Why do some people choose to be miserable, always unhappy even when they get what they say they want? Even though I know their anger is their problem it still depletes my energy. It saps me of my kindness toward them, even though I want to feel empathy for them.
My neighbor is one such person. I feel for her, or at least I usually do. She has no friends; she kicked her boyfriend out of the house; I’ve never seen her grown kids visit, or anyone else for that matter. She had some health problems; she fell; she didn’t leave her house for several months, so I tried to help by mowing her front yard when I mowed mine.
Because of her pain medication, and the alcohol she has been drinking with it, she is unpredictable. On a good day this small act of kindness is appreciated. She has thanked me for this, although while I was doing this I wasn’t sure which version of my neighbor I would get. A different day she criticized the cutting because it spread the weeds.
So I no longer cut her grass.
Today was another such incident and I feel depleted, completely drained by the confrontation. For the past 12 years she has been complaining about a tree in our front yard. It was mostly on my side, but branches and roots extended into hers. Slowly the tree has deteriorated, causing dead branches to fall in the yard. At least 10 years ago she called codes to try to force us to take it down, but the tree was healthy enough then.
But after the tree withstood hurricane Irma last September I decided it was time to take action. I was fortunate that the heavy winds didn’t knock down any of the large, dead branches high above our houses. I waited until the tree companies were done taking care of the damage from the hurricane and I arranged to have it taken down.
I told her when I saw her this was coming. She was sad to see the tree go.
I suppose a good neighbor would have gone over the day before to remind her, but I didn’t. I guess I’ve had other things on my mind. I did’t realize what would be involved in the tree removal, so it never occurred to me they would have equipment in her yard. They bent a yard stake, which I would have happily replaced, except that’s not what she wants.
She wants to have a reason to be angry. Replacing the damaged item wouldn’t have changed anything.
She complained about the damage to her lawn, but there is no permanent damage. There wasn’t much grass to begin with because the tree kept it from growing, and the lack of rain this spring combined with her ruthless pulling of weeds has taken care of the rest. I would have been happy to help her clean up or fix whatever she felt needed to be fixed. But instead of asking for help, or some sort of resolution, she stood outside yelling and cursing at me.
I won’t engage with her anger. I just won’t.
I responded calmly. I apologized. I acknowledged her feelings; I accepted she was unhappy and tried to explain I wasn’t aware they’d be in her yard. But she would have none of that. She doesn’t want this fixed. She wants to be angry. She is choosing to be angry.
And even though her anger depletes my desire to be kind, I will continue to be me. I will not let this make me angry. I will not let her have that control over me. If she wants to fix something then I will discuss that with her, calmly.
This isn’t the post I wanted to write today…perhaps if I have time later I will write something more in line with my normal posts and delete this one…
This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Deplete