A few seasons ago I got into an altercation with a medical ride provider who refused my scheduled pharmacy visit, and became enraged after he declared it: “Not his problem.” This happened due to my learning how not to be a people-pleaser and resulting attempts to master assertiveness.
And to be honest, currently, after not using it much for decades––I’ve yet to become super skilled at it. Like, it’s kind of comical. I mean, it’s not, because sometimes I behave like a total freakin’ wackadoo and then feel embarrassed for getting so out of control. (But if I saw someone else do it in a movie, I’d totally laugh.)
Fast forward to this fall, I get a new neighbor in the 4-plex where I’ve lived for the last couple years. He does construction to remove all of the construction put in by the previous tenants, whom I was friendly with, and made sure weren’t negatively affected by their upstairs neighbor––me. This guy knocks on my door one early morning in November: I had just gotten out of the shower, where I had been trying to get pumped for my day with a little Glass Animals upper-body dancing. (I’m currently disabled with chronic illness. For now.)
He asked me to turn it down because it was 7:30, and I apologized and said that I’d previously been told that my volumes were unhearable. He told me he “didn’t want a battle,” I found that odd since we had just met and why would we? He let me know that he was a bartender, and I told him no more early morning music since he can hear it.
As soon as I said it I felt a little controlled, and noted I hadn’t given him on any feedback about how his own actions were frequently adversely affecting me––but I ignored it, shoving down a memory of how doing so once made me lose a home I really thought I wanted.
So I stopped listening to music before 9, even though he frequently wakes me up at 3 am stomping down the stairs then slamming his door and I can’t get back to sleep so I wind up getting up by 6 or 7. I even stopped listening to Glass Animals, as base-heavy band, whom I adore.
One day in December I was listening to Stevie Nicks at around 11, at a reasonable volume, doing my morning attempt at rallying energy for the day, this time with muscle atrophy-preventing exercises; and he knocks again, same complaints––but now he adds a threatening tone, points out that he owns and I rent, and tells me he’s already complained to the office, who apparently were “supposed to” send me a letter, then murmured something about old buildings and his girlfriend disagreeing, and then said, “But I have to turn on my fan to drown it out.”
And still, despite how scrunched in disgust my face is just typing about it––I was agreeable. But at least that time I filled him in on my health situation a little, and the fact that I can’t even tolerate music by evening, and that I usually switch to classical right after my amp-it-up stuff, which lasts less than an hour and is always after 9 am, otherwise I only listen to singing level music when I paint, which I can’t do often. He got threatening again, and I anxiously complied, telling him to add me on Facebook so he didn’t have to *come upstairs* to complain. (D’oh!)
Yesterday morning, Donald fucking Trump’s inauguration day, something/one woke me up at 4 am. I started crying immediately from pain and then my mind started clinging to things to be angry or hurt about. (Sleep resets me, bestowing smaller symptoms for a few hours; waking directly into severe pain, rather than it building up all day, is awful.) Bad things have happened on days that start like that. I used many quiet methods to try and calm my mind, having moderate to no success, with tranquility awkwardly juxtaposed in the background.
At 9:30 I finally turned on music, just Aimee Mann, as I felt like hell already, but figured singing a song at least might help. My phone beeped, and low and behold, it’s him bitching. I started to come unraveled again, tears ran down my face, and my hands started shaking wildly. I typed something like “Seriously?? AIMEE MAN??? These are my happiest times please don’t take music from me”––with the intention of going back and editing it into something a sane adult might say.
My shaky ass hand hit send.
“Not my problem.” Was his fateful reply.
So yeah, it didn’t get more graceful from there. I went on a rant about my history of being quiet, and his expectations being redonk, and him being not-so-quiet himself, and on and on. I feel silly and it was an ineffective way to communicate. (Fuck having confrontational conversations via writing, I always think it’s going to be better, but it just never is…)
And the lesson today, kids: When you get a tiny feeling in your gut that says someone’s excessively on your shit––tell them to back off right fucking then. Nip it in the bud before a misunderstanding occurs and a boundary is drawn where you don’t like it. Cause moving a boundary is usually pretty fucking ackwaaaard. Oy!