It is possible to live next door to someone and realize 8 years later you have been far too nice to them for too long. This happened to us last year, and I called it quits. Not that it's war, but there are times when I have to re-engage in some neighborly boundary setting. You can think of it as standing up for what's mine, or better yet, reminding myself that all of this military-wife-life stuff stands for a principle greater than myself.
Okay, so let me explain it thoroughly. She harassed me last year when my husband was deployed. She did it on a very hot day when I was taking the garbage cans out. As she was trying to engage me in a game of politics at the trashcan
, the neighbor started to harp upon me about Afghanistan. Wasn't interested to hear about all the books I had read, or that I'd gone "off grid" from the usual mainstream media to learn. The only voice in his tirade was going to be hers. Ironic, because at this point I was trying to learn the history, culture and nuances of Afghanistan, mixed in with dashes of military strategy. It was a cram course in war, wedged in between teenagers slobbing the house, and a 53 year old husband in Asadabad.
Turns out the neighbor watched the movie, "Charlie Wilson's War," in other words --everything she learned was from Hollywood's vision of war. To be fair, most people get their impressions of war from movies. A generation or two grew up with visions of movie stars running highly plotted courses with close ups and music for dramatic effect. It bears no resemblance to the real deal. They can't capture what it's like to wake up day-in and day-out wondering if the doorbell is going to ring, yet still have to get on with the show. They can't know what it's like to live with the sadness that your loved one might bring home a whopping case of PTSD.
Now she was trying to gauge my opinion --as I was hauling trash cans out to the curb. The exchange was unpleasant. It wouldn't be the last time she tried. Later, when I wouldn't engage, she bitched about me to other neighbors. It backfired on her. They came to my defense. She owns the shit list.
So what I do now and then to remind her of my boundary is this: I hang two flags in our front yard. One is the American flag. The other is the Army flag.
Life isn't perfect, I don't understand everything, I have worries. But I always feel better when our flags are flying. Our flag, our community ... our passion.
(Taken last year when Kat and I went to NYC to visit friends while my husband was in Kunar)