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Day 205 - Difficult People

I will preface this by saying that I am probably a difficult person to several people. My dad, my children, my ex-husband, my neighbor...so I can see that there is this part of me that other people find hard to deal with...I can see it too. I am demanding and unrelenting sometimes. I am grindy and exacting with tasks that require precision. I am controlling and sometimes quick to anger and I do yell. I am far from perfect. In most situations though, I am easy to get along with...I get people and am almost always capable of giving them the benefit of the doubt.


So I write this with full knowledge that to some people, I AM a difficult person...


I am pretty lucky...I do not find most people difficult. I can mostly see that whatever the other person is projecting is about them. I can allow them their path, course and beliefs. I feel no need to jump up in their shit and tell them what I think or believe that I have a right to change their minds...


But there is one person that drives me crazy. I mean completely obsessively nuts. I can’t stop thinking about them when they appear in my life and something about them shakes me to my core.

People who accuse me of being an inconsiderate person. People who are irrational and childish in their emotional bandwidth...then coupled with passive aggression. These people are my kryptonite. I feel threatened and attacked by them and I allow them to make me into this defensive and obsessed person.


Here is an example:


A tree falls in a yard. That yard is mine. Tree falls on a fence. The fence is shared. I remove the tree so as to not allow the fence to be damaged. I do this to be a good neighbor. I do this because I am thinking of the other person. I am blindsided when I am accused of cutting down someone else’s tree. I engage in ridiculous conversations about the location of a stump and where it exists...on which side of the fence. I am shocked and scarred by someone’s insistence that I do not consider others and “just do whatever I want”. I am wounded repeatedly by the now common refrain that I “just don’t care”, “am loud all the time”, “think I can do whatever I want”. The die has been cast. I am a selfish, loud, uncaring and insensitive person who is not capable of thinking about others.


Sigh.


I wish this didn’t bother me.


I wish that I could rise above.


I wish that reason and logic worked.


I wish that I could build a 20 foot wall that was sound proof so that I could enjoy being outside my house without the fear that I am going to do something new that is going to cause this person to further attack me.


I wish that I could find a way to relate and bring peace to a situation that is not peaceful.


Everything I do seems to enrage and anger this other person.


I try to accommodate but nothing I do is good enough.

My dog jumps on the fence and barks. I spend $3000 putting up bamboo to shield the fence. I spend more money putting up another fence so that the dog cannot jump on the mutual fence.


I receive a letter in the mail demanding to know if I dug a barrier for the bamboo...

I write a letter back that it is clumping bamboo...not running bamboo.


I put up a fence which requires sawing and screwing and hammering. I am yelled at over the now fences...I am accused of being loud, of not caring about anyone else, I am told that I think that I can do whatever I want without regard for anyone else...it is 6:30 pm. Not 4 am or 10 pm. But 6:30 pm. And I was almost done building another fence to accommodate her request that I keep my dog off the mutual fence. I tried talking to the dog about her request but that didn't really produce a workable result...it was a nice chat though.

At the holidays I wrote a nice, sincere card with a small gift as a peace offering. This was well received and I received a small note back. I let out a long held sigh. Peace at last! It was short lived...apparently my efforts to correct one problem (the dog jumping on the mutual fence) just created another problem (building another fence). I cannot win. And I don’t even want to win...I just want to live my life without being afraid that everything I do is going to be used against me.


I do not have problems with other neighbors...well except the people across the street who also don’t like me for no other reason than they are friends with this other person. I have never done anything to them. I am nice. I stopped waving to some of them and saying hi because it was awkward when they just looked at me and didn’t say anything back.


I do not throw loud parties. I do not let my dog bark for hours outside. I clean up the animal feces from my yard so that it doesn’t smell. I am not outside all that much...well that was until the quarantine...now I am outside more.


This whole situation makes me crazy. I hate that no matter what I do I cannot get along with this person. I hear her talking to other people in her yard. Muttering about me to them under her breath. She has this entire story about me and she sees fit to take everything I do, especially the actions I take accommodate her ongoing list of complaints and she uses it against me. It feels unfair and I hate it. I don’t hate her. I kind of want to sometimes but I try really, really hard not to hate anyone...ever.


This whole situation bothers me night and day. Every time I walk outside into my backyard...I am afraid. Afraid of being accused. Afraid of her remarks. It feels abusive...it feels dysfunctional. It feels so bad. I even put my house on the market because I just wanted to get away from this person. Sense was regained when I realized that I love my house and I don’t want to move.


I can see that this person seems to think that I have to consult her before doing anything on my property. She seems to believe that she has a right to be consulted. From my perspective, why would I try to talk to someone who is mean to me, judges me and criticizes everything I do? Why would I seek permission I don’t need from someone who seems to have a hard time discerning reality...like whether it is possible for your neighbor to remove a downed tree and then assert that the tree was yours. That is nuts!


But why does it bother me so? I am really trying to figures that out because I cannot live like this anymore. She is a hard person but what I am allowing her to do my mental health is not healthy for me. As I see it I have three options:


1. Fight aggression (even passive) with aggression.

2. Be kind and loving even when faced with her insults and accusations.

3. Ignore her completely.


Seems we all have these three strategies available to us whenever we come into contact with a difficult person. I am not going to go to her level. Aggression just breeds more aggression. I would love to be able to treat her with love and light and I think that I have to her face but boy what I have thought about her in my mind. I might be able to pull off the in person response but in my head...that is an entirely different matter. Igorning her is not easy but what I have resorted to...I just can’t engage with her because it makes me crazy. It makes me feel like I am having a battle with a small child...


Small Child:

You took my crayon.


Me:

No I didn’t. Are you sure it is your crayon?


Small Child:

It Is gone so you took it and it was mine. ALL the crayons are MINE!

Me:

I didn’t take it. It could have rolled off the table. The dog could have eaten it. Someone else could have taken it...


Small Child:

YOU TOOK MY CRAYON!


Me:

What color is it?


Small Child:

Yellow.

Me:

Could it possibly be the yellow crayon you are sitting on?


Small Child:

YAY! Thanks for giving it back...


Me:

BAM! Smacking my head against the table...


This is what I feel like...every. single. day.


Again...sigh.


So what am I to do with the hard people in my life. It is unreasonable to think that I can avoid them...I can ignore them. But sometimes they are going to stand in my path and address my serenity. It is totally up to me if I let them take it. Often it will be unhard to decide to keep my serenity. Sometimes though it will be very, very hard indeed.

Glen Phillips wrote a song that has helped me with this whole hard people thing...


You can't just love the easy ones

You can't just love the easy ones

You've got to let them in when you'd rather just run

You can't just love the easy ones


You can't just play the simple songs

You can't just play the simple songs

You gotta knuckle down 'til your fingers are raw

You can't just play the simple songs


When I can face the ones I fear

It'll all become clear

Oh when I embrace the ones I fear

It'll all become clear

You can't just take the shortest road

You can't just take the shortest road

You've got to straighten your back ‘neath the heaviest load

You can't just take the shortest road


When I can face the ones I fear

It'll all become clear

Oh when I embrace the ones I fear

It'll all become clear


For all the suffering souls beside me

I pray love will guide me

I pray love will guide me home


You can't just love the easy ones

You can't just love the easy ones

You've got to let them in deep when you'd rather just run

You can't just love the easy ones


So I guess I will just try to face the one I fear and wait for it to all become clear...I pray love will guide me...at home.


I am also going to try to find the humor in this...not with her...there is nothing really fun or funny there. But with my reaction to her. I am letting her make me crazy. I am giving her free rent in my head. She accuses me of not considering her when I consider her every single time I walk out my door...and that is kind of funny...and pathetic. But I am going to focus on the funny because I don’t want to live in the pathetic.


Hard people abound in this life. We can use them as vehicles to wake us up. We can use their difficultness to show us where we are stuck and need to grow or change. We can try to let them in deep, when we'd rather just run...because you can't always love just the easy ones. The hard people are often the ones that need love the most. So I am going to try to not take it personally and love her anyway. Feels like a lot to ask of me on a Monday...


Oh, and I am going to try to remember...




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