It all started when my parents would say, "OH, JUST IGNORE HIM!"
This in reference to my cretin of a little brother whose one pure joy in life was pushing all of my buttons, all at the same time, on a regular and maddening basis. How do you ignore such a thing, I ask you? HOW IS IT DONE?
I'm willing to let that go, I am. After all I'M a parent now and therefore deeply appreciative of the "OH, JUST IGNORE HIM!" as a go-away-and-leave-me-alone tactic. And there were plenty of times my brother actually DID get in trouble, like the time my dad actually DID leave him on the side of the road, and that other time when they told him he couldn't live with us anymore and my mom started packing his backpack - at age six or seven.
BUT. It was, indeed, my terrible misfortune to grow up sensitive, easily intimidated, beholden to a monstrous guilt complex with parents who were Tough, Did Not Suffer Fools, Not Afraid Of Confrontation, and valedictorians of the Eye Roll Master Class.
If I hated the basketball team so much why didn't I just QUIT? WHO CARES?
In a gross misuse of justice did Mrs. So and So publically lecture me in the senior hallway about something I was totally allowed to do? BLOW HER OFF! WHO CARES! YOU'RE GRADUATING IN TWO WEEKS!
I hurt someone's feelings and I may die of the shame and sorrow and failure to be the perfect friend? OH FOR GOD'S SAKE, MAGGIE, SHE SOUNDED LIKE A NUTJOB ANYWAY. GOOD RIDDANCE.
So yeah. I have spent the better part of 33 years trying to ignore, quit, not care, roll my eyes, and suck it up, and GUESS WHAT. IT HASN'T WORKED.
I am still the sensitive, easily intimidated, beholden to a monstrous guilt complex creature I've always been, with my giant nose stuck in multiple personality analysis books. I write about my feelings on the internet, people, and have been doing so for YEARS. At this point I might as well throw in the Suck It Up Towel and own the fact that when my neighbor rings my doorbell with no purpose other than to chew me out about how my guest has parked in front of her blessed mailbox, I WILL FEEL LIKE WARMED OVER CRAP. FOR A LONG TIME. AND WRITE ABOUT IT ON THE INTERNET.
It's not that I feel bad that my friend (OKAY IT WAS LIZ! IT'S ALL HER FAULT!) parked in front of the mailboxes, it's that I honestly do NOT understand why my neighbor's first response is "Spew Vitriol!" rather than "Apologetically Yet Firmly Notify!" Perhaps I should walk around with a sign around my neck: GUILT TRIPS WORK BEST.
We figured out the unspoken mailbox parking rule a while back, but the absolute very first time this particular neighbor mentioned it, it was when my parents had JUST driven up and parked and we weren't even out of the cars yet and she zooms into my own garage to tell me my parents better not park there. (OR ELSE.) So yeah, this was the second time, but she was mean about it the FIRST time and today it was like I'd spent my entire two years in the neighborhood spitting on her rose garden and BY GOD she was TIRED OF TELLING ME TO STOP!
And I'm also sad that we don't have any friends on our street. The one other family with children never appears and the others are a combo of never there/retired/renting/not interested. There is one house with an older couple who is VERY sweet and kind to us, but we rarely see them. I would LOVE to have good relationships with my neighbors, but I have NO relationship with my neighbors, for the most part, and it bums me out. So I'm sensitive to that too, I guess.
And also SHE LIVES NEXT DOOR! It's not really like I CAN ignore her!
I should, though. Except for the two Christmastimes where she brought us delicious cookies (and who knows what instigated THAT), she's been pretty unfriendly and/or uninterested in us. And once she complained about all the pine needles when she doesn't even own the trees and I was like, "Seriously? You're mad because you live next to my tree?"
CLEARLY THIS REALLY ISN'T MY PROBLEM. And in these situations I try to make myself feel better by reminding myself of True Things. Like "at least I am not so desperately unhappy that I am compelled to stomp over to my neighbor's house and complain that someone she knows has parked in front of the mailbox without so much as a howdoyoudo."
Should I let this sort of thing ruin my day? NO! Does it anyway? YES! Does kicking myself for being affected by someone else's crotchety mood help at all? NOOOOO.
And after 33 years I'm beginning to suspect that The Ability To Blow It Off is simply something you're born with. My parents? EXCELLENT blow offers. Me? The opposite. And it's not my fault, it's THEIRS for not passing it down. Maybe it would just be better that, having been sniped at on my own front porch, I crawl back inside and dedicate the next several hours to couch, television, and ice cream. You know? Just ACCEPT the fact that I will feel Crappy. And then write a cathartic blog post that will make my parents roll their eyes.