Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Letting it all out

It's 5 am. He-Beat and I are snuggling on the couch, with me attempting to convince him an extra hour of sleep is a good thing. Without warning, the light on our fire escape next to the couch comes on. A motion sensor light that is easily tripped by gust of wind. And yet my heart is in my throat and I feel the fear wash over me. Carefully I look outside, making sure that there is nothing and no one there. Yet there's a chill that remains.

Since yesterday's post and following my friend's advice about writer's block, I've been spending more time analyzing other areas in my life that are giving me pause or creating anxiety. Not surprisingly, the theme of fear has come up again and again. Fear of failure, fear of fighting unnecessary battles and even fear of seeing harm to my family. Fear has been manifesting itself time and again. Part of this theme is coming from reconnecting with my family and, specifically, dealing with my mother. I'm so tired of being baited into fights or being blamed for the rift that exists between us. I can't be truthful with her on my own thoughts and feelings as I know all too well that any hint that her actions in this will result in a massive explosion. Still, there's an additional element I haven't ever talked about openly. Solely out of shame and guilt that we were even part of this.

For 8 years, home was not safe. The condo Grey and I lived in was in a building with neighbors who were mentally ill. I've talked before about Fleur, an older woman who's poor grasp on reality was ripe conversation as most could not believe half of what we lived with. But I haven't talked about the two neighbors who shared walls with our unit. On the left side of us lived Cyrus, an older man who hinted he had OCD and certainly suffered from narcissistic personality disorder. Our introduction upon moving in was him asking if we were certain the sale had actually gone through (suggesting strongly that we were trespassing) and then informing us that he regularly listened to all conversations in our unit by pressing his ear to the walls. Cyrus struggled with me in particular as he learned I was in graduate school, which was something he believed no woman should ever do. This belief was regularly demonstrated by regular rants against neighbor women followed by poor attempts to flirt. A lot of what kept Cyrus's rage and envy in check was Grey, as it was clear he was absolutely terrified of him physically and in complete awe of him psychologically and professionally.

The other neighbor who lived on our right was a man who was only a few years older than us. Overly friendly from the start, he struggled with boundaries and was easy to offend if there was a difference in opinion. About two years following moving into the building, he knocked on our door and asked to speak with Grey. During that conversation he confessed  that he was about to be arrested as he had raped his 16 yr old daughter. Despite all of this, we were both counseled that it was unlikely he was violent and following his release from prison were encouraged to help promote his re-entry into society. Initially he seemed to be taking steps to do just this, with many in the building working with him to help him establish a business and keep him away from temptations. But after awhile, he regressed back to old patterns and habits of drug use and drinking. He pushed the limits of his parole and found ways around safe-guards. In the end he burned everyone who was supporting him. And when called on it and a lawsuit followed due to actions he was pleaded not to do, his reaction was violent, with blame and hatred cast to anyone who dared question him.

It's been over a year since both of these individuals sold their units. Both of them blaming me specifically for having to sell and move on. The neighbors that now flank our unit are so completely opposite from these two that there were days Grey and I were in awe over not having to whisper during conversations or worry about our home being broken into. And honestly I thought that all of that was in the past. That we could move on.

And yet, on the heels of recent shootings and responses from certain political figures, I find myself increasingly upset and struggling. As people who are fast to point fingers and gleefully preach hate, I find my heart in a not-so-peaceful place.

The problem is I know that meeting violence and ignorance with the same fixes nothing. Yelling at those who preach this hatred and ignorance never does if not results in them screaming that much louder, claiming they're not afraid to fight when it is clear that are absolutely terrified. But sitting back and allowing them to spew lies and hatred in an effort to understand is getting to be too much. I'm still nursing wounds from such efforts and dealing with the fallout of getting on their radar.

So, in an effort to finally come to some resolution, I'm sucking it up and putting all of this out there. I'm ashamed that I ever had dealings with a convicted sex-offender or believed that I could help this person re-integrate into society. I feel afraid after living next door to a narcissist who harassed both me and Grey and made home an unsafe place to be. And I'm angry because the few times we talked about all of this with others in hopes of finding help, most responded with silence or looks of shock. And the long term affects have become where I still worry about finding one of these assholes at my doorstep, pointing a gun through the window.

I don't expect anyone to fix this, because the reality is that no one person can. Nor do I expect pity for what we've lived through. What I want more than anything is to stop having to live in fear. Worrying that what I say, do or how I live my life will somehow result in my family being harmed. Because no one should have to endure that. And I'm so tried of fighting it.


  1. This sounds like trauma. Your body and psyche are trying to protect you from harm -- an appropriate and sound response. I am so sorry that you've been carrying this around. It's understandable that you might be triggered by what's going on in the world today. Hugs.

  2. Your description of yourself and the He-Beat at 5 am reminded me of feelings I've had occasionally since our house was broken into almost 2 years ago. (More so when I was at home alone with A J). But that break in was by strangers and presumably an isolated incident. I can only imagine what it's like to feel threatened by your neighbours, physically and emotionally. I'm glad they are gone but can see how the feelings linger. Sadly in the case of folks like your former neighbours it really doesn't matter how nice a person you are; you can't fix them that way and neither can anyone else.

  3. This was clearly a hard post to write (and even harder to live it), but I hope that typing it out has released it a bit from your heart. At least enough to make room for deep breaths. Sending a hug.

  4. Wow, no pity here. You sound like a very compassionate person to have tried to help with the sex offender guy. Although you feel shame, I don't see there is anything to be ashamed of.
    I was also talking about this earlier with someone irl (about earthquakes) that anxiety manifests when we are responsible for little ones, and I think is all part of that mamabear protector role.
    That said, having both of those neighbours sounds massively stressful. I recall one of my friends having similar issues with one of their neighbours (very close in proximity) who was mentally ill and was being very antisocial in what they were doing given the layout of where my friend had to live. I think there's a sense of trying to keep the peace and actually putting up with more than you would like, smoothing things over and not fueling their dramas, because 'they know where you live' and if your home, the place you come back to relax after work, the place you sleep and where your children run round with their nappies off etc is somewhere that what you have already written about, there's a real juxtaposition between keeping your family safe and yet keeping the peace.
    I dunno. I'm going round in circles, but your post follows a rational logic

  5. You have nothing to be ashamed of, having only done the best you could, in your kind, open and honest way. Fear is always hard to deal with. Even if we know the likelihood of our fears coming true, it isn't always easy to overcome them. I don't know how to help, I wish I did. All I can do is send love and hugs, and they're winging their way to you around the world. Maybe give yourself a virtual hug too?

  6. Wow Cristy, I'm so sorry that you've had to endure this. Take care of yourself and of your family - this is a lot to hold on to and process. Hugs.

  7. Oh wow, I can't imagine living flanked by so much difficulty. You had to do the best you could to coexist, and it sucks that it keeps you living in fear. I am so glad that you are not surrounded by dysfunction, and that those people have moved on and can no longer blame you (erroneously) for their issues. I hope that you are surrounded by goodness from this point on and that eventually those other peoples' presences can cease haunting you. I hope putting it all out there helped you process and come to peace/grips with what was a horribly stressful situation.

  8. Good heavens, and I thought WE had some crappy neighbours...!! :p I don't think you have anything to be ashamed of either. There are some weird people out there, and while compassion generally is a good thing, you also have to take care of yourself & your family. But yes, it IS traumatic. I still have nightmares stemming from long-ago traumatic encounters with difficult people from my past. :p It wasnt' fun at the time, and it's not fun to relive it in your head either. (((hugs)))


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