Parking Stalls and Being Alive


This week I was presented with one of life’s challenges. I live in a townhouse complex and have my own assigned parking spot. Wednesday night, I arrived home as usual from my second job, tired and hoping to get to bed as soon as possible. But as I rounded the corner to park behind my place, I was shocked to see a big 4 by 4 truck parked in my spot.

I was furious. The stalls are clearly marked and I couldn’t comprehend how someone would have slipped into my spot accidentally (the person had even taken pains to neatly back into it!)… It was 10:30 at night… Most all of my neighbour’s windows were dark as I looked around. I had no idea who’s vehicle this was and didn’t feel like knocking on doors and waking people up to find out. And as much as I wanted to, I knew it wouldn’t be in my best interest to take a baseball bat to this person’s windows and puncture all four tires… Somewhere in one of the homes around me, the presumptuous owner of this vehicle was sleeping peacefully while I was fuming outside in the cold, trying to deal with my frustration, anxiety and intense feeling of helplessness.

I ended up putting a polite but straight-forward note on their windshield (“This is a private parking stall. Move your vehicle or it will be towed”), called and left a message at our property management company, and willed myself to fall asleep. The next day, I put my frustration to work. I called the property management company again and reception told me that someone would answer my message in time; I called the RCMP- they didn’t deal with situations like that; I called our local towing company- because this was my own titled parking stall, could I have the vehicle towed myself? No… because I’m part of a townhouse complex, I can’t… I called the property management company again and insisted on talking with someone. They told me I should be able to have it towed myself. I called the towing company again… Finally someone gave me the real facts: our condo complex was registered with the towing company. They would come and tag and tow illegally parked vehicles, but only a member of our condo board could call to have this done. The woman at the towing company went beyond the call of duty and called a member of my condo board to have them call me. I was able to talk with this gentleman, and now I have both his phone numbers programmed into my cell phone. The next time I come home and find someone helping themselves to my parking spot, I know exactly what to do to have them towed away asap!

Now, it was a lot of work to find the answer to my problem, and I expended a lot of emotional energy. To some people it might seem like too much work for one small incident. I had been able to park in my roomate’s spot, who wasn’t home that night; the person left the next day; no one got hurt; my life wasn’t at risk. It’s not like they broke into my house and vandalized it… Heck, some people are homeless. Some people don’t even have their own vehicle, let alone their own parking spot!! Some people are dying, dealing with disease and war and far worse things than this.

All these things are true, very true. And I regularly practice gratitude for all the blessings in my life, all the things I am able to enjoy that others do not have. However, comparing our challenges to someone else’s in order to legitimize our feelings or our actions towards them can lead us down the road of resignation and debilitatingly low self-esteem. I have heard this rationalizing/minimizing mindset echoed from people in many different kinds of situations. So and so has this problem, so I shouldn’t be so upset about mine. I’m so irrational sometimes. I should be more thankful and less angry. We don’t want to appear ungrateful or selfish, so we stuff our anger and hurt deep down and try to put on a brave face.

But this is not living. This was my life, my challenge. At that moment in time, at that 228point in my life, there was this one and only challenge staring me in the face, and I decided that it was worth dealing with. I embraced it as a challenge worthy to deal with because my life is worth it, my anger is justifiable. I wanted to solve the problem this time because I wanted to know how to constructively deal with it if it were to happen again. I didn’t want to live in the lie that I was a helpless victim, not worthy enough to stand up for myself, too worthless to deny how I truly felt about the situation. And after I had taken the action steps I did, I felt alive. I felt satisfied and at peace with myself. I had taken responsibility for myself and my problems. In doing so, I hadn’t stored up my anger to cause me pain later on down the road. Simultaneously, I had gained more skills for bigger challenges I may face, skills I can offer to help others in similiar situations. I had grown.

Life will always present us with all kinds of challenges, big and small. We don’t have to legitimize whether or not to take action with our challenges by comparing them to someone else’s. They are our unique challenges to deal with, and in being so, they are our unique opportunities to grow and practice self-value. Engaging with them is one part of the extraordinary dance of being and knowing that we are valuable and alive.


7 response to "Parking Stalls and Being Alive"

  1. By: diane Posted: 27th July

    Thank you Darlene…I didnt know that 7% is verbal! That is so weird to me, but I am beginning to get it more and more. I appreciate that you DO understand about this. I have felt all my life that I was some kind of target …probably from the sexual molestation issues. I tend to still feel “trapped” in various situations and this is actually one of them. I sometimes have very similar feelings of being trapped or targeted and helpless to “escape” and basically very uncomfortable. I know I am hyper sensitive to this, so thank you for the encouragement. I think being in transition in some of this stuff is so empowering, but in these more subtle ways, I am sooo floudering! This is one area I feel absolutely stunted and it ticks me off! lol. However, now that I have read this and am processing this, it has made me very aware of something inside of me that I hadnt really and truly confronted. All is good!

  2. By: diane Posted: 27th July

    Darlene, Hi! I think I am going through a new phase of learning about all of this…part of it makes me mad that I havent learned it before, but it also irritates me because I am not content with being the “nice” person any longer. I can see more and more how much of a people pleaser I have been in many ways….and it irritates me because part of that wanting to please people IS naturally who I am to begin with…but part of it was always trying to fit in or because I felt less than or wanted to be loved or liked. So, the part that really is bothering me these days is that I dont have that balance. If I am nice because I want to be nice, people more often than not are looking for someone…anyone…to be nice to them..and here I am! But I am not there FOR THEM, if that makes sense….I am just being nice because I feel like being nice and they want MORE from me because they are not getting their way or needs met in their own lives at times. So…I am confused how to react/act in a way that is true to how I feel, but also doesnt give other people the instant sensing that they can push me around and get what THEY want or have me fill the bill in their emotional emptiness. I am not good at this yet, but I will find a way! Here is a typical example…and I am not exaggerating. I think I have one of those faces or something. I cant tell you how many many times I have been out and about, and someone will make a bee-line straight to ME to ask for some help, money, directions etc. I have been sitting in my car, waiting somewhere and ppl come up to ME and knock on my window and want me to roll the window down…it scares the crap out of me! I dont , of course, but then to get them to leave, I end up getting desperate and one step short of cussing them out to get them to GO…and it really bugs me that I dont seem to have a balance. My husband never gets approached…they will target me when we are out together . He ends up putting himself between me and the person and getting rid of them , but they are trying to lock eyes with ME and get me to buy or give or help. I find that weird and creepy and uncomfortable. I have a LOT of common sense and am great at logic and reasoning…so I know I am not imagining this. I hope you are right and the more I own my value, the less ppl will push…or I will become comfortable saying things that will get them to back off immediately! Thank you for your encouragement!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 27th July

      You would be surprised at how much I understand and relate to what you are saying! The boundary is drawn in the heart ~ and communication is only 7% verbal so YES people do sense that you are “nice” and feel comfortable approaching you. And when the vibes I sent out were stronger and when I knew that I wasn’t a pushover or sucker etc. I stopped attracting this kind of stuff in ALL areas. My family gave up on twisting me around. My in-laws backed off. Everything changed when I changed. Don’t worry Diane, you are IN the process and some of the transition spots take a while.
      Hugs, Darlene

  3. By: diane Posted: 26th July

    I just came across this article this morning and love and appreciate it. I understand everything from the beginning of the writer’s frustration to the ending of having peace about not stuffing feelings and being proactive in standing up for herself . I find that I am also dealing with more of these challanges lately. I have healed at the root core of myself….Yay!…and everything still feels mostly fresh and a new start in my life. I find that I view things quite differently and I am beginning to see what this woman who wrote this was seeing and feeling. It seems so small to others who have had the ability most of their lives to stand up for themselves and their rights and have been able to connect in healthy ways with others over minor issues and challanges…and have found the balance in what to say or when to say it or how to even feel about it. For me, it is something I have been learning at a snail’s pace over the years, but now I finally SEE and UNDERSTAND how my low self esteem and being abused and settling for less than and setting low expectations for others behaviors in regards to how they treat ME has definitely caused me to not know how to meet others as equals. So many people, but of course, not every single one who has every crossed my life’s path.But I always knew the ones that believed that I wasnt as important because I now see where even though I wanted to be treated as equal, I was devaluing myself and allowing them to devalue me…it went hand in hand. I am learning very quickly to stand up for ME and what I want and need…and I try to be nice, but I am not apologizing if I end up seeming aggressive while I am figuring it all out. Being nice and the good listener and friend was okay , but not satisfying since I was waiting for “my turn” to be valued and esteemed and treated with the same measure I was trying to give out of respect and friendship. I have lost many friends and ppl I thought I loved because of this very issue…by choice. I really feel that it is their loss MORE than mine now because it was all so lopsided. But it was also not only their fault, and that is what I am seeing now. Some of it is my responsibility because I did not treat myself the way I wanted to be treated and I KNOW now that others picked up on that and treated me the way I actually did feel about myself. This is very interesting and may not make any sense to anyone else, but it does to me…and this article mirrors how I am now feeling. I feel good about myself…I am not totally there yet where I feel I am mastering every situation that presents itself with other people at all, but I am quickly understanding more and more so it is okay to be learning right now. I am more proactive about the little things when I see or feel them. This morning I “blew it” and ended up feeling taken advantage of and devalued a bit, but I also realize that some ppl are just going to try to take advantage and are good at it….and I am not going to wear myself out trying to be on guard against ppl like that. I ended up thinking and beating myself up a bit for my old ways of giving in when I particularly did not want to, but then I did take some proactive steps to right the situation so that I felt peace and didnt harbor bad feelings. I called the person responsible and threw their responsibility back into their laps. I purposefully used a different manner and tone of voice than I usually would have …before…and was very firm with this person and before the end of the conversation, she was trying to be nicer and thank me and she did accept her responsibility, so I felt so much better afterward! It was a very minor issue, but it IS the minor issues that throw me off more than anything with people. People can be so NICE when they are pressuring you or taking advantage. The big issues I have learned the hard way to deal with and I am comfortable in my own skin with those, but amazingly, it is the friendly type ppl who are practiced at getting ppl to do what they want that I struggle with. I think where I have messed up is that I WANT to assume that ppl are truly nice and caring about ME, but generally the reality is that they are actually looking for a way to make their life easier or have someone who looks up to them and worships the ground they walk on. I think society has changed….everyone seems to believe now that they are nothing if they arent the center of attention, and have a life filled with THINGS and over the top lifestyles and experiences. It is hard for me to meet and keep friends that dont. I do have few longtime friends, but not many and most live very far away now. But, the point is that I AM learning and growing and loved this article…it was a perfect encouragement! 🙂

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 27th July

      Hi Diane
      I can really relate to what you wrote in your comments here on Carla’s blog post. I also realized that I was treated as “less than” because I didn’t know that I deserved better. I didn’t know that I WAS equally valuable and I didn’t value myself either. Not because I neglected my responsibility to myself though, but because I had no other teaching. This process is where I learned to love myself and validated my equal value and as soon as I owned my own value, I found that people pushed me or tried to take advantage of me (in order to get what they wanted) much less. It is as though communication goes on without words at all. Just as people sensed that I was a push over, they now sense that I am not. 🙂
      Hugs, Darlene

  4. By: Carla Dippel Posted: 31st January

    I totally get what you say about the “old tapes”. And I think that in learning to stand up for ourselves, we make the world a better place. We teach people that it’s not right to mistreat others, just like you say. Thanks for your wonderful thoughts Jeannette!


  5. By: Jeanette Posted: 31st January

    I never do what you did, because I thought I wasn’t supposed to! Turn the other cheek, always that same old tape running through my head. And yet, as you said, something about not doing what you need to do when being treated unjustly, never feels right. It never feels right because it isn’t right! We do need to learn how to stand up for ourselves, being a victim for life really really is so backward thinking and self defeating. Thank you for your post, luved it. 🙂

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