What outsiders see

I just read another post at:  http://passiveaggressiveabuse.wordpress.com/2014/03/16/visiting-my-sisters/#comment-5538

Part of it was about arriving home from a visit with family to find her husband boiling some leftover turkey, turkey that a few days before she’d asked him to not take out of the freezer because she was planning to cook something special and specific with it. 

One reader responded by saying:  “Or he was just making supper – and isn’t that nice to come home to? Strange that you found something wrong with your husband cooking dinner. Be happy he was cooking even if he used something from the freezer that you had other plans for.”

This was my response to that comment:

Yes, there is a very tiny possibility, a sliver of possibility, that he actually forgot she wanted to use the turkey for a recipe.  There is a very tiny possibility that he wanted to be thoughtful and caring and make dinner. 

Those are the things the typical person would assume, but now you have to factor in years of repetitive behaviors that form a distinct pattern. 

The pattern is one of selective hearing, selective memory, sabotage, aloof withdrawal, selfishness, and petty never ending resentments.
If that pattern is clearly established, even then you want to give someone the benefit of the doubt.  You want to give him the benefit of the doubt, because you try to treat others the way you wish to be treated.

So you come home, he’s boiling the turkey you said you wanted to make a special recipe with, and you feel this hard to explain, sickening jolt to your gut.

This is when, as I commented below, I would have once upon a time said (with dismay but not anger) “Oh dear!  That’s the turkey I told you I wanted to save to make enchiladas with!”
If he responded with genuine regret and surprise “I’m so sorry!  I completely forgot!” or anything similar, if he moved toward you with any measure of sorrow that he caused you distress, sadness, disappointment (the things a lover never wishes to give to their beloved), you could easily smile, understand and feel your shared humanity, and move on.

When his response is a variation of:
So what?
You never appreciate me.
What about you doing x,y,z?

If he at this point glares, accuses, and resents, then you quickly realize that he did KNOW, he did REMEMBER what you asked/wanted, he just DIDN’T CARE. 
And if you have a problem with that, he’ll find a way to punish you until you learn not to bother him.

Throughout all this, your greatest perceived crime just might be that you fail to agree with him in realizing what a nice guy, what a great guy, what a poor, put upon, unappreciated, charming, wonderful guy he is. 

Somewhere, lost in all the spin, will be that he felt entitled to entirely ignore your clearly communicated desires, wants, or needs.  In his mind, that doesn’t count.

So please, before you judge someone who is trying to apply enough discernment to survive a slow, implacable, almost hypnotic, life draining erosion of her very being, just try to imagine if you were subjected to this. 

Not all at once, but little by little, piece by piece, and it will punctuate the times he really does seem to be that nice, wonderful man.  The same man who will assure you repeatedly that he loves you.  He really loves you. 

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6 Responses to What outsiders see

  1. chosetobehappy says:

    Don’t forget the crocodile tears that come with the “sorry” and the “I love you so much I wouldn’t hurt you on purpose”, the deflecting, gaslighting shenanigans they also use to say they “forgot”; “didn’t hear”; “misheard”; or “found an excuse for”… to explain why they did such a thing.

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  2. Amanda says:

    It’s a basic human need to feel like we matter, that we are important to someone and that we are valued. Behaviour like this (in a roundabout way) implies that we don’t matter, we aren’t important and that we aren’t valued. And it hurts.

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  3. The thing about the turkey noodle soup – well, actually, a couple of things.. (And I need to do a follow up post.) He wasn’t making it for me. He already knew I didn’t need dinner when I got home. He was just making it for himself. But here’s the things – when I asked him what he was making – and I asked him because it smelled like turkey but I didn’t want to say anything if I was wrong – when I asked him what he was making, and he said, turkey soup, he SMIRKED. He KNEW. He knew EXACTLY what he was doing. He KNEW he was using the turkey I had asked him not to use. It wasn’t forgetfulness; it was a slap in the face. Or, rather, a passive aggressive payback.

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