Confused --Please Explain this Bizarre Behaviour !

by Susan Jones

I am a woman aged 54. There is a widow aged about 68 in my apartment complex. She is obviously lonely and does not keep good relations with her married son nor her married daughter who seldom visit her. She appears to have enough money but no friends (now I know why!)

About 18 months ago, she caught hold of me on the stairs and said she was afraid she would die in her sleep and none would even know. Would I tap her door once on a while and check on her ?

I agreed on humanitarian grounds for a neighbor in need. So, once a week I would ring her doorbell on my way to work and inquire after her health. This continued for a few months.

Sometimes she would ask me to run an errand for her , eg- please buy me some fruit or eggs on your way home, and I would do it quite cheerfully. On occasion she would invite me into her house for a cup of tea and tell me how happy she was that she has someone in her neighborhood to talk to.

Last December I informed her that I have to be operated for cataract and will be out of circulation for some time. I did not specify the time. In December I operated one eye, in January the second. In February/March my aged Father fell down and broke his hip and I was completely busy with his operation and recovery. (He lives in the same building so the lady was aware of all the commotion.)I had not visited her for 4 months.

Last week she lay in wait for me on the stairs. She angrily said " You haven't visited me for 4 months. You don't care for my friendship, you have been ignoring me! " I told her that I was going through a bad patch myself, and did not deliberately ignore her. She angrily retorted " I know all that! You can still find time if you want to!" and she stormed off in a huff!

I was upset so I decided to visit her the next morning and make amends. But when I rang her doorbell, she screamed at me "Go away! I'm busy. Why should I put up with you now, when it suits you?" And she slammed the door in my face.

I am shocked and confused. I have decided not to glance in her direction ever again. Why has she behaved like a jilted lover?? Is it over-possessiveness, jealousy or what?

I was the ONLY person in the apartment complex who bothered with this lady and now she has lost me too ! Can anyone explain this bizarre psychology ?

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Thank you for your insights
by: Susan Jones

Thank you so much for your insights and mature comments. You opened my eyes. I was judging her from a "normal" person's perspective. It's so important for us to get a perspective from the other side, i.e from someone who has experienced it.

by: Anonymous

I would explain her behavior in one word...she's lonely.
Your first four paragraphs explain it all. She has two children, and probably grandchildren, that don't visit. She has no friends in the building.

She lives alone in her apartment day after day without anyone to say Good Morning or Good Night.
I've lived alone, and I've been lonely, and there doesn't seem to be a worse feeling in the world.

For her to say, please check on me because if I died no one would know, sounds so sad. That's hitting bottom. Sometimes when you live alone it seems the whole world has somebody except you. You feel so isolated and disconnected. As time goes on, it gets even harder to reach out to others because you start to loose normal social skills that others take for granted.

You were wonderful to reach out and befriend her. But you have a busy life. You have family that cares for each other. You have friends. She was just another person in your life and perhaps you became her life. Her anger may mask her pain.

When you came to have tea with her, it was just a moment in your day, but for her, it may have been her whole day. Sometimes when I was lonely, just going to the grocery store and having brief, shallow chit-chat at the check-out stand made me feel a part of something.

Maybe you could try one more time to just give her a wave and say hello. Time has passed and she may have a change of heart toward you. Maybe if you could understand her, you might be able to reach out to her again. We never know how a random act of kindness in this world can go a long way for someone who needs it.

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