If you stumbled onto this blog with no real experience of a passive aggressive person, it might all sound a bit crazy to you.
That’s okay. Those of us who live with it have a hard time understanding or wrapping our heads around it. In fact, the reality of passive aggressive stuff is so crazy that we call it insanity. Mind boggling. We struggle with denial out of sheer disbelief because it is that crazy. It’s so ‘out there’ that it doesn’t seem real to us.
Being the victim of passive aggressive abuse is like breathing in carbon monoxide. From the outside, you can see me getting dull, weak, foggy, and sick. But you won’t see anything, smell anything, hear anything, or detect anything. Unless you’ve also been the victim of it, in which case, you’d recognize the warning signs and suspect the cause of my impending demise.
One thing we struggle with is the perception that we’re weak and whiny. Yeah, come on, get over it. How do you remember that stuff? Why don’t you just stop thinking about it? You really can’t let go of it. Forgive and forget. Pray for him, and have faith.
Those are the myths.
Yeah, come on, get over it.
Fact. We try every day to get over it and past it. The room looks clear and safe, so we go forward about our own business of living, until the moment we feel ourselves sinking to our knees in confused emotional nausea.
How do you remember that stuff?
Fact. We don’t remember all that stuff as much as you think. The reality is that most of the time we struggle to remember abuse that happened five minutes ago, two minutes ago… We feel confused and unable to think clearly. When we DO grasp something, we repeat it in a way that bears witness to our own sanity. We repeat it to grasp onto truth, much like someone climbing up a cliff grasps onto a secure toehold.
Why don’t you just stop thinking about it?
Fact. We want to stop thinking about it. We want to think about ourselves instead of our energy constantly being forced through subterranean channels towards him. We want to think about good stuff. We actually are tired of thinking about him, but if we manage to forget and not think about him, he’ll stir something up from behind the scenes. In other words, we won’t know what hit us.
You really can’t let go of it.
Fact. If that’s what you’re thinking, then you’ve never experienced another person infiltrating into the vital organs of your psyche and emotional being and feeding off of you. They don’t let go of us. At least not unless they get another person to take our place. We vacillate between believing that part of him really does love us, and in our gut feeling entirely disposable. ‘It’ has a hold on us. The moment of realization doesn’t usually hit until we’re weak and depleted by it.
Forgive and forget.
Fact. We are some of the most forgiving people on the planet. If he actually STOPS doing the thing hurting us, if he actually changes the behavior, I think you’d quickly see us covering the past with grace and love. Because we want to treat others the way we want to be treated. We’re aware, too aware, that we have faults and weaknesses, that we make mistakes, and that we sin. We don’t expect perfection. We do expect that if we recoil in pain and say “You hurt me!” that he would give a damn, actually feel bad that he caused us pain, and try hard to not hurt us in that way again. Why don’t we forget? Because he tries to act like each time is an anomaly with a book of excuses ready. We remember in an attempt to hang on to sanity.
Pray for him, and have faith.
Fact. Um. Yeah. This one has been not only a gut twister over the years, but has grown into almost an insufferable insult born of ignorance. You weren’t there on too many nights to count while we wept and prayed. Wiped our tears, read our Bibles, clung to wanting to do the right thing, wanting to please God, wanting what was good for him as much as we wanted it for ourselves… You weren’t there when we fell on our faces crying out to God to give us strength, and to forgive us for our own sins and lack of faith. Instead of asking us to pray and have more faith, why don’t you ask him to stop sinning? Why don’t you apply Scriptural accountability and discipline to him?
Worst of all… Understand his special problems/disorder and love him the way he needs to be loved.
Pardon me while I rip a chunk of hair out and gouge myself. I’m not a reform school. The work he needs to do is his own responsibility. I have a plate full in front of me every single day of stuff I need to work on. I’d be more than happy to be a part of iron sharpens iron, but not so much anymore of the axe (him) hacking away at the tree (me) trying to grow up and stronger.
For too long, this whole ‘understanding him’ has been more like him getting a Disabled Parking placard for his windshield, when I actually know he can run around the parking lot if he’s so inclined. What needs to happen here is for therapists and people in general to wake up and smell the coffee. A good book to start with is Dr. George Simon’s, In Sheep’s Clothing.
When we’re depleted and drained from covert abuse, what we need is informed understanding. We need validation. Lots of validation, because we’ve probably spent a lifetime being invalidated. We need to find our Roar. We want someone to encourage our letting that roar out, and to roar with us. To believe in us. It’s not an imaginary illness. The source may seem invisible, but the wounds are real and devastating.