A good friend, or a doormat?

I am a sociable, vocal, outgoing, confident person.  Those who know me in writing, across the internet, see that.  There is one exception that might be the same for many of you:  I’m reluctant to broach confrontations!  My fiancé is the same;  something has to darned near be killing us before we have the guts to tell a neighbour, for instance, that something they do isn’t working for us.  I thought this might be the case with our west neigbhours because the lady & I are friends.  However when there was an issue with our previous south neighbours, who weren’t friends, it took us just as long to speak up and ask if they would compromise.

I don’t know if I believe in reincarnation but one thing that might bite, for not overcome it in this lifetime, is conflict resolution!  Tonight, I believe I dodged that karma and brightened it up a good deal.  I dragged my fiancé with me for support, sharing points with him even though I spoke.  The thing people like us are timid about did occur.  They weren’t as understanding as we hoped.  We had to state our position repeatedly and firmly.  The outcome isn’t ideal but I am very proud that we grew brave enough to march over there and be direct with them.

I think people timid about facing colleagues, Mother-in-laws, and neighbours – all tricky – get the warped idea that we are “being good friends” if we bottle it up / don’t rock the boat / keep the peace.  That compounds with discomfort over an unwanted reaction.  Well, the response *was* a polite argument again in the present scenario but we survived!  We’re just proud and relieved we did it!  Feeling miserable, worrying about “bothering” other people instead of being honest about what’s bothering us, doesn’t make us good friends.  It makes us doormats and we needed to change that.

What were the issues?  From 2011 to 2013, the south neighbours caged a Border Collie at their back door;  overlooking our whole property!  We couldn’t take a step without her wailing.  If we hid inside and she went nuts over something else;  the sound pounded our walls.  We felt trapped.  Simple rights, like sitting in a lawn chair to read or have coffee, were ruined.  They refused to move the dog to the opposite side of the house and finally moved to another rural street.

With our friends west of us, their sons have ridden dirt bikes without cessation for 2 1/2 months.  If they went someplace else, on a proper trail, we wouldn’t care.  However one has vision problems and their Mother doesn’t trust them to go far.  We’re being reluctantly understanding that she obligates them to ride in circles in front of our residential houses.  We could handle it *if* the kids rode twice a day, for a half hour at a time.  They don’t.  A third disadvantage is not leaving my sacred hours in peace and serenity.  I could handle them riding after 4:00PM.  We would happily go inside and ignore them.  Alas, we were told “depriving kids during the day is outrageous”.  Is it not summer for us too?  Do I not work from home, pay or no pay?  Today:  they rode from 11:00AM to 5:30PM!  There was no more than 20 minutes of quiet in between!  Six and a half hours?  This makes us party poopers?

Other neighbours vented today that they are sick of the riding but aren’t comfortable telling those folks.  The solution offered a short while ago, is that they promise quiet on odd hours and could ride on even hours.  For example, I have until 10:00AM to suntan or write my book in the grass and open air (one reason we bought this property).  At 12:00, 2:00, 4:00 the children may ride.  I was honest that this is more staccato than I care for but politely accepted giving it a try.  I can somewhat visualize my day!  This is less than what is reasonable and what we deserve but what is important is that we spoke up!  I am no doormat.  Maybe, in ways we won’t foresee, this will establish a level of respect for us that wasn’t present before.


About RIEDEL Fascination

I cherish animals, plants, reading, music and free spirituality. I welcome you for articles, literary activities, and interaction! Surrounding ourselves with good people is a delight. I occasionally review at The Book Depository.
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2 Responses to A good friend, or a doormat?

  1. neer says:

    Dear Carolyn

    This post resonated a lot of me because I too usually keep mum and do not protest where protest is necessary. Instead my ire falls on my loved ones who bear the brunt of my (suppressed) anger at others. I am happy you took this step. I too am thinking that I should learn to put my foot down so that people simply do not take me for granted always. I liked the polite but firm way you handled the whole situation. It has given me a lot of food for thought. Please do continue to post in this vein.

    • Thank you, Neeru! It has been frustrating, to be afraid of ‘bothering someone’ or ‘rocking the boat’ by speaking up, even though I am 42 and Ron, 53! What helped is recognizing this: if neighbours don’t know they are disturbing us and we hate to bother them with this information; that leaves no one concerned about bothering *us* – even ourselves! That is lunacy. I said the worst that could happen is they do not understand why their noise is a problem. That is what happened and it was uncomfortable. But everyone stayed polite about it, which helped a great deal and then we left. I think Ron & I are going to see results in ways that were not apparent at our moment of bravery, when we spoke up (he came with me, as I spoke up). Next time, I’m sure neigbours will be less likely to overstep and more likely to consider us. It is a silent victory: an accomplishment for ourselves and for future consideration from neighbours.

      Even last night, I politely said to a different neighbour who showed up at our door at 11:30PM, to tell us something non-urgent: “Could you please come during daylight, unless it’s an emergency? Otherwise we are shocked and worried”. At first, she reacted defensively; then apologized repeatedly, saying “Sorry, I saw your light on”. I have always been a person people find it very easy to trust and confide in and I’m very glad to be that human being. There is no better reward than people picking up on my love, care, and honourable personality. However they must not confuse approachability with the idea that I am a push over. I guess respect doesn’t just come. We need to ask for and illustrate that we warrant it. Ask yourself as we did: if you think you are keeping everything polite by not saying what disturbs you, to whom are you being polite? Not to yourself and not to the disturber, if they are unaware they have been a nuisance.

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