Living with a toxic family member

Post date: 2020-07-13 14:53:25
Views: 10
I am living with someone who is becoming increasingly, needlessly nitpicky and critical of me. I do not have the choice to leave until September. How do I get through the next few months without it wrecking my mental health?

I am living in another state for the summer completing an internship in a psychiatric hospital. I am living with family that I previously did not know super well. Family member in question is twice my size, male, and old enough to be my father. I am 27, female, and petite enough that I honestly think he thinks I'm 18.

I am living here for free. Moving out is an absolutely last resort, so I'm not looking for answers telling me to do that. I will if I absolutely NEED to, but I am already paying rent on another apartment and I cannot easily afford double rent.

Everything was fine until I got exposed to COVID at work. Family member completely freaked out. They had me go into the basement and would not let me leave. When I was hungry they would put food at the top of the steps for me and call me to grab it. It's a finished basement, so it's not like I was living in filth, and I tried to be understanding because he's high risk. I followed every rule they set for me--I stayed six feet away and let them get everything for me. I have also followed every precaution possible. I wear my mask, stay away from others at work as much as possible, and shower/change my clothes when I get home. I haven't gotten it yet, in spite of being exposed, so something must be working. The whole fiasco where I was quarantined lasted a week. Family member refused to leave the house because he was convinced I had given them all COVID. He even got angry at one point and told me they were being held "hostage". He also went on and on about how I'm not working at a real hospital and they're handling the pandemic terribly and how my parents should call the school and complain and blah blah blah (guys I'm 27, my parents don't interfere with my life like that anymore).

I finally tested negative and I thought the whole drama was over. I was willing to be understanding since the pandemic is genuinely frightening and he's high risk. But he has started to criticize everything I do and I'm getting more and more frustrated. He told me I'm not allowed to use their oven because it's a "waste". He got angry at me for turning on the oven without "permission" and made me turn it off, even though I had food to cook in there. He yelled at me for moving their coffee table three inches (literally) closer to the couch. He got mad at me for having nail polish remover upstairs because if I spilled it it would ruin their furniture. He once got mad at me for sitting too close to his papers at the dining room table because he was afraid I would breathe coronavirus onto his belongings. And now he's saying I need to get "permission" before I do anything.

I'm feeling more and more like I can't do anything right. They were out of town for a few days and I left literally three things upstairs. The first thing he did when he walked in was take my stuff and pile it up on the stairs going downstairs. He is constantly, remarkably condescending when he speaks to me. I am a 27-year-old graduate student and I feel like a 13-year-old who is always in trouble. It's getting to the point where I don't want to be around him anymore at all, but I also want to, you know, eat? They gave me a mini fridge down here but I want to use the kitchen.

His wife is very timid and largely stays away from him. I have a distinct memory of him yelling at me when I was a little kid and I've been weary of him ever since. I feel like I'm being punished for.... something (I'm guessing the COVID exposure?) and now I never know what's going to set him off next. It honestly feels like he's looking for things to criticize at this point.

My question is how do I keep myself sane during all this? I'm working in a psych hospital and I can't afford to have my mental health fall apart. I'm afraid he's going to chip away at me until I can't take it anymore. I I don't know if it's appropriate to stand up for myself? I find myself apologizing over and over to dissolve his anger and I don't know how much longer I can do that. My plan is to just stay away as much as possible. Is there anything else I can do? How do you hold yourself together in a toxic situation?

Thanks in advance
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