A new city, a new house and a new set of neighbours = new experiences. We moved to the ground floor of a small four storied building. There was just enough space to park four cars. All the cars had to be parked in the right manner in the right space to ensure free movement. Everyone understood this simple fact and adapted accordingly. For the first couple of months we were busy settling into our new home and did not notice the water falling on our car. One fine day we finally realized that someone on the third floor watered the plants that they kept in their balcony and this water simply happened to drain on the rear end of our car.
For a long while we simply kept quiet and ignored it. We were much too caught up in trying to figure out the nuances of the new city that we had moved into. I was relieved and happy that after a full five years we would finally be living together as a family under one roof. I woke up with enthusiasm, cooked with passion, laughed and smiled and explored the city with zeal. I loved this city, I loved our small home and I loved everything about my life because my loved ones were with me now. Such trivial things like water draining directly onto our car did not matter too much. Or so I thought. Slowly I observed the surge of anger within me. I suppressed it and sent a very courteous letter to their flat to make them aware of what was happening. The letter was opened, read and returned to us the same day.
The water continued to drain on our car. It is just a car. It is just water. It dries up. But the water stained the glass. It was not just a car. It was a car bought with a lot of our hard earned money. We liked to maintain our things properly. A month later I requested the security staff of our building to tell them what was happening again. I asked him to be polite in passing on the request to them. No change in scenario. The water continued to drain as regularly as before.
And finally one fine day – amidst a thousand household chores that needed my immediate attention – I simply marched up the stairs, rang the bell and also knocked at their door. I put my hands together and politely requested them to shift their plants to the other end of the balcony so as to not ruin the glass on the rear end of our car. We had an argument. My entire body was shivering with intense fury and my voice was quivering with anger or fear – I do not know which. Ugly confrontations are just not me. I rarely blew my fuse like this and this was the first time ever that I had taken this kind of action without discussing things with my family. Suffice to say – the matter did not get resolved even after this. Until one fine Sunday, my spouse simply went and parked our car directly in front of their car. They could not use their car at all until we moved ours out of the way. A classic Sunday afternoon clash later the plants were finally shifted and the matter was resolved.
Here are some of the insights that I gained through this experience:
– Making Ourselves a Priority in Our Lives
Over years, we have somehow somewhere imbibed this concept that we always need to think of others before we think of ourselves. Yes, while this is a good virtue to have in most situations – it does not always work out that way. Respect, consideration for others’ thoughts/feelings and/or belongings needs to be mutual. Looking at things fairly/neutrally and objectively, we often have to learn this art of making ourselves a priority in our own lives too.
– Creating Our Own Peace of Mind
When we let people know that their words and actions are hurting us and creating negative emotions within us – they are wary of us. They begin noticing us. They stop taking our silence for granted. They realize that just because we chose to keep quiet about it does not mean we have accepted their wrong actions. They may or may not change or rectify their actions – but at least we have made them aware of how it is affecting us.
– Defining our Personal Boundaries by Reinforcement
People take as much advantage of us as we allow them to. Clearly defined boundaries are necessary for the health of a relationship. Nasty folks will test us, push us, prod us and provoke us. We need to stand up to them. We need to let them know that we simply do not tolerate any nonsense from anyone. And then do what it takes to clearly pass on the message.
– Not all Relationships are Worth Salvaging
Again this is something that we need to unlearn first. We will compromise, forgive, forget, bury the hatchet and move on with our lives because we have always believed that material things are transient and not worth losing a relationship over. So we learn to set aside our differences and forge bonds despite such ugly confrontations. NO – I beg to differ. Not all relationships are worth salvaging or worth the physical, mental or emotional investment.
– Experiences are Opportunities For Personal Growth
The thudding heart, the shaking hands, the quivering voice, the suppressed rage were all signs that I had been suppressing my true feelings on this for a long time. I learned to stand up for myself that day. I learned to speak up and convey my thoughts precisely and correctly that day. I was civil and polite all through and I walked out with my dignity intact. I learned to overcome my fear of confrontation. Yes it was ugly. Yet it was necessary.