It was all holadijee at first, until Ellis found out how her new neighbors really were.
Ellis (42) is married and mother of Dana (9) and Siem (5):
“The nice thing about a new neighborhood is that you all come to live there at the same time. After two days the first neighborhood barbecue was already a fact and in the summer that followed the drinks, barbecues, water parties and cocktail evenings flew around my ears.
In addition, there was a lot of togetherness. Everyone was doing odd jobs and within a few days it was normal to walk in together, borrow tools or watch each other’s children. I loved it. In no time we became good friends with three other families.
I especially lost myself in the friendship with my neighbor Loes. When I was at home, I was with her from early in the morning until late at night. I am quite insecure by nature and thanks to Loes I felt stronger, more confident and very worthwhile. She was happy to help me and somehow she seemed to like such a project.
Because I was, I know now. Under the influence of Loes I changed my clothing style, my haircut, even the way I spoke. When a job came along that I liked, she said it wasn’t for me. I had to move up, she thought, even though I didn’t have that ambition at all. Loes also thought that the friends I already had no longer suited me. They were ‘old Ellis’, she said.
“Saying I wasn’t home with your neighbors isn’t really the best excuse”
There were times when I was really scared, all that interference, but then again, what could I do? Saying I wasn’t home to avoid her isn’t exactly the best excuse on your neighbors. I didn’t dare say outright that I also needed time for myself, let alone say that I had the feeling more and more that she wanted to change just about everything about me.
A scared little bird
I worked closely with Loes for about a year. I seemed blinded. I literally missed the distance to look at our friendship and think it could be a little less, because then she would be knocking on the back door again. Or me with her, because I always looked her up as well.
It was also in one of those moments that I found out how she really felt about me. I walked in through the utility room and just as I was about to continue walking I heard my name. Loes was accompanied by two other neighbors and it was about me. What it came down to was that the other two thought that we were very close.
“I was just a scared bird and Loes felt sorry for me”
Loes agreed, but, she said, I just really needed her. I was just a scared bird and Loes felt sorry for me. With the ‘pathetic jeans’ I wore before she took me shopping, with my ‘mushy haircut’ and my talent for making just those clothing combinations that didn’t match at all. And so it went on for a while.
Everything showed that Loes thought I was a bad case and that she thought it was urgent that she transformed me into something that she thought could go through with it. And that I should still be grateful to her.
I stomped straight into the room. Loes was shocked. Besides myself with anger I shouted all kinds of things, I don’t even remember exactly what. Then I stormed to my own house, locked all the doors, turned off the bell and turned off my phone. Both Loes and the two others knocked on my window for an hour.
Also read: ‘I ended our friendship on that holiday’ >
It’s been five months now and we’ve never talked it out. Loes has said she wants to explain it, but I don’t need to hear it. Her words were very clear. I see her almost every day and then I nod her goodbye, that’s all. My husband played squash with hers weekly and I told him he can continue, but after a few times he stopped.
The friendships between the children have continued as usual; they have nothing to do with it. But I am very alert. If Loes’ daughter even says anything to Dana, for example about her clothes, I am immediately next to it. You never know, she will still look like her mother.”
This article can be found in Kek Mama 05-2022.
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