Monday, October 17, 2005

Helping VS Enabling

Ok you all, I need your input on this PLEASE, because I need to know if I'm wrong about how I'm feeling right now.

First off, a little background info. In my years on this earth, I have had various times where I have received help, sometimes when I needed it, other times as a simple gesture. But not one single time when I was helped have I ever taken that help for granted. I have always greatly appreciated it!

Two weeks ago, we took on a "house mate". For the sake of anonymity, I'll call him "Tom". Tom has been a great friend to us in the time we have known him. Whenever we have needed help with something, he has always been there for us without question. Tom is in his early 50's, is a Vetran and suffers from what I would call "situational depression". He'll be fine one day, then down for the count the next day. He is one of the sweetest guys I have ever known and my family adores him.

Because of his depression Tom missed quite a chunk of work and came very close to losing his job. The company he works for also rented him an apartment for several years. Because of missing so much time from work, Tom got behind on his rent. Although he tried fervently to work out a "payment plan" to catch his rent up, with help from the VA, ultimately the company turned him down and did evict him.

After his eviction, Tom was obviously depressed. He has no family in the area and his only "friends" are the guys he works with, one being my husband. Tom bounced from place to place for a week or so, even sleeping in his car one night. He found a room to rent through one of the guys at work, and it "seemed" to be the perfect solution, so he moved in. It actually ended up being a BAD situation. The person he was renting the room from would not allow Tom to cook his food, claiming the high cost of energy was making it too expensive. He also would turn the power off to the apartment when he left, leaving Tom with no tv, radio etc if he was home alone.

This sent Tom into an even deeper depression. One Saturday, he called my hubby. It was obvious he wasn't in a "good place" in his head, so hubby told him to grab what he needed and come out here for the night. I felt so bad for this guy, you could tell just by the look in his eyes how desperate he felt. We made him up a bed on the sofa and that guy literally slept almost 20 hours, waking up only to use the bathroom and eat when I let him know that meals were ready and that if he was hungry he was more than welcome to eat with us.

Hubby and I talked it over and decided that we would offer Tom the spare room on a temporary basis. Long enough for him to get back up on his feet and find a place of his own. The only thing we asked of him in return was simply that he pick up after himself and that he contribute what he could. We felt that with all of the times that we have been helped in our lives, this was our turn to give back.

That was 2 weeks ago. For the most part, things have been fine with our house guest. He's very quiet and keeps to himself. But here's my "problem".

In the 2 weeks that he has been here, he has not "contributed" one thin dime, whether money wise, food wise, or supply wise. On several occasions he has mentioned "I have this or that in storage, the next time I go there, I'll grab it and bring it here". This or that meaning regularly used supplies like paper towels, paper plates, toilet paper, etc. He has yet to bring any of this here.

He has also gotten to the point that he stays in his room with the door shut except to take a shower, use the restroom or when he smells food being cooked, or comes out to make something to eat. He does not in any way try to be a part of our home or interact with us in any way. When we sit down to eat a meal, he comes out, makes his plate, eats without saying a word, gets up when he's done and goes back to his room and shuts the door.

Now, we are not rich, in any form of the word. We struggle to make ends meet, and at this point in time aren't even doing that. The temperature got down into the 30's over night last night, and we still do not even have LP in the tank out back to get some heat into the house. I've learned to cut coupons and make money stretch to feed a family of 4, and can do it fairly well. But you add a 5th mouth to the situation and a 5th mouth that is eating NON STOP, and it's making things interesting, to say the least.

For instance, last Friday I bought 2 loaves of bread, 2 boxes of cereal, 2 gallons of milk and bologna. I already had peanut butter and jelly. This is stuff that we eat daily, whether for school lunches, breakfast, etc. As of this morning, I have 5 slices of bread left out of the 2 loaves, I have maybe a quart of milk, NO cereal, almost no peanut butter and a slice or 2 of bolgna left. Now mind you, Tom made a point of saying that he would buy whole wheat bread because he "has" to eat it, yet that loaf of bread is sitting in the cupboard, untouched. I came downstairs last night around 11 to get some tylenol for a headache, and found Tom eating a HUGE bowl of cereal. Not really a big deal, except that for dinner (which was eaten around 7:30) he went back 3 times to fill his plate.

I'm just trying to figure out where this man's money is going. He gets paid every 2 weeks from work and gets vetrans benefits monthly. He currently has no bills other than his storage unit and cigarettes. I'm not asking for every penny he makes, I'm simply asking him to help with all of this food that he is eating. I'm all for helping someone, especially a friend. But it's getting to the point that I feel like I'm being used. Heck, even hubby mentioned something about it this morning while he stood there and watched Tom make and eat 8 pieces of peanutbutter toast.

How do I "delicately" tell this man that he HAS to contribute in some way? I cannot keep feeding one person that eats as much in one day as my whole family. How do I tell him that he really needs to put things back where they belong when he is done using them? I'm slightly anal about my kitchen counter and like it clutter free. But everything he gets out, he leaves sitting out, whether it's food, plates, the toaster, etc. I feel bad for thinking that this is such a "big" thing. I mean, it's not like he has no income at all, or that he has gigantic bills. I just feel like we have a freeloader living with us. He doesn't do the dishes (which is fine with me cuz I'm kind of picky about them anyway), he didn't even come outside and help hubby with the yardwork this weekend, he hasn't tried to help with anything. He takes clean towels every time he takes a shower, then throws them in my dirty laundry. Didn't he have towels at his apartment? If so, where are they and why can't he use his own?

The "clincher" for me last night was when he went into my work supplies and grabbed a roll of paper towels and headed towards his room. I asked him what he was doing and he said he was using them to blow his nose, or for when he needed a napkin if he was eating in his room. I mentioned that they were from my work stuff and that they really weren't for household use because I didn't purchase them, my boss did. To which he replied "Oh yeah, I was supposed to bring some of mine from storage, wasn't I?" and just gave me this dumb grin, then walked away, paper towels in hand.

I know that I tend to get snippy about dumb stuff, and the fact that it was that "lovely" time of the month for me last week didn't help much either. Am I really making too much out of this? PLEASE give me your input because I really would like it! Thanks for listenting!!


KottonKandi said...

I would suggest having a "family meeting" with him and be totally honest with him. Just nicely tell him how you feel about it and if he has any brains at all, he knows he has a good thing and he will do what he can to make the situation better....might take him a few days to adjust after you talk with him but you can't let someone take advantage of your generousity. Your a good person and you don't need that extra BS. LOVE YA! XOXOXO

magikjaz said...

i agree with Kandi...have a sitdown with you and Ric and "tom" and have a list of items that you need to discuss in front of you. Shoot! even when i lived with my mom i had to pay rent of $50/week...I think that's more than fair. You've put up with it long enough...any more time and he will continue to take advantage without remorse. Set down rules and make sure Ric backs you up. Tell him if he doesn't like it he has a week to find a new place. If he gets attitude then he wasn't much of a friend to begin with. If he is a friend he will understand how rude he's been and will do his best to undo the damage. *hugs* I have more to say but it's late and I'm tired lol love yoU!

Running2Ks said...

I agree with the family meeting. You need support from your husband. If he won't contribute, give him a deadline where he needs to leave. You have put up with too much!