Tomorrow I go see the therapist I have been talking to about emetophobia. In my last post on this subject I pointed out that I thought his theories on possible food sensitivities were bunk based on the large quantities of dairy and wheat I had eaten while experiencing less pain than I had felt in weeks. I also outlined some external stressors and mentioned that I needed to talk to him about the clear impact that a neighborhood conflict was having on the amount of pain I was experiencing. I laid it all out for him and he agreed that the food thing was making less sense. The conversation quickly turned to my aversion to conflict. Questions were brought up about whether it was conflict that was the problem or the way I manage anger. There were also some uncomfortable questions about how I deal with or avoid conflict in my marriage. In the end we settled into a discussion about learning to engage in conflict when it is appropriate and putting fear of consequences in perspective.
I was asked why I thought I had allowed my neighbor to walk over me in this situation. I pointed to a couple examples of her taking disputes she had had in town to extremes, and told him that I thought if I pushed the parking issue she would petition the town to ban parking on our street. I also told him that I live in a very small neighborhood where everybody got along until she moved in, and I didn’t want cause any waves. I mentioned that my wife had not wanted to give in so easily, but I had insisted we let it go. The doc expressed some doubt that she would try and get parking outlawed and suggested I let my wife handle it. He thought I could learn something about conflict by observing my wife in action. He also suggested that this may not be the right conflict for me to “practice” on.
I really didn’t want to let it go and as I drove home I began formulating a script in my head for what I intended to say. While doing this I realized that I needed to clarify a piece of the current ordinance to be sure I was on solid ground. When I poked my head into the code enforcement officer’s office and asked my question he gave me a puzzled look and asked what street I lived on. When I told him he said the ordinance committee was going to discuss closing the street to parking. He said a resident had submitted a letter and some photos of the street, and handed me a copy of the letter which was written by my neighbor. I was angry, but given the conversation I had just had with the doc I couldn’t help but laugh.
This development changed my plan entirely. I no longer wanted a conflict in the street, I would just handle it at the meeting. I knew that most if not all of our little neighborhood would be strongly opposed to this move and I also knew I could count on a few of them to show up at a public meeting. I studied the letter and pictures and wrote a response. I also went door to door on the street and let people know what was happening. As I suspected she had told no one what she was up to and nobody I talked to was happy about it.
When the meeting day came they had scheduled it to be in a small conference room. They weren’t expecting a crowd and it was standing room only, but there was a problem. She didn’t show up. The negative sentiment was expressed loudly and there will be no change on the street, but all I could do was shake my head. I had set up the perfect storm to rein her in, and she missed it. I am glad nothing was changed in the ordinance, but that conflict is still out there waiting to happen.