Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Just Being Neighborly ...

Updated - June 12th - good news/happy ending?  :)

As I've mentioned, we love everyone in our building, we chat regularly (now using PPE and social distancing, often from our patios/balconies) and are like-minded on many things.  We don't get all up in each other's business, and we respect each other's privacy, but we chat about the weather, share bargain deals we found, compliment flowers and new cars, clean off each others' car windows in winter, jump each other's cars with dead batteries, knock on doors if someone left their car lights on or the car running, share food when we've made too much, give Christmas treats, congratulate wins and graduations, console each over the illness or death of family and pets - sometimes current events and rag on politicians, depending on who it is -  ya know, normal, neighborly stuff  :)

And there are a few other couples that don't live in our building, either in other buildings or the neighborhood behind us, we've met, after living here 3 years, that we do the same with.  

However, there are two couples in our building that we don't know very well.  

One of the two couple greets everyone and smiles, will chat if you if you initiate it, but not for long, and they mostly keep to themselves and that's their business and I'm cool with that, I get it, especially in this day and age.   They're very respectful of everyone else in the building,though, regardless.

The other couple lives in the back corner and has for about 8 months - and they go much further than just keeping to themselves - to being flat-out rude, inconsiderate, and disrespectful of everyone else in the building - long before COVID. 

All I know about them is snippets of what I can see and hear, which doesn't always tell you much about people to judge, so there hasn't been much to go on, until today.

He's an older American gentleman with a Southern accent, early 70s, who leaves for days at a time for work (I'm thinking truck-driver).  His girlfriend or wife is significantly younger than he is, likely in her late-40s, doesn't work, but somehow manages to get her hair professionally cut and bleached blonde anyway, despite COVID restrictions.  (You can see a lot from your balcony - including brown roots that magically go blonde again by the next day ;)   

But whatever works for them to cope through COVID and get through this life, I say do it, but forgive me if I don't follow suit :)

I'd also seen them on walks, this couple - they're very cute together, smiley and sweet to each other - she fusses over him, is very affectionate, and makes sure he's buttoned up and comfortable :) 

But if you say "Good morning" or "Hi," they act like they didn't hear you and look down. 

I also noted that she speaks German as her primary language - at least I think it's German.  Her accent, plus I've caught a few German words, when talking to her late-teenage daughter - who also has the same accent and must be his step-daughter.  

(I guess they could be a German-based language or mixed, or they could Belgian, Austrian or Swiss, or even Danish, I'm not sure, but definitely not Finnish, Swedish, Icelandic, Norwegian, Russian, or Slavic countries, though.  I'm fairly good with accents - another pointless skill I possess, after listening to dictation and typing what people say for 26 years :)

I mention this because at first, I thought perhaps their lack of greeting people back was her not being able to speak/understand English well and not being able to carry through with conversation and being embarrassed by that or something? 

So at first I didn't think much of it:  "*Shrugs* whatever - maybe they can't speak English well enough, or they just like to keep to themselves and not get involved with their neighbors, no harm in that, right? They have their reasons.  Hell, I have social phobia - so some days, I'm can be a reclusive hermit myself lol. "

I do usually manage to at least muster a wave and a "Hey, how ya doin?" still, on those days but I understand not everyone does things like me - and that's probably a good thing lol.

Now, I need to preface this by saying, we do NOT sit around and gossip about our neighbors - if we mention them, it's always positive or out of concern for their health or something. 

However -  a couple neighbors did mention noticing they're not very friendly and how they don't respond to greetings, once, after the parking-space incident with Ms. C (below), as well as they completely ignore social distancing regulations, even during the height of COVID, evidenced by the fact that they never wore PPE and had guests over during the height of it.  

Whatever, fine, lots of Southerners believe COVID isn't real, looking at us like WE'RE crazy for wearing mask and gloves, their choice - we just make sure we socially distance from them lol.  Still always greet them, though - just with a mask on or from at least 6 feet away. 

But also mentioned, that day, was fact that they never clean up after their dog, which we had noticed, too, and that we all end up stepping in lol.

Further mentioned was having 3 cars and parking right in front of the building, though we're only allotted 2 spots, as well as parking over the white lines, taking up 2 spaces with 1 car, so that no one can park in the other spaces and we have to park in guest parking.

The reason all of this came up, that day, was because of a recurring parking space incident between them and Ms. C.  

One day, everyone in the building got an email from management for whomever it was parking in Ms. C's space to stop immediately. 

You see, after you've lived here 10 years, you get a designated parking space with a sign, right in front of your apartment. 

The complex is only 13 years old - but Ms. C is the only person in the apartment community who has lived here since it opened - PLUS she's 85 years old!

We all knew who was doing it, but no one in our building rats on people, so no one answered the email or tattled lol. 

When they still didn't stop, maintenance came over and had to knock on every door to find out whose car was sitting in her space - and that was the day these issues were mentioned in conversation in our building. 

Even after that day, when maintenance knocked on all our doors to find out who it was that continued to park there, even after management email -  they kept doing it - and the maintenance man has since shared they've been told at least 10 more times since, that if they catch them doing it again, they will be towed.  

As I said, none of us tattle or get in the middle - but the truth is, sometimes they still did it, after 5:30, when the office is closed.  

However, I'm not certain, but I think eventually one of their cars was towed, and it's probably been about a month since I've seen them park her space lol.

Ms. C. is so patient, positive, and cheerful, but she admitted it frustrated her to no end - and she revealed that it was she, herself, who called management and maintenance on them that day, after several chances.   

I don't blame her a bit.  I mean, she's 85 years old, and though she drives and gets around better than I do -  why make her walk that far and make several trips with groceries to her house??? 

At this point, which was in late December, after they'd lived here 3 months, I started to realize - okay, I'm running out of making excuses for these people - it's starting to appear like it's not that their busy or stressed, but that they just don't care about anyone but themselves. 

However, because I like to give people the benefit of the doubt until I have absolute proof, I tried to find other reasons they do what they do and make excuses for them, not knowing their story or what they are going through.

Thus, I thought and said aloud to Mark and a neighbor, that day: 

"Well, ya never know what's going on in somebody else's world.  Maybe they're really stressed and not normally like this.  When Mark had his stroke, before we moved here, God only knows where I parked, when coming home from the hospital. I could've parked in the middle of the street and entered someone else's apartment, for all I know lol. I don't really remember who I spoke to and didn't, during that time, except hospital staff." 
"I think English is a second language for her, so maybe she doesn't know our culture and customs, yet, especially here in the South.  They're tricky lol.  And I'm not sure her husband is well.  And I mean, hell, when busy or lost in our own thoughts and worries,  we've almost parked in Ms. C's spot ourselves a couple of times" 
"As for not cleaning up after their dog, well, as you know, Mark and I are meticulous about cleaning it up, but we can admit to leaving it during bad weather or when it's completely dark, sometimes, unable to see it or it's too difficult to pick up, or when stressed out/lost in thought. Or sometimes they decided to go twice and we only brought one bag lol." 
"Who knows what's going on in their world, like I said. Maybe they just need more time.  Maybe they'll eventually warm up and be nicer/more considerate?" 

However, making excuses for them is starting to wear, 8 months after they moved in. 

And then - this happened. 

Mark came in from work (working half-days at the office, the other half at home) and went to the restroom, while I went out on the balcony.  When I opened the balcony door, the front door had not been completely shut,  so it opened, when I opened the balcony door, in a vacuum effect.

The next thing I know, I hear Brookie, our Sheltie, outside, growling and snarling at their dog, whom their late-teenage daughter was walking - I was horrified - and it genuinely was 100% our fault!  

We're not the type to automatically assume our family members or pets are innocent; and there was no doubt our dog was the aggressor, here. 

However, I was shocked - because not only does she not usually go out, even if the door is left open while carrying groceries in, etc., but she has never before run after a dog, snarling.  

(Well, sometimes she and Snuggy Pug would get into it for a second, usually over attention, food, or a toy - but even that wasn't very often.)

I mean, there's times I could tell she just made up her mind she didn't like another dog or person by not going close and wagging her tail, maybe giving one low growl, so we don't push it - but I've never seen her actually go after another dog OR human outside.

Luckily, there was no actual fight, I caught it just beforehand - and I apologized profusely and picked up Brookie and carried her inside.

I told Mark what had happened, and we decided to knock on their door and speak to the parents and apologize, and I brought a bag of expensive, quality treats for their dog.

We knocked, but then stood past the middle of the breezeway, closer to the door of our other neighbor, across the hall  - at least a good 7 feet away.

Apparently, we woke the wife/mom up, so the interaction started out with her being irritated - though it was now 12:30 in the afternoon. 

I'm not sure she understood what had happened, because it was her daughter that took the dog for a walk, so then she looked confused -  I'm thinking her daughter didn't tell her.  

I tried to explain, but I'm not sure she understood my English well enough - and then I asked her if she'd like the bag of treats for her dog?

She looked from the expensive, top-quality treat package, to me, to Mark - with the most disgusted "Ewwww, gross" sneer on face - then said "No. It's fine" - and slammed the door in our faces.

You would've thought we just offered her a bag of her own dog's poop, that she refuses to pick up, instead of a package of expensive, top-quality treats for her dog! 

Mark and I just stood there, looking at each other and blinking, then walked back to our apartment with our tail between our legs. 

Well, not entirely true - that was just me, with my tail between my legs lol.

Because my husband, from Detroit, always has the initial/immediate reaction to such things by either blowing it off with a "whatever, fuck off, fuck you, a-hole" either under his breath or tear into them - but either way, he automatically assumes they have the problem.

My initial/immediate reaction, on the other hand,  is to assume that I'm the problem and start scouring myself for blame for what I must've said or done to cause the person to react that way. 

This time, however, though my husband has been socially trained to be gentler and kinder to the ladies than he is with men, he didn't get mad - but it didn't sit with him well, either.  

Remember, this is not the first time they've bugged him - especially over not picking up their dog crap and taking up more spaces than they're allotted.

And he has repeatedly warned me not to give the benefit of the doubt so much to people, and to trust my instincts more - because not only are they NOT doing the same for me, but by the time I do trust myself and are sure they're an a-hole, they've already effed up my life 12 ways lol.

Thus, Mark may have later said, when back in our apartment,  something akin to the following:

"Whatever, snobby bitch, we were trying to be nice and give you a peace offering, from 8 feet away, and my wife has done nothing but make excuses for you and be nice to you, because she doesn't know you..  So you can F right off,  acting like we're beneath you,  ya mail-order/free-ticket-to-America bride bimbo."  

Mark would never actually say that to her  -  he mostly said it for my benefit, to make me laugh. 

And okay, I admit it - it worked - at least for a moment LOL. 

Though I'm pretty sure that's not true about her (and he's pretty sure it's not true, too, he's  just trying to make me laugh) -  I laughed :)

Because I needed to, because of where MY mind was going with this. 

Because MY immediate emotional reaction was different than his - and Mark knew it would be.

I wasn't angry, I was looking for what I'd done that would cause her to have that extreme of a reaction, to my gift - feeling ashamed:

 "I'm still disgusting/not good enough. I'll never be good enough. And trying to give her a bag of treats during COVID to smooth things over about the dogs?  Duh! Even though we stood  far away, Of COURSE she found that disgusting!"

Now, what you need to understand is that this is a very old, conditioned response, based on the famous "you disgust me" Suburban-Cincinnati face (and a few times in Lexington) on the faces of people around me that I grew up with, so my first, innate/immediate reaction is to automatically believe there is something wrong, disgusting and ugly about me.  I saw that look many times on the faces of many parents - including my own parents - and I hadn't seen it in a long time.

Because the truth is, regardless of what political party we're in, and no matter what socioeconomic groups we belong to, there's always still some group that our own group stereotype and look down upon, based on stereotype/myth and lack of interpersonal experience.

(Just as an example, I know some racist LGBTQ and some homophobic people of color - it's especially rampant here in the South.)

THAT is what we're talking about when we say that prejudice and bias based myth is systemic and institutionalized and needs to end - it's on both sides of politics.

*HOWEVER* -  I think we're all pretty much aware that the Trump right actually promotes that mentality, whereas the left is at least trying to find ways to end it -  albeit clumsily, cluelessly, and completely lacking cultural awareness and self-awareness of our own socialized biases ourselves, sometimes lol. 

I would later learn that the look wasn't given JUST to me, it was given to a lot of people that didn't fit the wealthy white straight Christian Cincinnati suburb mold. The "look"  was usually more about the socioeconomic groups I belonged to, than me personally - but when you're a kid, it feels like it's just about you and you're the only one, right?

And as you grew, if they didn't also include some verbal barb with that look, then you had to figure out why they gave you those looks, whether it was something about you personally or the socioeconomic labeled-box they put you in - and it could be just one of the reasons below, or all of them, depending on the mindset of the person - but it's always the same reasons, isn't it? 

These included, but were not limited to:  

1)   Anyone who didn't belong to Montgomery Country Club.

2)   Anyone not wearing legitimate 80s designer clothes, no knock-offs -- no joke, people at my school actually checked your tags. 

Because they didn't understand that the "Preppy Handbook" was meant as joke, a mockery of the preps - NOT a "how to" guide - but my junior high/high school didn't get it and thought it was a manual lol.

3)  Anyone whose family did not own a Jaguar, Mercedes, or BMW. 

4)  Anyone not a member of their church or denomination.

5)  Anyone not Republican (though my parents were).

6)  Anyone whose family was from Kentucky, West Virginia, or Tennessee  - guilty, my parents are. 
Not the South in General, mind you, it depended on the state.  For example,   South Carolina and North Carolina were okay, because they vacationed at the golf resorts there -  Hilton Head, Kiawah Island, Outer Banks, Charleston, etc.  Atlanta, Georgia was okay, if you were white.  North-Central Virginia was okay, too - it's where the wealthy D.C. people held land and lots of battle history there ;)
Not okay was anyone from states with mountains or swamps - the "the hillbillies from the hills" or "bayou swamp rats."  It didn't matter if your family previously owned a luxury 18th century mansion in New Orleans or a 200-acre race-horsing farm in Kentucky - you were still backwoods mountains and bayou folk,  out of pure ignorance about these states.) 
7)   Anyone Jewish  - *exceptions had money - but not TOO much money.
8)   Any person of color - *exceptions had money.
9)   Anyone whose parents were divorced.
10)  Anyone from a troubled home.
11)  Anyone being raised by a single mother
12)  Anyone not athletic (especially if a boy, but not too athletic, if a girl).
13)  Anyone too "hippie" or artsy fartsy." 
14)  Anyone suspected of being gay.  
15)  Anyone overweight.
16)  Anyone too skinny.
17)  Anyone with disability, whether you could see it or not.
18)  Anyone too quiet.  
19)  Anyone too loud.  
20)  Poor people, regardless of faith or skin color  - - which in that extremely affluent Cincinnati suburban community meant your parents didn't make over $200K a year and didn't live in a $500K+ house in a swanky suburban development -  at that price even in the 1980s  - well in the millions now.

Money and intact families - especially if you said you were a Christian/attended the right church - automatically meant you were a good person and could be trusted, never guilty of any crime, you see ;)

And though there was anti-semitism and prejudice towards Palestinians (Iran hostage situation, 1979)  - if you had money, you could get a pass.

In fact, at least in my community, Jews and Palestinians were actually trusted more than Jewish and Palestinian people who didn't - then again, sometimes, having more money made anti-semitism worse, to those so inclined.

For example,  I remember my Mom taking us to this private art teacher someone at her evangelical church recommended, a couple of times, after my older sister threw tantrums to have it. 

But don't be too hard on her -  for that, anyway - because unfortunately, in my family, my parents were very neglectful, sometimes even forgetting to feed us - so if you wanted something, you had to make noise.

However, I realized very quickly that doesn't work in the real world, and actually stopped speaking up much at all, around other families, because you got "the look" and worse - until I tried again as a teenager (further explained below).

Well, of course, I wanted to go, too, because at the time, I wanted to do whatever my older sister did - which my older sister never realized wasn't out of competition, but because I wanted to be like her :)

So my mom allowed it - much to the chagrin of my sister, of course, who has hated me since my birth. 

(She blames me for "taking attention away from her" since I was born, when the truth is, our parents neglected all 3 of their children equally, sometimes in different ways, and that's not the fault of any of their 3 children - that was the parents' problem.)

Anyway, this dude spent less time instructing us on art, and more time trying to instruct us how black people should be enslaved for our labor and how Jews were taking over Cincinnati.

Even though I was shyer than my 12-year-old sister, my sister sat right there and didn't say shit.  Of course, she genuinely may not have heard him at first, because she had a way of getting lost in her art, whereas I was basically just doodling lol.  But I know she heard a few things - she had to have heard him.

So there's me, mustering up all of my 7-year-old courage -  having just watched "Roots" on TV (I had to sneak and watch it, because my parents forbid it, but never paid attention to us much anyway) -   also with a plethora of Jewish friends who told me about the Holocaust, their families showing me their tattoos and scars.

I remember this very clearly, looking down at my paper, doodling, not looking up, but saying ...

Me:  "It ... it's not right to treat other people that way."

Nazi Art Teacher: "But darling - who will work the fields for us, do the factory work, but idiots? God made them lesser for this purpose.  All this you see around you would not be possible if we let them do otherwise." 

Me:  "We will.  We should do it ourselves. And black people aren't stupid, they're the same as you and me, just different skin."

Nazi Art Teacher:  "And Jews killed Jesus. You'll feel differently when you're older, once you see what they're like. They hate us, they're jealous, like they were Jesus, and they want what we have. You want them to take your money?"

Me:  "I love my Jewish friends. They're not trying to take my money.  And Jesus was Jewish.  All kinds of people killed other people, back then, for stupid reasons." 
 "They don't hate Jesus now, they just don't believe in him.  Black people and Jewish people have been very nice to me and they don't say mean things like you.  So I don't know what you're talking about, and I don't think I'll change my mind."

He just stared at me for the longest time, with his jaw set, and a weird look on his face, like he wanted to backhand me, but didn't - but he refused to further instruct me the rest of that session, only my older sister. 

I went home and told my mom I didn't want to go back there, he's a bad man and a Nazi lol.   

(Mind you, I had just turned 7.  So I'm not sure if he was officially a Nazi or not, but he was the closest thing I'd run across to a Nazi by 7 years old lol.)

Cincinnati does have a very large German population, but I can personally guarantee you that most of them are NOT Nazis nor have the Nazi mentality, quite the opposite.

In fact, one of my best childhood friends' dad was a German immigrant and VERY anti-Nazi - his family refused to join the SS and Hitler Youth and paid a price for it, nearly starving.

Well, my sister lied, at first, saying I made it up because that  I was jealous of his attention for her - and the Nazi art teacher didn't help that angle, by  later telling my mom she was more talented and smarter than me - trying to divide and conquer.

So at first, my mom didn't believe me, and I understand why, because it DID look like that outwardly.

And it's true,  my older sister IS smarter and more a talented artist than me, a fact I've never denied  - but that doesn't make me mad - I was proud of her and wanted to be like her,  and I already knew what she and my parents did not, at that age, which is we all have our own gifts that should be treasured, and they all have value.  Sure, we sometimes had our little sibling spats, but I outgrew them and the need for sibling rivalry/competition very early on, because it was stupid, we were all on the same team and should be allies  - but she, well -  never did :)

But more importantly and the bigger picture, here, was that I was scared - scared of this man - a horrible person teaching BOTH of us art, and potentially dangerous for BOTH of us, in my mind lol.  I refused to go back.

Finally, my sister's conscience - which has long since left her, since those days - finally got the better of her.

She finally realized the bigger picture, that this was bigger than her and me, and what was more important, and that this man was creepy and dangerous - so she finally admitted I wasn't making it up, he really was saying those things.

What a freaking creeper - and he WAS a Nazi, whether officially or not. 

After that, I stayed very quiet about things I saw, because it always got flipped back on me for motivations I truly did not have, rather than the actual reason, and made more "disgusting" and "unacceptable."

Because most importantly, as I wouldn't fully learn until I was a teenager, was that if you spoke up, even with sugar on top like I did with that art teacher - especially if you grew tired of "knowing your lower place in comparison," and began holding up a mirror to their disgusted-look faces - to who they thought they were versus reality - rocking the boat, rather than quietly bowing and scraping and pretending along?

You'd get the discredited or get the shit kicked out of you to shut you up - a lesson which I fully learned when I began speaking up again in my late teenage years ;)

By the time I was a teenager and started speaking up again, I had a whole bunch of stuff I'd sat on quietly, so I let her rip - TOO much - so admittedly, I could've presented it better, as a teenager, and I wish had, more like I had that art teacher as a child - but now, I was angry - with all of it.

I'm no longer angry, and trying to learn to forgive myself for that inappropriate expression of it - give myself a break for being a teenager, from an extremely dysfunctional/abusive home with terrible role models (until I found some later)  - as well as by also remembering that people who give "disgusted" looks for socioeconomic, religious, and race reasons are actually the disgusting" ones with the problem, in God's eyes.

And to be fair, I did also get that look just twice from a couple of Jewish friends' parents, who understandably didn't trust Goyim (non-Jewish persons) - which I didn't know why,  until my friends told me the reason later.

"Oh, honey - you thought that was about you?  I'm so sorry, that wasn't about you, personally, but I can see why you'd think that. Truth is, I didn't understand that either, at the time, we were so young - but over time, I realized it was about anybody I brought home who wasn't Jewish.  They survived the Holocaust. They don't trust Goyim in general, after being mistreated by Goyim. But I'm not like that.  They're slower to trust is all, after what they went through.  But it wasn't you personally."

And this was true  - many of their parents and grandparents were Holocaust survivors, with the tattoos and scars to prove it - but for the records, it's not polite to ask to see them - I waited for them to offer - because it's a sign of trust, a gift to you, as a Goyim, for them to show you something from their past so painful :(

Other than those 2 families who understandably distrusted us Goyim, my other Jewish friends' families were awesome, they were my favorite - fun, loving, wise, compassionate/merciful, openly communicated what they really thought and felt, and shared everything with each other and everyone around them :)

And their families survived the Holocaust too - but they had a different approach and taught me a lesson that I would never forget - that in addition to not blanket-judging groups and showing mercy, you must guard your heart from hating those that hate you - because when you do, they win :)

To me, this attitude is remarkable, even divine - because you would think that most Jewish families that survived the Holocaust would be like the first 2 families I mentioned - distrustful of Goyim - and who could blame them?

But most of my Jewish friends families weren't, in fact, they were exactly the opposite - they fostered the message of not letting let those who hate you cause you to hate them in return, keep on seeking the light, keep finding love and joy despite them - don't stop being you because of who they are and what they say and do :)

Don't get me wrong, several of my Christian friends' parents held the same belief, stating this is what Christ would do - but most Christians in our community, including my parents, were very "eye-for-an-eye," dog-eat-dog," competitive, cut-throat people.

And even with my Christian friends' parents who had the same philosophy, there was often still an economic barrier - and it felt more like pity and Christian duty than equal human.  In fact, I can only think of 2 Christian families that had the same above philosophy that treated me like actual family rather than Christian duty/pity case/bug under glass.

So for whatever reason,  it felt like there was even less of a socioeconomic barrier with my Jewish friends' parents, even if they were wealthy  - like they didn't care how much money my family had or didn't have or where we came from - they knew what it was like to be treated 'less than' for the wrong reasons - so it wasn't about pity, it was about treating me as their equal and showing me how kind life and people can be :)

They were cool with me as long as I was cool with them, and they embraced and treated me like family - and patiently answered my ignorant curious Goyim questions about cultural differences - and loved to share with me what I agreed was cool about their faith and traditions and vice versa.

They, in turn, had a lot of questions about why we did certain things at Christmas; particularly, why we weren't "scared of the white bearded old man, he's scary."  LOL

I explained that many times, actually, we were scared of Santa, in person  - family photo albums are often filled with the faces of crying, screaming children on Santa's lap.

Santa is more about the idea of Santa leaving you presents,  than actually meeting Santa in person.  :) 

Back to my point -  trust me when I say wealthy whites giving myself and others "the look" far outnumbered anyone else, exponentially, believe me - in fact, I received this look so many times in my community, before the age of 10, that I learned to not speak much at all and keep it short and simple when at friends houses, later on.

(So for those wondering why I got so shy and quiet when around your parents until the last two years of high school, especially if you were wealthy - that's partially why - I was trying to "know my place" and I didn't want to give them more reason to be "disgusted" with me and evidence that I was "unacceptable."  Then, my last 3 years of high school, I let loose a whole bunch of pent up anger, inappropriately, and started holding up a mirror to some of those disgusted faces, and they didn't like what they saw - but I have since learned more appropriate ways - mostly  ;)

Back to today - my initial reaction to this woman, as opposed to Mark's -  was at first very old one, because I hadn't been looked at, liked that, in a long time.  

So a conditioned first response was: 

"There it is again - there's something wrong with me, the way I'm dressed, something I said or did, or I look ugly.  It wasn't the fact that I offered her treats for her dog during COVID, she found ME disgusting.  Something about me is disgusting and I'm not good enough to live here."

Now, I don't expect my husband to help me out of this old trap, but it's sweet of him to try.  

However, we both know the truth is, he could tell me I'm beautiful and wonderful every single day (and does, actually) - but there's a lot of old tapes left in my head, and even if every person in the world told me that, I wouldn't believe them - it takes ME to change my negative thoughts to more positive thoughts about myself. it's my responsibility, not his or anyone else's. 

So I'm trying to get out of my momentary childhood transference and do my cognitive behavioral therapy stuff, and not assume her reaction was about me or because I was disgusting in some way. 

I wondered if maybe she was just still angry over the dog - but then I remembered she appeared to be confused at first, as if she didn't even know about it - it was apparent that her daughter didn't tell her. 

Then I wondered if this was about COVID and social distancing - but we were sure to keep our distance - and remember, these people have never followed social distancing requirements from the get-go. 

I decided mostly that it was probably the latter - less to do with us personally, and more about fear of COVID.

However, making such an exaggerated, disgusted look at a gift offered would still imply an assumption that we're COVID-disease ridden and less than, now wouldn't it? 

This despite the fact that unlike them, we DO clean up after our dog, my house is extremely bleached clean, I am the only resident that actually sweeps off all the breezeways and cobwebs for everybody, and Ms. C and I are the only people with well-cared-for-and-blooming flowers, and neat, clean, swept balconies - so I still didn't get it. 

So at present, my mind is locked in battle with myself - old conditioned response/beating myself up VS. reminding myself, though cognitive behavioral therapy, to be kinder to myself - because I would never be that mean to others who felt the same way, why be that way to me: 

"Though your dog and you are Mark were at fault,  you admitted it was completely your and your dog's fault, you apologized profusely, and offered her a gift for her dog to make amends. Sure, maybe treats weren't the best idea of a gift, during COVID, but it was all you quickly had available, and most people wouldn't even do THAT, they'd find a way to blame the other person's dog for the whole thing or just not care.  So her "ewww" look doesn't prove anything about you - it proves SHE has the problem."

So far, it's only half-working lol.

Regardless, I'm done with giving excuses for this couple - even if I was disgusting, they don't have to be so rude.

But I'm not ready to adopt Mark's reaction to her just yet, which is to automatically assume they have a problem and are just shitty people  - though reaction  is probably a more normal reaction than mine. 

I guess I still believe in being kind and neighborly, and giving people the benefit of the doubt, despite what they do, despite other people not being capable  - but sometimes - it's hard - and getting harder and harder, in this world

Well, I should amend that to say - I will continue to give them the benefit of the doubt and be kind, unless they actually become condescending, antagonistic/aggressive/bullying towards myself or other people - because even Christ called that out - but so far, they haven't.

FYI, that is the point with certain people when I stop scouring/searching me for blame, stop giving the benefit of the doubt, stop being neighborly. 

First I would try to reason with them, simply and diplomatically stating, "That's not okay, and here's why."

If that doesn't put an end to it, that's when I let 'er rip - "her" being the girl that holds up that mirror to both pointing fingers and underling fragile psyches, verbally slicing and dicing inflated egos with pinpoint accuracy - which has humbled many, pretty quickly, and sent them crying to their mamas - usually acting like the victim instead of the bully ;)

I don't like to pull her out, if I don't have to, and I usually don't have to -  but sometimes she's required - increasingly so, in this world - after I've given all the benefit I can, they won't knock it off, and when all else fails. 

However, not yet, with these neighbors - because I don't believe it's necessary - they just don't clean up after their dog, have been repeatedly just passively disrespectful to Ms. C, and threw a condescending, shitty look at me, when offered a peace gift.  

Oh well, I've seen worse lol. So for now, I'll continue to do the right thing, even if they can't    :)


UPDATE:   6/12 -  So interestingly, while Mark was holding our door open, fighting with a trash bag (lol), we hear this "Hellloooo" from way down the hallway.

I come to the door (because it was really loud) and Mark pokes his head around and guess who it is?

It's their late-teenage daughter - the one that at least smiles at us sometimes - now saying hello to us :)

We yelled the "COVID Hello!" back :)


Not always, but sometimes people DO respond to kindness and neighborly :)

I told Mark this and he said I got lucky, this time, most people won't - if people look and act rude from the start, they usually stay that way, and being kind only irritates them, they think you want something:

"Try saying hello and being kind to rude people in Detroit, in the city OR suburbs, we're just raised to distrust people anyway, especially if they're rude, doesn't matter what color we are or faith we are.  They won't soften, they'll shoot you in the face for even talking to them, "Why the F are you smiling at me?" lol. 

LOL, ptttthbttt, nonsense - well, at least not everybody, I'd say :)

And don't let him fool you - he's very kind to strangers, too, he just judges quicker.  If they're rude from the get go, he won't shoot them, but ya know, a Detroit "eff off" works for him ;)

(I might eventually tell them that too, but not before a few tries at kindness - it takes me longer lol.)

However, I have learned, since my youth, that about 85% of the time, in this day and age, kindness and mercy builds bridges and helps cure most wounds :)

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