I was discussing an experience I had in the last seven years before I finally left my ex. The issue is that I was being verbally harassed and abused also by a neighbor. If you live in an urban area, you know that in most middle class and lower class neighborhoods, the houses can be quite close to each other.
Well, this jerk decided that I was everything he felt was wrong with our country. Because I worked from home (again, yet another abuser just as a boss), he assumed not only was I somehow on welfare but that the other two women living with us were somehow my daughters.
That last bit should have given me the clue-brick of why I seemed to attract such abusive predators. Why? Because I was giving off all of the signs of a wounded and exhausted prey. Just like predatory animals tend to go for the wounded, weak, old or otherwise not a strong specimen of that particular prey animal, the human predator will go for the easy targets as well.
It seems to be adding misery on top of misery, but it takes an ability to be honest with one’s self to realize you are giving off those signals. Until I was able to clearly see what I was choosing to stay with, I could not do anything to stop those kinds of non-verbal signals from going out into the world.
You have to understand, for most of that seven years (except for the 9 months I spent in Seattle, and 3/4 of a year after my ex got a restraining order against the neighbor for hitting my ex with his side view mirror), this neighbor would verbally abuse me every day, often many times a day. I confronted the behavior, but that didn’t stop it. I called the police, and all they could really do was ask him nicely to leave me alone (even when he started verbally attacking the police). I got advised to contact the harassment center to hopefully get a verbal restraining order, but it was denied. We had to put up “no trespassing” signs until we got told that the ones you buy at the hardware stores are not enough to legally charge anyone for trespassing. You have to have a special one from the city. We got those, and at least I was able to stop worrying about being physically attacked.
It didn’t matter how much documentation I gathered, because he was our next door neighbor, the authorities claimed that they could not get involved unless it became physical.
Sadly, it has taken me this long to figure out why I seemed to attract these low-lives. I had a big neon sign above my head that essentially said “free lunch.”
And I can admit it. I looked tired. I looked exhausted. I rarely smiled. In fact, sometimes it was difficult to fake the smile. I’m slowly getting back some of that energy. I’m able to smile, to enjoy life. I’m able to say that I haven’t had a screaming argument with anyone since I left. While I may have stress about my health, about finances, concern about the health of my family or other similar situations I have gotten back that ability to look at what I am worried about and realize “hey, I have no control over that” which means I step back and simply let go of trying to “fix it.”
I had forgotten that if one is actually being a responsible adult, there are times when you will not have access to things because other things have taken a priority. When your paycheck is already gone to bills before you get it, sometimes you need to pay for one thing at the detriment of other bills. Which means things that are low priority (based on needs for survival vs things that are fun) may occasionally be “turned off” because there is just not the money to pay it.
For example, cable is not a need. It is entertainment. Internet is only a need if it is the sole way to do your job (and you can’t go somewhere else and use their free wifi). Even cell phones can be put lower on the priority list (again, unless it is required for your job). There have been times when in order to have food and shelter, I’ve had to prioritize that bad. But when there is a temper tantrum because something is unavailable, you become anxious and freaked out because somehow you have to pull a miracle out of your ass.
I grew up primarily in a low-income family. My sister didn’t necessarily have the same experience that I did, because when Dad decided to become a minister, she was already in middle school. When we moved to Mankato, MN, she was already in high school. I was the one who ended up finishing up my elementary experience in low-income housing. I was the one who experienced more of the day-to-day scrimping and saving to make sure we could take care of our responsibilities. I’m not saying that my sister (or even my parents for that matter) placed all of that firmly on my child shoulders. It’s more that I was witness to more of the fears, worries and concerns that she didn’t see or experience before Dad felt the ministerial call.
So, yes, going into my marriage, I had all of the necessary skills to scrimp, save and pinch pennies. It was necessary, because consistently I brought in more money than my ex (except when I was injured and unable to work). And even then, we’re not talking about lots of money. For most of my marriage, we were in that spot where so many people have ended up since the tech boom – making too much money to receive assistance, but not making enough to pay for our needs (let alone anything else).
But that kind of situation destroys the people living it. There’s a word that is all the rage in charities now. That word is resilience. Now, in a psychological context, this is an important concept. It is the process by which a human being is able to adapt to the obstacles and struggles of their day-to-day lives.
The problem comes in when the charities take over the concept. It then becomes a “goal” that must be “taught” to the recipients of their charity. This is, frankly, sheer hubris. The poor in this country…hell, even the middle class in this country now…have metric fuck-tons of resilience. We can’t survive if we don’t have it. It truly is the only thing we have left.
To have some person – particularly one who thinks they are superior to “the poor,” and who all go to their $1,000 a plate charity galas – tell us that we have no resilience, it is not surprising that those of us who are poor don’t want to even discuss the issue.
Do we occasionally run out of that resource? Of course, we do!!! There is only so long that you can fight day-in-and-day-out without a break. Does it really surprise anyone that the poor (and middle class in the last few decades) are turning to things like drugs to escape the constant fight?
You want to make a difference in the drug use in this country? Start looking at WHAT people are trying to escape from.
Well, that’s more rambling than usual. I guess there was a lot there under the surface of my emotions about being prey.