So I took it to the extreme, my usual MO when trying to calm myself down. Okay, what's the worst that could happen? I wouldn't get my deposit back. I wouldn't get my September rent back. I'd be held liable for the remainder of my lease or be taken to small claims court. That's the worst. And it sucks, but as I learned this weekend, it just sucks.
So rather than continuing to wind myself up, I decided to pick myself up, cart myself off to my own apartment, and meet with my landlord, explaining that I just cannot stay. And I took LOTS of photos. It's just not livable and it's not safe. The whole subway ride I just kept repeating to myself, "I just want out of that place and into some place safe." And I could swear someone said "okay".
I took a deep breathe and explained my feelings to my landlord. I choked up a little bit and was mad at myself for that. He looked at me with a bit of surprise. He couldn't believe that I even thought he would hold me to the lease, keep my deposit, and keep my September rent. Not at all. He released me from the lease, will return my deposit, and refund my September rent. Of course. No problem at all. My lease is null and void and his insurance will cover the lost rent and deposit.
That's all it took - an honest face-to-face conversation and knowing exactly what I wanted and why. Sometimes the stories we tell ourselves are far worse that what actually comes to be. Far better to get it all out there in the open than bottle it up. The result is likely to be better than anything we imagine.