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Ex moves in forever
Aug 13, 1997

Hi Michael! An ex of mine fell on hard times and I offered my pull out bed for him to use. Almost 3 years later...guess who's still in my living room? He honestly hasn't had much luck with jobs...but part of that is his own making...and he continues to smoke and drink even though we both recently discovered that we are both HIV+. I really think that I probably got it from him years ago but that's not the point. He is a habitual liar, secretive, and very selfish person. He had Bronchitis and has also lost much weight. I know that he is sicker than I am right now...still I've just about had it! I am a Christian and want to do the right thing. Should I and how should I go about tossing him out? I am looking into ADAP, SSI, SSD, and so forth to try and hook him up with services but am not sure that he will follow through. We both don't make enough money to afford the medications. At a time when I should be working out my own problems...I find that I'm also cleaning up behind him (dishes, bathtub, all household chores) and rarely does he help out. He is always nice, (verbally if nothing else) when he wants to borrow money...which he rarely pays back. I quit smoking 3 years ago but I'm giving him money to buy cigarettes. Am I being nice or stupid, or both? I have always felt protective for him but he is so ungrateful at a time when I need support too...and am not getting any at all. If I really felt that my efforts were recognized and appreciated...it would make all the difference in the world. I cried when I knew that I would be giving up my privacy for awhile...but I never imagined that it would take 3 years for him to get his act together! He still hasn't and now with the HIV....and no job....it looks glum. Don't get me wrong...there are some endearing qualities that my friend has....but living with him isn't one of them. Another thing....I have had him around so long, I know that I'm going to miss the companionship...but ultimately...I know that this is not a healthy situation. So, what do I do? Toss him out? Trudge on....looking for services (housing) and such and try to hook him up? If none of that works...then what? Any advice? What is charity? What is being a door mat?

Response from Mr. Shernoff

You certainly are embroiled in the midst of a very complicated and messy situation. You ask are you a door mat or what? When you describe researching ADAP and other benefits for him, have you done the same for yourself? It seems to me that the major danger signal here is that you seem to be more concerned about his situation, welfare and his taking care of himself than he is. That is not a healthy dynamic and can often be one clear symptom of an individual who is in a codependent relationship with someone else. I would suggest that you try to find out if there are any meetings of Co-Dependents Anonymous or AL-Anon near you that you can go to. An excellent book that lays out most of the basic issues about codependence is Co-Dependent No More. I would urge you find, buy and read this book to answer for your self whether you think you are behaving in unhealthy and perhaps codependent ways with your ex.

By loaning him money and doing so much for him you are definitely making it very comfortable for him to continue staying with you. I think you need to ask yourself if you want to be the primary care taker for this man? If the answer is "no," then you need to take an honest look at how come you have not been able to directly tell him how you are feeling about the present situation. Have you actually ever told him that you feel that you have been very generous, but you feel that you are now being taken advantage of and want him to find another place to live by the beginning of the next month, (Or two months from now)? Even if you have this conversation, I would not be surprised if your friend fails to take the actions to do what will be necessary for him to assume an adult level of responsibility for himself. If that does come to pass, you will need a lot of support in being firm about setting a deadline and sticking to it for when you want him to move out. But that can only happen if you in fact really do want him to leave.

I think the other thing you need to ask yourself before you confront him is whether or not you do in fact want him out. It would be very useful for you to ask yourself what are the benefits you receive from having him there and doing so much for him? Perhaps while you are feeling imposed upon, at the same time there may be a part of you that thrives on having someone to take care of. If you become really confused and are not sure of how you want to handle this situation, or what you really want to do, then consider finding a good counselor or therapist who you can explore these issues with.



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