Negative energy from a neighbor

I'm upset.

There is a neighbor on our street that seems to find the negative in everything, and she holds on to negative events for months and months. So I hear about the broken mailbox over and over, and I hear about what the town does wrong. However, deep down she seems to be a sweet lady, simply troubled by events in her life. So I listen. I know I have the patience to listen and sometimes she offers me gems of information that helps me, a newcomer to the neighborhood.

This time, however, I should have stopped our chat sooner.

The conversation turned to the kids playing on the street. She could't believe that the parents (of which she acknowledged I am one) are not right out on the street watching them. "They are alone on the street," she says. "The neighborhood is dangerous, all neighborhoods are dangerous."

As she's speaking I can feel my back stiffen. I know it is because she is accusing me of poor parenting, though I also know our quiet, beautiful cul-de-sac has plenty of neighbor activity and I DO watch my children, though sometimes from inside. I try to let it go, ignore her comment and rally my confidence in my own parenting choices.

I say, "I disagree. I think this is a safe neighborhood, and my children know the rules and how to behave around strangers."

"But we need to have safe practices, all the time."

I defend, "we teach our children what is safe and what is not safe."

But then she says, "a strange van could go in your driveway and knock on your door. A man could come up to one of your kids and ask them to look for his lost puppy."

I interrupted, "my children know how to handle that exact situation! But I don't really want to continue this conversation." Feeling more defensive, still protective of my parenting skills, and now feeling protective of my own children.

She pushes back, "but he could have a cloth with chloriform and could shove it in their faces!"

Ooooohhhhh!!!! And with defensiveness, anxiety and now crazy fear that there is a minute chance that this could happen in an otherwise safe world, I stomped away and shouted back to her, "That is NOT GOING to HAPPEN HERE! We are in a SAFE neighborhood!"

As I walk away I am surprised I'm almost in tears. I know I feel her fear, literally feel it, and I haven't protected myself enough. For a split second the world is an evil place full of bad people, but I shut it down quickly and notice the beauty in our neighborhood, trying to regain composure.

Knowing this negative energy was now physically invading my body, I had to escape fast. I usually ground myself sufficiently to prepare for a chat with her, and I always listen for the positive, but I didn't do enough this time.

Walking into my house my throat felt raw (my throat always expresses my stress). I made myself some tea.

Maybe I overreacted? I hope not. We chose this neighborhood less than a year ago, after much research, for our children.


  1. Leigh - I have not known you as the mother of your children, but I knew you as a mother to other children for a short time and saw the wonderful energy, protective and safe, that you provided to those children at that time. I have no doubt that you continue to do that with your own children as well as others children, even today.

    This is about the other woman and her own issues. When someone challenges us and we react strongly sometimes it helps to think of yourself as holding a mirror up to that person and asking them "what is this about for you" and "how can I help?"'s not about you.....

  2. Thanks Liza. Those are great questions and ones I must remember.

    I also believe it brought up my biggest fear as a mother - the safety of my children. We feel so confident in the security of this neighborhood we moved to last year that I will send my six-year-old three doors down to play without going with him. You could imagine how I would feel if I was wrong...