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Monday, August 15, 2011

The Neighbor From Hell (Part II)

It is interesting to see how life creates situations for growth. I do not necessarily notice at the time it is for growth, but in the aftermath, I see that I have indeed grown.

My previous entry described my anger at a neighbor. The situation since that writing has gone from bad to worse to better than I thought it could be. My part in it was a simple willingness to see my part in the disagreement. Once that became clear, the situation took a turn for the better.

What I was blind to was the simple fact that I had made no real effort to be a good neighbor to this lady. As I look back, I never really liked her ... I tolerated her. That, in a word, is arrogance. The very thing I accused her of is the thing for which I am guilty. All I could feel at the time of the disagreement was that I was right and she was wrong. Everyone in the vicinity realized she was a difficult person, but none of them (to my knowledge) used very harsh words to her face as I did. It is not that I do not still think she is an individual with many issues that need attention, it is that now I have made the decision to face my issues. Once I did that, my anger at her subsided tremendously and I now see a sick lady who needs understanding and patience ... just as I do.

As I was seething in anger a few days ago, I was convinced that the close proximity in which Poles (and Europeans in general) live is the root of the problem. I could not deal with this "closeness". I am seeing that this type of living requires me to be all the things I aspire to be: patient, tolerant, loving, accepting, willing to change and adapt. It has been a most energizing experience as I see that this is so good for me and those I am around. I do not have to spread my poison of anxiety and frustration ... I can spead a sense of good. This always feels better.


  1. Joel, you believe the tolerance exhibited by others around this woman is a result of the tight quarters in which Europeans typically live in?

    Well from my travels this is likely only an issue inside the city and its really no different than in the States IMHO. If you live in an urban area, you have to tolerate certain things just to have a peaceful coexistence.

    Of course you can choose to live outside of the city in a suburban area but those types of houses, especially if they are large tend to cost a ton of money and you don't have to deal with people living the next door over type of thing.

    I enjoy your blog, I am reading it dude keep writing!

  2. Oh, I was thinking the same after reading your previous post. What about Americans living in New York? Surely they must cope with difficult neighbours.

    However, I also thought about another thing. You won't find many Polish men confronting elderly ladies. It's a kind of taboo behaviour. So usually such things are dealt with by women, but still an elder woman always has the upper hand. As we see it it's a matter of respect for women and for the elderly. An old woman is a double taboo, you see. Men usually avoid any kind of confrontation with them, silently listening to their complaints and quickly hiding behind the safety of the door to their flats.

    Even as a girl I was taught to be very respectful towards elder neighbours. I know that my uncles, for example, would not see any good excuse for being unpleasant to an elder lady even if they agreed with my cause. The only person I could safely send to such a battle was my own grandmother. ;) How about asking your mother-in-law's help?