I thought I would keep with the movie theme. I hate this movie and other similar films that don’t seem to really understand domestic violence and the only answer they propose is Hollywood violence.
With that said, the title can fit for cohousing. It is hard to come home to a place where everybody hates you. Home is supposed to be a sanctuary. Argument with your boss – relax at home. World got you down – play in your own garden. You get the picture.
So, what happens when it feels like all eyes are piercing through you? It could be minor – a disagreement over something at the plenary meeting. Or something explosive that has the community taking sides. Or what happened to me, where a few people won’t look at you and treat you as a ghost. Won’t even acknowledge your children who had nothing to do with it.
I was the first to leave. The mediator was my last hope and that fell through. All sympathy went to the others in the conflict and no one discussed or looked into the real problem. I figured I’d leave and they couldn’t use me as a scapegoat and get to the real issues. No. Conflict Aversion can run deep in some cohousing communities which seems false advertising if you have a committee dedicated to conflict management. It’s easier to just pretend there aren’t any conflicts.
Yet that policy doesn’t seem to be working. Out of the 8 founder families (at least the ones I met when I first joined before it was built) half are leaving. Me. One person who had announced they were leaving before the big blow up because they realized it was too social for their introverted soul. Next a young family went out and bought a house and slowly telling others they are leaving soon. They were severely affected by the issues I thought everyone would deal with but also realized cohousing takes too much time and they want more of a balanced life. Another family announced they were leaving with their children and the official line is they are leaving to take care of elderly parents but I know that they’ll be free from some of the problems with children in the neighborhood. And, the shocking news to me, is another family bought a house and is slowly telling others they are leaving too (once they fix it up).
This family is fascinating to me. They were the ones that seemed most people sympathized with. I thought they felt the love and understanding whereas I felt the hate and that everything I said was misconstrued. So, why are they leaving? I don’t know but the truth is they didn’t like accountability (in my opinion). Before the big blow up there was a little blow up where they felt attacked for their families’ actions and in-actions. And once I left, some issues still popped up. They admitted they don’t see any problems when the rest of the neighbors were trying to tell them how their actions affect everyone. So, I can only assume is that after trying to shift all the tension and focus and blame to me, the truth came out. They felt the hate. Not necessarily hate but anger and frustration. They kept downplaying it but it must have caught up to them. I hope they didn’t feel the hate I did but I could see where they realized leaving and doing what you want and when you want and never having to defend it is easier than disappointing your neighbors (esp. when you can’t understand why they are upset in the first place).
Sorry this is so vague. Someday I’ll tell the whole story but my version is that I called something out and I wish I had discussed it more first with everyone and anyone but I felt it was too sensitive and struggled alone. So, when I tried to find help to get real solutions to a serious problem, the blow up occurred. I hope this family isn’t still blaming me for everything. They got custody of the neighborhood. I left. Yet, I always suspected that when the scapegoat leaves the building, the truth is left and how do you deal with it? For this cohousing group, it’s not and now half are leaving.