Manipulation and Abuse Are Sneaky, Stay Free
How others took advantage of my desire to be a good neighbor
Staying Out of Denial
As a survivor of narc abuse for most of my life, I sometimes have a difficult time reading situations properly. I allow others to walk all over me without even realizing what is going on. When the situation becomes intolerable I will finally wake up and become angry about how I was treated.
I am moving into a new phase of healing. I want to start assessing situations and how others treat me before it becomes glaringly obvious that there is a problem. I need to have more awareness and stop assuming others will treat me the way I treat them. I don’t want to become so paranoid that others will be horrible that I stop trusting anyone. I need to find the right balance as I learn how to live in the world as a relatively “normal” person.
After over a year of enduring a toxic situation with my neighbors, I finally faced the truth and set my household free. I am not being overly dramatic although I do like to add a touch of drama and excitement to the stories I write. ;-)
We live in an apartment complex. When our neighbors moved in below us they let me know they worked from home as call center agents. I was told a few times how important their work was and their need for a professional environment. I cautioned the children that now that we would have someone living below us we had to be more careful about making noise.
The first day the kids were home from school while I was out working I received a text from the neighbors that there was a lot of noise coming from my apartment. I called home when I had a chance to assess the situation. I was told one of the children had been rocking in the rocking chair. I assumed my child was doing some crazy loud rocking and the chair became off-limits during work hours.
Another day I was informed that it sounded like the roof was caving in. When I called home my son was outside with friends. He had come home, dropped off his backpack, and headed out with friends. Instead of believing what he told me I assumed he was being loud and out of control and cautioned him to be quieter.
Soon I was receiving texts when others came over to ask my children to come out to play, when they listened to music, when they played around as children will. I began to dread the texts I would receive while my children were out of school and I had to work.
Recently the neighbors became fixated on the behavior of other children who lived in our complex and expected me to take care of the situation. I did my best but these children were not under my authority. One morning I was brought out of denial when I received a text complaint about the situation while I was home with my children. None of us heard or saw what I had been notified of from the neighbors. Confused, I texted back that I had not heard or seen anything they were describing. I was told it was imperative that the situation be taken care of for everyone’s safety.
I finally spoke with a friend who worked from home to get her opinion of how much noise was acceptable. She informed me that my children and I were walking on eggshells in our home. What!?! Was her assessment of our situation accurate?
I shared the situation with another person and she said we were being manipulated and controlled. Huh??? I struggled to accept the reality of the situation. The neighbors were always pleasant when we ran into them in the hallway. They gave my children little gifts during the holidays and treats from time to time.
I finally realized I needed to speak to our landlord and find out what the expectations for noise were in our community and what my responsibility was with the other children who were misbehaving outside my home.
Turns out my children and I are allowed to live in our home and make a normal amount of noise. We don’t come anywhere close to what would be considered unreasonable. I am not responsible for what happens outside my apartment as long as my children are not involved. The neighbors have the responsibility to report any concern they have to the office and not to me.
Wow!!!! I felt such a weight lifted from my shoulders after I went to the actual authority and found out the truth instead of continuing to be harassed by the neighbors so they could get what they wanted. I sent them a text telling them they would need to report any concerns they had to the office and let them know I would no longer be accepting texts from them. Blocked and done!
I was free. My children were free. As I realized how much the neighbors must have exaggerated the noise my children made I began to try to reenact the noise they had made. I could not rock the rocking chair in any way that made even a loud noise. I realized that even jumping on the floor was not very loud. I couldn’t see any way my kids could have made much noise for more than a few seconds without injuring themselves.
I began to realize the neighbors had to accept responsibility for choosing to work from home while expecting a professionally quiet environment and living in a family-friendly apartment complex. They could have chosen an apartment on the top floor. They could have chosen an adult community. They could have been realistic about the amount of noise children make and decided to live with it. Instead, they tried to force us to conform to their wishes and harrassed me to make it happen.
The interesting thing is that the kids could make noise when I was home with them during working hours and the neighbors never texted me about it. That should have made me suspicious of their exaggerations. They broke the system the first and only time they texted me about noise while I was home to assess the situation in person. The noise police will no longer be welcome in my home.
Teaching My Children
We have the responsibility to not accept others treating us badly. We are also obligated to ensure others treat us properly. We are teaching our children by our example how they should expect others to treat them.
I spoke with my children about the situation we had gone through and apologized for assuming the neighbors were being honest about the noise. I know my children and should be more trusting of who they are vs. what a stranger tells me about them. I am not naive in thinking they never do wrong but I will not assume they are guilty until proven innocent again.
I will continue to explore my relationships with others and keep learning about setting boundaries that are fair and reasonable for all. No one is allowed to push me around anymore. I need to keep my eyes open and realize when I am being used or deceived.
This healing journey can be a lot of work but is worth all the energy it takes. I know it will get easier over time and the lessons will become shorter and easier to learn.
Blessings on your healing journey,