Longtime readers will be well aware of the ongoing saga that is Ben’s mother. It started for us jointly back in 2013 when we reluctantly invited her to move to Denver and stay with us until she got set up with SSDI and properly resettled on her own. At the time she was living in Phoenix under horrible circumstances, had just been fired from yet another job, and we simply couldn’t have her out on the street. Little did we know at the time, but putting her out on the street might have been the best thing to happen to her.
What initially started out as six weeks turned into six months, and after deciding not to apply for disability and instead go back to work, it then became over a year. The nightmare only came to an end when we finally gave her notice and threw her out.
At that time she had a steady job working for Comcast and was making good enough money that she could afford to get a place of her own. She was doing well both mentally and physically, supposedly had her pain killer problem under control, and it seemed she’d finally gotten back to having something resembling a normal life. This lasted for a few months until—as has become standard operating procedure for her—things were going so well she had to fuck them up: off the wagon, incidents at work, and once again out of a job with rent due.
This time Ben made it very clear she was not moving back in with us. She destroyed enough of the apartment during the year she was with us (the first time in my life I had to pay for damages upon vacating a rental) and made life such a living hell (not one, but two calls to the paramedics because she was unresponsive) that she had proved herself unworthy of our trust and that there would be no second chance.
So after many telephone calls to Ben’s brother in Seattle, what remained of her large belongings were put in storage, and she was placed on a bus heading north.
In Seattle, the same tired story played out once again: promises to get set up with SSDI, find a place of her own and rebuild her life. Of course none of that happened; Ben got all the paperwork together—even going to far as to fly to Seattle on his own dime to get Powers of Attorney signed.
And still nothing got filed. (In case you don’t know, getting SSDI approved and in motion is a long process; typically six months at the earliest from when the paperwork is filed until the first check arrives.)
The difference this time was that Ben’s sister-in-law was having none of her bullshit and once again she was put on notice that her welcome had worn itself out and she needed to make other living arrangements.
By this time we’d moved back to Phoenix, and being the dutiful son, Ben did all the required research, sent her job listings, scouted apartments, and bought her a plane ticket home since she hated Seattle and wanted to move back here.
To her credit, she found work rather quickly after arriving back in Phoenix. She even met a guy and started dating! While she wasn’t living here, she had taken up residence on our couch, and what was once again to be only a week-long stay dragged on and on until I pulled the “no unauthorized visitors over a month” stipulation from our lease and sent her packing to a motel.
Apparently her new beau (who didn’t live in Phoenix full time, but had an apartment here) took pity on her and offered to have her stay at his place.
This lasted until about three months ago. For a variety of reasons she moved out of the beau’s apartment into a pay-by-the-week place closer to her work (because no one else would rent to her because of her credit and rental history). Things were going well; she had money, a good job, and a decent roof over her head. The only time we saw her was when she came over once a week to do laundry.
She was succeeding.
And you know she couldn’t let that last. It was about two and a half weeks ago that Ben got a call from a mental health facility, inquiring how he was planning on paying for his mom’s stay.
It seems that she was feeling suicidal (she’s attempted it several times over the last ten years), and had checked herself into the facility a couple days earlier. Without so much as letting anyone—including Ben or her employer—know.
My dear friend Al, whom I’ve known for close to a decade, worked as a case manager at a hospital where we were both employed. She’s been telling Ben for years that he has to step away from all this; he has to cut her off completely just as his siblings have done and let his mom hit rock bottom. She needs to be on the street, where—hopefully—she can finally get the state assistance she needs. I’m cautiously optimistic that this latest incident has finally flipped that switch for him, because he’s not having any of her bullshit any more.
Now let me say we are not being heartless bitches here. Ben’s mom is in no way elderly; if she were and it was the cause of this behavior that would obviously affect our disposition toward her. But she’s not. She’s a couple years younger than I am. She has some real physical pain issues that require meds to mitigate, but it’s unaddressed emotional issues that are at the root of her behavior; issues that in her mind are more easily self-medicated than actually addressed directly through proper counseling (something she has been told to seek out each and every time she’s been in and out of these mental hospitals and consistently refuses to do). It’s that willful refusal that has exhausted all our patience and has forced us to say enough.
So once again, faced with no income (the question of whether or not she is still employed is up in the air, but since she was approved for short term disability I assume she is), she knows homelessness looms in her future. But being the cunning, manipulative user that she is, she’s figured out she can game the system for another week “until she starts getting her checks.” To that end, she’s feigned suicidal thoughts and has again checked herself back in to that same mental hospital.
What will happen in a week’s time is anyone’s guess. She’s burned all her bridges. She knows she can’t stay with us (or, as she ridiculously suggested, in the back of Ben’s minivan). She has no other friends or family. Ben is done with it. We’re storing her clothing and a few household items from of her apartment until such time that they’re needed and that’s it.