How do you communicate with people who are very different than you, who did not grow up middle class, who value very different things, and who you are afraid of offending?
NOTE: I am NOT implying that the following issues are due to my roommates growing up poor. I AM saying they have made me feel like I'm being a demanding spoiled rich girl (which I'm not rich by any standard) in the past when I've tried to confront these issues politely.
My roommate's boyfriend, who is now also my roommate, has had a pretty troubled life. Tough childhood from what I understand (grew up on a reservation, people in his family were murdered), and has PTSD from being on the front lines in Afghanistan. You wouldn't know it from meeting him, though. One of the ways he copes is by making jokes at his own and other people's expense. And I know that he does that, but still. Somehow he's latched onto the fact that I am self-conscious about having small breasts because of having been made fun of for them in the past and just never really liking them. And now every other day it's some comment about "mosquito bites" or whatever. It's just shit the Abusive Asshole used to say, to pick at me, to make me feel bad about myself. I know it doesn't matter what he says and he doesn't even mean it, but it still makes me feel both belittled and furious. But I don't know how to talk to him about it.
And it's not just that - it's everything. Both of my roommates are so much different than me and GreenHunk. They come from really different backgrounds than us: they grew up much poorer, much less privileged, and I'm so afraid any attempt I make to confront problems will be seen as me being a spoiled middle-class white girl. And they seem to believe in ignoring problems until they go away rather than communicating about them. She, my female roommate I mean, tends to do things I find passive-aggressive, like leaving notes around the house when they don't like something we do. (incidentally, don't tell me how to wash my own towels, they are my towels. But that's another story.) He just never brings up anything negative. I'm not implying that their communication style is because of their background, it just adds to the difficulty.
On top of this, he still hasn't paid me the rent for this month, and I know it's because he doesn't have any money - they're in school, they haven't gotten their VA money, he also is in the National Guard but they aren't doing drill this month because of the fucking government shutdown. He says his mom is sending him some soon but I'm like, oh my god it's already the 16th, my mom (who is my landlord) wants to get paid and I don't have it to cover your share. But I don't want to make a big deal out of it, because he knows and I know that I make and have more money than him. I have talked to him a little about it, but the first time I brought it up he mentioned how his mom was convinced I'd try to take advantage of him because I'm white. I just thought it was too well-placed in conversation to not be in reference to the rent money. And I did let his girlfriend live with me for free for 2 months, but that's because she's an old friend and I invited her to live with me. I think he will pay me when he gets the money, it's just super inconvenient, and I feel guilty making a big deal out of it.
It's little things, too. They have the TV on constantly. I fucking hate TV as background noise. I didn't grow up with it and it seriously drives me up the wall. I know that's petty but it really gets to me. It makes me feel like I don't really want to hang out at my house. Generally, I feel super uncomfortable in my own house lately.
I care about both of them and think they are nice people. But I feel like anything I try to say is going to go down badly and either be ignored or turn into a huge fucking battle where they'll end up leaving angrily and blaming my attempts to change things on the fact that I grew up more privileged than they did, and I don't want either one of those things.
In conclusion, fuck.