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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Relationships » Advice/Support welcome

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Author Topic: Advice/Support welcome
treetops
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So this is maybe outside the scope of Scarleteen, but it is about relationships, so hmm.
If nothing else, it will help me to vent about it, and if people can advise, so much the better.

It's a bit of an essay, sorry!

The situation is, I've been living with my flatmate (who I'll call Bert) for 4 years now. During that time I've consistently sorted out the bills for the household, setting up the accounts, often paying the bills and getting others to pay me back. This is because I felt that nobody else would be organised enough to bother sorting this stuff out.

During this time Bert was especially bad at paying me back on time, often requiring repeated prompts and sometimes taking months to get the money back to me. Eventually I decided to stop sorting out the bills, as I felt that I was perpetuating the situation - even when I asked other people to sort the occasional bill out, I would always do it if they failed to (which they usually did).

I realised that I needed to stop doing it altogether and then they would stop relying on me and eventually sort it out themselves. Which mostly happened, with the exception of Bert, who continued to allow others to pay for him and not to pay them back for ages.

The issue is that Bert and I are the only ones in our house who are liable for Council Tax, and I have been paying it for the both of us since we moved in. I tried to get him to pay his part soon after, but he was very unreliable about this.

I have had health issues for many years and about a year and a half ago my health problems worsened, meaning that I no longer had the energy to pursue Bert for the money he owed me. Instead I just kept paying it when it was due, mentioning it occasionally, and Bert mostly showed no interest in paying it back.

I should add that Bert has a job and a car, while I have neither, and has had a greater income than me since we've been living together.

The situation now is that due to Bert owing me increasing amounts of money, my financial situation is getting worrying. I can't afford to bail him out any more, and I don't want to either.

He knows that he has a greater income than me and that I have been unwell, he knows that he owes me a great deal of money, yet when I asked him to pay the council tax for this month, he shrugged and said he was broke. (He always claims to be broke, yet spends a lot of money on clothes etc - I have no idea whether his overspending has led to him having no money, or if he is lying/exaggerating about his finances.) When I ask him for the money, he always goes off on a monologue about how broke he is.

I am at the point where I have no sympathy left for him and I don't care where he gets the money from, I just need him to pay it.

I find it very hard to be assertive, and I'd really like someone to tell me that I am not being unreasonable here, as I suspect when I confront him he will try and make me feel like the bad guy. I am so angry about this situation but I don't want there to be a big house feud or anything; on the other hand, I don't want to let him get away with screwing me over any more.
I don't know how to phrase it best to avoid a massive fight while also resolving the situation.

Any advice/support/thoughts at all would be very welcome.
Thank you.

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Heather
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You know, it sounds to me like this situation requires a next big step: either you ending the situation of living with Bert and sharing bills at all (and thus, sucking up the debt you're left with), or talking to a lawyer.

It just doesn't look like anything you're doing or saying is having any impact, so it doesn't seem like continued asks and conversations will be fruitful. [Frown]

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treetops
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Urgh, I am really hoping it won't come to either of those things, as I can't afford to move out and I don't have the energy for any sort of legal action and all the difficulties that would follow (that's assuming I could get free legal help anyway).

The thing is, I don't think he's actively thinking 'I'm never going to pay this money back', I think it's more that he keeps putting it off because that's the path of least resistance, at least while I'm not on his back about it. So I am hoping that if I lay it out and stress how unfair it is etc. he'll maybe a.) feel a bit guilty and/or b.) realise that this time I am going to keep on at him until he pays and I am not going to continue with the situation as it is.

I hear what you're saying though; it's possible that saying this to him will have no effect. But I think he has no idea how much this is pissing me off, as he's pretty self-centred and also because I've been really good-natured about it so far (to his face! Inwardly I've been fuming).

I'm going to try speaking to him and if I don't feel like that has had an effect, I will tell him I'm going to get advice about how to proceed. I guess I might start going down the legal route if it comes to it :/.

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treetops
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Also, it's not just me, is it? He is being selfish and crap?
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Redskies
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My suggestion is very situation-specific, but maybe worth mentioning.

I think it depends on what you know about Bert's relationship with his parents/close family. In many cases, it would be inappropriate to involve those people, but sometimes, I think it's ok. I once was owed money by an ex who claimed to never have any money (but who had more than me). He was in regular contact with his parents and they were still partly financially supporting him. In those circumstances, I thought it was fine to approach them.

Just thought it was worth suggesting in case it was appropriate and a less-hassle way of getting your money.

You're not being unreasonable, and you shouldn't be made to feel bad. Even if he has very legitimate circumstances, that doesn't make it ok that you're struggling too because of it, and I think that most people would not expect you to be ok with that. It's one thing for someone to be generous if they choose and can afford it, and quite another when the reality of financial difficulty applies to you too.

(Edit: I'm trying not to be judgey, because I don't know him or his circumstances, but yeh, it kinda sounds like he's being selfish and clueless about this.)

[ 04-10-2012, 11:55 AM: Message edited by: Redskies ]

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treetops
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Thanks Redskies. [Smile]

Yeah, I know that I don't know his full situation, and you peeps only know what I've written here, so fair enough. You're right, it's probably not good to judge without knowing all the details.

I asked because I find it hard sometimes, I tend to assume that things are my fault even when they're really not, and my parents are quite victim-blamey in that respect which has really affected me. Sometimes I feel like I need affirmation from external sources that a situation is Not OK.

One of the things I didn't mention in the first post as it was getting really long is that Bert has also had some health problems. This is partly why I went easy on him with the money (although he has kept his job throughout) initially, as I was sympathetic. I now feel, though, that it's not really about his health, it's more that he doesn't want to take responsibility for stuff in general.

I have considered contacting his parents, although I'm not sure how I would get their details. I know that they have given him large amounts of money, and bought him a replacement car when his old one went kaput. I should add that he's 34 and I'm 25, and I'm on government welfare for long-term ill-health.

Blurgh. Just want this to be resolved without more hassle, as it feels really unfair.

[ 04-10-2012, 12:10 PM: Message edited by: treetops ]

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Heather
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It is unfair, but I really don't think there's any quick, easy resolution at the end of this road. It sounds to me like he's played you a bit around this, whatever his own circumstances may be, and that he's pretty committed to keep trying to have you....well, pay his bills. Unlike you, I'm not feeling so sure he's NOT actively thinking he has no intent of paying you back and pulling his own weight. To me, his actions around this don't suggest, at all, that he wants to resolve this with you.

But if you think you have one more conversation in you about this, and things you have not said, and lines you haven't drawn, I think it's okay to try. But if you're going to do that, I'd suggest you do not close that conversation until you make a real plan together for repayment, with deadlines and everything made VERY clear.

IOW, your approach is he MUST pay you back, and arrangements need to be made to do that NOW. You will put out the amounts again, you two will agree on a repayment schedule, etc.

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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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treetops
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Thanks Heather. I've had a brief word with him, but I'm going to get the stuff together to work out a repayment plan; that's a good idea.

[ 04-10-2012, 01:35 PM: Message edited by: treetops ]

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Heather
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Sure.

I'd also suggest, btw, drawing a holding a VERY hard line moving forward that you will not pay any part of his bills from here on forward. And if that means he can't afford to live together the way you are, he needs to make that clear, work that out, or make other arrangements.

You probably already figured all of that, but seemed worth checking in about.

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About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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treetops
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Just updating this. I spoke to him a bit more firmly a couple of times and he eventually begrudgingly agreed to start paying it back. So that's good, although I still feel really angry at how it went and how he acted.

The issue now is that I've really not been well lately, and he's just woken me up to chew me out about not cleaning the house enough (which is definitely true of everyone that lives here, and I have OCD stuff that makes it really hard for me to do that stuff, although frankly I pitch in as often as anyone else does, and more so with things like the bills). I have never once said an angry word to him even when he deserved it, but I am shaking with anger right now that he thinks he can have a go at me over something so trivial when he's treated me this way.

Any ideas as to what I can say to him? He's obviously in a massive mood right now and I don't want to make things worse but at the same time I am not going to let him continue to walk all over me. [Frown] I'm worried that saying anything else will escalate things and he is famous for bearing grudges about any time anyone's crossed him.
I'm also pretty sure that he's taking advantage of my lack of assertiveness as I'm pretty sure he wouldn't shout at my other housemates this way.

I feel like I absolutely can't deal with this, with discord in the house right now, I am feeling so awful anyway.

[ 08-02-2012, 12:58 PM: Message edited by: treetops ]

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treetops
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I just tried to speak to him to tell him he's being unfair. He's just told me that I never do anything around the house and I tried to argue it, and he just completely shot me down and ignored the fact that he still owes me money. He also said that I am not really ill. I have been ill for as long as I remember and find doing everyday things hard. He scoffed at this.

I don't know what to do. It would be very difficult for me to move out, and I don't think he's going to. But I don't see how I can live with someone who's treated me like this and then said to my face that my problems are not real.

I absolutely can't cope.

[ 08-02-2012, 01:30 PM: Message edited by: treetops ]

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Sans
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Oh, GRRR, treetops! I feel so pissed off that he would treat you in such a horribly disrespectful manner!

You know whom he reminds me of? My abusive, manipulative ex-stepfather (whom I'll refer to as R). R used to get into massive, scary tempers all the time. He would be completely unreasonable (like Bert is being) and he would treat my mother and I like s***. My mother asked him once why he treated us in such an awful manner. He responded by saying: "Because it works! When I treat you guys like that, you would do whatever I want you to do and behave in the way I want you to behave."

This Bert seems to me to be behaving in a totally manipulative manner right now. He knows that you are ill and he knows that you cannot cope with all of this stress. That is exactly why he is being unreasonable. He has money, and he completely ignores the fact that he owes you money. I see these as red flags/warning signs, treetops, of someone who has abusive and manipulative tendencies. He's behaving exactly like my abusive ex-stepfather behaved, and that is setting off alarms for me.

I know that you're having a really hard time coping right now, but allow me to say this: honestly, I don't believe that you can deal with him in a reasonable manner due to his behavioural nature. He seems like the type of person who will try to take advantage of you especially when you are having a tough time. I don't think that it would be healthy for you to live with someone who's treated you like this either. In my opinion, moving out might just be one of the best options.

Lots of support coming to you from me. His behaviour is reminding me so much of R it's scary. I agree that he is being completely unfair and that you don't deserve this treatment in the slightest. I really, really wish you the best of the best right now because I know that it's extremely difficult for you. Please think about what I've said. I don't think that his behaviour towards you is going to get better. In fact, judging from past experience with R, I have a hunch that it's only going to get worse.

I'll be around if you want to talk. Please take care. A million hugs from me if you want them!

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"Sneak away, sneak away / If the fate is too sad / You are not a flower of hell / That kind of place... / Don't become lost, don't become lost... / Or you won't be able to grasp the entangled hand / The cry also has a limit...." - Naraku no Hana

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treetops
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Thank you so much for replying, Sans, I really appreciate it.

Yeah, after I'd thought about it for a bit I came to the same conclusion you have: it's time for me to at least try to move out. It might be difficult, as a lot of landlords won't take tenants who are on welfare, and I find that pretty demoralising. However, I think you're right that he won't improve, I doubt he'll apologise, and will probably bear a grudge forever about the fact that I dared to stand up to him this time. And he's never going to move out even though he's always complaining about the house, the landlord, and the flatmates. I think I need to get away from this person and I am going to put all my energy (what of it there is!) for the moment into doing that.

It's so daunting, I really hope I'll be able to cope with the stress of finding a replacement tenant for my current flat, finding a new place that I can afford, moving in if I find one, and then getting on with new housemates. But I do think getting away from this situation will be good.

Blurgh, it's especially bad as one of the things I am really fragile about is people not believing in my health problems (which are pretty severe tbh, but are mental health problems, so not always very visible). And I'd confided in Bert about them fairly early on, and I don't often do that, as I find it hard to talk about. I feel like he's just taken that trust and thrown it back in my face. He just straight up said that I am not actually ill, and sneered about it. Feeling pretty raw about that.

I'm so sorry, Sans, that you've experienced similar manipulative/abusive behaviour, and it must be awful when it's a parent figure and hard to get away from. I will gladly accept the hugs! *hugs back* Any other thoughts or support would be welcome. I especially sort of just want to say, 'You believe me, don't you?' about my mental health problems. It would mean so much just to have someone say they believe me.

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Redskies
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Hi, treetops. I believe you. Solidarity from another person who has felt that where I was living was a bad, unhealthy place for me, but couldn't imagine managing a move because of mental health difficulties.

It sounds like moving would be a positive and important thing for you, and if you feel strong enough to manage it, absolute respect to you.

It's clear you know anyway, but yeh, that guy is really out of order. Particularly if he's changed his tune a bit, sounds like he's deliberately saying things to be hurtful to try to get his own way and control things. You don't deserve his taking advantage of you, and you certainly don't deserve his poor treatment of you. I think by his behaviour he's forfeited any right to treatment from you which looks out for his own well-being, so I encourage you to say and do what's best for you and your well-being in that house.

Mental health problems are real. We don't deserve to be disbelieved or disrespected around them.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Sans
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(I believe you) x 100,000,000,000,000,000,000! [Big Grin] I suffer from quite a variety of mental health problems myself (Psychotic Depression, PTSD, Anxiety, and OCD-like intrusive thoughts), and it REALLY angers me whenever I hear of someone who says that such problems are "not real" or "invalid"! People who say that have no idea of what they are talking about, seriously, and I'm angry that you had to experience such ignorance coming from Bert. I hope that you're feeling a bit better now.

Your very very welcome. [Smile] I'm sorry that it is difficult for you to move out. Yeah, I can totally relate to what you stated about landlords who won't take tenants on welfare because my mother and I are on welfare ourselves. We had wanted to move awhile back because our current apartment is quite a distance from the university I'll be attending in the fall. However, we couldn't find a landlord who will accept us due to the fact that we are on welfare, so we are staying where we are. I know how utterly frustrating it can be, also, to not be able to do anything about that due to mental health issues making it impossible to work or do something that requires as much energy as moving. However, I agree with you in that I feel it would be best for you to be as far from this person as possible. I'll be rooting for you no matter what!

Ugh, I know. Trust me, I know. My damned ex-stepfather totally took whatever trust I had left in humanity at the time and shredded it to the four winds. I can so completely relate to feeling raw, angry, just plain PISSED OFF at such treatment from someone to whom we've shown trust.

Thanks! *Giving you a bazillion more hugs back* [Big Grin] He left my mother and I for several years now, got sentenced to jail for awhile, and is currently hanging out in location unknown, so I'm good. [Smile]

All of my support to you! You are a really kind person and you don't ever deserve to be taken advantaged of.

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"Sneak away, sneak away / If the fate is too sad / You are not a flower of hell / That kind of place... / Don't become lost, don't become lost... / Or you won't be able to grasp the entangled hand / The cry also has a limit...." - Naraku no Hana

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treetops
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Thank you so much Redskies and Sans [Smile] .

I have a few house viewings now for this weekend so fingers crossed that I find something. Trying not to get my hopes up too much. Haven't really slept or eaten. Gah, stress.

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moonlight bouncing off water
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I've wanted to respond to this thread for a while but I've had some trouble getting my thoughts in order (I am incredibly sleep-deprived).

I believe you too treetops. It pisses me off to no end when people say that mental health stuff doesn't exist or isn't real when it so clearly is. I don't have any (diagnosed) mental health issues and I believe you so I don't understand why other people don't. Those people may never of had scoliosis and yet I have, but would they say that it wasn't real and that there was no reason for the month and a half out of school and the full year until I was "recovered"? Of course not. So they should extend the same common sense to mental health too!


I concur that Burt sounds abusive and it does not appear that he is going to ever change his behaviour, he's been neglecting to pay his bills for quite some time now afterall. It really does sound like you need to get out of the living situation asap.


EDIT yay for house viewings!
I wish you all the best treetops, I hope you are able to resolve this awful situation that you should never have been put in.

[ 08-03-2012, 06:03 AM: Message edited by: moonlight bouncing off water ]

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Sans
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I wish you all the best too! Best of luck with the house viewings! And I hope that you feel better soon! [Smile]

Lots of support and hugs from me!

--------------------
"Sneak away, sneak away / If the fate is too sad / You are not a flower of hell / That kind of place... / Don't become lost, don't become lost... / Or you won't be able to grasp the entangled hand / The cry also has a limit...." - Naraku no Hana

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treetops
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Thanks so much moonlight, and Sans again! First viewing today and I'm super nervous. Trying to be positive about the situation and myself.
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moonlight bouncing off water
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Good luck! And remember, worst case scenario you don't find somewhere to live and you're in the same position you're in right now.

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treetops
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Thanks moonlight.

Update on this: I've been lucky and have found somewhere new to live, which I'm looking forward to. I've also found someone to take over my contract here.

I'm having trouble getting the money off Bert though. He'd actually started paying it back in installments these past couple of months but now I'm asking him to pay the rest before I move out and he's claiming that he doesn't have the money. I'm sure he could get it if he doesn't have it.
Not sure how to proceed to a.) get the money back so I can put this all behind me and b.) avoid further drama. [Frown] I really don't want this to turn nastier than it already has but I am sick of being treated this way.

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Sans
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Hey, treetops! I'm so glad to hear that you've found somewhere new to live and that you're looking forward to moving there. [Smile]

Oh boy. As sorry as I am to hear that Bert's giving you more trouble, I'm not surprised by it. Both a) and b) sound like pretty tough courses of action in their own way with respective pros and cons.

Just wondering, would option a) involve legal action instigated by yourself?

(Lots of support for you no matter what you decide to do!)

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"Sneak away, sneak away / If the fate is too sad / You are not a flower of hell / That kind of place... / Don't become lost, don't become lost... / Or you won't be able to grasp the entangled hand / The cry also has a limit...." - Naraku no Hana

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moonlight bouncing off water
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Yay on finding a place to live! That's awesome.

Per getting the money out of Burt, do you mind me asking if it is a large sum of money that he owes you (large sum being anything that it hurts you not to get back)? Because while I certainly suggest that you do all that you can to get the money, it gets to a point with things like these where you need to evaluate whether it's more important to have him pay you back or to be able to walk away from the situation once and for all and cut all ties immediately, thus helping you with the stress I'm sure this is causing you, and allowing you to stop expending energy on this.

But of course, that is all stuff I would say only bears considering IF you can't get the money out of him. Have you tried, rather than asking him to give it all to you at once, telling him that he has until date X to pay it all back? Date X should be at least a week and a half before you move out, that way if it isn't paid back by then, there's still time to deal with it.

(Also: something neat that my dad taught me is that when you're speaking to people, if you want to assert authority, don't raise your tone of voice when you ask questions. Keep it at the same tone you speak in. Raising the tone of voice to a higher pitch is submissive, keeping it consistent is dominant. This makes the speaker sound (and feel) more confident, and gives them an air of authority. When speaking to Burt about the money, and in general, I highly suggest you try this trick!)

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treetops
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Thanks for replies [Smile] .

Not sure about legal action. It's not something I'd want to do if I could avoid it, but.

And yes, unfortunately it is a large sum for me. If it weren't, I might have left it alone. I know what you mean, moonlight, about walking away, and I've thought about it, it's just that - apart from the amount being significant - he's been walking all over me for so long and I don't want to let him get away with it any more. I want this sorted so that I can cut ties and walk away.

Yeah, I've told him that I need the money before I move out; I am moving in a couple of weeks. And sure, it's short notice to be asking for the whole sum, which I think he's angry about, but I'm moving out at short notice because he was verbally abusive to me. So yeah. He's sent me an unpleasant email just now informing me that he can't afford it.

I don't really think I'm being unreasonable here. [Frown]

And that's a good tip, moonlight, thanks. Bert and I are only communicating in writing at this point, but I'll bear it in mind!

Bleurgh, so anxious about this right now, and no idea why he's being such an [insert expletive here].

[ 08-15-2012, 10:06 PM: Message edited by: treetops ]

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Redskies
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Treetops, so glad to hear you arranged moving! That's awesome.

Just on the off-chance - do you have any written record of the money this guy owes you? Particularly anything written by him, but even your own records? If you do, then it's possible that some advice services might be able to help/advise you on your options - in the UK, that would be Citizens Advice Bureau, I'm afraid I don't know about anywhere else. Sometimes a formal letter can help to shift someone who just doesn't want to pay up. Also, if the money he owes you is for things like his share of rent and bills, rather than, say, cash that you gave to help a friend out, then something like Citizens Advice might be more interested, because it then sounds more like a housemate not fulfilling their financial duties rather than a friend who didn't deserve to be trusted. Totally don't take my word for that, though, as that's not based on any actual experience or legal knowledge.

Hm. Another thought. It's not what you want or need, but if he Genuinely couldn't manage the lump sum, in UK banking systems, he could set up a standing order from his bank account to yours for a set amount every month. It wouldn't guarantee that he wouldn't cancel it, of course, but it might show willingness to actually pay you, and remove the ongoing hassle and contact elements for both of you, and make the payment amounts and dates definite.

Honestly, he sounds selfish, and controlling in order to be selfish; and at least personally, with people like that, I tend not to bother asking "why", because there tend not to be answers that make a lot of sense, and they probably don't help all that much anyway. I'm sorry you're having to deal with a person like this, and I'm not surprised it's bothering you.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Sans
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Treetops, I don't think that you are being unreasonable at all. In fact, you have every right to feel the way you do. Bert is the one who has been unreasonable for the entire duration of the time you knew him.

I'm sorry that you feeling so anxious about this right now. Lots of support and hugs coming from me!

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"Sneak away, sneak away / If the fate is too sad / You are not a flower of hell / That kind of place... / Don't become lost, don't become lost... / Or you won't be able to grasp the entangled hand / The cry also has a limit...." - Naraku no Hana

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treetops
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Hey everyone, an update on this.
I've moved out, and it is so great to be away from someone so abusive and toxic. Unfortunately, in trying to get the money back, despite Bert having been told not to contact me directly, he has been harassing me by email. It's really showing me the kind of person he is (nasty and aggressive, not respecting any boundaries, completely out of touch with reality). Any support here is appreciated. I know that I am not in the wrong here but he is going out of his way to try and make me feel like shit.

It would also be great if I could talk to someone about this in a private forum - though I realise that this is outside Scarleteen's scope so may not be possible.

[ 10-17-2012, 08:04 AM: Message edited by: treetops ]

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Robin Lee
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HI Treetops,

Support coming your way. I know it's easier said than done, but remember that he can say whatever he wants; you can choose how you feel about it.

IN other words, think of it as building an emotional shield. when those nasty emails come in, you can remind yourself that it's Burt's stuff, not yours, and that he doesn't control how you feel.

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Robin

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treetops
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Thanks Robin. Would it be possible to discuss this in a private area of the forum? Not necessarily really in-depthly, I'd just like to talk about some things that I don't feel safe posting about publicly.
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