Especially when someone else doesn’t honor them.
Hitler didn’t honor Poland’s or any other country's boundaries when he invaded. Nor did Saddam Hussein when he invaded Kuwait, for that matter.
Nor did my roommate in the Great Roommate Experiment.
I realized that setting and enforcing boundaries was a lesson I needed to learn, and that was part of this experiment. Another part, I suspect, was learning to have someone in my home, and with that, learning to trust. (And that may be another post for another day.) Due to this experiment, I think the Universe has something up its sleeve. Time will tell…
My roommate and I did have an earlier connection-teacher/student-and now that we had reconnected on a more mature level, I could understand her wanting to get to know me on a different level.
Yet, I am a private person. Well, somewhat of a private person. I mean I do share a bit here on this blog, but there are limits as to what I will share. And what I won’t. The same goes with friends and other human beings as well.
My roommate tried to cross that line. I made it quite clear certain topics were not up for discussion, period. At all. Ever.
I think she saw that as a challenge.
So, she continued to press for information on such topics as:
- Why I don’t date;
- Why I don’t rent out my rooms;
- Why I don’t at least list my guest room on AirBNB, at least for a week at a time;
- Why I don’t repaint/rearrange my house/garden;
- And assorted aspects about my sex life.
I gave my answer to the first question: I don’t want to.
For the next two: I don’t want anyone else in my house.
For the next one: It’s my house and this is how I like it.
For the last one: You have now crossed a line, and I left the room.
A few days later, she might bring up one of the first four again. I think I made my case on the last one. I tried very hard on the other four. I tried turning the tables and asked her why she needed to know the information: “I'm just curious. Geez.”
As for the redecoration questions, she resorted to “It’s just my opinion. I have the right to express it.”
I’d reply, “Yes, you do. But, you’re coming off like a know-it-all. Or that you are suggesting my taste is bad.”
"Well, you misunderstood me.” (No, I didn't, especially if you're suggesting different furniture arrangements and paint colors.)
For the renting out statements, I first tried the tactic of “Thank you. I’ll take it into consideration” thinking that would stop it. Nope.
But if you overwater a plant, you kill it. (I wish I'd thought of this at that time, but hindsight is always perfect.)
I stated that most people understand that “I’ll take it into consideration” also means the topic is off the table. Now.
Nope, she needs to hear the exact words, “I don’t want to talk about it, anymore.” She’s very literal. So, I said them.
She understood, but she later added the phrases “I know you don’t want to talk about it, but...” Or “This is just my opinion and you don’t have to do it, but...”
The more I said I wasn't interested in renting out my spare rooms, for she had now moved onto all my "spare" rooms, the more she watered that idea. She even suggested a friend of hers who was studying at the university down the road and was in need of a place. The more I said no, the more she said "I know you will" with a smug look on her face.
I realized that no matter how I tried to reinforce my boundaries she was determined to weasel her way in.
So, I tried a new tactic. I simply replied, “I'm not answering the question.” And stood firm.
She even tried to overstep that, “I have a right to ask.”
“Yes, you do. But you don’t have a right to know the answer. Only I have the right to determine who has a right to the answer.”
My first partner had a way for dealing with questions like these, though he often came off like a smartass in his delivery.
If someone asked a personal question, he’d retort: “Are you writing a book on me?”
If they said, “No,” which they usually did, he’d reply “Then you don’t need to know.”
If they said, “Yes,” trying to mess with him, then he’d answer, “Then leave this chapter out.”
He thought he was being funny, I thought he was being rude, but he got his point across.
Maybe I’ll try that next time, but only if someone doesn’t get the hint the first couple of times.
Perhaps the biggest lesson I had to learn was that I don't like not being heard. I would express myself to her and she would not listen to what I said. I don't know how many times I would tell her I'd already made up my mind, but she kept pushing which frustrated me. That is what I need to work on; letting people have their say and letting it roll off me like water off a duck's back.
Not an easy lesson to learn, but a necessary one.
Especially for maintaining your sanity.
FYI: The GRE has come to an end as she has moved on to her next adventure. I have my guest room back!