I have not spoken of Gollum on the blog yet. Gollum in the Lord of the Rings movie was once a Hobbit named Smeagol that was corrupted by the One Ring (his precious) and spent his entire life pursuing the ring. He had a love-hate relationship with the ring and his life was extended beyond natural limits under the influence of the ring. In most novels you have a protagonist (hero/heroine) seeking to accomplish a goal and encountering a minimum of three obstacles to achieve that goal. In LOTR, Gollum is a nuisance throughout Frodo’s journey to restore peace to the kingdom and destroying the ring. So what does Gollum have to do with boundaries? It’s all about the “givers” and the “takers.”
Rather than using intimate relationships as an example of how ineffective boundaries create difficulties in your life I’m using a tenant-landlord example. In my world I have a Gollum. More like HAD a Gollum. He was renting one of my rentals and he refused to leave even with an eviction notice filed etc. I nicknamed him Gollum since he refuses to leave this “precious” studio. I can’t understand why anyone would want to hold on to a cheap studio when there are a ton of places he could rent that would accept the reality of his life. Why am I evicting Gollum? It’s actually very simple, he broke one and many of the rules in our lease but he lied about having a dog. The lease and the ad said no pets. That’s where our little journey through Mordu begins.
What do I have against dogs?
I have nothing against dogs. I don’t own a dog because I don’t want another responsibility. I don’t want my tenant that rents a studio on my property to have a pet because quite frankly I’m still responsible for that tenant and their stuff. Namely I’ve had tenants who had dogs that wrecked my fences, dug holes and all I get is an I’m sorry or I’m not going to pay for that. Cleaning the smell of dog after a tenant moves out is horrible and the dog owners are completely immune to the smell. So I don’t put up with it. Quite frankly I eliminate the hassle of dealing with irresponsible pet owners by not allowing any of my rentals to have pets. Let that be a lesson to you young adults that have to find an apartment for rent and how hard it is if you have a pit bull etc.
He was dishonest from the beginning
When I saw him moving in I saw the dog and asked him “Why is this dog here? You know you can’t have pets.” He lied and told me “The dog is going with his mom by the weekend.” Low and behold the first weekend comes and I get home from traveling and hear this dog howling well into the night. Annoyed I realized my tenant had gotten arrested over the weekend for stalking. He was in jail for a few days. I had to call the police to check on the poor animal because I thought it was trapped in there. It was at that time I told him he is no longer welcome on this property and he has to leave and I gave him notice. That was when my tenant turned into Gollum. With harassing text messages, emails, threats, constant repair calls etc Gollum has been nothing but a draining nuisance to me. He then went over my head to my landlord to try to convince him about why he should stay. Countless letter after letter of someone who goes from nasty Gollum to pretend bible reading angel is enough for me to be convinced that this guy will go to any length to overstep anyone’s boundaries. ANY LENGTHS. I even had to send him a note not to touch my mail and NOT to take my boxes over to my neighbor’s house. Once the eviction got filed he then called me to try to negotiate another settlement. I interpreted this as another delay tactic to prevent me from filing the eviction. I told him that his lies from the beginning have left me no choice but to resort to this action. He lied at the very beginning about having a dog so why should I bother believing anything he has to say at this point. I decided it was in my best interest to just pursue the legal route.
It got so bad he called his mother and she started sending me harassing text messages.
Here’s what she had to say: “This is Gollum’s mother (names have been changed) I would like to know how and why did you have him served eviction papers. He just got a new job and is overwhelmed.”
Maybe he shouldn’t have lied from the beginning and gotten an apartment that would accept his pit bull and him.
Here’s the second set of texts she sent
I just wanted to tell you that you are a horrible person. Jason will now be on the streets living in his truck with the cold. I hope you can sleep at night kicking someone down when they are at their lowest. May God Have Mercy on YOU.
The boundary has been set.
I am not taking his crap any longer.
The lessons I learned in all of this was that as a “giver” I must keep control of my personal boundaries and keep them firm by building a strong foundation for my boundaries. With this tenant I should have had a stronger screening process that included rental history references along with an ability to pay (paystubs) by their own means. I already did criminal background checks. In my case, all of his deposit and first month’s rent was paid for by Mike Fater and NorthWood Church. I didn’t think much of it because my stupidly impressionable self thought that if the church backed him up then it must be good. WRONG! Gollum has increasingly shown signs of being on drugs even if I can’t prove it. His mad dash out of the darkness of my driveway to confront a date who was dropping me off and his paranoia talk about stalkers, gives me more reason to believe he is on drugs. I have learned that those addicted to drugs will lie and use any means possible to get what they want. People with addictions have no presence of mind to stop themselves and so down come their boundaries and they expect the world to revolve around their whims. I was not surprised this church would donate money to him because drug addicts are artful at the skill of going to churches, attending a few bible study sessions and then asking for handouts since they are now reformed. At one point he said that if I would give him the money that the church gave him he’d be out of my hair. So it stands to reason he is capable of leaving but he doesn’t want to or felt entitled to stay.
Build firm foundations for your boundaries
You don’t have to build a prison for yourself when it comes to personal boundaries. You have to create reasonable and healthy boundaries not just in intimate relationships but anyone you interact with. As with the case in my sublet if I had created a strict set of screening policies I wouldn’t be in this mess. However I had not experienced this kind of crazy before so I was taken aback. I typically have only experienced crazy from people I had relationships with in the past. My only regret was not starting the eviction process sooner. Even with your coworkers, you have to be specific about what you will and will not put up with. If you don’t want to hear gossip at work, then don’t engage in it. When you begin to date be at a place in your life where you know what you want in a partner and seek out those qualities and realities that fit with your life. If you don’t want a long distance relationship don’t begin one. If you don’t want anymore children, don’t date someone who does. Stop being so selfish that you are willing to waste other people’s times to fulfill whatever immediate need you have.
Screening prospective renters
I’ve actually decided to wait a bit before renting out the studio again. I did interview a prospective renter but after realizing the place needed to be cleaned up more I had to let him know that it wasn’t available. We didn’t have a contract in place but he ended up texting and harassing me just like Gollum. I wondered to myself “How can people bully their way into getting what they want?” I mean do these people really think I want a bully living on the same property as my children. It’s my rental and I decide so no ifs ands or buts and bullying me won’t make me change my mind. That’s the way it should be with dating and relationships. I refuse to let the tenant dictate the terms. I’m the landlord.
Practicing the art of building strong boundaries
If you are a giver, begin practicing the art of building boundaries. Start small. I always start with the kids in something they enjoy doing like interrupting me when I am on the phone. Indulging them is something I do without thinking about it. I have to teach them that I don’t like them interrupting me by explaining to them that when they see me on the phone they must assess their needs. If it’s an emergency they are free to interrupt but if it’s simple a request they will have to wait. I also have a friend to is separating from his wife. We are just friends. Well he tends to hide the fact he talks to me. In my opinion if we are just friends there is nothing to hide. But he told me that she will get mad if she finds out who he is talking to. I kind of felt like I was being devalued. I’m there to listen but not I felt like he was having an affair with me even if we aren’t dating. I thought to myself I can’t allow myself to be devalued by somebody I thought was my friend. So I left it alone but I’m pretty sure I won’t be engaged or listening to him lament about his problems anymore. My boundaries have been spent and my patience is done. If you are a giver, it’s not an easy task. Keep to the rules and the process. Respect the process of things and it’s easier in the end.