It’s almost here and gone

I’m talking about Christmas being almost here and gone.  It’s stress and relief all at once.  One of my sons is bringing a young woman here to meet all of us, and they’ll be staying a handful of days here.   There are signs of it being an unhealthy relationship, so I can’t say that most of us seem to be looking forward to it.  I’m sad to think my son could potentially repeat another generation of this mess.

Other than preparing for the extra of having someone staying here, I’m fairly calm.  I know that I love certain things about Christmas… but I can’t remember the last time I actually enjoyed it.

The bad part is that I’m not organized and prepared like some long ago holidays past.  The good news is that because work has been busier than it has in years, I’m not stressed about being able to pick up a few gifts and buy the extra groceries for the holiday meal and baking.  I was actually able to get a small gift online for a dear friend, and quietly pay it forward to a family that’s in a financial struggle here.  I haven’t been able to do anything like that in many years. That part feels so right, and I’m hoping so hard to hold the climb up on Maslow’s pyramid.

I’m stressed about not having gotten to a gym yet, and still not having a normal wardrobe.  I’ll be letting someone new (albeit briefly) into my fragile equilibrium, and that makes me have to look at things that are awry.  Not fitting into normal clothes.  That’s the stupid thing that’s bugging me the most right now, but objectively I know it can be remedied bit by bit if I just make that step and keep going that direction.  But not in time for this visit when my son is bringing a girlfriend.  Ugh.

You want to know something funny?  The same friend I referenced above sent me a Christmas plate and holiday treats to put on it, with the intention that I’d pass it on to another friend in our circle, who would then pass it on the next year etc.  My friend sent this to me eight years ago…  But guess what I have boxed up and ready to mail?  Now if you figure this in the twelve days of Christmas schedule, it will be on time.  Ahem.

My husband hasn’t been consistently nice or helpful this year with holiday stuff, but he has been working hard these past few months.  I’m hoping that his passive aggressive undercurrents will subside, and that he’ll be more positive for awhile.  Like everything else with him, how he behaves around a holiday is consistently inconsistent.  I just keep reworking my lists from what starts out as the Shooting for the Ideal Hallmark Kind of Plans, to What Can Actually Still Be Pulled Off, to What is Actually Most Important.  I’m getting there… or somewhere haha.

If I can manage to herd a couple cats, we might actually get a tree up later today!  I’m trying to put my mind into the most positive spin because I’m really rather wishing the holidays were here and gone.  You know what keeps me going?  My thirteen year old daughter adores Christmas, and is also one of the most unselfish people I’ve ever known.  She doesn’t ask for anything but love, but she expresses such joy and gratitude for anything I manage to pull together that resembles a holiday.  How can you not keep trying with someone like her in your life?

Posted in abusive marriage, covert abuse, daughter, emotional abuse, holiday stress, passive aggressive, passive aggressive abuse | Tagged , | Leave a comment

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The Three D’s of a Passive Aggressive: Divert, Deflect, and Destabilize
This blogger, Newshoes, explains one of the tactics that’s typically used by a passive aggressive.

Originally posted on newshoes123:

Dealing with a pa person sometimes means that you will have unrelated comments thrown in through your conversation or emails or texts. Why?? Simple, to destabilize you and to throw you off track.

For example, you send your stbexpah an email asking a few questions about the Holidays hoping to get a straight answer about the schedule and how to split the time, you get a convaluted answer along with an unrelated comment that has nothing at all to do with your request. Then once you ask what the heck that was about and what it had to do with anything, he back tracks his comment!!

I’ve experienced this many times over the years. We would be discussing something serious and perhaps because it was an uncomfortable conversation, he would throw in a comment in there that would send me off track and would just make me get mad at…

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Slow learner

When I was a girl, I was normally the top student in all my classes (at least until I started skipping school constantly towards the end of high school).  Learning anything came so easily, and I was used to skipping ahead of my peers with ease.  There was only one other student that held any competition for me, so naturally I had a school girl crush on him.  At home in my family of origin, it meant nothing (maybe occasional teasing) and seemed irrelevant to my somewhat invisible status in the shadow of the ‘only boy’.  School was a different place, and I held my top status with casual confidence.  Confident in my abilities, and utterly insecure as a person of worth.  As a student, I was used to grabbing the top scores academically, setting the curve on any exam, and sailing through anything academic with ease.  I was strong in athletics, and physically capable of doing anything that most of my male peers could do at that age.  I was a fast learner.  Very fast.

Funny how that can possibly create or contribute to a blind spot.  Funny how later in life, I came to realize what a slow learner I’ve been when it comes to people.  Either slow, or very blind.

I’ve been called Pollyanna by more than one person in my life, and apparently it’s rather true.  Push me down, and before you know it, I’m wanting to look up to the sky, see the stars, and wanting to believe.   I’m extremely cynical about human nature, while simultaneously wanting to believe and hope for the best in someone.  It seems rather at odds with the pragmatic and objective part of me.  No wonder I find myself in such a murky kerfluffle of a marriage with a passive aggressive spouse.

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The holiday slog

Don’t get me wrong, I do love holidays!  At least I used to love them… more than I seem to enjoy them now.

I keep thinking about some of the readers/posters, and wondering how you all are faring out there during what can be a stressful and hectic season.

I suppose that when I enter into this kind of patch of time, I tend to subtly circle my own wagons.  Equilibrium can feel tippy topple, and so I try not to ‘think’ too much.

I haven’t actually done anything for Christmas… yet.  No baking or tree up or shopping.  That in itself is a good reason to come here and share any small triumphs, and if my wibble wobble tipover tales make anyone out there feel less alone, then it’s definitely worth the time and vulnerability here.

Meanwhile, I’ve been through several cycles of passive aggressive manure with my husband, and my brain is fried.  It meant a pretty bad patch of insomnia last night, so here’s to a better night!

Posted in abusive husband, abusive marriage, Christian marriage, covert abuse, emotional abuse, passive aggressive abuse | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

When he doesn’t want to do something

If I ask my passive aggressive husband for help or to do something for me, he’ll usually do it, but often at a hidden price or sometimes behavior that is probably meant to teach me not to ask.  I often unconsciously weigh the cost, almost like an inner reckoning that runs on auto pilot by now.

Last night when I was cleaning up the kitchen, my youngest daughter wasn’t feeling well, and asked me to help with her bedding because her cat spit up a furball on it.  My husband walked by while I was washing dishes, so I asked him to please strip her bed and put the bedding in the washing machine.  I was tired, and it seemed a small and reasonable request.

The next thing I knew, I heard the loud roar of the old shop vacuum, which caused my other daughter and her brother to have to stop the television program they were watching together.  I motioned to my husband who first ignored me, then finally shut it off.  He loudly said that he was just doing what I asked him to, and that he was almost done, and turned the noisy beast back on.  The television program watchers gave up the episode ghost and went to other rooms and activities.

Huh?  He managed to aggravate and disturb two other people, and somehow it was because I asked him to?  Later when I reminded him that I’d only asked him to strip a bed and put it in the washer, he replied, “Oh no, that made a huge mess over here, and I had to vacuum it up before it got tracked all over.”

I tell ya, I didn’t even follow up on that one or try to figure it out.  Just hear the echoes of the Frozen song, “Let it gooooo, let it goooo….”

Posted in abusive husband, abusive marriage, Christian family, Christian marriage, covert abuse, defensive, emotional abuse, passive aggressive, passive aggressive abuse, passive aggressive husband | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments

The loneliness remains

I’m still praying and processing so much from our firstborn’s recent visit.  One of the loneliest things is to feel strong sadness, confusion or grief, because I tend to feel it alone.   I know that even in a healthy relationship, we can only share our individual solitude.  In essence we are alone, and while the presence of people and love comforts, it has been God that pierces and enters my solitude.  Still, I long for a partner who will also initiate conversations of shared thoughts and feelings.  Maybe most men don’t do this, but I wish for one who would also desire and need this in relationship.  After all these years, I’m more unsure than ever as to how much or how deeply my husband really feels.  I’m so sad about that.

While he is who he is, two unusual things have happened.  When we walked back to our room after listening to our daughter talk of living in what sounded like a cultic like commune, we sat quietly and reached out our hands and prayed together.  I don’t even remember the last time we did that.  After many years of my being so hurt by him, and yet he’d behave as though he was untouched by my pain when he’d cheerfully read his Bible or attend services, I eventually couldn’t bear to sit next to him in church or read Scripture together.  I’d also come to the point where praying together made me feel a kind of suffocating desperation, and my entire being would want to revolt and run; not run from God, but perhaps from a feeling that I’d be acquiescing to some kind of subtle agreement that God condoned what felt horribly wrong to me.

So it had been such a long time since we prayed together.  I can’t say that I perceive anything has changed between us.  It just happened.

I don’t know.  It’s difficult to sort it all out.  I only know that the recent praying together was a time when my heart was breaking, and his hand was there.

We ran errands last night at dinner time, and it was mostly pleasant and companionable.  We can often be this way, but we are so rarely intimate.  Not intimate in heart, emotion, passion or thoughts, but instead we can be more like amiable siblings living together, or two old friends that decided to live as platonic roommates.  When we’re not fighting.  When I’m not reaching out for more and being rebuffed with a stream of passive aggressive resentments to justify the distance that he creates and simultaneously denies creating while defending why he’s justified in creating it.   Chew on that convoluted dynamic and you’ll get dizzy.

Beneath the white noise of companionship is the awareness that you can muffle but never eradicate: that at any moment he might find a reason to resent and create distance, and there’s no safe hope for intimacy.  You have to try to choke back any need for that.

The other thing was that last night as we laid there in the normal silence, he rolled over and kissed me goodnight.  It was tender and bittersweet.  He kissed me goodnight in the way that I imagine normal loving couples kiss goodnight, but then he rolled back over without a word and it was silent again.  Eventually I fell into fitful sleep.

It’s still dark outside here, and everyone else is still sleeping.  This doesn’t feel lonely, just peaceful.  I’m checking in here, and then on to hopefully a productive day.

Oh, we watched a movie that I found so touching, and would recommend:  Tuesdays with Morrie.  I believe that Jack Lemmon may have received an Emmy for his amazing performance.  Maybe watching the movie was what stirred him to kiss me goodnight.

Posted in Christian family, covert abuse, divorce, emotional abuse, faith, loneliness, passive aggressive, passive aggressive abuse, passive aggressive husband, prayer | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

When your adult child hurts

When your adult child hurts, you hurt as a parent.  You can’t soothe a scraped knee or put a cool cloth on a bumped head.  You can’t even always offer any helpful advice or practical help.   Sometimes they would take help if you had it to offer, and sometimes they wouldn’t.  If your adult child hurts, you have to sit back and watch as they make their own choices for good or ill.  You can’t put them in time out, or know that a good night’s sleep will make everything brighter in the morning.  Sometimes you can only sit and hurt silently with them.

It’s so hard to write today.  I’m still feeling numbly sad and afraid for my daughter.  It’s like a terrible fatigue that I have to battle from without and within.   I’m making the daily list to make sure nothing slips through the cracks with kids, bills, pets etc., but my heart is over the miles and crossing Time to once again carry her.

Her sixteen year old sister told me last night, “Mom, don’t worry.  She won’t go to live in the Amazon.  She likes nice things too much, and even complained because there weren’t nice curtains in this room.”  Hmm.  I’ve known my firstborn to do some stupid things out of sheer stubbornness.  She was one of those kids.

But my real concern is the impact of years of stress and strain on her mental health.  She’s been a decade in a turbulent marriage.  Years ago after one of the times they came out of a very bad patch, I sat her husband down and told him clearly that she’s the kind of person that needs stability.  She requires it more than the average person.  I told him that in order for them to make it, his choices needed to always keep that in mind.  He’s done the opposite with his choices.  Her life with him has been anything but stable; in fact, it’s been years of her trying to create stability while he chased ‘personal fulfillment’.  His last chasing after personal fulfillment meant he had an affair while she was pregnant with their youngest child.

When I married my husband, I didn’t know about the history in his family of some serious mental health issues.  I’m not sure if I’d been told that I would have understood enough to be concerned.  At that naive young age and at that point in time, I was full of confidence and lived in an era when industrialized medicine was almost cocky with being able to come up with a pill or surgery to fix or cure anything.

Everything was genetics back then, but now we’re beginning to understand the impact of epigenetics.  It’s not just that genetics can contribute a kind of predisposition or vulnerability or strength for certain things, but that environmental factors affect characteristics of living organisms.  Or as Bryan Turner put it, “DNA is just a tape carrying information, and a tape is no good without a player. Epigenetics is about the tape player.

At the bottom of this, it’s a constant battle to not blame myself beyond perspective.  My mind sneaks back to junctions and choices and begins to wonder which choice could have opened a different path for her, one with more stability and less stress.

When an adult child hurts, their adult hurts can be far beyond your parental realm of remedy.

You pray.

Posted in abusive marriage, Christian family, Christian marriage, covert abuse, emotional abuse, passive aggressive abuse, stress | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments