March 13, 2011
Reactive, ME Newsletter, Vol. 4, Issue 11
Here’s a secret: I’m working on my people skills.
Ok, now that you’re done laughing, let me rephrase; I’m working on my toleration skills, and trying to be more non-reactive. I’ve had a lot to react to lately. I’m not sure I’ve handled everything perfectly , but I’m sure I’ve handled not reacting better than I have in the past.
For instance, I have a neighbor. Everyone one has neighbors….
I mean I have a NEIGHBOR. The kind that makes you want to react, and for a while I did react. Badly. This neighbor thinks I drop too many things, that my 10 pound cat is a 100 pound Labrador, and floors should be as solid as Stonehenge and never squeak.
How do I know this? There’s the banging on my floor (their ceiling). It’s very consistent: three loud, rapid succession, slaps on the wall or ceiling. They get angrier as the weekend goes by. I cook. I clean. I walk around. I do laundry and open and close closets and drawers. I sometimes drop the slippery shampoo tube in the shower, or completely forget myself and tap a utensil on the side of a pot before placing it in the spoon holder.
I went through a tit-for-tat phase. A knock on the floor lead to a foot stomp. A slam on the wall lead to door and drawer slamming. Repeated offenses were met with prolonged vacuuming and longer than probably required use of the garbage disposal. I thought I felt good about this, showing my passive/aggressive displeasure with their unreasonable displeasure.
“Stand Back Up,” is a Sugarland song that you’ve probably never heard on the radio but I think it’s one of their best, stating, “You’ll know just the moment when I’ve had enough.” That day came for me back in November while I was cooking Thanksgiving dinner for one. I moved around too much. Bang, bang, bang. I wasn’t as quiet as a church mouse when I put the turkey in the oven. Bang, bang, bang. I put a glass lid on a glass casserole. Bang, bang, bang. I dropped a stirring spoon. Bang, bang, bang.
I threw up my unhappy, holiday lonely, frustrated hands, which caught the handle of the gravy pot on the way down. Yep, the pot came off the stove and hit the floor with a thud. BANG, BANG, BANG. That was my moment, I reacted. Stomp, stomp, stomp went my feet. Slam, slam, slam went the oven door. Bang, bang, bang went the mop. Stomp, stomp, stomp went my feet again on their way over to the living room vent where I dropped to all fours and yelled as loud as I possibly could into the slatted opening, “It’s an apartment! Get over it!” Immensely proud I am, of the fact the not a single explicative escaped my mouth.
However, since that episode and the following necessary self-reporting to the apartment office staff, I’ve begun to think of those song lyrics in different terms. Since then, I’ve used that line to keep myself in check many times. Especially, when I need to remind myself that I have not reached my toleration limit.
“Love they neighbor” keeps coming to mind. I wonder if the only thing that keeps my neighbor busy is banging. I feel pity for the constant anger they must be living in. If love includes pity, then I guess I am headed in the right direction.
It helps tremendously to know that the being with bat-like hearing below me will be moving at the end of this month. Now when the banging starts, I laugh. Sometimes out loud and extra loudly, but mostly to myself.
Posted by jaselin at March 13, 2011 08:34 PM