If you’re wondering why

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 forgetPray 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.

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10 Responses to If you’re wondering why

  1. Exodus says:

    And for the record, I know that if I never had to deal with my husband’s repeats, I would forget about most of them. I’m not the one keeping score…he is…and that is why he repeats all of his sneaky abuses. I wrote about how he actually changed for two weeks last winter and I never spent a minute dwelling on the past. I was ready to move forward and thought nothing of the past. As everyone knows, he reverted back to his abusive ways. At least I got two weeks to write about.


  2. lonelywife07 says:

    Oh yes, yes, YES!!!! This is so spot on it deserves to be printed out, and mailed to every minister, counselor and therapist in the country!!! ESPECIALLY the pray for him and have FAITH paragraph!
    Umm, the only reason I’m still sane after his affair is because I DO have faith that God can do anything….now in saying that…I believe that PA Man has to WANT to change and he has to ask God to help him change….and that’s not happening because I really do believe that he thinks I want to be unhappy and not forgive him for the affair… and that is not his fault that I’m
    that way, because I should be OVER it….so why should he be bothered, right?
    Great post PJs….great post!


  3. Well said!! Thank you so much for this post, it really put things in perspective for me. I’ve heard some of these myths and it don’t work for a PA person!!! I’ve also heard, “you have to teach a man how to treat you”. That don’t work either with a PA and I should not have to teach my spouse of 28 years how to treat me.


  4. Seeing the Light says:

    Excellent post! You are so right about the carbon monoxide. And finally recognizing that there is carbon monoxide in the house doesn’t mean you are immune to it. It’s still there!
    Also, as well as not being a reform school, I am not his mother. I have lived with being put into a creepy combination of mother roles for him, too. I am my children’s mother, not his.


  5. RockyRoad says:

    Once again you’ve put into words what I haven’t been able to articulate! It is nice to feel validation for the feelings we have to deal with after being shut down for so long.

    Exodus – I know exactly what you mean about letting go of the past when the fog lifted. I also got to experience that briefly and I remember thinking “This must be what it’s like to have a NORMAL marriage”. I started a personal journal at the beginning of my marriage because I like to write. Little did I know it would be validation for all the PA moves played on me for years. When I finally got my PA education, I reread my journal with new eyes and could see how it played out over the years. It was so obvious once I knew what it was!


    • Exodus says:

      Rocky, When my husband ‘changed’ last winter, I really learned a lot about myself and my ability to forgive and not hold grudges. Until that experience, I wondered if I was so jaded that I had become a bitter and unforgiving woman. My mother always told me that I was an angry and unforgiving person and so, I couldn’t help but wonder if she was right. It was a good feeling to know that I have an open heart that is willing to forgive and able to start anew. If only my husband would stop reminding me every day of why I am so unhappy with my marriage. 😦


    • Seeing the Light says:

      Rocky Road – I can relate. I have written a journal over the years as well, including before I was married. I too have gone back and re-read with new eyes (hence, the name Seeing the Light – I see clearly now what I didn’t see before). Before we were married, I wrote things down that now I know were red flags that should have meant more to me, that might have stopped me if I had listened to my gut. Questions I was asking myself about things he said and did. I read them now and I wish I could have seen where all the pieces fit. The journal entries within a couple of months after getting married are so sad. I was losing my identity, losing myself, so fast. I was writing things like, “I don’t know the person that I see in the mirror any more.” “Who am I?” “I need help.” No one who knew me before him would even recognize this feeble, confused person. I feel sorry for that blind, lost girl (me) trying so hard to understand what was happening. And like you said, now it is so obvious. I sometimes wonder if I will ever be fully over the shock that this is not a bad dream, that I don’t get to wake up and get those years back, not to mention what about the future? The loss and the waste confounds me.


  6. WritesinPJ's says:

    This was a fast and off the cuff get it off my chest post, so after I hit ‘Post’, I felt a little apprehensive. I always do 🙂 Thanks so much, all of you, for your support on this one.


  7. newshoes says:

    I’ve been accused many times by him of acting like his mother!! Well the truth is, I didn’t want to be his mother but somehow, when he couldn’t take care of himself and us, I become both mother and father in our relationship. And really I just wanted to be a wife. Now I have no idea what that means. I never signed up to be his mother, I wish I would have been strong enough to keep my end and be on my side back then, but it goes easier not to fight back. I guess it was on survival mode.

    You do forget the abuse and you remember when it happens again. That the thing, you know it’s there, you can feel it, but you can’t really put your finger on it, it’s like between layers. Once I learned what this whole thing was, I began to peel the layers and I finally now understand why all this pa behaviour happens. The truth is, even though I know, he can still get to me, he knows the buttons to push that will set me off. And then I’m right back there again, and I hate myself for it. I know I shouldn’t and that will be part of my healing one day.

    PJ’s – you are right on point again. Don’t worry about your posts, they are really good, they are extremely helpful and if it makes you feel better and it gives you feedback to help you go through your own situation, then by all means, you are doing us all a favor dear, because we go through it with you and by the comments that are left for you and the discussions that happen…. you are obviously doign soemthing quite right.

    By the way, kudos on the your teaching exams – although it was quite obvious to all of us, that you my friend, are a very intelligent and smart (I know it’s redundant) woman. 🙂


    • Exodus says:

      New, I too have also been accused of treating my husband like a mother and even the way we carry ourselves in public gives off that parent-child dynamic. I absolutely hate having to constantly supervise my husband but he commands that with his actions because his actions are driven by the angry child within him.

      Your comments reminded me of a few therapy sessions that my husband and I had way back in 99 with a very bad therapist who encouraged me to be his mother.

      Here are a few examples that I submitted to her during our couple’s sessions and how she responded: ( my husband loved this therapist)

      My husband constantly leaves the gate open and our front door wide open when he leaves for work and my dogs get out and I must search for them alone while in a complete state of panic.
      Therapist: You need to put key locks on all the doors and gates and only you can have the key. When he leaves, you can open the doors for him and lock them behind him.

      My husband accidentally loses the mail I give him to drop off at our mailbox on his way out. Our electric has been turned off twice because he accidentally loses the payments to them and this is costing us reconnection charges as well as traumatizing me each time it has happened because I’m not aware that he has lost the mail.

      Therapist: You need to take care of all the mail and not allow him to handle it at all.

      My husband refuses to provide receipts for purchases made for our company and he refuses to notate any checks that he’s taken out of our company checkbook.

      Therapist: Any purchases need to be made by you and he should never be allowed to handle the personal or company checkbook

      And, this is how the sessions continued for another few weeks until I ‘fired’ her. Very basically, she told me to be in charge of everything. My husband thought she was very nice. I asked him if he felt the slightest bit insulted that she considered him to be a helpless child that needed mothering and supervision from his wife and he just looked at me with an empty stare and never responded.

      Not all therapists are good therapists. Any of us who have taken Psychology classes know that many Psych/social worker majors in college are dysfunctional people trying to figure themselves and their families out or how they screwed up their own kids. Caveat Emptor!


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