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  • Toxic Home Life

    I'm in my twenties and currently live with my parents and younger sister. I would love to move out but don't think that I can afford it right now. I've been to look at apartments and I've crunched the numbers dozens and dozens of times, but at the end of the day if I moved out I would end up struggling to support myself in an incredibly rough part of town, far away from any family and friends who could help me. So, with all this in mind, I'm making an effort this year to remain living with my family so I can save up and look for better place at the beginning of next year. I really wouldn't mind living with my family at all, but my mom is an incredibly toxic person, and the house she maintains is one that is nearly impossible to function in. It's always a mess, and it's impossible to...

    1) Cook/prepare meals and food. I don't want to go into details, but I don't feel comfortable cooking things in the house. I only eat things that are sealed and come from the fridge. This has been a big challenge for me lately because I've been put on a strict diet that limits what I can and cannot eat. Cooking at home being able to prepare meals at home is becoming a necessity.

    2) Do laundry. She does not hang or fold clothes, just leaves them in the dryer until she wears them. I get yelled at when I do my laundry and have to move her things.

    3) Have people over. The house is always too much of a mess to invite even the closest of family friends or even family members over for any amount of time.

    4) Shower/Use the restroom. My parents began renovating the bathroom my sister and I share over six months ago, and have made little to no progress on completing it. So, we're a family of four sharing a tiny half bath that's located in the master bedroom on the opposite end of the house from me. My parents also go to sleep early, and sometimes shut and lock their door. I often have to pee late at night or in the middle of the night and occasionally get stuck in a sucky situation when they are asleep and have locked me out of the only bathroom we have.

    Before you suggest I should talk to my mom/dad about this, I want you to know that my mom is one of the most toxic people I know. She tells me all the time that if I want the house to be clean then I have to be the one to clean and maintain it. I did this once when I was in college and wanted my boyfriend to be able to come over. I'd go to work for eight hours, come home and clean for two, spend an hour or more with my boyfriend and struggle to complete my assignments by midnight before waking up to do it all over again. My mom often complained about my boyfriend coming over, and ridiculed me for trying to keep the house clean for someone else. I don't want to revert back to this lifestyle because it made me feel like I was constantly cleaning up after everyone else while struggling to hold down a job and maintain some level of personal happiness.

    I'm at the end of my rope because I don't feel comfortable in the place I live and with the people I live with. I spend a lot of time at my boyfriend's house and usually eat dinner and shower at his place. I hate doing this too often because I feel like I am torn between two separate households, neither of which really provides all the things I need to function.

    I'm seeking advice because I want to find a way for my living situation to be less stressful. I don't know how to approach my mom without her blowing up at me or just brushing me off. I'm afraid nothing is going to change, and I will be forced to move out and struggle to support myself.

  • #2
    From what you say I doubt talking to your mother is going to make things better. Is there anyone you could share a house with, or who could rent you a room?

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    • #3
      My wife's parents were abusive alcoholics. My Wife had to raise her mother's menopause baby and her younger brother. Due cooked and cleaned plus went to high school before getting a job. She often had to take her siblings away from the house when her father got violent. She made her own clothes because she had no money for herself rather spending it on her siblings in her care. She had a lousy life. Never had a boyfriend or even sex at 19. Then I met her and saw her life. I fell in love with her at first sight anyway so I proposed to her 3 weeks after we met and she said yes. We got married 8 months later. Her sister ended up in foster care and her brother was old enough to take care of himself. Her older brother committed suicide. Messed up family.

      We had $500 between us and I was going to college on a scholarship. Yet we found an apartment and I had 3 part time jobs while in college and my wife worked. Then she became disabled for a year an the medical bills were too much so I dropped out of school to get a full time job. I paid off everyone and some were kind and forgave us their bills. We managed to make it work just the two of us. Few could not afford to live in NYC so I took a job transfer to Texas and no lie, on the drive from the airport to my hotel I stopped to look at a new housing development to get an idea of housing costs and ended up buying a new house with $25 down and mortgage so small that it was less than the rent we paid on a two bedroom apartment in NYC. This was two years after we married. Where there is a will there is a way. I have always gone through life doing what it takes to get what I wanted. We also moved 2,000 miles away from both our families. I left mine when I was 18 by joining the Army. I often kid, but true, chose going to fight in Vietnam than living at home.

      Instead of dwelling on what you cannot do, look for what you can do. There are plenty of places where the cost of living is inexpensive and if we made it with a disable wife and 3 part time jobs, anyone can if they really want to be independent . Good luck and hope it works out for you. Just wanted to let you know that you always have options if you are willing to take them. No one can hold you down but you. Hope it works out.

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      • #4
        Perhaps you need to look at getting some education or training for a job that would pay you enough to be independent. In the meantime, you can take out student loans and get a roommate in a cheap apartment.

        No point in playing the victim. You're grown up. Start acting like one. Do what has to be done to get out of this situation.
        "What lips my lips have kissed and where and why I have forgotten." ~Edna St. Vincent Millay

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        • #5
          SarahLancaster I've actually already got the education nailed down. I graduated a little less than a year ago and have been holding down a job in my field of study since January. I'm a teacher though, and the unfortunate truth is that we just don't make enough to live off of, especially in the first few years. We also aren't paid for two months out of the year, so it's not really a matter of making it paycheck to paycheck, it's a matter of stretching nine months of pay to cover twelve months of expenses. Get a summer job? Sure I'd love to, but they just don't pay enough to cover the kind of expenses I'd have.

          Thanks for the advice guys. I guess I have to just try and move out, I'm just really scared of what that entails. I've always been good at budgeting and managing my money, but I am very wary of putting myself under unnecessary financial stress. Right now I pay a handful of small bills and am packing money to my student loans to get them paid off ASAP. If I live in an apartment I'll lose the ability to devote this kind of money to paying off my debt.

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          • #6
            It's always scary taking that first leap but eventually it has to happen. You seem very cautious and that is not a bad thing. When moving (for anyone), it's always a good idea to have 2-3 months of expenses banked anyway and budgeted just in case unpredictable situations arise (or items you haven't foreseen). You may need home deliveries for pieces of furniture and that costs money. Friends or family may not pull through on the day of moving and you may have to hire movers or have company help you move. It may be an adjustment getting to know your new neighbourhood and who wants to start cooking in a house full of mess or a kitchen that's chaotic? Plan for a few days of eating out or simple meals to ease those levels of stress. If friends or family ask you how they can help, tell them they can cook for you for a couple of days! You'll be getting your hydro and cable/internet plans figured out. Plan for bloopers in communication and remember to have one purse or bag where you keep all your essentials. Pack everything else away and keep things simple. If you have a car make sure you have a secure parking spot somewhere on the premises. Most of the time in my experience this is another added expense so budget to pay for a parking spot on top of the rental monthly.

            To keep it stress free walk yourself through the process and see lots of apartments. If you have a strict budget for rent or mortgage payments, don't budge! Stick to your plan and wait it out for a place that suits your budget. I think (for me) deep down it is ultimately so much worse to live in a toxic environment than a rundown(kind of dumpy) apartment. I've been in a couple that look right out of a cross between the Adam's family mansion and a haunted motel! My first apartment had planks of wood falling from the second floor and the peeling and eerie dark wallpaper and medieval sconces looked positively Transylvanian. The hallways were very dark and my apartment door not only had a rusty nail sticking out of it, the door itself looked like it had been broken into with a crowbar and there were marks all over it. If I didn't wiggle the knob the lock wouldn't lock either on the door. That particular apartment was huge though! It was massive and extremely roomy so that was the give and take. I couldn't believe the shoeboxes my friends were living in. I remember the other residents were very kind and friendly and I never sensed anything bad or like I was not safe there, ironically. Everyone who came to visit had to get over an initial shock. I actually enjoyed it there and did so much growing in the process. I hope this works out for you! Keep your sense of humour and enjoy life how you want to enjoy it. Don't let anyone dampen that.
            Last edited by Rose Mosse; July 18th, 2018, 12:09 PM.

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            • #7
              Thanks for all the advice guys. I think ultimately I will have to move out, and I have been looking pretty consistently for an apartment for the last couple days. One of the biggest things holding me back now is the thought of my cat, who is ridiculously old and incredibly attached to me. He's always lived in a house and had contact with the two other cats here, so I'm really worried about what kind of stress or strain moving would put on him. He'd also be home for a great stretch of time when I go to work or out in general, and I worry about him becoming lonely because of this. Currently, there's not usually a stretch of more than three or four hours where someone isn't home for him. I only really care about this because he's seventeen (almost eighteen) years old and has seizures and a whole host of other conditions. Is it stupid to be this concerned about the cat and let it affect my moving decision?

              We also had a massive fight between my family over the condition of the house. My little sister is in high school and lives here too, and she got into a big fight with my parents over the condition of the house. They were super mad, and pretty much said that we are responsible for the condition of the house. I think this is ridiculous for a lot of different reasons. We should pick up after ourselves, but I feel like my parents try to press a lot of responsibility onto us instead of taking responsibility for the shape of THEIR home. An example is that my sister complained about their being bugs in the house, which is ultimately NOT something my kid sister can fix. Is she supposed to call an exterminator and pay for the service herself? I've barely talked to my parents since, and it's kind of making me feel like I might be in the wrong for taking my sister's side. I don't really know what the normal home dynamics are. Do parents usually make their children maintain their home? How much should parents/children do to keep up with the house? Who's ultimately responsible for the cleanliness of a home?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Witch View Post
                Is it stupid to be this concerned about the cat and let it affect my moving decision?
                I don't think it's stupid, as I would do the same.

                Who's ultimately responsible for the cleanliness of a home?
                All the people that live there, but the home owners should be responsible for enforcing cleanliness if they want it.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Witch View Post
                  my parents over the condition of the house. They were super mad, and pretty much said that we are responsible for the condition of the house.
                  This is very vague and I'd find it impossible help you. By condition of the house, a complaint of bugs could very well mean that your parents are fed up, for example, with people generally leaving crumbs or food around or simply leaving the ground or basement floor doors or even the windows open with no working bug screens on them. All sorts of critters find their way in the home that way. It could mean calling an exterminator or it may mean being considerate of others and respectful of ...well, how a house works. Only you all in the house know how it's being used and some members of the family may be totally clueless. Have you come up with ground rules in the family or have your parents told you what you should and shouldn't be doing? I think it's fair that children, guests, etc generally stick to those rules and are respectful of not just common spaces but borrowed spaces.

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                  • #10
                    Thanks Grizzly, that makes me feel less crazy. Sometimes I think people think it's strange to care so much about your cat, but the cranky old guy is literally my favorite thing in the world.

                    As for Rose... I guess I don't like talking about the condition of the house in specifics because it's honestly embarrassing. I feel like your home is a reflection of you, and I hate feeling like people will think less of me if they knew where I lived. The bugs are completely out of control though. This isn't like someone left the door open, this is a months long infestation that has reached it's peak. The only solution (that I think will work anyways) is to clean like crazy and schedule an exterminator to come out regularly until the problem is solved. That's one of the reason why my sister and I are so frustrated. We have both had the summer off and been stuck living in a home where we can't stand to be, and ultimately the two of us don't have money nor the motivation at this point to clean the whole house and pay for an exterminator. I definitely don't think that is OUR responsibility.

                    As for rules, there are none, there never have been any. That's why the house is such a mess to begin with. My mother throws her clothes everywhere, on the couch, into kitchen chairs, into a pile on top of the dryer. When she used to cook, she would pile the dishes up and neglect to do them for days at a time, sometimes even a week or longer. As for what my parents think we should and shouldn't be doing... They just seem like they want us to clean the house for them. When we got into the huge family fight, they kept telling us we were responsible for the way the house is and we needed to help clean it. I wouldn't really have a problem helping if I THEY would help, but the honest truth is that they don't care what shape the house is in. I can bend over backwards and clean the place, but they are going to make ZERO effort to maintain it, and we'll be back to square one in no time.

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                    • #11
                      Do you and your sister pay rent? I'm trying to understand where your feelings of responsibility or that your parents owe you anything comes from. I do believe you when you say it's difficult. It doesn't sound like a nice place to live. I'm curious why your parents seem nonchalant and uninterested in yours or your sisters' opinions. From what I'm understanding there is virtually very little respect between both your parents and yourselves. Do you feel like you are being pushed out or that your parents don't want you there?

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                      • #12
                        Neither one of us pays rent. My dad is a workaholic, and is generally detached from home life because he's so focused on what is happening with his job. My mom is mostly a dictator, who rants and raves about everyone else but is incapable of taking any sort of criticism or accepting that she isn't always right about everything. When we were talking to them, she continuously talked over my sister and insisted that we are totally wrong for complaining. So yes, they are generally uninterested in our opinions. My dad is more receptive, and I think he tried to comfort my sister a little after the fight because he does feel bad about the condition of the house. He cleaned up the bathroom (a little) and sprayed it for bugs the day after the fight. However, that's where his contribution to the situation stopped.

                        Sometimes I don't think my parents care if I'm there or not, but my mom is also firmly against me moving out. Whenever I discuss apartments or the idea of moving out (do I move closer to work, should I look for a roommate, etc.) she becomes really bitchy and insists moving out would make me totally miserable and I could never afford it. She throws it in my face that I'll be trapped and lonely in a shitty apartment on the far side of town where no one wants to drive to see me, and that I'll have no money to do anything at all.

                        Like I said before I don't know what the normal house dynamic is, as I've never lived in a normal home. I don't know how much is too much to expect from them, but in my opinion I feel like maintaining the house should be one if not their top one priority. They don't have to do all the cleaning by themselves, but they've set no standards or ground rules for how the housework should be done and kept up with. Ultimately, I feel like it's their responsibility to get together a plan and implement it to clean the house and begin regularly maintaining it. I'm more than happy to help with maintaining, and I'd like to point out that I also do A LOT for my family that other people don't. I've bought or provided lunch for my sister for nearly two months while she is home for the summer, and I put a 1200 dollar surgery on my credit card a month ago and took our cat (not MY, but one of the family cats) to three separate vet appointments to have the surgery and have his stitches out. I also medicated and supervised the cat for two weeks while he healed. I routinely pick up medication from the vet for our dog while my parents are working and took my sister to have a CT scan just last week. I feel like I do a lot of things to help my family, and lately it feels like they're just taking advantage of me. Hence, why my mom is against me moving out. She doesn't want to lose her cash cow/errand girl.

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                        • #13
                          There seems to be a lot of responsibility you've taken on because you care about your sister and your pets. Have you given yourself the room to think about not having those pets in the first place? It doesn't sound like a healthy place for even animals to live and you all seem over-burdened with your own ongoings. Ultimately you were the one who decided to pay for that surgery (many wouldn't be able to afford it or simply wouldn't be an option/would not have offered a credit card if they knew they would not be able to pay it back). I think a lot of your misgivings stem from financial difficulty and you're frustrated that you're not working during the summer break. You really could save yourself a lot of hassle, find a second job in the summer, make more money, be less fixated on the problems at home and work faster towards moving out.

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                          • #14
                            I don't feel like I'm under a ton of financial pressure. Living with them relieves all that pressure, and I only paid for the surgery to benefit the cat. He had to have a tumor removed, and they were worried if it wasn't done soon it would spread to his lungs or heart. I pay my car insurance through my parents, and so as a way to guarantee I will be paid back I'm taking the money I would usually give to them for insurance and using it to make payments to the credit card. So, whether they want to or not, they're paying for the surgery. This was also something we worked out long before I agreed to put it on my card.

                            We've just always had the pets. Most of them are old, and frankly, they are far better taken care of than the people who live here. If there's anything my family does well, it's take care of their dogs/cats.

                            I think a lot of problem lately has been that I have to be home so often. When I'm working and switching between my house and my boyfriends house, I don't really get stuck in the messy atmosphere. I go to work, where my classroom is organized and functional. Then I go to my boyfriend's, who cleans like Monica from Friends. It's made me realize how unstructured my own home is, and I want so much for it not to be that way because I've seen how amazing it is to have a clean, functional home. I want to be able to live here for the rest of the year, and hoard money so when I do move out I won't have as much financial pressure.

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                            • #15
                              There's a give and take then. I'm sorry - I'm still not understanding your demands on your parents. Ultimately it is their home, not yours and not your sister's. You can make suggestions till thy kingdom come but if you really want to give the staying and saving up a chance, you're going to have to release this idea that anyone owes you anything and chill out a little. You're going to drive yourself bonkers. What's the point in that? Simply bide your time and make your move when it's the right time.

                              I think your issue is financial otherwise you would either be paying for the exterminator (as you're apt to take charge and pay the bills) or you would have moved out by now. You're not wanting to face that it is finances that have you strapped right now because you're not willing to work more and save more or get a second job during the summer and meet your savings goals faster. I have no idea why on earth you wouldn't work more even with the teacher's job (ie continue to keep a part time second job even during the school year). Are you afraid of taxing yourself or fatigue? Or are you afraid of losing your boyfriend because you won't have time to see him on his schedule? You really need to put yourself first and I don't think you are. You're not even seeing the problem as the problem. I want to be sympathetic to your case but I really can't although I'm trying. Being a teacher is a very laudable and can be a rewarding career. You've got your foot in the door and a roof (albeit a dirty roof but still a roof) over your head and you're still unhappy.

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