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Advice on friction over housework please (CFS and OCD don't mix!)

Discussion in 'Lifestyle Management' started by lior, Jun 16, 2017.

  1. lior

    lior Senior Member

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    Two issues to ask your advice on, which I imagine so many of you have had to deal with already:

    1. How can I make it easier for other people to accept and respect my energy limits? And what do you do if they just don't care?
    2. How do you deal with friction over housework?

    and maybe...
    3. How can I stop caring if I've upset someone else, as a result of my energy limit?


    The backstory:
    I live in a flat share, and my housemate has OCD and is very controlling, with an authoritative attitude (he's a teacher).

    I'm in a condition where I can't always cook, but sometimes I can. When I do, sometimes I can't wash up. So the dishes get left til the next day when I can do it. Sometimes I can't wake up until the afternoon, so that's when it would get done. I don't cook every day, and if I do it's simple so it's never a lot of dishes.

    This housemate gets extremely upset and angry if a single dish has been left overnight. His style is to send patronising, angry WhatsApp messages to the flatshare thread (there are 4 of us). He blames people incorrectly sometimes. He is a source of drama that seriously has a negative impact on me - I need a restful environment at home.

    The other two also think his behaviour is unacceptable, and don't think the occasional dish is a big deal - I'm not the only one leaving dishes sometimes - it's actually more regularly one of them.

    One of them, and I, separately have talked to him about how he handles things. We've said that we're not happy for him to send those messages over WhatsApp, and a face to face conversation asking us to wash up would be much better. This, I hoped, would mean the end of incorrect accusations, and a little more understanding both ways; I thought that's the way to handle it as adults. I heard him and understood how upset dirty dishes made him. I explained to him that I don't always have energy to wash up, but he refused to believe me. When I asked for understanding, he said he wouldn't stop bringing up the issue of dishes if there are ever dishes on the side.

    After that conversation with him, I prioritised washing up over other things like contacting friends, to avoid pissing him off. I don't find this constant fear of him being pissed off at me a good environment to recover in.

    This guy is beyond reason. These messages have happened too many times. I don't want to have to waste my small amount of concentration energy on this issue with him, stemming from the banal issue of washing up. It's caused me a lot of anxiety for the year that I've been here, to the point that my therapist sometimes asks when I'm going to move out. (My limited energy has stopped me from taking on flat hunting as a project.)

    Tomorrow we're going to have a house meeting about this. I'm at my wit's end. I don't think he's going to change his tune. I don't know how better to get understanding from him. I've sent my housemates the spoon theory link to try and explain how my energy levels work. The other two are neutral and just ask me occasionally how I am. I'm ok with not having any support at home, but I'm not ok with more stress being created at home.


    Please help, this is an issue that I want to resolve and stop worrying about.
     
    Azriel likes this.
  2. Valentijn

    Valentijn Senior Member

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    @lior - His OCD (or claim of it as a way to control people) isn't your problem. Maybe he needs therapy, or a different living situation where has sole control over his space. I'm not sure how your flatshare is arranged with regards to a lease, etc, but maybe you can look into possibilities for replacing him with someone else.

    At the very least, you can block him on WhatsApp presumably, to cut off one medium for his unpleasantness.
     
    TigerLilea, L'engle, Dainty and 9 others like this.
  3. Mrs Sowester

    Mrs Sowester Senior Member

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    It's 3 against 1.
    He loses.
    It is as simple as that.
    If he doesn't like it he can wash up himself or find other flatmates. He can't impose his will in this situation.
    I strongly suggest you tell him to 'fit in or **** off!'

    (And I say this as a PwME and a degree of OCD! Hubs and I had to meet in the middle or split, we met in the middle but we are a couple, not simply flatmates)
     
  4. Basilico

    Basilico Florida

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    From your description of the situation, it seems that this roommate is completely out of line. I'm assuming that you've already explained to him your health situation, and the fact that you do follow up with cleaning your dirty stuff the next day, and that the other roommates don't have a problem with your style is really telling me that this guy is not someone who should be sharing an apartment.

    Whether it's OCD or just being an insensitive jerk, he clearly needs to be living in a situation where he has 100% control of the environment, which means not living with other people. Having flat mates means some give and take, some compromises, some understanding that people do things a bit differently. It's important that everyone is genuinely doing their best to make the situation work and is being respectful of others. He seems to be the one not doing these things.

    He sounds like a bully and is treating you (and the others) in a disrespectful way that does not acknowledge the fact you have a chronic illness and need to make some modifications to deal with it. Trying to appease bullies rarely ends up making the situation better.

    As difficult and uncomfortable as I'm sure it is, in your house meeting, I hope you are able to express that you have a chronic illness and are doing everything in your power to take care of yourself, which means that sometimes you may need to wash your dishes the next day. If he has such a desperate need to control everything in the living situation, then perhaps living with others is not the right choice for him, and he should consider living independently so that he can control everything in his living space.

    I'm sorry you are having to deal with this while being sick, these kind of people are never easy to put up with. I hope that you don't prioritize his unreasonable demand over your health.
     
    pattismith, L'engle, SuzieSam and 6 others like this.
  5. lior

    lior Senior Member

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    Thank you all :)

    We've had a house meeting. He says he shouldn't have to be inconvenienced by my mess because I'm ill, and it's unfair of me to ask him to accept that.

    He said he could bring his friends who've also been ill to tell me that they had the energy to do washing up while unwell, therefore I should to (implying I'm lying).

    Another housemate was shocked at how he didn't care at all about my health.

    He doesn't accept this. Even my other housemates wash the dishes the next day sometimes, and they don't have a chronic illness. He attacks me more than he attacks them. I guess that is especially bullying behaviour - attack the weakest.

    He denied this time that he is OCD. His line is that the house must be clean and that we must do as he says or he'll continue harassing us (he didn't use the word harassing, but he didn't object when I pointed out that that's what his behaviour has become).

    I love your clarity. He doesn't want to move. He won't fit in, and he won't **** off. He's been here longer than we have and he acts like it's his place. He'll continue his behaviour, not caring that he's causing a lot of distress to three other humans. He likes control. He likes telling other people what to do.

    I've emailed the agents. They risk two people moving out and having to replace us, or they can take the decision to evict him. It's going to be up to them. If they decide not to evict him, I'm leaving.

    This is a really hard situation for me. Moving house would be a massive drain on my limited resources. But I am in a place at the moment where I have less brain fog than normal, so that should help a lot, even if my physical energy isn't great.
     
    pattismith, Aurator, L'engle and 10 others like this.
  6. Basilico

    Basilico Florida

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    @lior , your situation really sucks, and it sounds like you are doing a good job of standing up for yourself. In the meantime you are waiting to figure out whether you or he will be moving, I hope you will be able to ignore him - block him from the WhatsApp (or don't respond to his comments) and if he says anything in person just ignore him. If he sees that you aren't responding, he might eventually just give up.
     
  7. CCC

    CCC Senior Member

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    One solution is for the three of you to agree to never wash up until the next day. :eek::D:rofl::rofl::rofl::lol:
     
    Aurator, L'engle, Dainty and 6 others like this.
  8. wastwater

    wastwater Senior Member

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    It sounds terrible,I would try move away from the situation if you can
     
  9. Alvin2

    Alvin2 If humans were rational...

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    Get rid of him or get yourselves out, this can't hold.
    I know all about financial limitations, if you can find another arrangement that is close in cost but it will take some time do so, and just stonewall him.
     
    Shoshana likes this.
  10. lior

    lior Senior Member

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    Thanks people :)

    Today I got a signed diagnosis from a doctor that this is CFS (a not very nice doctor but that's another story)...

    Things have flared up. He was shouting at me today, and took a pan that I didn't wash last night from the sink and dumped it in my bedroom. I had been resting when he interrupted me, and even though I said I could wash it up after my rest, he started shouting at me. Directly accused me of lying about being ill - doesn't believe me that I have a health limit. Bizarrely he included in his shouting spree that I'd been laughing late last night, as if this was proof I'm well?! What's bad is that I was doubting myself after this encounter - am I all the things he's accusing me of - lazy, manipulative, lying, living like a teenager, and that I'm actually well enough to do the dishes as he requires immediately every time... but I'm not. I'm really not. He's this upset about one dish a week. Two people want to move out because of this guy, it's not just me. Another girl moved out because of him before in the past. He's got other problems, and I reckon they're coming out through this channel, and I'm the unfortunate who's on the receiving end of it. The others don't get shouted at by him - only me. We agreed to each clean the whole flat once a month, which I do; the other two don't; the controlling guy does it every week and martyrs himself with it. He takes it out on me but not the others.

    It's interesting that this happened today - the day after one of the others moved out, who was a man. Now it's two girls that don't like him living with this one bully. The guy that just moved out acknowledges that the bully has misogynistic views and talks over women normally.

    I stood up for myself, this time, for once. I did shout back occasionally, and I tried some methods I read in an assertiveness book but they didn't really work.

    The agent has not done anything as far as I know. I'm thinking of going to my local authority to complain about him.

    I want to move out but I know I don't have the energy for the research and house viewings, when I can barely work. I'm concerned that to change the situation at all, I do have to spend energy on going to the agent and the local authority and whatever else to get support. I thought it would be easier to get help from the agents and get him evicted, but this guy is under the impression that the agents are on his side. If the agents can't help, maybe it would be less energy to move out rather than take him to court. It's not worth it. I don't have the energy to fight for justice - I just need to be in an environment of peace.

    I keep worrying and focusing about the washing because that's what he's pissed off about, but really the issue isn't the washing, it's him being bullying and controlling and not accepting any way but his own. And now, invasive - I was trying to rest.

    I do feel sorry for him. He must have a horrible internal world, to get this angry about such a small-scale banal thing.

    ARGHHH some days are just really bad days.
     
    pattismith, Joh, Valentijn and 3 others like this.
  11. Alvin2

    Alvin2 If humans were rational...

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    This is how bullies/abusers work, their goal is to undermine your self esteem so they can inflict maximum emotional damage on you. They want you to believe their version of reality that they are powerful and omnipotent and your worthless and always lying.

    They expect you to become a willing emotional slave, their goal is to accomplish this emotional dominance at any cost, your self esteem, your autonomy, they want you to fear them and be willing to do anything to keep them happy to bow to their dominance. Assertiveness won't work because it runs counter to their goals, they will escalate, not back down, because your standing up for yourself challenges his dominance and he will resort to any means to maintain it, from emotional abuse to possibly violence if necessary. You cannot make him believe reality because it runs counter to his goals, so there is no point in trying, he has no interest in understanding you or in treating you as a human being, even if he can be charming at times (another tool used by abusers, alternate from friendly to abusive or friendly to others but abusive to you, the idea being to keep you walking on eggshells by bowing to his every whim or face abuse designed to keep you in line).

    This is no way to live, and since you have ME/CFS it makes it harder to get out of this but you have to, living in this toxic place will make your condition worse. I don't know how your situation works or the laws where you are but you need to do something, do you have friends who can help, can you get legal advice, can you get rid of him or get help to move?
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2017
  12. lior

    lior Senior Member

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    Wow @Alvin2 , spoken with real insight! I'm sorry that you understand this so well - you must have had experience of bullying yourself?

    If I can't be assertive, what can I do? At least while I'm stuck?

    I think getting help to move would be a lot of work for whoever was helping. It's the research, house viewing scheduling, and actually spending time doing house viewings that is difficult for me. I know I could get help with packing up and moving day. My friends are great, but it's too much to ask of them to manage all the house viewing stuff.
     
  13. Alvin2

    Alvin2 If humans were rational...

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    Its not that you should not be assertive, you absolutely should, you should never acquiesce. I did not explain that well before, i apologize.

    He says jump you say no. He blames you say too bad. He gets in your space you don't let him in and you push him out or ignore him. If you can lock your door then do so. This stifles his power, it won't fix anything but it changes the dynamic. He may escalate, he may not. If you don't keep him out of your head then he is winning, and thats unacceptable.

    Ultimately people who act like this are abusers, so you do need to deal with the situation and never give in. Like i said i don't know how the laws work but if you can get help from someone who deals with these issues from legal to state housing authorities to ethics boards or whatever tenant protections are available in your location then you should do so. If you can get him removed then do so, even if you need help to do it. I know ME/CFS makes this almost impossible to do, but not being in your area i can't suggest more specific advice.

    Feel free to record things if you have a cell phone or tablet, voice should do fine assuming doing so is legal in your location ;)
     
    lior, Mrs Sowester and Valentijn like this.
  14. Tammy

    Tammy Senior Member

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    The one thing I regret looking back over the last 20 yrs of being ill...........is that I never asked for help when I really really needed it. I always thought I would be bothering someone or I would be asking too much. I encourage you to reach out to your friends in this time of need.
     
    L'engle, Shoshana, lior and 1 other person like this.
  15. arewenearlythereyet

    arewenearlythereyet Senior Member

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    Just letting him know that you are recording his outbursts could effectively make him watch what he says around you and make things easier? You could even play them back to him and drop in words like "harassment"?
     
    lior and Mrs Sowester like this.
  16. Alvin2

    Alvin2 If humans were rational...

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    Interesting :thumbsup:

    The OP should find out the legality of recording before doing it though.
     
  17. Mrs Sowester

    Mrs Sowester Senior Member

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    If you're in the UK verbal battery is an offence - this is what he is doing to you. He is allowed to shout at his students, he is in loco parentis with them, he isn't with you.

    Bullies want a reaction so don't give him one. Your reaction gives him power, just blank him. Don't give him any information about you, knowledge is power. Just avoid him and blank him.

    I wouldn't try to stick up for yourself, I'd say nothing, not even look at him. Just look bored and openly switch your phone to record his harassment and put the phone down casually on your bedside table or wherever. He won't know how to react. If you can't just blank him respond with the stuck record technique and repeat the same phrase over and over emotionlessly, such as 'leave my room' or 'lower your voice'. He wont know for certain you are recording him, but you will be collecting evidence of harassment which can be reported to the police.

    Also, you have another flatmate who wants to move out - suggest a flatshare with her. If she does all the physical flat hunting and you do the virtual flat hunting you don't have to use too much energy, but you both escape from this man.
     
  18. lior

    lior Senior Member

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    All great ideas, thank you.
    I'm going to try recording him. It's very quick to make my phone start a video recording. I can perhaps not point the camera at him, but it would still record sound. He lives with me, so why would it be illegal?
    I'll try saying nothing.

    I'm shocked at how the agents are treating the situation. The bully is under the impression they're on his side. I think he might be right.

    I started looking for other places to live. Haven't got very far, but I'll plod slowly. I've been out of my mind anxious about this, so my therapist said to make a plan to move out, to tackle the anxiety, even if it takes a long time. She's not hopeful about the agents helping either. Such an injustice. I don't understand how someone with power can know that an abusive situation is happening, and not do anything about it, when pleaded with and fully informed.

    I'm going to talk to the Citizens Advice Bureau who might be able to point me in the right direction with seeing if I can get him evicted or get any support (maybe they can get someone to talk to the agents?!). Also going to talk to them about disability support/benefits.

    I don't want to move in with the other girl who is moving out. She's alright but she's not my kind of person.

    One thing I'm learning is that I'm a really good judge of character - but I put up with other people's flaws to the point of my detriment. I knew straight off that this bully was not going to be great to live with - immediate alarm bells that just kept getting confirmed. What's that quote... "When a person shows you for the first time who they really are, believe them." something like that... Maya Angelou I think. My friend said, 'you're too nice to hold first impressions against people' - trying to get me to give people the benefit of the doubt. The benefit of the doubt bites me in the ass later!! It's not often that I get bad vibes from people, but when I do, I know I need to trust myself AND get away as fast as possible rather than letting them stay in my life.
     
  19. Alvin2

    Alvin2 If humans were rational...

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    Just start recording when you wake up and delete at the end of the day if unused, hence you don't miss anything ;)
    I agree you get bad vibes from someone keep them away.
    It is never worth putting yourself in harms way just to be nice, they would not do the same for you.
     
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  20. trishrhymes

    trishrhymes Senior Member

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    This will probably sound like suggesting you give in to his bullying, but I wonder whether, to protect yourself until you can move out, it might help to try to find ways to avoid him having an opportunity to get angry with you.

    For example, being a coward myself in such situations, I might buy myself a small supply of kitchen equipment, saucepan, plate etc and use those. Then if I didn't have the energy to wash up, just rinse them and take them to my room to bring out later to wash up.

    Also disposable stuff like foil oven trays and plastic microwave containers. You can cook in them, then throw away. Not a good thing long term, but a temporary expedient. These days I sometimes just microwave a ready meal and eat it out of the container, then bin it. Only a fork to wash. And have a bit of salad.

    I really feel for you. He is completely out of order, and sound pretty frightening and very stressful to have to live with. I hope you can find somewhere better soon. Going to the CAB sound good.
     
    wonderoushope likes this.

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