Inordinate amount of energy

I’m pretty sure that most people tend to second guess, look back, sort and reflect, and process what they could have, would have, should have done differently.

The recent incident with giving my son a ride is one of those times for me.  I couldn’t think clearly about it yesterday at all.  I wrote a post yesterday that I’m going to put out there today (in addition to this), but want to keep them as separate topics.  One is really about PTSD, and this is about reflecting.  I hope you’ll bear with me, because in the end I hope I’m realizing what I should be focusing on.

I have no doubt at all that I’ve been codependent most of my life.  I’ve read Codependent No More a few times over the years, and I’m planning to reread it again soon.  But when I look back on what happened on Sunday,  I’m not sure at all that I’d do anything differently.  Even the not being codependent me that I’ve worked at becoming the last several years.  Before you shake your head and think I’m a lost cause, let me try to explain.  I want to try to express my thoughts on looking back to what my choices were.

I knew I was being asked at the last minute, but I wasn’t aware at all that another brother had been asked/told by my husband to give him a ride to work.  That I didn’t know about until I was already in the car and starting to back out of the driveway. 

That brings me down to one choice to reflect on:  get up and give my eighteen year old son a ride, or say no.  So this scenario is the weekend, a relaxed recovering from a virus me that had slept in and was just fiddling around at my computer.   The last minute request wasn’t received by me as a big deal.  I even suspected maybe in the busy stuff of what we were trying to do to get the house ready for painting, that scheduling a driver had been lost in the shuffle.  In the split second decision, I knew it could have been many things in play.

I wouldn’t have allowed an ongoing pattern of being available on a minute’s notice.  The way I would have dealt with this on my own would have been to have a conversation later on designating drivers, and needing timely notice if I’m needed to fill in for someone else.  Communication, guidelines, and setting a boundary.

Looking back, I don’t think it’s codependent to allow a pass of grace the first time for an eighteen year old.  It would be codependent to allow it to continue.   That’s when I would see myself as rescuing and enabling.  Setting a boundary and making the guidelines clear for scheduling rides is important, and holding the boundary to let each person be responsible for their part is important.  None of that had yet been addressed.

Since that communication and boundary had not yet happened, I think it would have been almost petty on my part to not just give him that pass of grace, then settle what future guidelines would look like after he got home from work.  Part of this whole mess is from only having one car since that other car went kaput.  Otherwise, I would just hand him keys, and see him after his shift.

I looked back and tried to imagine the scenario of my son asking me for a ride, and my telling him, “Son, we’ve never discussed this, but if you ask me for a ride at the last minute, I won’t help you.  Sorry, guess you’ll have to find another ride and be late for work.”  That would have been my alternative to the one choice I made that day.

This is the crazy part.  I’m spending all this inordinate amount of energy trying to sort this out.  Why?  Because my husband acted like a threatening bullying ahole.   If he hadn’t, I would have just said as I was dropping my son off, “Have a great day at work, but we’ll have to talk tonight about making sure this doesn’t happen again.  See you later!”

It could have been not even a bump in my day.  Barely a ripple.

What this really seems like to me is the typical pattern of looking at me, my behaviors, my choices, all in the same old way of what did I do?  what could I do? what should I do?

When dealing with passive aggressive abuse, all those questions are practically moot!  I can say I shouldn’t have married him, but that’s moot.  I can say I should have realized years ago, but that’s also moot.  And all this really avoids having the focus on where it should be… on his crazy abusive behavior. 

I’m going to reread and refresh and reevaluate and recheck myself for codependent thinking and behaviors, but really the truth about that day is that if my husband hadn’t gone off like a loose cannon, there would be no story!

What my gut tells me I need at this point is to focus on that.  Focus on the fact that his behavior was crazy, it was wrong, and it was all his to own.  It’s not mine.  This is where my energy needs to go.   To remind myself that I didn’t cause his behavior.   To remind myself that I have no control over his behavior.  To stop and think that not only would that day look different without his passive aggressive behavior, but life would look different.

How might life have looked?  I would have given him a ride, talked with my son when he got home, talked with whoever might be giving him rides, and moved on from there.
It’s entirely possible that I’d be approached at the last minute on some day after that, but then even though I’d feel bad for him, I’d be keeping integrity with myself and my conscience to not step up and give him a ride.  No shouting, no banging, no drama.  Just the regular stuff of life that we need to navigate to communicate and grow.

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12 Responses to Inordinate amount of energy

  1. Seeing the Light says:

    Excellent post, PJs! This is a terrific analysis of the whole situation, and you are right. It should have a been a normal, everyday thing handled in a normal, everyday way until he injected abusive behavior into the situation. I love the way you have broken it down for yourself piece by piece and laid it all out to look at. I believe if we can all do that more and more it’s part of recognizing truth and making a distinction and a separation between us and their toxicity – and that is healthy!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree, excellent post. It reminds me of something I wrote to my husband’s therapist a few years ago:
    “Tonight, H and I spent about an hour talking about communication and our relationship. What instigated this was that H did not respond to my repeated requests for help finding the tax software I use to prepare our income tax returns. A painful, tedious, conversation ensued. We ended on a positive note. But afterward, I felt used up and I felt used. There is no good reason for spouses to have to discuss, ad nauseum, whether it’s right to answer each other’s basic questions.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bronze says:

      Wow, I used to have to go through that as well.. When you repeatedly have to teach somebody about basic good manners then there is a problem. The other one for me was that we may as well have not had those conversations because even if they ended on a good not with an acknowledgment from him – it still didn’t change anything and the same conversation would have to be had over and over, until you just stop trying.

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  3. Exodus says:

    PJ’s

    Certainly if your husband didn’t behave that way, the chaos wouldn’t have ensued but why did your husband behave that way? I don’t think his behavior was PA- it was aggressive. Seems that he got angry because his son didn’t honor his commitment. Is it possible that he was caught off guard when he saw you driving and freaked out because he felt ignored and disrespected by everyone which triggered other repressed emotions and resulted in a high intensity response? Because you felt pressured to keep driving, he may have felt like you were ignoring him and disrespecting him as well- especially in front of the kids which of course would make any parent angry.

    Seems to me that had your son just honored his commitment to drive his brother to work, none of this would have happened.

    Maybe I’m off-base but I always try to look at things from everyone’s angle.

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    • WritesinPJ's says:

      It was absolutely aggressive, but then a passive aggressive is always aggressive. I think the term passive aggressive itself almost lulls even those who know better into forgetting that it’s aggressive, aggressive, aggressive. The aggressive is delivered covertly via passivity to disguise it.

      Why did my husband behave that way? Ultimately, because he could. He would never, for example, pound and bang on a neighbor’s car. Abuse is always about an imbalance of power. He behaved that way because he could.

      He behaved that way because he felt entitled to. He knew that I didn’t know about the prior arrangement. His very first initial approach to me as I was in the car was IMMEDIATE anger. Immediate hostility. He was angry from the get-go when he first appeared and yelled, “What are you doing?!”
      That was quickly followed by the shouting order, “Get out of that car!”

      I don’t think he was angry because my son didn’t honor the commitment. That kind of anger is something I’ve only typically seen if something (like my son’s not honoring the commitment) inconvenienced him somehow. Then he’ll definitely get angry. When I thought about that angle already, it didn’t make sense. Think about it this way, if my husband’s concern was purportedly that I shouldn’t have to drive because I’d been recently not feeling well, if that was his motivation, then would he approach me with anger and shouting? That didn’t look or feel like concern for my well being. I have been thinking about this before you asked.

      Feeling ignored or disrespected because his wife (who is an adult that’s capable of making a simple choice like driving a son to work) is driving a son to work is twisted.
      I also thought of that earlier, but his behavior reflected a complete disrespect for my choice as an adult, a choice that should not have impacted him.

      IF I’d come out expressing anger and irritation towards him that I ‘had’ to drive our son, I could see that he might get reactive. But I didn’t. That’s not at all what happened.

      Also, I didn’t at all feel pressured to keep driving. What I felt was that I needed to keep going or my son would be pointlessly late, and I also felt… like I wanted to keep driving and get away from the angry lunatic banging on the car.

      I’m saying that his anger didn’t come out of a vacuum. It was obviously already in place and waiting. That’s why I suspected it had to do with the night before when I came out to the huge mess in the kitchen, and told him that I felt it was reasonable for me to expect him to communicate and delegate when I was sick. Now, when I say ‘expect’, it doesn’t mean that I actually expected him to do it. Not really. The mess was what I actually expected to find. Like other things at this point in time, that was voiced to be a witness to myself. To hear my voice telling myself audibly that it’s a reasonable expectation (i.e. healthy and normal). I really think because what I said was true, that it caused a kind of discomfiture inside of him, and that alone would be enough for him to resent me and need to find or create a reason to be angry with me.

      He’s driven to feel good about himself, so even if I speak the truth, it has to be diverted and deflected at some junction to keep him as ‘good’ and me as ‘bad’.

      I do believe my son should have been responsible and ready to drive his brother. That for me is like an entirely different issue. I don’t believe that his lack of consideration and responsibility is in any way the cause of my husband’s abusive behavior.

      My husband is the owner (entirely) for his bad behavior.

      It’s my viewpoint that we each have a conscience, and we each have to wrestle within at times to hold to the line drawn within our being by our conscience (given to us by our Creator). That’s the line we stop at, the line we won’t cross. If I decide that stealing from someone is wrong, no matter how badly I want your new scarf, I’m not going to pinch it from your home when I visit, or the department store when I shop. If I decide from listening to my conscience that it’s not right to tear down the spirit of a person by vile name calling, or humiliate someone because I’m angry with them, if instead my inner line is to treat others as I want to be treated, and to try to love my neighbor as myself, then it will guide my choices and behaviors.

      When I cross that kind of line, I’m miserable, filled with sorrow, shame, and remorse, I want to turn from it, to be forgiven, and to not do it again.

      If I don’t truly have that inner line, that decision and choice and commitment within my soul, then I might find all kinds of reasons at various times to steal or hurt. This world will never stop giving me reasons to behave badly, to make wrong choices, and to cross those lines.

      If my son had been ready to drive his brother, my husband’s anger would have found another reason to feel justified in behaving abominably. At least this is what I think based on past history.

      My husband’s abusive behavior did serve to muddy the waters of any opportunity to have a teaching moment, heart to heart, or set a boundary with the son that he’d just exploded at, sworn at, and intimidated.

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      • Exodus says:

        PJ’s,

        I totally get what you’re saying and understand that these guys do what they do because they can get away with it but there is always a trigger to some underlying emotion that causes these men to act out. The question is always, who are they really beating up and why?

        Just yesterday morning Norman was cursing up a storm about that contractor I spoke to last night. He threatened to fire this guy, called him a loser, F’ this, F that, F him and the last thing he told me before he left was that he was going to do the repairs himself and not ever use this guy again. All that exhausting drama ( before I even had my first cup of coffee) was for nothin and I knew it at the time. I know Norman is under a LOT of work pressure at the moment and his two brain cells are being taxed to the max. Anytime he gets overwhelmed, he becomes very defensive and short-tempered. Anyway, he apparently called the guy ( despite his hatred of him) and left a message about making those repairs and that’s why the guy called our office last night. When the phone rang, I actually for a brief second, thought ‘ oh my gosh, he’s mad as hell and he’s calling to chew me/us out’ but then I remembered that Norman is always full of empty threats and was probably kissing the guy’s bum on the phone.

        Norman’s abuse is very predictable based on many things……overload at work, me asking him a question, me calling him on his phone, me leaving him a note. You know how that works. But, I’m also aware that when he punishes me he’s really releasing anger that he has toward his mother and father who always told him that he would never amount to anything but a laborer so anytime Norman has to use his body for work, he resents it. He hates chopping wood even though he really enjoys it and he hates building even though he really enjoys it. That’s one of the reasons why I do most of the physical stuff around the house including chopping wood. If I ask him to chop wood, he hears his father ordering him to chop wood and will delay, delay and then get angry at me. Anyway, we’ll never be able to get into their minds and know their thoughts. We just sit and wait for the next episode.

        I don’t think I’ve ever seen norman become physically aggressive. I’ve seen him appear to be extremely angry by the evil look on his face but he never acts out aggressively except for that one time he threatened to hit me and I knew he wouldn’t. Norman would NEVER do what your husband did because it’s too obvious and he wouldn’t want that to blemish his perfect “record”. Not long ago I was looking at a website on PA and the article had a picture of a note in a frig that said something like, ‘ I know who you are, don’t eat my food anymore’….something along those lines. You’ve probably seen that picture. When Norman saw the photo, he exclaimed, ‘ NOW THAT IS AGGRESSIVE!!!” I thought, ‘ What?” So, he interprets ANY confrontation, even a note in a frig, as aggressive and therefore that makes me very aggressive. He couldn’t even grasp the concept of that note being an example of PA behavior. That’s where our differing perceptions lead to very ineffective communication. I can’t say anything or write anything or do anything without him interpreting me as aggressive and he’s always on the defense and ready to a tune me out.

        BTW, I didn’t think you felt obligated to drive, I thought you felt pressure to get moving so your son wouldn’t be late to work. PJ’s, I think that you, like so many of us, have lived in this toxic environment for so long that your home has become a super fund site. It’s not going to get better because the longer your husband stays there the more he will contaminate each of you until each of you becomes a super fund site. Is there any chance he could move out and let you and the kids live in peace? Maybe he could rent a house or apt nearby? At least you would have a peaceful non-toxic home.

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      • paescapee says:

        PJ this thread has made me think carefully about something that I think is not clarified very carefully in Beattie’s book- what’s the difference between a good mom and a rescuer? Your story triggered something in me- anxiety about noticing the Drama Triangle at work. Having slept on it, I believe that the difference is that someone helping out a friend/son/neighbour is using their head and their conscience to make a calm decision about whether to help someone with their predicament; a co-dependent response has a sense of anxiety and urgency and a feeling of need to solve their problem FOR them. You say that your son would be ‘pointlessly late’- yes, he would, but this is the mini-drama that HE had set up and was not yours to solve. The ‘point’ was that he would learn to allow more time! He set up (as teenagers do) the Triangle and it really felt like you were triggered emotionally (must not be late, mustn’t let people down, mustn’t lose job security) and responded from your anxiety, stepping neatly on to the Triangle with him. I would also have given my child a lift and a lecture- I still ‘Rescue’- but nowadays I think calmly and set limits as to how far I’ll go. Yeah, I haven’t mentioned your husband’s appalling behaviour! Focussing on that, which you can’t change, I feel is keeping you stuck to him emotionally. But noticing when you get involved with Karpman (this is a useful, harmless example with your son) will be the key to your liberation from your husband too. Not sure if that makes sense 😦

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        • Exodus says:

          Excellent points Cathy about the emotional response vs the analytical response in different dynamics and how we get emotionally attached and stuck to the drama.

          Something I noticed about myself and when I began to be less emotional and more analytical in my person relationship dynamics occurred when I started our business. I noticed that when it came to business, I was not codependent at all ( Norman was and still is). It was very easy for me to conduct business without any emotional attachment even after my customers became ‘ friends’. On the other hand, my personal relationships were quite the opposite until I made the commitment to practice healthy dynamics and remove toxic people from my life.

          I’m an analytical thinker anyway so I’m not terribly surprised that I’m able to compartmentalize my emotions from work and finances but nonetheless, I know that I have to pause and analyze my motives when I feel the urge to rescue or respond to other people’s problems- the same way you do.

          Liked by 1 person

          • paescapee says:

            Yes, I agree, I think it’s very common for us to have difficulties in some areas and sail through in others. It seems to depend on our internal values and beliefs- you may, for example, have been brought up to believe (sub-consciously) that it is quite okay to look after your own business interests but as a wife, it is your duty to support him in his problems- this makes it harder to set boundaries. I think most of us struggle in the area of supporting our children, as of course this is a naturally co-dependent relationship and I personally feel horribly guilty if I say no to ‘helping’ them. The trouble is, I came from a family (and married into a worse one) who struggled with fuzzy boundaries so I literally don’t even think of setting them! It helped me a lot to understand that I’m not ‘helping’ people by enabling them but I do find it difficult. i suspect i always will!

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            • Exodus says:

              Yes, you’re spot on with that analysis of our family boundaries. My family had no boundaries.
              I think the reason I was always responsible for my business and finances was because I saw how my very dysfunctional mother ran her businesses and I refused to operate like she did. I also studied men and women in business that I respected and admired and learned from them how to set boundaries in a constructive and respectful way without offending anyone. And yes, I was taught by my radical feminist mother ( no joke) to serve my brother and my father and of course her AND when I didn’t, there was hell to pay. I realized one day that I was actually sort of like Cinderella ( except that I never got rescued). Talk about mixed messages and learning a very screwed up value system! So, I’m absolutely certain that this is why I always felt the need to be at service to people in my life- especially men. I’m not really that way anymore though even though I’m suffering the collateral damage of my previous dysfunctional life. One day this too (hopefully soon) shall pass.

              Liked by 1 person

  4. Newshoes says:

    PJ, pa s don’t have a conscience like we do, again you hit the nail on the head by saying that they are the owners of their own rotten behaviour. Everyone is of course, they however choose to please themselves and do whatever they want without real remorse and with total disregard for the ones that they love. Us.

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