This week I want your advice about how to handle a situation that occurs where I live, literally. To be specific, the difficult person I am dealing with lives next door and occupies a bedroom 14 1/2 feet from my back door.
Of course it hasn't escaped me that the irony here is that this person would say the same exact thing about me if they were talking to you...
I bought my house in a starter neighborhood in Los Angeles in 1994 when I was single. Now when I say starter neighborhood, what I mean is small houses or bungalows on small lots with the dwellings close together. When I moved in, there was a nice older couple living next door. The wife and I chatted from time to time, and told me to feel free to cut myself a rose off the bush that was just on the other side of my driveway.
Life would have been just peachy if that is the way things had remained...but that's not how life works, is it?
As far as I know, the bedroom in question was unoccupied at the time I bought my house. At least I think it was because I didn't hear a complaint out of that window for many years. But then someone moved back home...
I'm not a snoop, but I did hear that person say they had some kind of autoimmune disease (maybe lupus?) when they were talking very loudly on the phone trying to make a doctor's appointment. So while the complaints have escalated over the years, I have tried to redouble my efforts at turning a deaf ear when they come at me through that window.
But here is the crazy thing. If my neighbor had their way, I would never go out my back door. Because apparently every time I go out my back door, the only door we really use, I am being all kinds of rude and inconsiderate.
I get yelled at for taking my trash cans down the driveway "too late" at night. I get yelled at for my back door light being "too bright." If I "make too much noise" I am greeted with "Jesus!" and the sound of a window slamming. Late last night, I took the dogs out. We were all quiet, no one said (or barked) a word, yet I hear mumbling coming out of that window as we all head back inside. All I caught was the word "a#@holes!"
Really?!? I'm the a#@hole? For using my back door? For paying for a fence that goes along the side of my driveway, creating a barrier between my back door and your window? For training my dogs to be silent as the go out the door to do their business? Really?!?
Never has there been a neighborly exchange or conversation. No knock on my door, no "I'm your neighbor next-door and I am having a problem..." It seems my neighbor isn't interested in having a conversation, only complaining.
Here is the thing. If it was me in that bedroom, I wouldn't be complaining. I would focus my efforts instead on dealing with the situation at hand and making things better from myself, which is what I do in my own bedroom. I have:
- black-out curtains
- a sound soother that plays white noise
- a sleep mask
- lots and lots of disposable earplugs
To their credit, the next-door neighbor recently got black-out curtains. But this is Summer and that window is always open now at night, which means the complaints are more frequent...and getting down right nasty.
I don't know if this person is ever going to find the peace they desire if they keep seeing me as the problem. After all, I'm not moving. I'm not remodeling my house and relocating the back door. I'm not going to stop going out my back door to take my dogs out or tend my garden or take the trash out.
After last night's encounter, I am wondering if you would handle this situation differently? Do you have any advice for me? How do you handle difficult people? Can you relate to my situation?
I can't wait to hear what you have to say, so leave me a comment, shoot me an email or join the discussion over on Facebook.