"She means well."
How many times have you said that as an excuse for someone when they have said or done something that hurt you or someone you care about? While I don't believe that typically people are all good or all bad, I'm starting to realize the importance of acknowledging that some people are just jerks.
Despite being close to a busy street with a train a few blocks away, our home is typically deliciously quiet. You can occasionally hear kids playing outside or a dog barking here and there, but overall I would say we have the best, most respectfully quiet neighbors that you could ask for.
Then that changed. The house next to us is a rental home and new neighbors moved in two months ago. With their four (or more!) dogs and a possible in-home daycare set up of some sort, it's been non-stop chaos ever since. They will leave the dogs outside to bark for hours on end while they are not home. Last night, kids were outside screaming until nearly 11 o'clock. Parents will honk their horn when picking up their children and the neighbors will talk loudly outside our bedroom window early in the morning (6 a.m. on the weekend!) or late at night. We've tried talking to them about the issue, but it doesn't seem to get better.
At first, I felt badly about wanting them to change their behavior. I reasoned that surely they were reasonable people who didn't mean to upset us. For weeks and weeks and weeks, I tried to justify their behavior. I'm sure that they're nice people, I told myself. But last weekend when they were out of town for a night and we were actually able to breathe and enjoy being in our own space again, I realized that these are not nice people. They may not be bad people, but they certainly aren't reasonable and kind. And I needed to stop feeling bad about the fact that they're jerks. I can't fix them.
I started reading the book "Dodging Energy Vampires" last night and it certainly resonates. It's a little woo-woo for me, but overall I agree with the premise that some people are givers and some people are takers. Givers tend to get taken advantage of, and it's important to learn how to manage or eliminate relationships with takers so that you don't turn into an emotional zombie. This is something that I've struggled with over the last few years as I'm learning how to put up healthy boundaries.
Unfortunately, the phrase "good fences make good neighbors" doesn't always ring true because — much like the annoying renters next door — energy vampires are loud and a five foot fence won't block their sounds.
How do you deal with people who don't respect your boundaries?