It’s hard to admit when you’re the bad guy.
It was morning and I was in my one-bedroom college apartment that I shared with my roommate Peggy. I went into her room, technically the “living room,” and I opened the curtain to see if she was here. She was and she was pissed. Her sharp blue eyes lasered in on me. She yelled, “What are you doing?!” I stepped back from her “room” and I moved to the kitchen. I’m scared and I don’t know what to say.
After a few tense minutes, I asked in a jittery voice, “Did I do something wrong?”
She screamed, “Yes!”
I squeaked, “I wanted to ask you if I could play music when I make breakfast.”
She yelled back, “Use common sense and announce when you’re here!”
I didn’t deserve my roommate’s wrath, or so I thought. It was easier to accuse her of acting irrationally instead of looking outside of myself and realizing how my mistakes led to the crumbling of our living situation and pushed her to move out.
On the surface, Peggy and I were similar. Both of us loved travel, we had boyfriends, and listened to indie rock bands. Our likeness ended there.
Peggy was extroverted and often brought many of her friends back to the apartment, while I was introverted and only often brought one friend back. She was an early bird and went to bed at 9 or 10pm, while I was the nocturnal bat and chatted with my friends over Skype until the wee hours of the morning.
There were cracks in our relationship from the beginning and I initially was in denial.
The first crack was when I did not rinse her plates well enough after I used them for lunch and there was still blue soap residue. She yelled at me in front of her friends and said, “I feel really disrespected after I found blue shit on my plates.” I burst into tears because she didn’t have to yell at me in front of her friends, she could have just told me in private.
The second crack was when my parents brought their dog, Gustav, to my apartment because they had no one to take care of him. He urinated on her curtain and pooped in her “room.” I overheard her friends in the apartment hallways talk to each other and say she was mad at finding poo in her room, but she didn’t say anything to me. If she did, I would have cleaned it up.
The third crack was that I talk loudly to my friends over the phone and Skype. The walls in our apartment were thin so the tiniest noise could be heard. I’d be in my room and she’d be in her “room,” and she would text me to speak softer because she was going to sleep. I thought she could use ear plugs if she was so sensitive to noise, but I obliged to avoid any confrontation.
The delicate tendrils of our relationship broke when I texted her one night from my room. I asked if she could help me clean and I suggested the bathroom to start. I was tired of cleaning the apartment by myself, and felt she should do her part. She texted back and told me to leave her alone because she cleaned her own messes and that she didn’t even use the bathroom so she didn’t understand why she had to help clean it.
The next evening, when I went out to what was left of the living room, I overheard the voices of Peggy and her friend behind her curtain. I was upset that she was unwilling to help me clean the apartment so I decided to get back at her.
I overturned our faux wooden dining table vertically and placed it against the wall. I thought, That’ll get her attention. She deserved to be confused and scared at the same time with a turned table against the wall.
Before I left for an errand, I slammed the door as a dramatic exit. She was in her “room” with a friend, and I wanted them to know that I was upset.
After I came back from my errand, she and her friend were gone.
I told my apartment manager what I’d done to the table. I thought she was going to discipline me, but instead, she listened. She said she wanted Peggy and I to have a talk where she was the mediator, and where we can hash out our issues.
That never happened.
Instead, Peggy emailed our apartment manager writing that she was moving out.
And on top of that, the school issued us restraining orders against each other to help with moving on and to prevent awkwardly bumping into each other.
I like to paint myself as the victim. It’s easier to blame someone else, than to take responsibility. For instance, I dated a fellow dorm mate during my freshmen year of college, and it broke my heart when he decided to end it. I slipped letters under his door that expressed my anger toward him for breaking things off with me and how I thought he was a horrible person. I then wondered why he’d ignore me when I saw him. I focused entirely on myself rather than considering his feelings.
I spent my last day with my estranged roommate holed up in the bathroom while she was in her room packing up. I remember opening the door of the apartment and seeing a silhouette of my roommate hunched over her desk. I ran to the bathroom and called my then best friend and my then boyfriend, to explain to them what was happening. I wanted to go up to Peggy and apologize for my behavior but I was nervous. I peeked out of the bathroom ever so often to see what she was doing, and then crawled back. When I finally had the courage to approach her, she was gone. I thought I still had a chance to apologize so I called her cell and left a remorseful voicemail.
I deserved Peggy’s silence. She let me borrow her plates when I had none, and I disregarded her property when I didn’t fully wash them. She had the to right to be pissed off because her space was contaminated by my parents’ dog. Also, I should have lowered my volume the first time she told me rather than just do it when I felt like it.
Looking back, I believed she was out to get me, but now I realize that I was out to get her. It’s hard to admit when you’re the bad guy.
Samantha Jean Sumampong is a mental health blogger for www.rantsofanocdgirl.com. She has written for websites such as The Good Men Project and xoJane.