I’ve never given much thought to the meaning of the dog days of summer. Given to the context of how I hear it used and how it sounded, they meant summer time when you can see the heat sizzling from the pavement. The phrase always summon up images and memories of that summer in New York City. I can still see the steaming sidewalks, hear the rat-tat-tat of jackhammers, sirens, the crowded streets of Canal and Mott Streets. I can still feel the loneliness of summer in the city.
I still struggle with the dog days of summer. I still struggle with life. There’s no easy way about it. Everything takes effort. I like to think that effort makes it worthwhile. But I’m simply justifying, explaining and maybe apologizing for my lack of skills and successess. I do feel like such a failure sometimes. What do I really have to show for these years of hard effort? Ok, I have:
A nursing career. Nothing spectular but 30 years of rotating shift work. No nurse of the year award but have caused no harm.
No husband. No children. A companion of 10 years.
No wealth. A good pension. Nice house with garage and yard. No debts.
Not the most popular gal in town. Have a few good friends. I can count them all on one hand. One bad neighbour.
Experienced unconditional love for almost 14 years. I’m talking about my fur baby, Sheba. She’s in heaven now.
Ignited a couple of old passions – my paints and sewing machine.
Perhaps I am not doing as bad as I thought. I have a few good things. When those dog days come, all I can see and feel are my dark side and failures. It helps to make a list of : successes and failures, pros and cons, places I’ve been, things done, etc. Then tally up the score to see the results. I had meant to show up every day for the Ultimate Blog Challenge but the dog days got the better of me. Total counting today, I’ve shown up for 17 days. It’s a little more than 50%. But I did complete the Daisy Yellow Index Card a Day Challenge. I painted 62 index cards for June and July – one extra.
Did I reach the goal I set for this challenge? I think I have. Right in the moment I’m not exactly jumping up and down with glee and excitement. I feel somewhat sedate and at ease. I’m satisfied in the now. I have no wants. I am at peace – even with my badassed neighbour. Perhaps she is getting help with her mental health. Perhaps there is hope. I’m not all about struggles. I’m not all about depression. I have those treasured moments of seeing dust motes in sunbeams. I have the ability to see beauty and feel joy.
So ends another Ultimate Blog Challenge. Hope to show up more next time around.
It’s a cool but sunny Sunday morning. I’m showing up here to write my post for the Ultimate Blog Challenge. These days I’m so easy distracted. My mind feels fractured, like a cracked mirror. Images and ideas are splintered. I have to work hard to bring my brain back to attention. Today I want to talk about what I know about narcissists. I’ve spent this past month learning about them. It is important because I live next door to one. She is what I know is true – a malignant narcissist. How do I know that? Here are some of the ways.
She, like all narcissists, is controlling, have low levels of empathy and high levels of entitlement. It’s her way or no way.
She has been destructive. She has ripped up signs and fencing in my yard. She has kicked over my flower pot. She has sprayed pesticide in my yard.
She enjoys harming others. She likes to tell me that all the neighbours hate my yard. She has thrown my landscaping rocks at me on two occasions. She has stirred up trouble for the ladies across the street with their neighbour whom she has befriended. She doesn’t like their yard either. She went up to a couple on the sidewalk and asked, Why are you looking at that ugly yard?
She’s cold, calculating and very good at lying. She tells me she studies all by city bylaws. She knows alot of people in city hall and also the police dept. She calls us bullies when it is she who is doing the bullying. She tells me my fence is her fence. All these things she says to me, she doesn’t say to the police.
She has exhibited anger, rage, harshness – the attitude of NOBODY MESSES WITH ME.
She is authoritarian, forceful, insistent and dominant. She will not allow me to speak so it is laughable when people advise me to talk things over with her. Last fall the police said that she would not allow him to talk. She talks over him. This was before he had talked to us. We did not influence his perception. I have not been able to even yell over her. She is so good at her game.
I’m heeding Dr. Les Carter’s advice. I have developed a healthy fear of her. She can and has come at me. I have not ever or will ever win an argument. How can I when she won’t allow me to speak? She is very fixated on my yard and me. She is very vigilant and notices any little thing I do in the area next to her driveway. She retaliates even though it is on my own property. I would say she has an altered sense of reality. I don’t expect her to change, not for the better. She has gotten worse. I will avoid her altogether if possible but I will not let her bully me.
I do need to stand my ground and not let her push my boundaries. I do live on a busy street. The police liason officer has visited us a couple of times since last fall. Neighbours have a way of noticing. I will be diligent in holding onto my own morals and in practicing good mental health. That will be another post – maybe tomorrow.
Tomorrow will be 9 weeks since Sheba’s left. Before Covid-19 I remembered Saturday mornings for swimming and breakfast at A & W. Now it is the day Sheba went to heaven. I am a tad sad. How could I not be? But mostly I’m grateful for the wonderful years I’ve had with her. In this moment those years seem so short. They sped by in a blink of an eye.
This month of July is going fast too. August is almost here. 7 more days for the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I have mostly shown up for it. It is serving my purpose. I am reaching my goals and beyond. I am recovering the lost bits and pieces of myself that I valued. I am in love again with the beauty and magic of the word. I know and respect its power. I am disengaging from the badassed neighbour’s energy.
I’ve been doing my homework on learning all I can about narcissists by watching Dr. Les Carter’s videos on surviving narcissism. There’s a wealth of helpful information. I’ve been getting alot of aha moments today. Bing! Bing! Bing! Moments of insight I never had before. And I go, wow! That’s why I’ve been having such a difficult time not only with my neighbour but other people as well. I’m seeing that we all have narcissism in ourselves. It’s all a matter of degree and kinds.
It is Saturday today – the day Sheba left 9 weeks ago. I’m adjusting and adapting to my new reality. I’m doing fine but it is a bit of a job. I’ve been learning huge lessons. Feeling so fortunate to have the experience of unconditional love of my fur baby. I wonder if it is possible to have the same with another human being. It gives me a reference guide when I’m having trouble with people.
I have so much I want to share from what my study of narcissists. I’m having difficulty in articulating today. I will have to leave it for another post. What I like about Dr. Les Carter’s videos is that he does not talk about retaliation, getting even. He emphasizes on anchoring down on things that are important to you – simple moments of enjoying music, art, service to people, being a voice of goodness to others. I will heed and experiment with his advice. Let go of ideal plans and think of what am I going to do with my day.
Someone once said, Life doesn’t get any better than this. Now, in this very minute, I’m saying it, too. It’s summer time and the living is easy. I’m sitting in front of the herb spiral, sipping tea, eating cherries and tapping on the keyboard. Soon the sun will chase me into another shady spot. Let me see if I can set up my old patio umbrella. It’s been mostly sitting in the garage gathering dust all these years. I’ve only used it to give Sheba some shade in her dog run when she was a puppy, the run she’s hardly used. It’s been converted into the guy’s bicycle shed long since.
It didn’t take long to find the umbrella and the base. Took a bit of sweat to set up. I filled the base with water to give it some weight. It didn’t work. It needed to be in the center of a table to prevent it from tipping over. My table does not have a hole anywhere. What and how to do? I lugged the set up behind the bench. It tipped and leaned against the bench. Perfect! Except I didn’t expect it to tip sideways. Good thing I wasn’t sitting underneath it at the time. So much for my effort. Just dust and sweat but nothing ventured, nothing gained. I will have to wait till the sailor gets home to figure something out.
I’m chased indoors. The sun kept playing peekaboo. It was too exasperating.
Afternoons are not my best. Everything goes south. I am tired and disorganized. It’s when the cluttering happens. I’m incapable of putting things away. I throw and toss things in where they fit. I pay for it eventually – like last evening. The ice cream was calling me earlier than usual. A good thing because the fridge freezer was covered in hoar frost. I had my ice cream first before I could tackle the icy mess. It had occurred to me that I could be creating disaster for myself by my mindless tossing things in, cramming when necessary.
No harm done except loss of time and energy. I have learned from it. Mornings are my best times when my mind is more quiet and I can think clearer. Best to use it to plan, prioritize and make lists of what and when to do them. So today is the first day of the rest of my life. It’s morning again. I’m sitting in the morning shade, in front of my little monk again. There’s a lovely breeze blowing. There’s children’s laughter from the daycare. There’s the sound of traffic.
Things almost feel normal again but would I want that normal back? I don’t think so, even if it is possible. I’m learning to be peaceful with things as they evolve and as they are. Though I still shed tears over Sheba, I am at peace with her passing. I am comfortable with her physical absence. She is with me in my heart. As for the woman next door, I am learning to disengage from her energy. She has a disorder, I don’t. It isn’t about me.
So ends another post for the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I haven’t shown up every day though I try. I try not to be rigid and fixated on being perfect. That’s something I learned from the woman next door – her fixation on a weedless yard and perfectly clean driveway. Yesterday she was out with her leaf blower, blowing whatever she has on her driveway, sidewalk and even the sidewalk of the next house. There were some workmen tearing down the old siding. She even blew under their truck parked on their driveway. What I felt was sadness for her.
I think I have fallen off the Ultimate Blog Challenge wagon for a few days. I’ve lost sight of or have abandoned and failed my goals. And what were those goals again? I feel like I’m still on the gerbil wheel, going round and round with my badassed neighbour. And are you thinking, Oh no, she’s still on the same rant! Well, my goal for this challenge and month is to get her out of my head. It seems like we are both fixated on each other and my yard.
How the hell can I disengage when she notices the littliest thing I do? The other day, while she was away, I measured out her claimed 6 inches from her driveway and made a little mark with a twig. I cannot visualize the distance in my head. I have to see it physically. The next day, I found my tumbled over pot. It cannot be easily knocked over. It’s filled with rocks. My little mark was rubbed out. This already a few days after the police liason officer had talked to her. It clearly shows she’s more disturbed than I realized.
So I’m back to researching how to deal with narcissists. I found Dr. Les Carter’s YouTube videos most helpful, especially the one on trained incompetence. He talks about it being the #1 reason why a narcissist has power over me. He’s right. I don’t know how to deal with her. I guess I’m always trying to get her to change. I should know by now, after 12 years, she is not. And sometimes she has me believing that I’m at fault, the one causing all the problems. From her friend, Al’s attitude, he thinks so, saying: “You’re still at it.”
I can’t believe that I’ve been stuck in this pattern with her for so many years. I certainly didn’t know the extent of her narcissism/disorder at first. It’s my lack of understanding, my incompetence that has resulted in where I am today. I do now and am ready to stop her control of me. I do not care to be so manipulated by a sick person. Sometimes I do feel very sorry for her. I do not understand why she is so fixated on my yard and me. It must be very painful for her to act out so when I do not do anything to her or her property. I do not set one foot on her driveway or yard.
My anger and irritations are gone at this moment. I feel grateful for my life, who I am. I have free will. I can choose to be a good person, be kind, empathic. I am not controlled by a disorder or by her. I have competence. I have inherent worth. I have to keep my goal in sight. I have to have a plan and make lists. It’s 2 months since my Sheba’s left. We’ve had this Covid-19 since March. It’s 12 years since she’s moved next door. It’s time I get myself back.
I was riding the giddy ride of a beer a short while ago. Alas, it was a short ride. One pee and it was gone. I’m back to my normal self. It was nice while it lasted. I felt so loose and relaxed, all tension gone from my body. I felt smooth and fluid. All my movements easy and unfelt. I painted 2 index cards for the Daisy Yellow Index Card a Day Challenge. Now I’m only 6 days behind.
I wish that I could be this carefree more often. For this short time, I had let go of my most serious angst. I let go of other people’s stuff and responsibilities. I wonder if I could do so more without the aid of alcohol. I will savour the feeling, tasting it with all my being. I will remember the sensation for the next time that I’m impinged with guilt and bad feelings. I will tell it to fuck off. Talking big, aren’t I? I call it talking proper. I’ve beaten myself down too much in the past. Time to kick ass.
It’s good to assume some bravado. I’m so sick of saying ‘excuse me’, ‘I’m sorry’, ‘that was ok, wasn’t it?’ I worry so much about saying a hurtful thing, breaking the law. Really I feel guilty, like a criminal. My neighbour can read me like a book. She knows exactly how to get to me, quoting bylaws, telling me she knows alot of people at city hall and the police department. That’s why she has been so successful at getting under my skin.
Hmmm. I’m getting too serious again. I’m getting obsessed with her again. Not to worry. I will be having a glass of wine soon. Don’t worry. I won’t turn into an alcoholic. One glass can do me in. So ends another post for the Ultimate Blog Challenge.
What I know for sure is thoughts can drive you crazy. I have been a bit crazed these last couple of days. Round and round they go like in a mix master. They are well blended now – all in a gooey mess. I’ve been driven slightly mad with it all. That’s why I come to this place to tap out the letters, words, thoughts. It soothes me, slows down the mad rush of emotions swirling within. Maybe I can sort them out one by one. Maybe I can make sense of everything and save my sanity.
The police liason officer have met with me and the woman next door. This is our second such meeting. The first time was last fall. At the time the officer knew that he would have to come back again. It’s too bad that he’s away on leave. But the second officer was equally capable and sometimes it’s good to have a different set of eyes. He got back to me yesterday after his meeting with the neighbour. He sounded surprised that she seemed quite mentally disturbed. I felt a bit ‘amused’ for lack of a better word. Perhaps, after 12 years of experiencing her, I’m finding her disturbness ‘normal’ but she’s just difficult.
At the time of our conversation, I had somewhat recovered my composure. His visit the day before had stirred up alot of unpleasant emotions, of anger and helplessness. And that was what I expressed – my anger, frustrations and feelings of helplessness. Because in the end, all this is about nothing. He understood. He agrees it was nothing, that he spent 15 minutes talking to her. She showed him weeds where there were none. She showed him her messy driveway from our one pine needle on it. He was shocked by the things that bothered her. She took him to her backyard to show our mess between the fence and garage. He didn’t see any mess.
But in the end, as I already knew, there’s really nothing to be done. They could arrest and charge her for throwing rocks at me and tearing my signs down. But it would not be appropriate or fair because she has mental health issues. I agree. I don’t want her jailed either, but it is also not fair to me to have this person harassing me all the time. He also agrees and emphasized how strange she is and how very fixated she is on my yard. I already knew that. She is also very fixated on me.
I do not like it one bit that it is still I, who has to do the accommodating because of her mental state. I suggested that she should get some counselling. He agreed and said maybe medications. He would call her or pay her another visit. He also suggest that I ignore her and let her mess in those 6 inches along her driveway. I informed him that’s what I have done for 12 years and it hasn’t work. She pushes the envelope way beyond. I suggest that when he sees her, to measure out the 6 inches with her. We both agreed that this is really not about boundaries. It’s about everything and nothing. I did not tell him that I think she’s playing up her mental health thing with him. She is very smart and clever in these ways. All the same, I wouldn’t say she got all her marbles.
There I have it. Something and nothing. It’s the something about nothing that drives me crazy. But I’ve dumped it all out on the page. I’ve inhaled and exhaled. I’ve done my best. I’m letting it go – again. I will let the drama play itself out. The case is closed until the next time. And I know there will be a next time. Oh, the drama on Preston Ave. is fodder for the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I should be grateful, eh?
I have fallen behind in this Ultimate Blog Challenge. I’m behind in my Daisy Yellow Index Card a Day Challenge. I have fallen behind in life. I feel as if I’m always playing catch up. I’m up burning the middle of the night oil. I’ve been up since 2 am and unable to get back to sleep. I awoke with all the anger and frustration that I took to bed with me. It’s a wonder that I got to sleep at all. I could feel the anger and frustration building across the tightness of my chest. I decided that it’s best to get out of bed. I feel just helpless in bed.
It’s amazingly cool for a July night. Life has certainly not been kind this year. First, Sheba’s ear hematoma in December. She had to have it drained 3 times. Poor baby! I won’t go into it again. There were sleepless nights like this, sitting up with her, taking her out in the middle of the night. She recovered from her ear thing and we had a few good months, going to the park. But we lost her middle of May. Another difficult night and morning with her before our final goodbye.
It’s not quite 2 months since she’s left. I’ve not had peace in mourning the loss. Trouble resume fast enough with the woman next door. It’s at least 12 years of on and off harassment. It’s too much to go into. I’m still singing my old song. It is exhausting. The police liason officer finally came yesterday about the June 11 incident. I was overcome with emotions. I’m not sure how clear I came across. But I did show him the video of June 26th without explanation. Halfway through, he asked if she has a mental health issue.
I did express that I think she’s a psychopath/narcissist, that she’s more trouble now that she has enlisted ‘Al’ to help her. I am not hopeful at all that the police will have any effect. We all are sure that when she presents her side, it will be quite different. But how many ways can she explain her actions? Her outburst and intrusion into our yard was caught by my camera as is her ripping out our signs. It is not logical to plant a row of spruce trees in a 6 inch space beyond your driveway and right against our raised bed on our property. I would not call that cooperation but malice. And why and how can she prevent us from mulching our cedar trees on our own yard? But somehow she has done that thru bullying and belligerence. She will not allow me to talk. She talks over me. And I have to yell and shout but I will not succeed. I will become angry by all this. I have.
It is not just one thing. It is about everything. She is very definite and sure I can not cross the what she consider is her line. If my bean crosses the fence, she will snip it off. But she says the bylaw gives her right to come 2 feet into my yard. She does not offer me this same courtesy. She has crossed my line many times – into my yard to spray and weed. She has added on top of my fence (it is a fence I paid for and 2 inches within my property) without permission. All this sounds very petty. It is. When you examine it, it really is about nothing. And yet here I am, bothered and bewildered , tapping out my angst in the middle of the night about all this f’ing nothingness. It can and does drive me mad. It is 6 in the morning by this time.
I am really disgusted that I’m spending so much energy and getting so emotional about this malicious nothing of life. And yet, when I try to walk away, she won’t let me. She would say or whisper something to insinute, to malign to cause trouble. She is very good at this and I have fallen into her trap many times. She tells me that my neighbours hate my yard and that they leave their keys with her. That’s a suggestion that they are on side with her and against me. This, of course, is heresay, made up . But lying is not against the law. She whispers her pretend sympathy and support that I should not have to do the yard work. I’m retired and should be enjoying myself. She’s insinuating my partner is doing nothing, getting a free ride, taking advantage of me.
When I tried to disengage, she interferes with my work, removing my landscape rocks, tossing them at me. When I put down my hoe and try to walk away, she calls out that I can’t keep her out. She can tear down anything I put up. This was last fall. When I try to walk across the street to maybe get Al to talk to her, she calls out, ‘Al is not home’. That was the first time I called the police for help. Enough is enough.
Last fall, we each had our separate talks with the police liason officer. We were both not to trespass, stay on our side of our imaginery wall to the sky. Spring comes. Things haven’t changed. She hasn’t changed. We cannot do anything on our property next to her driveway without her noticing and interfering. And here I am, in my space, still tapping my angst. I like to think I have changed, made some progress. I like to think I have some insight. This is not about me. This is not just about property issues. This is about harassment. Before, she did not talk about ‘it’s her property’. She talked about doing ‘our work’ scraping the natural mulch and weeding around our cedars though we don’t want her to.
Way back when she first moved in, she was intent on shovelling all her snow onto my yard, even after I asked her not to. I have problems with moisture getting into the basement with the spring thaw. It fell on deaf ears. She even threw the snow over the back fence, had her handy man clear the snow off her roof and dump it onto my backyard.
Now my cedars have grown, with no or little gaps between them. We have placed a raised bed where they ended. They make a natural fence line. With that and her big driveway between us, there are clear boundaries. Given that there are 6 inches between the fence line and her driveway, is that enough room to plant spruce trees there, right beside our raised bed. And to ask the Weedman spray all along the edge is just nasty. We grow vegetables in the bed.
I’m unloading a lot of crap of 12 years onto the page. I have to. Otherwise all this shit will kill me. It is especially frustrating and lethal because it is all about nothing. After talking with the police liason officer, I felt the frustration over the years all the more. I felt more helpless and powerless. In the end, I felt: ‘what the hell was all this?’ She will spin her tale. She knows and plays the game so well. She is quite skill in it.
I know that it is wise for me to let this crap go. It is NOT about me. I’m not the one who is trespassing on her property. I’m not the one weeding and spraying on her side. I’m not the one who is doing anything to her, except report her to the police. I am standing up for myself. I have to stay true to myself – to who I am. I have to look after myself. And if there is a time to swear, it is now. F*^#k!! The police did say it would be ok for me to douse her with water if she is trespassing on my property and causing trouble. But no punching. But if anyone had pulled out his signs like she did, he would punch them. (VBLOL)
** I’ve written quite a mouthful. It must be equivalent to 3 posts. I might sound crazed but hope I make sense. I consider myself all caught up with the Ultimate Blog Challenge.
I’m listening to the pitter patter of raindrops on the deck roof. It’s rhythmic and soothing. Just what I need. Today, I feel rattled and aggitated, waiting for something bad to happen, more drama from next door. The sight of her ‘across the street friend’ crossing over with tools can do that to me. I feel a bit of a coward. But I’ve heard about men with tools. They can be mean.
Maybe it is just the clouds that brought on the nerves though it was sunny this morning. Despite and maybe inspite of my nerves, I went for a bike ride to our community garden. You know what they say about sunshine and fresh air. And it did help some. I got out and moving. Sometimes my anxiety holds me housebound and helpless, my mind like white noise or snow on TV screen. It’s in these times that having a plan and making a list would help me.
There’s no time like the present to put that in action. So I entered the numbers in for the police, police liason officer and my other neighbour’s on my phone. It’s easier and quicker to get help in a hurray when I’m alone. I don’t want to hit 911 too many times if I can help it. I’ve been caught off guard, like a deer in headlights too often lately. Doing this single thing helps clear the snow. My mind is quieter. I must give lists and plans more thought. A wing and a prayer are not enough.
I think it is better for me to use my time to inspire or to be inspired. These last while I have lost my mind and energy in stress over the pettiness of nothingness of someone else – not a friend or a relation. So in effect it was a nobody. How foolish is that? It is the foolishness of being a human, susceptible to trickery and evil. I’m over that, at least for the time being.
Who inspires me?
Anne Lamott and her Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. I admire her honesty and frankness. I am inspired by her advice on witing in a one-inch picture frame and as far as you can see in the length of a headlight’s beam. When you get there, you start again. That is how you can travel the distance, inch by inch, beam by beam.
Laurie Wagner of 27 Wild Days. Her 27 video poetry prompts, one each day inspired me to write from my heart. She reads a poem twice. Then it was up to me to write without censorship for how many minutes – 15-30? It doesn’t matter.
Then there are all those creative souls in my Instagram Community. There’s too many to name. I’ve learned and been inspired so much by them – the textile and other medium artists. They share their ideas and methods freely. They are generous in their praises and encouragement.
My mother is most inspiring of all. I don’t even know how to begin. Perhaps that could another post.
This is enough for today. I’m learning to write in a one-inch picture frame. Tomorrow is another day and another inch. I’m learning to let go of what does not serve me. I’m going towards people who inspire instead of destroy.