Misery Loves Company

It's not that I didn't think the old adage was true as much as I don't think I understood how true it was until the summer of 2008. My first job after college was in Washington D.C. My mom had a friend who had a sister who was willing to let me stay at her house for a little while so that I would have a chance to get my life together in a brand new city.

I won't bore you with the details of every crazy thing that happened to me, beginning the very first day I arrived at her house, but suffice it to say she never should have agreed to let me live with her.

I moved in in June and by July knew that I had to leave and I had to leave soon. About that time, my office approached me about moving back to my home state for 2 months to do some work there. I jumped at the chance to go back to something familiar for awhile because the crazy lady (my landlady) had really just been chipping away at my mental stability. She constantly threatened to put me out, she belittled the way I was raised (asserting that because I was an only child, I had had everything handed to me) and she did other maniacal things like locking me out of the house and not allowing me to have a key to the deadbolt lock so she always had control over when I could get in and out of the house. I found myself finding any reason, including accompanying a friend to watch her do laundry, to not go back to the house or get back at a time I knew she'd be headed to bed.

I couldn't wait to tell her that I would be moving out at the end of August. She and I discussed whether or not she would allow me to leave my belongings at her house (why I thought that would be a good idea, I don't know) and my life got just a bit more brighter.

Plans changed and my office wanted me to wait until the end of September to leave. I was unhappy but it was good to have more time to search for a place to live. The search for another place to live was an ENTIRELY different story, but I was finding the hunt to be a bit demoralizing. Eventually I decided to take a co-worker up on her offer to sublet her apartment for a month. The same night I made that decision, I informed my landlady that I would be out at the end of the month since I had already paid her August's rent. This was on a Wednesday.

At this point, it's worthwhile to say that the entire week she had been acting weird, even for her. When I would get home, the deadbolt on the door would always be locked which she never did if she was there and, oddly too, she was always there when I got home. One day when I came in the house I asked if she wanted me to set the alarm and, oddly, she said no. She was a very paranoid individual and so I was surprised that she was ok with me not setting the alarm.

Anyway, on that same Wednesday night I also told her that I would be leaving the following weekend for a much-needed trip to the beach. Thursday went by and Friday morning as I descended the stairs with my bag for the weekend in my hand, she stopped me and told me that she wanted me and my things out of the house by 8pm because at that point she would have the locks changed and the change the code to the garage door (which was the way I accessed the house).

I was shocked, of course, but it was just so amazingly crazy that she would do that, that I said "ok" and handed her my key to the house as she asked. I remember calling my mother and laughing to keep from crying as I told her the story. She was the only one who knew all the details of what had happened to me. I kept it all from most of my friends, not wanting them to worry and not really wanting to talk about (thereby face) what was happening. I think she, like me, was a little relieved that it was all over. No matter what happened after, nothing could have - at that time - top what I had just gone through. Or so I thought...

About 2 hrs after I arrived at work my landlady sent me an email saying she had packed up all of my things and they were sitting in the garage. The bottom fell out for me when I read that email. I had held it together pretty well considering she attempted to essentially ruin my mini-vacay weekend, but the thought of her touching my things and throwing them (I was sure she threw - she was crazy) into God knows what and then putting them in the garage. What else could she possibly have done to let me know what she thought about me?

I had great people in the city that summer and so I was ok in terms of somewhere to live and ironically as almost a direct result of her actions, I landed into a wonderful living situation. However I continued to process my experience with her even months after I had moved out of that home and that whole week's craziness continued to play out for me. She had it planned out the entire week to screw me in the end. The reason she kept locking me out and didn't want me to set the alarm was because she had changed the alarm code. When I told her on Wednesday that I was moving out she knew even then that on Friday she planned to tell me to get out. Why did she wait? And why did she tell me I had until 8 only to immediately go pack up my stuff right after I left? She was truly a miserable person and she took each and every bit of her misery out on me for almost 3 months

I've thought about this story a lot since it happened and I know that it's not that big of a deal to most people. Not this little piece. I mean, yeah, it's kinda unfortunate but in the end I was ok, no one died and all was generally well. But honestly, there was so much more in play when this happened to me. I really think back on this time of my life -- the first 3 months of being a fresh-faced college graduate ready to tackle the world and really grow up -- and I seriously wonder how I managed to make it through.

Resiliency is such a key to surviving this world. I have to remind myself that I have it.

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