Drinking poison to harm your neighbor. I cannot recall where I heard this, but it is referring to what happens when we harbor a grudge or anger toward someone else. Filling ourselves, killing ourselves, slowly destroying a beautiful life with the poison of anger.
I could not write this post until I felt sure that I wasn’t harboring any of that poison within myself. Then I postponed writing because I really didn’t want to talk about it – we are looking into our future and have been blessed to be able to put this all behind us. Our hearts are healed and we don’t talk about it – nor do we really even think about it. This is a great blessing!
The “IT” to which I refer is the ridiculous lawsuit to which we were subjected for the past year and which held the potential to fill ourselves with this soul-destroying poison. I am going to outline some highlights because people have asked. I also have other topics which I would enjoy sharing and need to get this out of the way. Once it clears my brain I hope to be free of it forever!
- We call him the crazy neighbor – though he doesn’t even live on the property adjoining ours. We met him two or three times – he was concerned about the fence we had removed soon after moving onto our property. It was about ten feet inside our boundaries. We bought our property in 2001 and moved into our home in 2002. He appeared in 2012.
- When we sold our home in 2016 he served papers (to our title company) just days before closing. We agreed to his demands in order to sell the house, but not if the buyers walked. The buyers walked and we were left with a lawsuit which tied up our title. We were not to take the house off the market because we had to show damages, but we were unable to sell it. We had a few potential buyers over the next months, but we couldn’t sell the house.
- This suit claimed that he owned the land approximately ten feet onto our property. It was a total of two tenths of an acre. We owned five acres, he owned eighteen.
- The crazy neighbor didn’t actually sue us – the two men on the suit were presumably his sons – but we never met them. He was at the heart of it, so I will keep it that way. This property had been passed from relative to relative – each time with a new boundary on the title. Mark went and looked them all up and studied the claims. The most recent one would actually have given us almost two of his acres!
- After filing his suit and receiving our response – the crazy neighbor’s lawyer fired him. That made sense because the suit was so far off base. It then took a fair amount of time for him to find a lawyer that would agree to represent him. We knew we were 100% right – he didn’t have anything to stand on. We were led to believe that filing for summary judgment to have the case thrown out would bring the quickest resolution. Wrong! We kept a potential buyer on the line through the autumn, but our paperwork was taking so long. They finally gave us a court date and then proceeded to push it back. Our final date wasn’t until March 2017! As the date approached we learned that to obtain a favorable summary judgement the judge had to see clearly that the crazy neighbor didn’t have a case. The crazy neighbor spent the month of March filing one statement after another – they contradicted each other and were full of nonsense… but they did manage to force the judge to admit there was a slim possibility of truth. In the words – to win summary judgement he had to show only a 1% possibility of having a case. If we had gone to court he would have to prove greater than 50%. (No lawyer friends need to correct me – this is close enough to how it was explained to me.)
- In the meantime we received an offer on our home (in January). We felt that it was a miracle because the buyers wanted a four month escrow. We couldn’t offer them much less. I never mentioned this because I didn’t want the crazy neighbor to find out. Both parties were dismayed when we lost summary judgement at the end of March. We wanted to go to court where we would certainly win – the judge had been extremely sympathetic to us – but his hands were tied.
- To save time, We agreed to go to mediation. Here Mark worked with another sympathetic mediator – but this man had a lot of experience and had dealt with this kind of “crazy” before – he helped Mark see that in order to sell our home we need to be rid of this man. We fought only to keep our land (it was zoned five acres and this is what we needed to offer for sale). To be done with it all, we had to pay this crazy family a good chunk of money. (Fortunately, by this time, Mark and I were both doing well at not being angry. We have been putting a lot of effort into not drinking that poison, but it has been difficult.) By the way – after only a couple minutes, the crazy neighbor was kicked out of mediation and sent to sit in his car. Apparently is “sons” were not much better. They told the mediator that they thought we had money and they wanted some of it! Well – we didn’t have any money after they were done with us! The extra year of house payments, utilities, yard care, etc… then we come to the lawyer fees (goodness – I should have let Mark go back to law school!!)… they really did us in with all of those ridiculous statements because they have to be analyzed and this is expensive!!
- Our closing date for the house sale was the first of May – the rush on the paperwork would be just shy of that… May 5. The buyers – after more than four months – walked away!
- I haven’t mentioned that the crazy neighbor had strung wires where he thought the fence should be – he did this back in 2014… we were in the thick of childhood cancer and had to ignore him. When we moved in 2015 he put up a fence that would make a prison proud (not quite that tall). Our dear friends in Washington removed this fence and put up a boundary line fence along the fresh survey lines as directed by the court. Crazy neighbor was required to be present along with his lawyer when the survey was done. For once, they were nowhere to be seen! It wasn’t until after this line was erected that he appeared with his ruler. He complained to the court that the line was off by SEVERAL INCHES! (Are you kidding me!) He insisted on having another survey done – and guess to gets to continue to pay for all of this. What can you do? The second survey said the original was perfect, as was the boundary line. We kindly informed our lawyer that we were out of money and done – please do not call us again.
- Needing a fresh start we were excited to find a new and excellent real estate agent. We asked potential agents to answer a few questions. The previous agent wouldn’t even respond… good riddance. Then, there he was in our lives again – he brought with him a new buyer. As a buyer’s agent he was completely unprofessional – we began to have some insight into our other sales that fell through. Nevertheless – our buyers brought us some joy. I saw on Facebook that we shared several mutual friends, one of which is one of my oldest and dearest friends on the planet! She said that the buyer is a sister to her sister-in-law. Even better – they are a Mormon family who just had their sixth child. We had moved into our home just a week before our sixth child was born. This house is meant for a large family and I couldn’t be more pleased.
- Of course they got a killer deal – we didn’t even get our construction cost from it. We closed almost two years from our original listing. We lost so much money during those years – it is sickening. Each sale was considerably less than the previous one. Oh well. We are so happy to be done and I am especially happy that I can report all of this without bad feelings. What a relief – and it was not without a great deal of effort over many months.
Well – this report was longer than I had anticipated. I guess I just wanted it to be documented. I say “we” a lot because this has been a journey for Mark and I to make together. He had a lot of anger to deal with. I dealt more with despair. I seemed to see one blessing after another, but he didn’t always want to hear about them. He did a great deal of research and saw how easily we could win a court case. One day we would feel so good about defending our rights and fighting. Another day we were prepared to give it all up, just to be done. It was confusing, but over time we found ourselves talking and working together better than we had in the past. It felt good and we chalked it up as yet another blessing. The best blessing.
When the time came for us to make a decision to give up the chance to go to court and recoup our losses – we both knew it was the right thing to do. The right thing for us – and were totally united in our thinking. I guess it is still a bummer that the neighbor got away with it. He is not a good person. It was not a good experience… yet… forgiving and moving on has been a good experience. We may have lost a great deal of money for nothing, but we have gained a strength and depth to our marriage that we both cherish.
In March I blogged about mental anguish – it was about that time that I felt a strong spiritual impression to “TRUST GOD” – those words played in my head for an entire night. For the remainder of this trial I thought of them once or twice a day. The burden of mental anguish was lifted and I put a lot of effort into Trusting God. When I learned about our new home buyers my heart was filled with peace. They were exactly who I had been praying for. There has been so much good – just because times are tough, it does not mean thatwe aren’t being watched over. Blessings don’t always look the way we think they are going to look. They may take years to comprehend.
Though it takes monumental effort, Trust God and stay far away from the poison!
Sidenote – we had neighbors who lived across the street who also had an illegal fence built long ago by crazy neighbor. They didn’t take it down, but it bothered them – especially as crazy neighbor would cut down the timber between their properties (he cut ours as well and then accused us of taking timber from deep into his territory). Several years before all of this they asked if we would like to join them in a lawsuit to remove the fences from our properties. We had children in the hospital and couldn’t even think of being involved. Anyway, when they saw a new fence in May they asked us for the name of our lawyer and filed suit against crazy lawyer. They were surprised to triumph with scarcely a fight… maybe he was tired or broke or his lawyer actually gave him some good advice. At any rate, they were very pleased. Glad to be of service…..