I am currently living in a situation no one hopes to find themselves: my boyfriend’s mother is staying in our apartment & I am none too happy about it.
One might ask: How could this happen? I’ll tell you.
Lately my boyfriend had, here and there, spoken off handily about the stress in his life, more specifically the troubles his mother had been facing. A few weeks ago, she was reprimanded by her job, according to her “out of nowhere,” and made to transfer, which was doubly impactful because her job doubled as her residence. He scrambled to move her, but shortly there after, she was fired.
To be perfectly honest, beyond the impact it had on my boyfriend, I didn’t care. I didn’t know this woman, beyond seeing her a handful of times and not saying more than a few sentences to her in the process. Our initial encounter occurred one afternoon when my boyfriend dropped by to give her a pack of cigarettes, a few sodas, and the twenty dollars she asked to borrow. That first impression of her needing money never sat right with me.
About a week ago, my boyfriend asked me a question. “Worst case scenario, would you be okay with my mother living with us.” About a split second after he asked, I said no. Then I apologized for my snap to judgment. In my head, I started justifying why I should be okay with the scenario, i.e. the Christian values pounded into my mind since birth wouldn’t let me be honest. I then said I would be okay with it, but only if we sat down beforehand and created guidelines, and only if we set a definite amount of time for her stay. Maybe a few weeks. And then I said a few months. Then I said up to six months, but again noting we would have to talk about her getting a job and finding a way to get around without my car or fitting into our schedule. I think it was pretty obvious I was freaking out, because he stopped me during my train of thought to say, “Remember how I started the question, worst case scenario.” Well she was sitting on my couch when I came in from work earlier, so I think my freak out was spot on.
Sunday, I had a gig, so I let him borrow the car. I called him when I finished for the day. He said he was on his way and oh, by the way, he needed to go see his mother. I didn’t think much of this. He drove us there, and I sat in the car and waited, not knowing what was about to happen. His brother came up to the car and said hi. His mother sat on the front step of a house and yelled an apology “for all the drama.” I told her no problem, thinking my being there in the car was the only inconvenience of which she spoke.
Then my boyfriend opened the trunk of my car and put a few things in. Then he ushered her to my car. I gave up my front seat for her to sit, trying to be polite, thinking we were dropping her off somewhere, possibly where his brother was staying. The brother then left, catching a ride with a friend. It was just the three of us in the car and I had a sinking feeling of what was to come.
My boyfriend started driving, stopping momentarily at a 7-11 to pick up a drink. It then dawned on me what was going on. I got very angry, but I put in my ear buds and listened to the radio to calm down. My eyes began to water, so I bit the inside of my lip. Once he pulled up to the front of our building, I told him to not park. I needed to “run an errand.” I ran inside, grabbing all the cash I had stashed away and the one check I had yet to deposit. I moved some of my important papers out of public view. Meanwhile, he helped her out of the car. I ran back out and jumped into the driver’s seat. He took her things from out of the trunk. They walked inside. I started heaving, trying to find air. I managed to drive a few blocks away and parked. I was having a panic attack.
I tried calling my mother; she didn’t answer. I tried calling my best friend; she didn’t answer. I tried my mother again; no answer. I called my best friend’s mother, a woman who has known me since high school and who I leaned on during a tumultuous time after college. She answered.
I told her I tried calling my mother and her daughter, but neither picked up, so she was third on my list. She informed me her daughter was with her. She got my best friend on the phone. I broke down. I explained the situation to her through sobs and tears. I told her how I was feeling, how angry I was. And she agreed. By not telling me what was going on, by assuming I would just be fine with it, by not having the conversation I wanted and needed before this happened, he had broken all the trust we had built up in the 3 1/2 years of our relationship. I felt violated, used, taken advantage of. It all felt wrong.
My best friend could see no resolution to the problem. She saw no way we could get passed this without some harsh words first. I knew this, but felt even more may be necessary for my calm to be restored.
I turned around. I called him. He came out to talk. I told him I was uncomfortable with what he did. I told him how I felt. I got emotional. He got defensive. He said he kept hearing I’s and me’s. I told him I wasn’t being selfish; it was my apartment, too. I asked when he knew she no longer had a place to stay. He said a few minutes before I called. Then I yelled how he should have told me what was going on when I called, or when he arrived to pick me up, or in the car ride to her place. He should have told me, not assume I would be okay it. I wanted the conversation he never gave.
I asked what would happen if she didn’t have him as a son. He said she would probably be homeless. I asked how long she was staying. He threw my own words back at me. “Less than six months.” I said I was no longer comfortable with that time period. I said she could stay the night. And then he walked away, like he always does. I shouted after, but he didn’t turn back. I’m glad no neighbors called the cops.
Still angry, I got a phone call. It was my mother. I told her the situation. She tried to console me. But, in true my-mother fashion, she played devil’s advocate for him. His siblings aren’t helping. If not for him, she would be homeless. It’s only temporary. Don’t let this break you up. As if foreshadowing the end, she said this exact same thing when I mentioned the conversation to her the week before, just a day or two after he’d asked. Then she offered for me to stay with her that night or for however long I needed.
Calmed down, I walked inside. He was still angry, seemingly folding and throwing clothes at the same time. I tried to explain I was accepting the fact she was staying. He went into a low tirade about how he only has a few people he cares about and he walks away because he doesn’t want to say or do anything he will regret. He said I chose what I wanted to hear. He said he could only deal with one issue at a time.
I said I understood that, but he still should have told me what was going on before we picked her up, before she was in my home. We paused. I said I really did need to run an errand and might possibly go see my mother. I said I would be back in time to drop them off in the morning.
I got in my car and called my friend again. I explained what had happened. She completely disagreed with my mother. I was too tired to fight him anymore, though. I did know, however, that this could break us up. And now, less than two days out, the possibility looms.
After our talk, I drove to the ATM and deposited all the money. Then I swung by the liquor store and bought a six pack. If I was going to be able to sleep, or just get through the rest of the night without crying, I knew I needed to not be sober.
I got back, opened a beer, and sat on the couch. His mother was getting ready for bed. He said he needed to speak with me. We walked out onto the patio.
He apologized if he wasn’t as communicative as he could have been. He apologized for the situation. It made me feel slightly better, and for a moment I thought I might be able to find a way back to him, but only for that moment. I asked him what I should call her. He said we should have a house meeting. I grabbed another beer.
He called her out. He told her my question. She said her name was Marilyn but most of my boyfriends’ friends just called her Mom. That was when I stopped wanting to be nice. I got angry. I wanted to tell her, ‘I have a Mom. She owns her home, has had the same job since before my birth, and just recently bought a new car. So no, I wouldn’t be calling her Mom.’ I wanted to slap her. But I didn’t. I stood and fidgeted.
We settled on her first name and she went back into his room. I sat on the couch and started watching Sunday night cartoons. Later he bought some McDonald’s and we all sat and ate together. I went to bed.
Monday I dropped them off at a bus stop near his job and went off to work. When I picked them up that afternoon, I’m not ashamed to say I was disappointed when she was still with him. They slept in the car as I drove home.
I dropped them off at our building and ran another errand: picked up some yarn. I sat in the parking lot and talked with my best friend for twenty minutes. I told her what had happened and the inevitable: I was thinking about ending it. She understood and thought it was justified. I caveat-ed, saying I didn’t know if I would feel the same way in a week. I talked about the obvious way to do it: our lease ends July 31st. I could not re-sign with him, and that would be that. She said, no matter what, she would stand by me. And then we talked about her daughter. That made me smile for the first time in what seemed like ages.
So now it’s Tuesday. I stopped by the leasing office to get a few questions answered. I’m keeping my options open, but my boyfriend wants to talk tonight. I’m trying to not say anything that will end us. I’m trying to fly under the radar for a little bit. I’m trying just to be.
But, when you can’t look your boyfriend in the eye, and you don’t want him to touch you, and you’ve almost broke down crying at work two days in a row, there is a problem.
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