I picked my drama-neighbor for the first week. I’m sticking to drama being a fact about her, even though it’s also my thought. Also because she’s going to keep being dramatic and adding drama everywhere it’s not, so that’s the circumstance of her that I also have to find a way to cope with. No seriously. The first times she went drama, I totally didnt see it coming and didnt understand anything. It was not my thought of her being dramatic that lead to that. When she doesnt hate me, she often calls and asks for advice, which every time means taking the drama out of whatever happened. So drama is staying as fact.
The things she thinks/feels are well documented in texts. I don’t listen to gossip, and havent asked anyone else how she feels about me. I just take her word for it from what she’s said in so many, long, dramatic texts over the past two years.
For exercise day 1, I wrote down all of the judgements, and I can see that most of them can be, or have previously been, true about me to a much lesser extent (controlling, arrogant, expects everyone to blindly see the situation through her eyes and her story as facts, not good enough, , disorganized, lazy, judgemental)
For day 2, I wrote that I want her to be present with her kids, so I can relax and know that they won’t hurt my kids (hitting, kicking, teasing, taking away toys). I want her to put her phone down, so she can see the conflicts and issues with the kids when they first start, not when they’ve escalated to war (and then after she claims she “saw the whole thing”, which she factually didnt, because she only saw it from the point of the kids screaming and kicking, and that’s not when it started or “the whole thing”). I want her to stop lying so I can trust that the facts she presents are actually facts. I want her to talk about issues face to face, so we can talk through and resolve them, rather than passive aggressive texts. If I dont answer, that escalates the conflict. If I say we can talk about anything face to face, she says she just wants peace. No matter how I answer, the conflict escalates. Seriously, even “ok, everything is good”, is interpreted as “oh, everything is absolutely not good!” I really cant find a way out of that one. I keep saying I wont respond to texts now, but am happy to talk about anything face to face, so I hope that will work over time.
How that would make me feel: I could have peace. There would be no more drama and the kids could just be friends and play when they wanted to. I wouldnt worry about running into her or her mood of the day (I smile and say hello if I see her now, she turns away and doesnt say anything). I wouldnt worry about the next time everything blew up.
I dont notice that I can think and feel these things anyway. I can use my thoughts to create a feeling of peace, I can smile and say hello whenever I see her. But I cant get rid of the drama on my own. I cant keep shit from blowing up again. And I dont want to make peace with that. I dont want that drama in my life.
Fact: Her kids have behavioral issues and are receiving a lot of professional help to deal with it. Fact: My kids do not have behavioral issues. My thoughts: I have compassion for what the kids have been through and are struggling with. I want to help in any way I can. I also have to take care of my own kids and protect them and their integrity. All through first grade, my son said “I think he has a pain in his heart, and that is what makes him do mean things. I try to put it behind me and move on, but sometimes I need a break from him to feel better.” At the start of second grade, he said “Mommy, now I have a hole in my heart, and it’s not a small one, it’s from my heart to the end of the World.” So I have been putting up more boundaries and saying no a lot more. I can see that this may escalate a conflict.
I didnt set enough boundaries the first year we knew them. I didnt know about boundaries as described by Brooke. Also, I felt so much compassion for the family, that I didnt protect my kids enough. I also probably crossed her boundaries as a mother, because she so often felt lost and asked for help, and asked me to deal with the kids, so I probably also tried to help and take charge when she didnt want me to. I didnt see it then, but I do see it now, and I can definitively see how she would feel resentful and have lots of negative emotion there.
The first absolute blow out was at my son’s birthday 1.5 years ago. Her son ran around crazy, switching the lights on and off, saying mean things to the other kids, trying to take my sons birthday crown, trying to take his seat. She did nothing about it, just looked at her phone. All the other parents in the room were trying to deal with her child, just not her. At one point, I said “if the adults could put away their phones, that would be great”. I also at one point told her son that he just had to sit down and wait if he wanted cake, and he could be the first one to get a piece after the birthday boy. At this point, both of her kids were crawling over me, trying to grab the cake with their hands. She kept staring at her phone. The birthday ended with her son punching my 3 year old in the stomach. At that point we got into a verbal fight where she said that her son had escalated because so many adults had told him off and yelled at him (no one yelled). I answered that either she had to watch her kids and their behavior, or some other adult had to take care of it. We talked about it a few days later. I said I should have talked to her outside the room and asked her to calm the kids down, and even the phone, should have asked her about it nicely without the presence of others. She admitted that her son had been out of control, and that she should have been more present and taken action. I think this situation was to the core of the issue. Every issue after that has brought back the negative emotions and resentment I still feel, and think that she still feels too.
In the last round, she said I always blame her son or daughter for what happens, and that I think my kids wont do anything wrong without it being caused by her kids doing something first. She gets to think and feel whatever she wants, even though it’s not true. She can be wrong about me and the kids, which she is. I hold my kids responsible for every action they take, for everything they do and say. I will however only hold them responsible for what they actually did and said, and not her storyline around it. The kids are factually at the opposite sides of behavioral scale, so I’m not going to act or say otherwise, that isnt fair to my kids, and it wont help my kids behave the best way they can if they are repeatedly blamed for what they didnt do, or blamed for a whole situation, when they were defending themselves at the best of their ability after repeatedly asking the other kids to stop and leave them alone.
Yes, I have a lot of thoughts and judgements about her and her kids. Yes, I am 50% of the problem. I just dont see this situation resolving simply by me thinking and feeling differently.