Assertiveness and standing up for myself is something I have been terrible at my entire life (that I remember anyway). I hate, hate, hate conflict and panic whenever it’s around me. I recently discovered that therapy is giving me the ability to show assertiveness, all be it in small things. The other day, I had a perfect and small example of this happening to me. Most will think this is the silliest example ever, and not a big deal at all. But this is one of those situations I’d get stuck in and not be able to extricate myself from for a long time, no matter how uncomfortable I was.
There have been two little old ladies traveling around my neighborhood for the past week. Now, I live deep in the woods in a community that does not want to be found, nor have anyone we don’t invite around. I guess you could say we are in general, suspicious of outsiders. Most of the neighbors have guns for protection (I’m going to say from lions, tigers and bears). This is not the neighborhood to invite yourself into and go knocking door to door in. We also have “no soliciting” signs at both entrances to the neighborhood, so these little old ladies should have known better.
They’ve been knocking door to door for the past two weeks or so, and in our HOA Facebook group, people have been making comments. Their opening line is “have you ever lost anyone you’ve loved due to death?” because everyone has, of course. This, understandably, causes a lot of turmoil for people who have recently lost someone. It’s logically a good hook, but a cruel one to bring up the Jehovah’s Witness religion. Just, not okay to do. They also have left pamphlets all over, which is irritating in its own right.
Well, they finally made it to my house this week. After having talked to neighbors about it, I had been biding my time until it was my turn. I was cleaning the house and they came to my side door (nobody ever comes to that door, even though it’s the one we use) and looked through the window as I was washing dishes. Creepy, strike one. Then they knocked. My dogs went insane, as they are supposed to do, strike two. Once I got my girls put in their kennels (I admit I took much longer than needed to do this, hoping they’d leave), I went and opened the door. Cue the ‘death’ line, strike three.
I lied and told them no, I’d never lost anyone, as I didn’t want to give them ground to bring up the rest of their rehearsed speech. They kept pushing, asking about friends or grandparents. I refused to let them “in,” both into my house or into their conversation. When they paused, trying to think of what to say to someone who had no death in their life, I jumped in, “did you two ladies see in the front of the neighborhood, those no soliciting signs? I know you’re doing what you see as your job, but we do not allow solicitors here.” They said they’d noticed them and try and pay attention to them, where I interrupted again, “this is not the neighborhood to do this in. We’ve been getting complaints; I’m the VP of the HOA and so I feel I have to warn you. Please do not visit any more homes. We, again, do not allow solicitation. We don’t like visitors up here, and between armed families and dogs, it’s not a good idea.” Or something to that effect. They kept trying to bring up their religion, and I kept shutting them down. I did mess up a bit and say that I didn’t need to find god, as Connor and I go to catholic church every Sunday. I didn’t need a pamphlet and didn’t want one. They started to say how it was nice to see such a young person going to church and I told them how my congregation has a lot of families my age with little children. I would not let them have any space for conversation but was not mean at all. I was actually quite nice (a lot nicer than some of my amazing neighbors would be; they’d be sarcastic and hilarious I think. Maybe opening the door in a towel or something equally silly). I thanked them for doing what they saw as their duty and warned them again. I made sure to impress upon them that it’s not allowed at all.
During this very tiny confrontation, I had a thrill of adrenaline like I normally do during any kind of conflict, but I didn’t care this time. It didn’t faze me. I didn’t want these little old ladies to go to the wrong house, and I didn’t want them around anyway. I saw it as my job as VP to do something about it, so I did. I was so proud! I know it’s such a small thing, and almost feel silly while looking back, but I don’t exaggerate when I say I’m absolutely the WORST when it comes to things like this. I make Connor call companies to cancel. I have never been able to just shut down or say no to things with strangers. I don’t want to be mean. I finally found a way to be assertive enough to shut something down, but still kind enough that I didn’t feel like a nasty person. I still smile when I think of it. It’s always the little wins that get me through this crazy new life I’m learning to lead.