Monday, December 7, 2015

WHY DO I FEEL GUILTY?

First of all let me say this: I have some very definite ideas about why we'll never "win the war with ISIS" until we fundamentally change the way we look at the problem. But I'll try to outline those in a post that I promise I'll publish tomorrow. Today, I just need to let off steam; I need to rant. Anyone who wants to give feedback is free to do so, but this post is really going to be just a mechanism for me to bitch and complain and let off steam. Here goes:

I feel that I have done absolutely everything in my power to "be there" for a certain young man --- but he refuses to listen to anything anyone (especially, a very unhip old person) has to say; he's grown; he knows what's best for him. I know...I know...almost no one ever learns anything from what anyone else says to him or her; people learn, usually, from bumping their own heads against walls. But you try, repeatedly, to suggest alternative actions that a person can take in order to avoid problems that you know without a doubt are coming down the pike. Very often, the actions and attitudes which you can see so clearly leading to disaster are actions and attitudes that you yourself have had or taken, long ago; you know without even a hint of a doubt, where those actions and attitudes will lead.

The guy I'm talking about is right; he's grown. So he can do whatever he wants. All I ask is that, when it involves me, to please factor me into his attitudes and actions. Yes, I'm very, very aware that no one can take advantage of a person unless he or she is allowed to do that; so, my feelings of being "put on" by this person are a result of my own permitting him to do so. What I don't understand is exactly why I feel guilty about not having done more, or being able to do more for him. Why...WHY do I feel guilty?

I took this young man (he's 32 and I'm 74, so yes, he's a "young man" to me) into my home temporarily; I asked him to give me $50 a week and to keep the bathroom clean. That's all. That way, in two or three months he'd be able to save enough money to get his own place (with a roommate here in hyper-expensive Los Angeles, where you'd be extremely hard-put to find even a ratty studio for under $1000 a month). He owed back rent to a place where he used to live (I didn't know that before; it certainly would have been a red flag for me), but if all he had to pay me was $50 a week, he'd have money free toward paying even that.

Anyway, apparently, that was too much for me to ask of him. I usually did all the cleaning that got done around the apartment; I did the grocery shopping (when he went to a store, it was to buy chips, candy, and the like). Oh sure, he made my bed every day, and he washed dishes four or five times (!) while he was in my home.

Then, there's the bathroom. Why would anyone --- let alone, a young man --- need to stay in a bathroom for three hours? Yes, three hours. And that's while he's living with an old man (who has to pee regularly) who has to get into the bathroom to shower and shave and get ready to leave. Three hours --- I kid you not!

And using toilet paper like Kleenex. I'd buy a package of four rolls (which could easily last me over a month!), and it would be gone in no more than two days. he'd try to flush gobs of the tissue down the toilet, and didn't start plunging it until I confronted him about it (I had to do the unstopping). I told him repeatedly that it was to be used for wiping one's ass, not one's face, but he did it anyway. So the last time, I didn't replace the toilet tissue; I let it run out. Guess what? He started using my adult diapers --- and, of course, stopping up the toilet, since those things are very definitely not flushable.

And the key. In order to get into my apartment, you need two keys: One for the front door and door from the lobby to the hallway; and another for the apartment. Obviously, I wasn't going to give him both keys (actually, I shouldn't have given him any), but I did give him the one for the front door. He promptly lost it, or left it at someone's house, or something. Anyway, it disappeared, and I refused to replace it. I told him to call me from a block away, and I'd let him into the side door,very near my apartment.

He started calling, saying that he was "on his way" or "getting close to 6th and Coronado" or some such. I'd get out of bed (it was always well after midnight!), pad barefoot over to the door, then wait. And wait. And wait. It should take no more than 2 or 3 minutes to make it to my apartment from where I told him to call me from, but I've stood at the back door, shivering, for up to an hour (!) waiting for him. I won't even go into the explanation he gave.


But, according to him, that's my fault. And, in a way, it certainly is; I'm the one who's been letting him get away with that crap. So yes, it is my own damned fault.

And we won't even go into the facts --- the FACTS! --- that he's got a shiny new I-Phone (I have a cheap-ass phone that came with my prepaid service); he sports the latest clothing and other gear (I get mine from a thrift shop); or that, even though he claims to be very, very tired, he'll go out after midnight, then come in and raid the fridge.

I gave him a deadline of the end of last month to get out for good. Then, I changed that to the 10th of this month, when he gets his GR (welfare) check and EBT (food stamp) card. He's mad at me now, because he doesn't know whether he'll have enough money to get into the place he wants and plans to go, or whether they'll even let him come back. And it's all their fault, my fault, the fault of the man who let him charge his phone in his apartment...everybody's fault except his.

And I'm sick of it. You can't even begin to imagine how sick of him and this situation I am. I'm so glad he's getting out of my hair that this decrepid old man could literally skip and holler.

But I do feel guilty. I feel guilty, and I don't know why. But I'll get over it. And, some day, I'll look back at all this and see the lessons I learned from it. At this point, it's two: I am not a professional behavioral scientist, and I can not help people who have psychological or other behavioral problems as they need to be helped; and I absolutely can't take a person like that into my home, even temporarily. I'm sure there are other lessons, and I'm just as sure that some of my friends will point them out.

Right now, at this point, I just don't understand why I feel so guilty about this very unfortunate situation. But I do.