get a job, 2) get paid, and 3) have enough to pay first month's rent plus a security deposit, not a small amount in these parts even when just renting a room in a house.

I didn't feel a great sense of relief, frankly. I didn't feel a weight lift off me. Will that happen when he actually moves out? I doubt it. Right now I am feeling like I'm some kind of heel for doing this, even while I believe I did it in the gentlest way possible. I mean, I actually said "It's not you, it's me". I said that. And it's true, for the most part. It is hard for me to imagine being able to live with a tenant, any tenant, for long before I am not liking it. The exceptions are people I love. If one of those people moved in it would mostly be a pleasure for me.

I feel that I can now continue writing here! I have done what I needed to do. The followup will be tough, probably, but the bricks have been laid. I have done something I needed to do. By itself it won't make me happy. But it's one of those steps I had to take.

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