I’m struggling with a sinus infection. I would like to be out in the garden planting my newly procured veggie starts, however, they will just have to wait a couple more days.
The Peacemaker and I returned Sunday night from a month+ at our house in Ojai. This winter, Southern California ended its recent drought with more rain in two months than Portland gets in a year. The Ojai laundry room flooded. We knew it was a problem area, but no rain (for basically years) meant no leaking. The previous owners had planned and started to execute an addition, but neglected to get any permits, which prompted the next door neighbor to call the county on them. They ended up slapping on a wall, and we knew all this… Anyway, all the nice little improvements we made, pergo floors, new paint, etc… were all for nought. A full re-do of the laundry room was in order. I’m severely allergic to dust and mold and well, let’s just say my sinuses struggled the entire time I was down there, culminating in a monstrous sinus/ear infection, which I am still trying to shake.
Even chronic sinus issues, however, could not dampen my love for Ojai and our little mid-century bungalow.
Not so endearing an experience was my first time as a landlord. When I left the house last June, everything was immaculate. Since we had intended for the house to be an airbnb, it was fully furnished and fully stocked. The beds were made, the bathrooms stocked, I even had flowers in the vases. I mentioned to the renter that we hadn’t had time to put a lock on the supply cabinet, so please just leave it be. We had some tools in there as well as basic supplies: shampoo, conditioner, soap, laundry detergent, etc… for at least 6 months. There’s a studio out back of the house where we were storing other items, some personal, some paint & supplies. We had never intended to include the studio, but she begged as she wanted to be able to use it if family visited. I very begrudgingly said okay, and I carefully stacked all our personal items in one corner.
Her lease was for six months, July through December. She asked to extend through February. I agreed. She eventually moved out the first week of March and later in March, we made our way down to Ojai. The last couple months the renter did quite a bit of complaining. She didn’t understand with ALL THE MONEY she was paying us, why we couldn’t fix the electronic gates out front. She complained about the laundry room, but didn’t want anyone at the house while she was there. Her rent was inclusive of utilities (my BIG mistake), and she ran up the utilities to exorbitant amounts. Like $750 gas, $500 electric, for a 1500 square foot house! In one month! 😮
Anyhoo… we arrived at the house at 10pm on a Saturday night and I honestly couldn’t believe my eyes. The house was filthy, the beds were stripped, bedding and pillows missing, the supply cabinet was wiped out and there wasn’t a paper product to be found. After a quick run to the grocery store for TP, we found our son rummaging through every cabinet trying to find the internet router. I had installed the highest quality internet available in the area because we work from the house/studio. It was installed in a room where the studio would get full service. She had the router moved to the attic. To say our son wasn’t happy, well… 🤦🏻♀️ He also noticed all his brand new drill bits were rusted. What?
The next day I found our personal belongings from the studio outside where they had been rained on all winter. Ruined. The woman also took books & decorative pillows and some kitchen items with her. It had only been 8 months and yet the wear and tear on the house in general and the kitchen specifically looked like she’d been there 8 years!
Thankfully we had a month’s rent on deposit and I started making a list of everything taken and everything damaged. I’d just compiled expenses for our accountants, so my memory was fresh. I told her I would refund her once I had deducted everything.
One of my favorite people in Ojai is my real estate agent. She and her mom were at one of their listings that next afternoon, so I went to say hi! The mom had been the one who had introduced me to the renter, and my agent had written the lease. They didn’t make a dime on the lease transaction, but were led to believe that the renter wanted to purchase in Ojai, so they helped. Shortly after moving into our house, however, the renter blew off these agents and found another, but never did buy, and now, interest rates! Oy! Good luck with that.
While I was sitting there with these lovely women, the renter left a message with my agent’s mom (the one she blew off) saying what a bad landlord I was!!! We all had a good laugh. This woman is actually a wealthy, entitled user who hasn’t a clue and Ojai is a very small town. No more renters for me for a while!
So back to what I had intended to write about in the first place. Last night I was watching a program and it included physical spousal abuse. The woman was making excuses for why her husband had hit her. She was sort of begging her friend not to tell anyone. He’d been angry, she’d got in the way, as if abuse was just part of the deal, of being married, of loving someone. Which got me thinking. Before discovery of my husband’s secret life, I think I would have been surprised by the reaction of this educated, driven woman. How could she allow such abuse to continue, especially when she had the means, the ability, to walk away. How could that be love?
Now I know different. I know that until we are faced with that set of circumstances, abuse, we have no idea what we’ll do. I consider what my husband did to me, abuse. Even though he may not feel like he did anything TO me, he did. He lied and cheated, broke trust and said and did things that hurt to my core. His actions caused me to question myself and my worth. Everyone has a reason for being abusive. Not a good or legitimate reason, but some excuse. Blue Eyes likewise had his reasons. But to me, there is no way I would have believed him capable of what he did, or me capable of loving someone who could be so cruel. And if he didn’t realize what he was doing was cruel, THAT’s cruel! How could any of this be love?
It’s true I’m a compassionate and forgiving person, but even I didn’t realize I was this forgiving. We think we know ourselves and how we will react to any given situation. I’m a mature adult who has always been practical, and a caregiver. But trauma sent me into a spiral that had me self harming and dissociating on a daily basis. There’s no way that’s me? But it is. At least it was, under those specific circumstances. And I have no regrets. That is one thing that has remained constant with me. I respect my own choices and I ALWAYS have choices. How I feel about myself and how I treat myself will always be far more important than how others treat me. Maybe the biggest lesson I have learned in this process with my husband is that I am a work in progress. It was idealistic of me to think my husband wouldn’t hurt me. This isn’t Fantasyland. Life hurts, some days. Thankfully the really hard days are behind me, mainly because I’ve discovered just how strong I really am, no matter what!
8 thoughts on “Abuse”
We rented years ago, we decorated and the landlord loved it so much she replaced all the carpets.. when we left we even repainted some of the walls! Then the new renters moved in, and oh my! We had moved just down the road and we had to let her know just how bad the garden was, with dumped vans and things, she was a lovely landlord and we owed her that. I think for some it is about control, we pay for this so we will do what we want!
I smiled when I read your comment ‘but I also don’t know how wise it is to trust another human being so fully. It won’t happen again.’ because that is exactly how ai feel. Even though our stories are different, all of us, they are in many ways still the same. I know that people think it sad that I feel that way, but I just think it is realistic, the inly person who can really look after you is you.
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OMG, I just do not understand people who have no respect for others. We have rented the same place in Maui for many years and the owners just rave about our respect and care for their high end rental. Sometimes, people just suck. Glad it finally worked out for you.
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Right? What is wrong with people! It’s so disrespectful. I’m pretty attached to my houses, probably more than I should be, so it actually hurts a little. All I can figure is this woman is clueless. We were in contact the entire time she was living there… she didn’t seem concerned at all with the damage or the list of items that she absconded with. She actually tried to blame some of it on my contractor. Someone she wouldn’t even let in the gates! People are weird. 🤗
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We used to rent out our summer place. Even at a price point north of $5k/week the renters were mostly incredibly disrespectful of the house. (How do these folks treat their own homes??) The straw that broke me was when my plumber called – after 2 trips to the house in one week for a child clogging a toilet – and told me that the renters sat by laughing while their kids jumped on and destroyed much of the pool/ patio furniture. Done. Fin. The lack of income stinks, but my stress level is much improved.
I don’t think you were idealistic to think BE wouldn’t hurt you. There are … regular (?)… ways he could hurt you like poor financial choices, discounting your opinions or feelings, or general selfishness. Those things happen. I think it’s perfectly realistic to expect that your spouse won’t traumatize you. That’s a whole different level of hurt and harm. You can’t go into a marriage expecting that.
There are people I intensely dislike and distrust who have not traumatized me, yet I sleep next to someone who did. I still find it weird on occasion.
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There’s just no predicting how we will act in a specific set of circumstances. I never really thought about it (thankfully) but I don’t think I could have predicted what happened. We trusted our spouses and that invites a much different level of trauma, I think. I never would have wanted to enter into a marriage with thoughts of what if, but I also don’t know how wise it is to trust another human being so fully. It won’t happen again.
I’m renting the beach house and other than one young couple from Florida, they have been so respectful of that house. I do reach out to them in advance if I don’t know them and get to know them better. Everyone knows the house wasn’t built as a rental and there’s nothing else like it on the coast. The house next door, however, attracts a whole different crowd.
I think we’ll airbnb the Ojai House for a few months of the year and see how it goes. I’ve got someone down there to manage it now. There’s no fancy art, or one of a kind furniture down there. I don’t understand some people. Just leave things the way you found them. I try and leave things better.
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I do that too in rentals! The home owners always thank me for respecting their property. I don’t have a lot to say for an agency who rented us a condo in St. Augustine. Mildew sheets in the washer. Pubic hair and sand everywhere. GROSS! It wasn’t her property; she didn’t care. Now, I only rent from real owners. There are some sham people out there, sadly. Wish your Ojai place was closer, as we are going to rent 2-3 months every winter now to be away from the WNY cold.
And re: trusting our spouses unconditionally – we are supposed to do that. They abused the trust. There’s nothing wrong with us; it was them. But unconditional trust ever again? NOPE.
Sorry about that crap renter. I assume she did not get her deposit back and will be visiting with you in a courtroom soon :). Your realization that each person reacts in their own way to things that happen to them was also a great revelation. I learned this a while back–we each walk our own path and experience things differently. Have a great Wednesday!
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She got part of her deposit back. No courtroom! Thanks for the kind words!
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