Confessions from a Hermit

I have a confession to make. I don’t really like people.

Actually, it’s not that I don’t like them necessarily… I just don’t really trust them or fully understand them.

So to a large degree I have spent my entire life in some form or fashion secluded from society as a whole. It may have started in high school when I felt so ostracized for my weight that I just preferred to keep to myself rather than risk public ridicule and scorn. It may have a lot to do with my rather typical Scorpio personality that would rather watch people from the sidelines before I ever *think* to get involved with any of them… and when I do I am extremely selective.

Because of this rather limited group, a few bad apples really do spoil the bunch. When I see for myself the small percentage of those who actually deserve the trust that I finally bestowed upon them, it makes it that much harder to give someone else the benefit of the doubt.

I take betrayal very personally. I may eventually forgive but I NEVER forget.

Those who are no stranger to the blog know that I’ve had my issues with some members of my family – folks I have had to run in circles to try and impress to be included in THEIR exclusive group only to be treated like and vilified as the outsider who will never be good enough.

This has extended itself in some degree to my limited social circles to the point where I’ll leave before I’m left, and withdraw rather than attempt to build any bridges.

My circle of trust simply shrinks to those brave souls who have survived the gauntlet.

I’m perfectly okay with the idea that when it comes to people who truly know me or understand me, that number will be rather limited.

I’ve always said I’d rather have a couple of real friends than a litany of fair weather friends who will only dump you after you serve some kind of purpose for them.

I don’t think I’m alone in that respect.

Where I am probably different is that I don’t reach out to people and I have always, ALWAYS let people approach me. I’m not the kind of person who, when a new neighbor moves in, will take them cake and coffee and try to get to know them.

Personally, I don’t care to know them.

I prefer to live my life under the radar – to be conscientious of other people without truly having to invest myself in any of them.

I believe in working hard for the greater good and believe in being nice and charitable and generous – but on a larger, more anonymous scale.

Lots of reward, little risk.

Involving myself personally has always come with too high a price tag. This has proven especially true in the last handful of years when I’ve proactively attempted to include myself in a social group only to have others try to use me or otherwise stomp on my feelings in the process.

So in “real” life I keep to myself and just live and let live.

That’s why I don’t get when people around me, who don’t know me (nor cared to try,) have developed strong feelings of hatred or distrust about me.

About two years ago we lost our three bedroom house and had to move into a two bedroom apartment. My oldest son moved out on his own and it was limited down to Steven, Jeremiah and myself along with four dogs. Most apartments have a two-dog limit and it was hard for us to find a place that would keep us from enduring further loss of trying to pick and choose which two dogs we would keep and which two dogs we would give away.

We finally found this apartment that was rather large for a two bedroom, with a nice manager who approved our four dogs even though the property had the standard two-dog limit.

We were moved into an upstairs unit by the pool and everything seemed ideal. The only wrinkle was the downstairs neighbor who said that other tenants before us would allow their dogs to stay on the patio and their droppings would fall off the balcony onto her patio below. So we decided we’d keep our dogs indoors even though they were basically outdoor dogs who had become used to staying outside during the day in a large back yard.

Accidents were unavoidable, especially after I went back to work. So we spent a great deal of time working on managing our new circumstances and it wasn’t always successful.

Despite this, or maybe because of this, we earned the scorn of our downstairs neighbor – who proved herself to be a crotchety thing no matter what we did because the fact was she was highly pissed off we had our dogs in the first place.

At first it was that we were allowed to have more than our fair share, according to apartment policy. But after a while it became clear that the fact we even OWNED dogs was a point of contention with this woman who just made it a point to be pissed off about everything.

The manager even told my husband that if she had thought it through she wouldn’t have put us up there above this tenant because she had a long history of complaining about EVERYTHING and EVERYONE. She has lived in this apartment complex for nine years and enjoys a cushy spot right next to the pool… only to always complain about the noise level of the people enjoying their common social area.

She complained constantly about the noise level of the people above her as well. Steven, Jeremiah and I all weighed more than 200 pounds so naturally she heard us clomping around upstairs like any other downstairs apartment would be subjected to. She complained about the dogs, she complained about the smell and even had a problem with the animal waste that she swore would fall from our balcony onto her patio (even though we made it a point to never let that happen.)

Worse, she was buddy buddy with the owners of the complex so her constant complaining started to make the manager’s job a nightmare that threatened her own job security. On one hand she knew she had a problem tenant who complained about everything but couldn’t get rid of or discipline because of a relationship she maintained with the owners of the property. On another she had us who – even though it wasn’t as nice or quiet as the old lady wanted – weren’t doing anything against our lease to get us removed.

After a month solid of this bullshit Steven simply offered that we move to another unit. Within a month or so after that the manager let us know that there were tenants that were going to be evicted from a ground floor apartment across the complex, and she would be willing to let us have it at the lower price of the upstairs apartment if we would move. No additional deposits, no change really in the lease (except for apartment number.)

We jumped on it. Sure we had to incur the expense of changing everything over again after three short months of having all our services transferred, and of course we (and by we I mean Steven) had to do the physical job of moving all our stuff but it seemed completely worth it at the time.

A.) The ground floor apartment came with a larger patio with a small patch of grass for the dogs to enjoy.

B.) It was a ground floor apartment which was good on my back PLUS we wouldn’t have to worry about the noise level of us walking around bothering someone on the ground floor. (I don’t care of people are making noise walking around above me, I take into consideration that’s part of LIVING IN AN APARTMENT.)

C.) This apartment came with a fireplace, which I sorely missed from my old house.

D.) It was closer to our parking spot.

E.) We had a washer/dryer right in our own lobby, just outside our front door.

F.) The carpet in the new apartment was already trashed from the previous tenants so we didn’t have to worry about any damages our dogs might do to it and incur that cost when we moved out.

G.) We were at least one whole building away from any crazy geriatric Nazi who had made it her life’s mission to get rid of us.

It seemed perfect… even despite the fact when we moved in our new neighbor alerted us to the fact she’d already started the scuttlebutt about what problem tenants we were with her Old People Posse around the complex. Knowing that we shared a wall with some of these people we did our best to make sure the kids didn’t play their music too loud (Tim moved back in shortly after we made the move downstairs) and the dogs didn’t spend a lot of time out on the patio barking.

But did I go around making friends with the people who lived around us? No. I never do. Eventually a neighbor moved upstairs from us who loved our dogs and socialized with the kids, but I stayed mostly to myself as I always do. This was especially true after I stopped working outside the home.

Eventually the manager would quit – without notice – within a few months after we moved into our new unit. The new manager ended up moving right in our building, upstairs across the hall from us. We only had one issue with the smell from our apartment after that, due in large part to the big spring cleaning I did to get the trashed carpets cleaned and air out the entire unit by keeping the windows open as I did so.

Unfortunately my timing was bad and the owners of the property were here at the time this happened. We got a three day notice to fix the problem around the time I had to leave for California to deal with sick family.

Steven finished the job for me and the manager came in to check… everything was fine. We resumed life as normal.

Fast forward a year (of living in the same building as the manager with ZERO problems brought to us about the noise or the smell or anything else.) Last Friday we get a notice on our door from animal control that we were being investigated about how many animals we had. Steven called the next day and got it all sorted out, but AC told him that they had received a call alerting them to the issue. We couldn’t figure out who would do that, given we’d lived here without complaint for 18 months. We had a new neighbor across the way in the upstairs unit in the building next to us, whose balcony can see somewhat into our patio/apartment and I figured that might have been it.

I was upset about someone else’s interference and nosiness possibly forcing my hand to limit my number of pets, especially when I was taking the steps necessary to find new homes for them before our inevitable move to California in six months. What was once a slower, more careful process meant I’d possibly have to make quick choices. Our number of no-kill shelters in my town is severely limited, with only one real option that takes all its pet rescues directly from the pound. That means we would have to take our animals there and trust that they get picked up before they get euthanized.

My dogs are more than just pets to me; they’re my babies. The thought of any one of them being put down just tears at my soul.

So naturally this upset me greatly.

But before I even get any real time to digest and deal with this, drama finds its way to my door AGAIN by yet another person I don’t know.

Sunday morning Steven and I were enjoying some cuddle time in our room before we had to face the day. Tim knocked on the door and let us know there was another problem with the dogs.

Apparently an old woman had come beating a path to our door and when Tim didn’t answer, she went right to the next door neighbor to trash talk me like she knew anything at all about my life or how I run my house. Tim was on the patio and overheard her as she said I needed to get my “shit” together and how she had had so many problems with me at the other apartment, and how the house smelled like shit etc. etc. etc, which caused him to go out and confront her about what she was saying.

She said that I had stolen her big planters full of dirt and emptied them out in the holes around my fence.

When Tim told us she had moved to another unit in the building right next to us in an apartment catty cornered to our own patio, I immediately lost my shit. After a year and a half of virtual peace and quiet living life among the sane I couldn’t bear thinking that all this drama was going to start AGAIN because this old bitty voluntarily moved into a unit she KNEW was closer to us – the people she was determined to get rid of when we lived next to her before.

Tim tried to defuse the situation by telling her there was NO WAY I could have stolen anything – first of all I would never do such a thing but more importantly than that, I couldn’t lift a planter full of dirt even if I wanted to since I had been virtually on my back for the past six weeks. It was physically impossible for me to do what this woman was accusing me of doing – something she would have known if she bothered to GET TO KNOW ME before she decided she hated me.

And my lovely son let her know he didn’t appreciate her trash-talking his mother when she didn’t know what the hell she was talking about.

All of this drew the attention of the manager, who I guess didn’t know how many dogs that we had or the previous drama that we had endured because of it. When Tim said we were working on limiting our number of pets she gave us the deadline of today to do it. And since this woman who had never stepped FOOT inside my apartment made such a stink about it stinking, we also had to commit to a deep clean even though I hadn’t been able to do much in the way of household chores thanks to my health problems.

But guess who got to do all of it whether it hurt or not at the expense of my income all week?

I. Was. Livid.

That afternoon when I glanced out onto the patio I noticed that someone had also put some gardening partitions on the inside of our patio that weren’t there the day before. Immediately I concluded that someone had deliberately stolen this stuff and put it on our property to implicate us. This pissed me off further because the entire thing smacked of a setup, and I wasn’t putting anything past Granny Hitler in her quest to have us evicted. Steven removed the stuff and put it on the outside of our fence, where there was indeed a mound of dirt deposited by a hole in the fence we had already used our own stuff to block from the inside.

Later that evening Tim noticed that this old woman and her male friend had come BACK to our door, and immediately intercepted them. He knew what a state I was in and I wasn’t about to mince words with ANYONE who had ANYTHING to say about me. She said she had come back to apologize, apparently she found out that some drunk kids were wreaking havoc on the apartment building the night before and had done all the stuff she had accused me of doing. Tim told her that I never would do such a thing and I didn’t deserve the stress and anxiety of all this drama, to which she said she knew and apparently felt sorry for being mistaken.

At that point I looked at Steven and said, “Is this the same woman??” The Godfather of our Geriatric Mafia would never have apologized – nor has she in the entire time we’ve lived here.

Steven finally got a hold of the manager the next day and tried to sort it out. The lady who came to our door wasn’t in fact the same one we used to live above, but rather a crony thereof. This means this new woman internalized a drama that wasn’t even hers to claim. If she had so many problems with me before (when I lived in another apartment two buildings over from where she lives) then I never knew about them.

To be frank that kind of pisses me off more. I’ve had enough problems, especially lately, of people not telling me to my face what their issues are with me. Be an adult, for chrissakes. You might find with communication comes a little thing called UNDERSTANDING, and all this drama would quickly and effectively be averted.

Talking about me behind my back is just fucking infantile. Call me nutty but if you’re an adult I think you should be above such bullshit.

BUT… I guess there are people who just need the fucking drama.

To which I prize my hermit status all the more. I have enough real problems in my life I don’t need any manufactured ones. I “just say no” to voluntary misery.

Turns out the owners are coming into town and we have to get everything in order before they get here. Which means that I’m not going to feel at ease or secure until I know for sure that we are not going to be tossed out onto the street because of some old, cranky, nosy neighbors.

The only other time I was evicted was because of a fight with other tenants, back when I was married to Dan and a fight meant war. The landlord finally decided to kick both the offending parties to the curb.

So color me extremely gun shy.

What this would mean in my world is that my husband would have to find a way to stay here (bunking with friends or what not) while he finishes out his school till October at best, to the end of this semester at worst, and I might have to head on to California way before I’m prepared to both physically and financially.

And quite frankly I’m so browbeaten about life right now that there have some very dark moments in the last several days that have made me question if I even WANT to go. The whole idea is that I would go back out there to be around people, which means the chances are quite high I’ll encounter people I’d probably rather not. The entertainment field is full of self-centered douche bags who only care about you while you have something to offer, then toss you back out into the street like the wadded up piece of garbage they consider you.

How much of my soul am I willing to sell to do what I want to do, especially when success means that a whole lot of other strangers will think they are entitled to the right to tell me how to live, what to say, what to write?

These are the thoughts that have chased me all week while I struggle like mad trying to keep from getting completely pulled down by the undertow of an “ordinary” life.

All the anxiety has left me physically sick on top of all this other stuff, which just keeps morphing from ailment to ailment and keeping me virtually incapacitated. And with Steven working and going to school full time I haven’t had the luxury of such incapacitation. Pain or not, sick or not, I have to get this stuff done to appease those who would never even want to come into my house in the first fucking place.

The upside of this is that my house is finally starting to look like I like it to look. I am down to steam cleaning the carpets and maybe six or so loads of laundry.

It downside is it won’t all get done in one day, and I’ll likely miss the deadline anyway.

What that means for me, I have no idea and won’t know for probably another week or so. I could make these hard choices and sacrifices and still be cut off at the knees simply because a select group of folks too miserable in their own life they have to spread it others decided I had a target painted on my back for no other reason but that I happened to share the same Earth they do.

Maybe the reason I have so many dogs is because the douche bag ratio is so much lower than it is in humans. A dog just wants to be loved, safe and accepted… and in return loves unconditionally and remains loyal and steadfast.

I have more in common with them than with a lot of two-legged animals who want to call themselves human.

These are the confessions of a happy hermit… who is just one or two assholes away from being a bitter misanthrope.

So… treat me well.

Or leave me the hell alone.


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