Abuse manifests in many forms. This was an actual statement made by my caretaker Ino while I was enduring chemotherapy.
It manifests in many ways. The abuse of my caretaker began as manipulation, then became abuse, followed by exploitation and finally neglect. It was Ino who told me I couldn’t take care of myself during chemotherapy. He was the one who put the fear in me to find someone to be my caretaker. It was he who created the the problem and it was he who swept in as the hero to fix it.
A Story of Horror
I stood before the sink staring into the mirror. My hair was in the steady process of falling out. I was filled with so much sadness, so much terror, it was this moment I realized how much it was wrapped into my identity.
Running my hands through my hair I watched clumps of my head fur stick to my fingers. I noticed Ino at the door peering in at me.”Whats the matter?” he asked.
I turned and showed him my hands. He paused for a moment, perhaps spending a second to the think before speaking. “Man, You’re going to look stupid once all your hair falls out.” Then he stepped from the door and headed into his bedroom.
Later than evening after finishing a bout of nausea and vomiting he and I were standing outside. It was a cool slightly breezy night. He pulled out a cigarette and slid it between his lips. Nonchalantly he lit it and took a puff. As he released the cloud of smoke he said. “You know man, you don’t really have it that bad.”
I looked at him and watched him take another drag and exhale. “If you really look at it, my life is much worse than yours…”
How did Ino become my caretaker?
Before I started chemotherapy “my friend” Ino told me that I wouldn’t be able to take care of myself during treatment. He said I would be a danger to myself and if I wanted to survive I needed someone to live with me.
This terrified me, I had just survived the removal of my lung and I panicked. I wasn’t about to endure that hell just to die because I didn’t have someone living with me. Frantically I tried to find someone to be my caretaker on short notice. I found no one, and no one suggested I seek a professional caregiver for support. It was then that Ino flew into save the day. He said he would be my caretaker if he could live and eat at my house for free. I agreed and he moved in.
What was it like living with Ino?
Living with him was one of the most emotionally traumatizing experiences of my life. He took a time of my life that was already unbelievably horrific and made it nearly impossible.
In the two months he lived in my house he loaded the dishwasher twice and changed the cat litter box five times. He never prepared any of my meals, do my laundry or clean my house. He charged me to transport me to the grocery store, doctor’s office and hangout spots. The arrangement was that he would clean the cat litter boxes every two to three days, do my laundry, keep the house clean, prepare my meals and provide me transportation. In exchange he could eat my food and live in my house for free.
What did Ino do while living with me?
- Told me that I was weak and frail. When I would attempt to go for walks he would tell me that if I went for a walk I would hurt myself – when I asked him to walk with me he refused, saying he was too overweight to exercise.
- He would insult and berate my friend Tony and his girlfriend behind their back. Telling me that they were worthless and that I shouldn’t hang out with them.
- Many evenings he would speak poorly of of my significant other and tell me that I should break up with her.
- He would yell and scream at the animals.
- On many occasions he said that I should give him power of attorney over me.
- That I should write him into my will, giving him all of my assets.
- When I was put on disability he made it clear that my disability money was ‘our’ disability money. Often times he would attempt to persuade me to pay his car or insurance payment.
What made me realize Ino was abusing me?
Chemo brain is a very real thing. It makes you forget things, you can’t think right and it puts you in a child like state. This is what clouded my ability to see what he was doing to me.
This all changed one day when I asked him to drive me to the store. He asked me for gas money and when I gave him $10 he got angry and demanded more. Ino was furious, telling me it was insulting that I only gave him $10. Stating that 90% of his driving was carting me around.
Instead of reacting at that moment I waited till I got home. I started figuring out exactly how much money I was spending on him. I discovered it was cheaper to buy a new car, pay its taxes and have full coverage insurance than it was to pay him for transportation.
After realizing his abuse I confronted him. I told him that if he wanted to continue living in my home he would have to pay rent. He responded by threatening to kill himself. Then told me that because he was suicidal he could not pay rent.
I told him that he couldn’t live in my house if he was suicidal and said that if wanted to stay he would have to seek professional help. I paid for him to see a mental health professional and after his first visit with them I told him that the rent was still due.
How Did it End?
I had not see him for several days and I was concerned. There were many methods I used to contact him, but it wasn’t till this text message that I got a reply.
This is the text that I sent him:
“I haven’t heard from you in awhile, I am concerned for you and hope you are feeling alright.
Times are very hard for both of us right now. I love you and I want you to be healthy, I don’t want our situation to get in the way of our friendship.
I hope you are alright and are having a good day.”
October 29, 2016
He replied two minutes later in a text:
Please delete my number and do not contact me again. Thank you.
October 29, 2016
Later that day I would find out that he had moved out of my house in the middle of the night. I wasn’t there when he left, which I believe was a good thing. Nothing good would’ve come from that confrontation.
In the end I earned a lot from this experience. Through him I discovered how to set and maintain personal boundaries. It showed me how to recognize abuse and stand up for myself. This was truly the very first step in my journey for personal advocacy.
If you would like to continue the journey of reading the tale of personal advocacy take a look at these links.