On being good

I’ve sadly come to believe that when he’s being very good, while it may be genuine, at some point it seems to tax and tire him.  Almost like some inner voice is reminding him about how good he is, and look how unappreciated his goodness is, which of course becomes fuel for the never ending resentment.  When he’s being good, I’ve almost come to expect that at a certain point, it will make him irritable.

When things are good, when things are going well, when we’re close and getting along, that also seems to unsettle him somehow, because I can almost count on him creating distance as a result of a window of closeness. Over time, it gets to the point where in every window of good, you’re watching for the specter of impending pain.  You know it’s there, waiting to spread its shadow into whatever light you’re trying to absorb.

In the beginning, I saw the appearance of the bad incidents, not as warning signs, but instead as either an anomaly, or something that could be figured out and changed.  I didn’t see it at all as the introduction to repetitive and toxic dynamics that would fill up the years of my life.

Has he changed?  Not so much.  Right from the beginning, he’s always been very good and very bad.  Like Longfellow’s little girl:

There was a little girl,
            Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
            When she was good,
            She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid.


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13 Responses to On being good

  1. mel220 says:

    It’s amazing how accurately you capture so many of my own thoughts and feelings I dealt with when I was still with him.
    And, that poem has come to my mind so many times throughout my marriage! I love it.


  2. chosetobehappy says:

    When mine is very good, it scares me simply because I know that there will be the other end of the spectrum coming. I can’t enjoy those times, I become morose and expect the worse. Thanks for putting in that poem, I can relate to it for sure.


  3. Fern says:

    Yup. Mine is being relatively ‘good’ (for him anyway) at the moment. So, that just means I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop….which, at some point, it inevitably will (and when it does, so much for the “Mr. Nice Guy’ act….).


  4. Bronze says:

    I believe they resent us for having to ‘act’ good. They think they shouldn’t ‘have to’ be good. We should accept them as they are. Their presence in the house, no matter how awful, should be lauded and appreciated. That should be their only contribution – their presence. And the fact that it isn’t ‘good enough’ for us, breeds resentment in them. They see none of our contributions. Everything we do is meaningless. They only see the supposed effort they are making to be nice and good. The don’t realise normal people are just like that without expecting accolades for acting normally. When I read back through my diaries it is obvious to me that the slightest effort to be ‘normal’, react normally to situations or do what any other human would do as a matter of course was seen by as as some spectacular, amazing action on his behalf. He had already managed my expectations down so low by year 4 that intermittent and rare ‘normalness’ was seen as outstanding by me. And also by him – hence his resentment.


  5. Karen says:

    It is a amazing how similar all of our experiences are. I can’t believe how many years I wasted thinking it was my fault, that it would ever be any different, being reeled in only to be crushed again. They really can’t stand when you have gotten too close to them. They have to destroy it somehow. I have filed for divorce and he has another woman he spends 4 nights a week with somewhere. I am wondering since he still has me to be passive aggressive to is he able to treat her normally. Do they ever change? I guess even though I have read so much about passive aggressive men I am still taking the blame. Thank you for writing about your experiences. It helps to remind me what is going on here.


    • WritesinPJ's says:

      Karen, I haven’t yet put my theory or belief to the test, but I do think that to him I would be quite replaceable, i.e. disposable.

      I don’t think (anymore) that it means I’m not lovable, or that I don’t have worth and value. I think it means that he has such a great need, that the gaping hole of my absence would mean compulsion to fill it. I’ve even told him so, and he glared at me in more or less disgust.

      I’m thinking your best defense is to be bland and not react in any way.


      • Karen says:

        You are incredibly smart and insightful. It amazed me how replaceable I am in his eyes.
        You are lovable. Just not by a passive aggressive man.
        Most of the time I try and succeed in not reacting to him but every once in a while he gets me.
        Please keep writing. It is so helpful to all of us.


  6. Bronze says:

    Karen, my theory is that while you are still in the picture and an available outlet for his PA he will be able to be relatively normal with her. My ex, still occasionally does things to my children he knows will get a reaction – I think he has to, as a way of relieving pressure. My objective is now never react to his obvious goading me with PA and let his pressure be taken out somewhere else. They need somebody to be PA with. If it’s not you – he will use her. I’m hoping my ex’s gf is not in too deep before she sees the dismal future he is going to give her. Try to take yourself out of the picture as much as possible. They are so far removed from reality that I cannot for the life of me see how they can change. Mine went to anger management and counselling and we did marriage counselling. All to no avail. If anything it made him worse.


    • Karen says:

      I know you are right. I try very hard to keep a low profile. And I do feel sorry for this woman or women. I know how charming he was to date. The PA behavior sneaks in little by little. I just had a feeling I am still the target.


      • Exodus says:

        It helps me to think of ‘ Charming’ as a verb- what he does to does to people instead of an adjective that describes his more likable behavior.


  7. chosetobehappy says:

    Karen, I understand. Even without any reactions on my part, he will continue to push the buttons until he gets where he needs to be, sometimes that takes days. I use to blame myself, I use to think I must be a terrible wife to have my husband treat me so poorly. And I would pray to God to help me be a better wife to no avail as you can well imagine. I loved him so much, when I think back to that “me” I hate the way he played me like a fiddle. I’m slowly getting better, it takes time but now I know it’s not my fault. Hopefully, I can stop being ambivalent soon and make the decision to leave – enough already right?!!


    • Karen says:

      I have felt the same way. Saturday he finally managed to get me to explode and you could see from the smile on his face and his reaction how much he enjoyed it. I am so mad at myself for letting that happen. I hope for you too that you can get out. It just has to be better.


      • chosetobehappy says:

        Thanks Karen. Monday I was in a crappy mood mostly because he’s been super nice and I hate that, the smokescreen part… I’d rather he be moody and nitpicky, then I know what to deal with. But I woke up Tuesday morning and decided that I had to keep going choosing to be happy. I made a conscious mental note to myself and it worked, I’m ok. I know that one day, I will have what I want and what I deserve. I hope you do too.


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