Pacifying the Passive-Aggressive

In Drama, Roommates on December 21, 2009 at 11:09 pm

Cher Yenta,

My roommate bugs the ever-loving SHIT out of me and I can’t quite
explain it. The way she shuffles around the house in her slippers,
the way she leaves notes everywhere, the way she shames the world for
not being as “green” as she claims to be…I’m starting to answer
my own question here, but I wager you have some deep intimate



Killing Me Softly

Dear KMS,

I deeply empathize with you and your housing situation. Once upon a time I lived with 12 writers and artists. Sandwiched between two very poorly soundproofed rooms, I was woken up at multiple intervals in the night by each respective neighbor pleasuring their newly taken lover.

There are a million coping mechanisms when it comes to sound: ear plugs, a white noise machine, a humidifier, earphones, a fan. The list goes on. But coping mechanisms for passive aggressive environmentalists: that is tougher. See to know you are not alone.

One thing that helps when it comes to dealing with living with strangers is cultivating compassion. As cheesy as this sounds, I promise it helps. A lot of activists funnel their personal issues into the intricacies of their cause. So when she says “recycle” with a grimace, she might really be saying, “I had no control in my house growing up and was beaten with a belt so I am asserting my voice in my new Craigslist group home.”

Remember that your neighbor also suffers, and that this suffering is often the source of said irritating behavior. Also, some people never learned how to communicate directly. Showing a passive aggressive housemate that confrontation is acceptable, and does not have to be violent, might change things. After all, these annoying patterns often develop out of a childhood where expressing anger was never a safe option.

With my loud neighbors I worked on going inside myself. I made my room a near menagerie and found all the sound buffers I could. I also meditated in an attempt to really see why these people and their loud nature pissed me off so much. It often, I find, takes one to know one. Why, exactly, does her shuffling annoy you? Her passive aggressive nature, beyond the obvious? What in you is unsettled, and being brought up by living with a weirdo?

In that house of unstable artists I did end up moving rooms. In moving I learned that it is sometimes better to start anew than to learn from an itchy situation. In exiting I also realized how horrible my previous situation was, with the lack of privacy, respect, and personal head space. There is such thing as a roommate threshold, and depending on how sensitive you are, you may have just reached yours.

If you are living in a group house, remember that you always have the option to move, and in doing so, might find not only relief, but new and better horizons.

***For some help finding a place to calm yourself for free click here to find the Shambhala center in your city. They provide free meditation instruction, sitting sessions, and Buddhist study groups.

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