I hate the word bitch.

I hate it when it’s used by anyone, but I especially hate to use it myself. I’ll be honest—I use it all the time. I throw it out as a joke, I refer to myself as one, hell, I even use it as a verb. It’s very effective and really gets the point across. But I can’t stand it when it’s used in anger to bring someone down.

Now that you know that it’s not just any word to me, i hope you can fully grasp how strongly I must feel when I say the following:

My roommate is a real c***.

Two years ago, I moved in with three girls who already knew each other. Two of them had lived together the year before, and they had met and befriended the third during that time. I had applied to be an RA, and everyone I spoke to told me I would get it. It was such a sure thing that I—even being the wildly anal-retentive person that I am—didn’t have a back-up plan for where I would live if I didn’t get the position.

For those of you playing along at home, no, I did not get the job.

So I took to Facebook to find a group to join. Considering it was my junior year, I thought an apartment would be the best choice. I started my search there. After responding to numerous pleas online, I found three girls who seemed great. They shared my desire for a chore chart and tidy living space, they weren’t afraid to let loose on the weekends, and, most importantly, they seemed like really cool people. I won the lottery my freshman year with my random roommates, and I thought I had used up all my luck. When I found these girls, it was a dream come true.

Well, obviously it wasn’t, or there wouldn’t be a story to tell.

The summer before junior year was a long slew of groupchat messages sorting out who would buy what for the apartment and who already had what. Sarah had a whiteboard and would be getting to the apartment before the rest of us, so she made a chore chart. Everyone signed off on it in the groupchat. I was pumped. From talking to these people I got the vibe that they were super laidback, but clearly they were still willing to put the time in to make it a nice place to live.

Like a mail-order bride, I didn’t meet my roommates until we were fully committed. Move-in day, I got there second. Sarah had to go off to work, but seemed sweet. Olivia came in while I was unpacking. She said hi quickly, then went off to unpack herself. I liked her right off. I could tell she wasn’t gonna take any of my bullshit, and lord knows I need more people like that in my life. Gianna arrived last, and stayed to chat the longest. She seemed nice enough, but I couldn’t get as good of a read off her as I could the other two. It didn’t matter; we had a long time to get to know each other.

Cut to two months later. Sarah and Olivia have welcomed me into the fold. We go out to lunch and dinner. We hang out on weekends. We go on group dates with our boyfriends. Life is good.

Gianna seems distant. At first I thought she was just really studious. Whenever we asked her to do anything with us, she bowed out, citing a need to study or do homework. Initially I thought nothing of it, but over time I saw the toll it was taking on Sarah. The year before, the two of them had apparently been inseparable. Now, Sarah saw Gianna’s long list of excuses and took the hint—Gianna didn’t want to spend time with her anymore.

One fateful day, Sarah, Olivia and I committed our fatal crime. We didn’t invite Gianna to come with us to Bingo.

After two months of watching my new friends get blown off and hurt by Gianna, I felt no sympathy. She and I had never struck up more than a shallow relationship of coexistence. Even when we all went out together, she had an odd habit of not making eye-contact with me, and not asking me questions directly. Understandably, this did not warm me up to her. So, when none of us made the suggestion that we add her to our plans, I wasn’t particularly perturbed. To me, it was a long time coming. Frankly, I was glad I wouldn’t have to deal with being shunned all night.

Gianna took it to heart, and so began the beginning of the end.

After we didn’t invite her to one event—following months of begging her to come out with us being met by rejection—she started an absolute shitstorm, for lack of a better term. Crying, fights, storming out to sleep at her boyfriends. If you’ve seen it in a teenage movie, it happened to us. I assumed that Olivia and Sarah would just stop dealing with Gianna and that the three of us would move on in the opposite direction of her.

But Olivia had classes with her that got too uncomfortable to be worth the tension. And my initial judgement about Sarah was right; she was sweet. Too sweet to not feel badly at losing a friendship. She felt like she shared the blame by not inviting Gianna to come with us. She was even more heartbroken than she was before, when it was just Gianna’s own bad behavior weighing her down.

Gianna would never come to reason on her own. And so, because their lives were made more difficult by the situation, Olivia and Sarah bit the bullet and each apologized to Gianna. They had big fights and screamed it out—Olivia apparently almost caused Gianna to move out—but eventually she made nice with both of them.

Here is where my path diverges. I didn’t think I had anything to apologize for. Gianna and I had not been friends before, and we never even spoke, especially not about what happened. I assumed that after she sorted her issues with the other girls, she and I could go back to our understated coexistence.

At this point in time I did not know two things that would have greatly changed this outcome. 1: Gianna does not work like you and I do. Her brain functions in an entirely different orbit, where she is at the center, and those who displease her must apologize for their insolence. And 2: Gianna had overheard a conversation between Sarah and me.

After we excluded her from Bingo and before the apologies and subsequent make-ups were made, I was at home in the kitchen with Sarah. Sarah was upset and was complaining about how hurt she felt by Gianna’s actions. I was telling Sarah that she had every right to be upset. I listed off every way in which Gianna mistreated Sarah, and Sarah agreed. I was relieved. I thought Sarah deserved to be treated much better, and I was glad she finally saw it.

Outside of the apartment, Gianna was standing with her ear to the door. She heard me convincing Sarah that she, Gianna, had been treating her poorly. In tears, Gianna left for her boyfriend’s and didn’t come back for a day and a half. All the while, she text-bombed Sarah about what I had done and didn’t say a word to me.

And so, when the others apologized to her I didn’t know I had anything to apologize for. If I had known she had heard us, I probably would have said something. It’s a pretty shitty thing to hear the people you live with talking badly about you behind your back. But Gianna never said a word and so I went on, blissfully unaware of any conflict.

For two years now, Gianna has shunned and mistreated me. When she does talk to me, it’s to call me out in a groupchat for inane apartment dramas. The dishwasher, thermostat and refrigerator were all fair game. She’s taken her frustration out with passive aggressiveness, bullying and belittling. Trying to turn the others against me and, when that didn’t work, screaming at me in frustration.

I tried fifty different solutions. Being the bigger person. Taking it all like a joke. Trying to have a rational conversation with her. Doing nothing and hoping it would get better. Even doing what the others told me she wanted. By the time this issue had started, we were all locked into living together the next year. It would be too hard to move out, and it would put Sarah and Olivia in a tight spot. So after year one, I decided to just deal.

For all of my strategies, the only thing that worked was the one that didn’t come naturally to me. I’ve never been one to let go. I have an opinion and a worry about everything. I can count on one hand the number of times in my life I’ve said “fuck it” and meant it. It’s just not who I am. Gianna knew that and used it. It worked out really well for her.

After all this time, I had to just say “fuck it” and move on. Once I let go of the death grip I had on the situation, I realized something. Gianna made me really sad. Not because of how she treats me (although that hurts), but because of how her own life must be. You can’t treat people the way she does and not be miserable. That sort of selfish worldview will never beget happiness. Every bit of misery she gets will come back to her twofold.

I’m not upset with her anymore. If she needs me to be a punching bag for the last 30 days before we graduate, she can go right ahead. She’s only hurting herself, and the sooner she learns that, the sooner she can be happy. I want that for her and for the people in her life. If I’ve learned anything from two years of negativity, it’s that we need a whole lot less of it in this world.

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