Dining Out With Narcissism
The Roommate From Hell
“You no longer know who you are. You’re confused and disoriented from gaslighting, projection, splitting and being fed a distorted version of yourself and reality. You may feel like you’re “the crazy one” and/or feel depressed, anxious, traumatized and a host of other negative emotional and physical symptoms like insomnia, paranoia and digestive problems.
It’s common to begin to doubt yourself, your judgment, perceptions and your sense of reality. You may not know what objective reality is anymore. He/She continues to treat you horribly. If you’re in this stage, believe what the abuser does, not what they say. The truth lies in the way they treat you.”
Again, don’t underestimate how toxic these people and relationships with them are. Stress can kill. It raises cortisol levels, weakens the immune system, raises blood pressure and keeps the body in a sustained state of sympathetic nervous system arousal. Being in a near constant state of fight, flight or freeze response is incredibly damaging to the body and the brain. Cancer, heart attacks, strokes, digestive disorders, depression and anxiety are all very likely possibilities. — Dr. Tara Palmatier
I had had a stroke, coincidentally, after Thayre Angliss my most recent narcissist du jour. Half my body was paralyzed and my home was at the top of a four-story walkup, now headed for storage.
This is our roommate Brian, he’s depressed, we found him on the internet — Brit sitcom.
I was warned about Brian Turner by the psychologist at the hospital. She doesn’t actually say anything but the question and concern are there in her eyes. He’s looking for a roommate for a reason.
She’d heard me talk about the nice guy I met at my courier day gig. He got me out of the hospital, took me for a meal once a week, grabbed my mail, clothes, etc. from my now inaccessible, to me, apartment.
Brian was the best of a bad lot of choices since my family is dead to me, as Tony Soprano would say. Tony and I shared the same mother only his was less dramatic than mine. Serious scary gonzo weirdos like my brother Jim, a lifelong military, trained mass murderer who has some mental disability, some unhappy want of development, that keeps him from any knowledge of normal society and its ways. Threatened with a restraining order he finally left me alone. I suspect it wasn’t his first. My sister Judy, a clone of Janis Soprano, (who is now Francesca since she became a Tantra sex cult recruiter) whom I refused to sleep with one night when she showed up drunk, yech. My siblings get along fine so I have to wonder. Any port in a storm sailor? Contemptible, mean, wretched, unsteady and inhospitable. Trauma bonded people.
My other friends from work did the obligatory one visit to the hospital. Except for Graham, the IT guy who went to my home and packed up my art computers and drives, because I am a contemporary of the company owner who I met driving for a living. Murry started a courier-freight-trucking business and I went into fine art, and Graham wanted to look good. But when he discovered he couldn’t dine out on my connections (Murray is no fool) he said he was ‘too busy’ (we are all busy, I just wasn’t a priority) with his yoga and divorce so no more coffee chats with me. He was screwing his yoga teacher while trying to move back in with his wife. God knows what he is doing with the office manager who at 60 or so giggles like a schoolgirl in his gigolo-ish presence. With a ‘god bless’ he summarily dumped me after he asked me if he was a narcissist as his wife claimed. I guess he didn’t like my answer.
The woman/child working in the warehouse had a part-time cleaning business. I hired her to clean my apartment and bring me stuff for a long hospital stay, (6 months as it turned out). She left me in the lurch saying the souls of the dead at the hospital scared her. I suspect she stole my expensive Eddie Bauer flannel shirts for her boyfriend then fucked off. The creature.
Brian asked one day if I wanted to do a roommate thing, this was after a suitable seduction time. Months. The hospital at 6000.00 per day (stroke recovery is considered intensive care ) thought that I should be moving along as well, but would warehouse me in the dementia ward till I got situated and financed. Gak. As it was, I was parked in a room with 5 other homeless stroked-out men that snored, cried in their sleep and whimpered through the night. I was woken twice nightly by cigarette reeking nurses. My physio treatment had ceased as I was no longer acute, having climbed out of the wheelchair and into a walker. Try that sometime. I was ‘ready for community’ as they say. I was probably headed to the Mustard Seed. 350 sq. feet for 1200.00 a month, a food bank downstairs, and no personal belongings allowed due to infestations of at least bedbugs. No Shit, Sherlock. I wonder if Jesus would approve. This is one reason I am a partisan Liberal advocating for UBI, shit happens and cockroaches like these religious right feed off it. The Brian alternative was looking pretty good comparatively and since he was still in Mr. Charm stage and I was decidedly vulnerable, it seemed doable.
I maxed out my credit cards (30% interest compounded) until my pension kicked in 9 months later so we could get a place in a building where I used to live (two bedrooms, two washrooms, en suite washer-dryer, dishwasher, underground parking) and they knew me, were one of my references as being a successful artist working at home until the crash of 2008 when I moved to cheaper digs and went driving again as a transitional needs back up. Out of the frying pan and into the fire of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Brian didn’t move in for the first month, ghosted, abandoning me, forcing me to make all decisions of placing belongings, I suspect, so he would be the victim. Also, he was not ‘offering aid to the ill’, newly out of the hospital, I was released on condition I wasn’t going to live on my own, in case of falls and relapses. This was a gen-u-ine physical abuse. (I have this handy list from the government social services). This was not a collaboration this was the beginning of leeching resources off a compassionate new senior citizen with handicaps. He had no interest in how I got myself and my walker to the grocery store or doctor. I figured as an adult, he would discuss his needs. You have needs, I have needs, what are WE going to do about them. He just went into his sordid, squalid, hovel of a room and closed the door. The idealization stage had ended and the devaluation stage began, I felt worthless, desperate and empty.
Brian treated his room as a storage locker where he slept. He even kept his tires there. He didn’t wash his dishes. He just reused them dirty. He would sit and have chats with me in his underwear, (no I wasn’t in his underwear) picking the skin off his feet and eating it. I imagine MLK saying, ‘I have been to the mountain and I have seen the garish eyesore!…’ the mind reels at the thought of his willnots. But I digress. He never washed his personal bathroom in 4 years. I have documentation that I took recently so the management company wouldn’t nail me for his damages when I moved out.
Early on in our co-lease, I had some female art colleague guests over when he arrived from work, I introduced him and asked him to join us. He went into his room and slammed the door. Females trigger his mommy-dearest abandonment issues. My guests never returned. He has isolating behaviours all figured out.
I screened my YouTube channel one evening, but that wasn’t allowed at 7 pm. He never said anything directly just huffed and puffed and slammed things passive-aggressively. Later, I was watching Scotty, my authority on Toyota repair when he arrived from work, he started yelling as soon as he walked in the door, he didn’t like the guy's voice.
So I chatted with my friends at the coffee shop instead of my home(no mean feat at 30 below and mobility challenged with no vehicle) and bought a tablet and headphones. I ‘compromised’ by watching movies in my room. My $7000.00 home theatre that we both could have enjoyed was there but no he needed to be the victim. It gathered dust instead.
He resented my new mobility when I was reissued my driver's licence and how it gave me access to my gym and my coffee shop. It made my world bigger. I was so happy. A major life goal re-accomplished. He was worried, he said, I’d get a flat, but in reality, it was more difficult to isolate me. I suspect he attacked my means of getting away from his influence. My transmission started to screw up. A Rav4 Toyota transmission never screws up. Ever. Cost me $5000.00 to replace it with a used one. I suspect tampering from my psychopath roomie. He got his work done at AllTrans so he had access to lots of creepy advice from creepy people and at home, my keys were around. Motive, means and opportunity.
My tire valves were twisted almost off my own mechanic discovered. He said maybe I slid along a curb and rubbed them almost off. They were ready to go any day. I have a class 2 license and I previously trained school bus drivers as one of my day gigs, it’s highly unlikely a professional driver trainer would curb his wheels. With most of my driving done on the highway, this could have killed me and others. They say psychopaths are dangerous for a reason.
It’s been four years now of tolerating this covert and now overt psychological, emotional and physical abuse from Brian. My body is now strong enough, my leg is reconnected to my brain, my hand and arm are on the way, and having returned to the driving a vehicle (left foot gas) lifestyle, I am moving on.
In May 2021 I went for a drive and decided I’d had it with Brian’s emotional outrages (‘I’m just a little intense’, he claimed). I chose to ignore the animal and work on my most recent publication titled The Road Home.
Nov 2021 I am moving into my own apartment that is secure, accessible and affordable. No longer will I be manipulated by ‘is this the day I’m going to be fired?’, left on my own to pay double rent at a moment's notice if I speak up and set a boundary. Brian actually started packing one night because I had begun to set boundaries around his constant criticism. I couldn’t afford a move at that time so I apologized and said it was all my fault. I said I had PTSD. I don’t, according to the experts at the hospital, but whatever, he paid his share of the bills that month.
Inside of 30 days, I had secured housing (with parking) that I can afford, broken my lease legally by having my doctor's office fill out a form certifying abuse in my home and the government social services agreed to issue a certificate to the landlord: they must use my damage deposit for the remaining rent, keep my confidentiality and I was moving inside of 28 days with no penalty.
As these things are typically granted to abused women, I was met with skepticism by the doctor and the landlord agent and even the police. The doctor said, ‘Why didn’t you just leave?’ I said ‘stroke recovery’ and left it at that. He was criticizing me for staying and I didn’t need more criticism I needed an understanding of Stockholm syndrome and treatment for psychological abuse. What I got was a signature on a form, a shaking head and a doctor's stamp. Good enough.
The management at the rental office (Capreit) is totally charmed by Brian, ready to rent him another place, believing that he and they are the victims since I had manipulated the government to abuse Brian and their business by getting out of my lease. Someone at Capreit shared my situation with Brian, my confidentiality was violated. To a psychopath.
So I called the police who were less than forthcoming because males call them all the time looking to manipulate the system and hurt women. ‘Abusive roommate’ simply wasn’t believed, coming from a guy, as likely, and no information about restraining orders, how to get one, was given to me. My lawyer is being consulted for damages anyway and he has all the information I need.
The brain fog that goes with abuse is the extreme anxiety consequence of a constant criticism environment. I had self-diagnosed and attributed this to stroke. Rationally though, I have come through a battery of psychological tests in order to be released from the hospital and have my driver's licence returned. I had been certified by experts as not having dementia or other cognitive damages such as stroke-related brain fog. Dr. Tara explained why I was experiencing this extreme discomfort. Oh. Fuck. No wonder.
I just thought I was living with a mildly depressed guy on meds and as long as he kept up his meds I was ok. Physically, he is big, angry, and scary at unpredictable times. I became very frightened of him. Just putting up with him and generally avoiding him was starting to be no longer an option. Keep making art, write books, 10 in the last 4 years, dive into workaholism basically, and get stronger at the gym were no longer sustainable options, because, there was no fun in my home, it wasn’t allowed. “Well I wouldn’t put it that way” was a common complaint to me when I expressed hyperbole as humour. I am a professional visual artist, author and university-level educator. This critique of my speech was coming from a conservative moron farm boy and high school dropout that parasited himself onto me when I took a transitional needs job as a courier then got ill. I was targeted, they hunt. I don’t care about the farm boy or the lack of formal education, I care that I was lied to, charmed convincingly, then used and taken advantage of. The host has a better life without the parasite, not the other way around.
During the pestilence of a pandemic with variants causing a 2 year and counting lockdown, I had applied for independent subsidized housing with the city. Their 4-year waiting list was growing with families, single men in relatively stable situations are not seen as a priority so I have been in a holding pattern. Sure, other affordable shared housing options exist. Strangers who said ‘if you rent here, you stay in your room, you park on the street in winter. Mobility challenges? Who cares, I was here first I get the driveway.” No thanks.
The consequences of constant criticism: “You may feel like you’re “the crazy one” and/or feel depressed, anxious, traumatized and a host of other negative emotional and physical symptoms like insomnia, paranoia and digestive problems.”
Recently, in a moment of clarity, as the AA cult members say, I checked out subsidized seniors housing in good old Google. Inside of 6 weeks, I had 4 offers to rent after the doc signed my certificates, I’m their target market. Oh.
I finally decided on not the cheapest place, but one nearby, offering no parking but located in the mostly Liberal inner city that has been my home all my life. The truth lies in the way they treat you. The management of the nonprofit housing was straightforward, forthcoming, non-evasive and direct. The exact opposite of my current management and roomie. A breath of fresh air. The quality of the appliances and the suites’ restoration showed a set of values towards residents and the building that I totally agree with. When I went back with a deposit cheque they had even found me an accessible parking spot. They were charming but in sales, they are supposed to be charming. Honest goodwill charm instead of charming liars.
So I’ve gone from being of no apparent value to my roommate and landlord, constantly criticized by both, to being several someone's target market. All with a simple Google search. This is why I was being isolated: to afford Brian a nice place to live, cheap and dependable, so I would be dependant on him and afraid to leave, or unable to, with a wrecked car.
Psychopaths are dangerous and have no empathy but fake it as they are very very convincing liars. Fortunately, the one I got leeched to, is rather crafty but deeply stupid. More narcissist moron than psychopath. I’ve seen the intelligent ones when I did counselling at the jail in my first career. Very scary, watch Oz sometime, it's dramatic but accurate. When I was working at the jail, two of my really charming clients escaped and killed a mother, father and their 2-year-old child at a nearby farmhouse. The RCMP said they were headed for me next. I took this seriously and left for an anonymous taxi job and eventually a career at art school.
Brian is just your run-of-the-mill-medicated moron who is afraid of everything but mostly afraid to look bad. Like my family, he is, in reality, based on evidence, contemptible, mean, wretched, unsteady and inhospitable. Dr. Tara is more clinical: emotionally immature, unstable, self-absorbed, entitled, self-destructive, a characterologically disturbed person.
Dr. Albert Ellis suggests in The Myth of Self Esteem, to throw all self-worth rating nonsense in the garbage and instead rate strategies for satisfaction. I survive (and thrive!) by following this advice: if you lose an arm, do everything you can to deal with it, then ignore it and focus on something more satisfying, you may not have as many choices but you still have some. I find that I’ve made changes so that no longer being overly concerned about my physical security is very satisfying. I feel I have profited by patience, despite being manipulated and taken advantage of at times. Very trying conditions indeed to deal with at the same time as recovering from a stroke where half my body has been paralyzed and slow to recover.
As Keith Ledger said in The Dark Knight: Whatever doesn’t kill you, simply makes you… stranger.
I prefer boring. An excellent narcissist repellant.