Meaningless and meaningful

Listening to what my passive aggressive husband says is a strange business.  When he speaks casual words in the kind of nonchalant tone that other people in my life use for relaxing and every day conversation, my ears pick up, and my inner radar scans what I’m hearing and sensing.  When he says things in a kind of serious tone, it’s the opposite almost.

Little words about his plans for the day, mentioning offhand something he ‘needs’ (often meaning he’ll buy it without further discussion), certain sighs or tones of voice, or at times his silence that ignores something I said as he immediately changes the subject as though it hadn’t been said, these all get my attention.

As I sit and try to sort this out, the lessons of past history run through my thoughts like a polluted river with a dark undertow.   He speaks about his faith in passionate terms of conviction, and yet to my ears they ring as a kind of pseudo conviction, because I’ve experienced the disparity in how he treats me.

Hearing as I was trying to fall asleep that he wanted to tell me again that he was sorry, really sorry, and that he really did love me, caused a stress response in my body, but no sense of deep belief.  Just sadness and fatigue.

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This entry was posted in abusive husband, abusive marriage, Christian marriage, covert abuse, emotional abuse, passive aggressive, passive aggressive abuse, passive aggressive husband and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Meaningless and meaningful

  1. marsocmom says:

    I understand…words are just noise. “I’m sorry” means nothing unless you stop doing what it is you are sorry for. And if you’ve been doing it for years and years, one “I’m sorry” is not going to cut it or instantly repair all the emotional damage you have carelessly wreaked over the years. You are wise to be wary. And you are also amazing to want to believe him and give him another chance. I really hope he means what he says and will begin to prove it to you, PJs!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. JR says:

    “When he speaks casual words in the kind of nonchalant tone that other people in my life use for relaxing and every day conversation, my ears pick up, and my inner radar scans what I’m hearing and sensing”

    I always feel like I’m being set up when PA talks to me. Everything concerning PA feels like a trap. I can quickly go into a panic or anxiety type attack… Just by hearing him speak.

    Today, I made a mistake. I made this mistake at exactly 10.50am. I know it was 10.50am because I misread the clock. I don’t know how or why, but I did. I laughed (mistake) and corrected myself. I never would have imagined the fallout from a silly, simple mistake.

    Hopefully, I never misread a clock again, because I’ve heard about it approximately 8775433566 times today. I have been thoroughly interrogated as to the how’s and why’s and my obvious malicious intentions. I guess, my mistake ruined his day. It’s now 7.56pm and I just got questioned AGAIN about why I did it.

    And he’s at WalMart. Just took off after my last interrogation. He’ll probably buy more ham. I hate ham. Nobody in this house eats ham. Not even PA. But he brings home various forms of ham 3 or 4 times a week. Probably so he can moan about how much food I waste when he throws it away next week…

    *Sigh…

    Liked by 2 people

    • myknifedream says:

      I just signed up for a WordPress account. So, any comment on your blog as JR is me. Sorry for any confusion.

      Like

    • Exodus says:

      It’s truly so bizarre how these men ignore all the facts, their commonsense and good manners just to repeatedly commit a petty annoying abusive behavior intended to undermine and control us. Sometimes I imagine Norman’s brain as a hamster maze and as soon as he has to do anything that will benefit me/us or he should be kind, respectful or nice to me, the switches engage that activate lead doors that immediately block neuro pathways and cognition. Your story about your husband buying ham is an experience that I lived with every durn time Norman went to the store for something. It didn’t matter if I gave him a giant written list of 3 things. He would always come home with the very things I didn’t want and neglect to buy the very thing we needed. Even worse, he would always say, ‘ Well, the ham looked so good that I got it instead of the turkey ( I don’t eat ham either and he knows that) or I forgot the list.” When I asked why he didn’t call me to confirm, he would say that he didn’t know why or that his phone battery was dead. After grilling him about not calling, he would finally blow up like an angry demon and say, ” I didn’t feel like calling you! Get it? DROP IT, OK?” The ham would just sit in the frig and rot because he wouldn’t eat the ham and when I would comment on how he loves to waste money to punish me, he would defend his behavior by telling me that he bought it for me as if he had done this wonderful thoughtful deed for me. The bottom line was that whatever Norman wanted is what I ended up with and it didn’t matter if I needed baking soda to bake a cake, he would bring me powdered sugar instead and then argue that powdered sugar would add more flavor, texture and color to the cake AND, I would be able to use it for other things like sprinkling it on top of the cake. He could argue for a half an hour why it was better for me to use powdered sugar. All that coming from a man that has never cooked anything at all in his entire life. I’m not exaggerating. He truly is just that insane. For me to witness this almost daily insanity all by myself and not have any validation or feedback from anyone else resulted in severe PTSD. I had to work so hard for so many years trying to keep myself sane and grounded in reality and being able to trust my intuition that my nervous system can’t handle any amount of stress now and I end up with tremors and nausea and unable to stay fully awake after any traumatic event. I literally go into an almost catatonic state.

      I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to get out of these relationships and quit wasting time trying to figure them out and why they do what they do. Trust your own good sense and begin planning to leave today. It doesn’t ever get easier, the problems don’t ever end and you are the only person ( and your children) who will suffer permanent injury to your physical, emotional and mental health.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Exodus, I really do know what you are saying here: “For me to witness this almost daily insanity all by myself and not have any validation or feedback from anyone else resulted in severe PTSD. I had to work so hard for so many years trying to keep myself sane and grounded in reality and being able to trust my intuition that my nervous system can’t handle any amount of stress now and I end up with tremors and nausea and unable to stay fully awake after any traumatic event. I literally go into an almost catatonic state.” Experiencing it alone it so hard. Trying every now and then to give someone a window into our lives, while still remaining a respectful, loyal wife, backfired every time. No one wanted me to even raise a tiny little red flag. They would deny anything could possibly be wrong with him, it must be me, and then turn the conversation to a new subject or completely off. Then I spiraled down into guilt and recriminations over what a bad wife I was to even think such thoughts. Now that I know better and speak the truth about him without so much doubt and confusion, it’s better, but an invalidating voice still triggers me into almost a panic response. My stress hormones go through the roof like I have to defend everything I know to be true, right then and there, with the intensity that my life depends upon it. I have worked with two different therapists in the last year (each had different strengths). Both have been very helpful in different ways – even providing validation at various times – and the result has been my growth and strengthening, but recently I have been thinking that perhaps we have gone as far as we can go and it might be time to quit. Then in a recent conversation one of them has started talking like trauma should heal in two weeks of work if people are willing to let it go and how wrong it is for even a rape victim to carry trauma for more than a few weeks. Wham! Immediate mind and body response that someone who does not and can not understand what it is like to have lived this day in and day out for decades can judge the effect of abuse and trauma on another person and how quickly they should heal. I don’t want to become a professional, lifelong victim! No way! But I am still in it and this was not a one-time event. I know I am rambling a little, but no one knows the damage these men have done at the deepest levels of our beings and the cellular level of our bodies. Our ability to heal and the time it takes is very individual and should never be judged. Anyone who understands trauma or abuse would know better. (See how triggered I was?)

        I’ve been praying for a while for a friend that understands – just one in-person, safe “kindred spirit,” so to speak. The answer has not been coming. I am starting to believe that – for me – I think God may be working on having me depend on Him alone and trust in a path where I get strong again instead of leaning on anyone else to get through this. (I was rather independent before, and I already have so much validation and support from the women on this and other blogs). I have started so very slowly to coach myself through those stressful situations that would be fairly minor if I wasn’t so deep in PTSD reactions myself. It’s so hard and so slow, but I have had a few successes in talking myself down from catastrophizing in a stressful situation. It’s scary. The hardest part is thinking, how did I become this?! Then I realize I don’t have to stay this way. This is me with Gregory in my head and heart and mind. This is me while inhaling and ingesting poison. As I get him out of all of those places – completely – I can get ME back. Two steps forward. 1.99 steps back. But if I can move forward even 1% of a step each time, (if I can reclaim even one cell at a time), I think one day it will click and I’ll finally be two steps forward, no steps back. Oh, for that day. I believe the same can happen for you! I know you have it in you!

        You also said: “I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to get out of these relationships and quit wasting time trying to figure them out and why they do what they do.” Yes! Especially the part about trying to figure them out. It can’t be done to any satisfying degree. This has historically been such a temptation to me. I want to analyze and understand the logic behind the cause and effect in each reaction and situation. What’s the saying? “…to unscrew the inscrutable”? It can’t be done. I read a post at graceformyheart.wordpress.com about a month ago (10/17/14 post) on the narcissist Friday posts about the mystery of it all. It was such a helpful post that hit me right where I get stuck. His final sentence was, “Don’t let narcissism be an endless loop of focus in your life.” And isn’t that just what they want? For us to be focused on them constantly – whether in a positive way or a negative way. To borrow from that post-er and expand, get off the PA, narcissist, sociopath – pick your dysfunction – loop and let them go. Thank you for the reminder, Exodus.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Exodus says:

          Seeing, A therapist actually implied that ptsd can be cured in two weeks? I would get rid of them. hmmm Well, I was raped in college and I can tell her that the trauma from that never goes away. We will develop a thicker skin with time but there will always be that worry in the back of our minds whenever we find ourselves in a similar situation. Some therapists need to be put into colonial stocks for a week or two.

          Even if your husband died tomorrow and left you a million dollars and you headed off to a tropical island happy as a clam, you would still suffer the trauma until you had enough normal happy experiences to replace the traumatic memories. The key to healing is to avoid emotional vampires and never relax those boundaries. I’m as sick of Norman as I am of feeling sick! I don’t want to feel this bad anymore!

          One of the things that has really helped me Seeing is creating a vision in my mind of what my new life will look like. I have my vision so detailed and burned into my brain that I can’t get rid of it. I can’t see myself being with anyone like Norman ever again. I don’t see any man in my new home and new life. I just see me, my dog and lots of sunshine and warmth.

          I met a woman in my jury that had left an abusive marriage years ago. She’s in her 50’s now and just bought her first home last year. She told me that she has worked 7 days a week for over 15 years and that her friends are always putting pressure on her to marry her boyfriend. I told her that if I were in her shoes and had worked so hard to build such a successful life, I would never marry anyone and risk losing any part of my happiness or security. She agreed. What an amazing woman she was. She had the best attitude and was funny and so happy despite her factory and retail jobs. She was truly so grateful to have what she had. I want to be like her. I have no doubt that once we get into a new environment, we will begin to blossom immediately. 😀

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yes, the therapist actually said that. And it’s a “he.” He has actually been very helpful with the neuroscience part and re-wiring the brain. Some of his techniques helped me to resolve issues with not trusting my own intuition and judgment so he hasn’t been all bad. BUT – he seems to think it works the same way with trauma. New scripts to re-wire the brain. Choose forgiveness. Abracadabra. You’re healed. I don’t think he has ever been through anything like this before. He has shared a little bit of his life so he can give examples of his theories and methods. From what I gather, he has no life experience that can compare. I do think he and I have pretty much hit the end of the road. I keep connected with him because I feel like I have no support system so I am afraid to sever one more tie to a person completely.

            I like your idea of creating a vision. I think I will try that. Right now I also need to work on finding ways to have some positive experiences to write over the traumatic ones. My health is so poor so it’s not easy.

            I made a step today and threw out my chocolate stash. I will allow myself a little organic dark chocolate, but I am ready to attack the comfort eating and ramp up the healthy eating. I do some already, but I need to go further. Little by little…two steps forward…

            Liked by 1 person

            • Exodus says:

              Seeing,
              Oh no! Not the chocolate! Too bad you couldn’t dispose of the real problem as easily 😀 One of my favorite self-care rituals that I do every now and then is to make a pot of real hot chocolate in the afternoon and have one Hostess Snowball ( the white color) I use my antique chocolate pot and pretend that I’m in a beautiful old Victorian parlor. The things we do for love 😀

              I agree with your therapist’s theory that we can write a new script to replace a bad one but it’s not as easy as just sitting at the typewriter and there’s only so much new/happy experience a person can digest in a two week period. He might be attempting to elevate your attitude/spirit by creating a benchmark. It helps us to know that there is a light at the end of this tunnel. For so many years, we’ve just been clawing our way through a bottomless pit of darkness.

              I think you sound stronger and so much brighter 😀 Out-growing our therapists is common and i’ve been down that road as well. I incorporate a multitude of sources of inspiration throughout the day but the image that I keep about my new home and new, ” Norman-Free” life is the most powerful driver for me. I think it helps to write about it, draw it, say it out loud and think about it all the time. Oh, I joined a book club at my local library and I’m excited about that and we meet once a month. Hey, it’s something to add to my new life and I gets to meets people! hehehe Maybe you can find a low-key activity to add to your routine. Anything you can do outside of your home/family is a start. Knitting, art, pottery or music or cooking classes? I’m not an exercise-a-holic so joining a gym wouldn’t suit me but I do enjoy qi gong and tai chi. I wrote about how my therapist asked me where I get my energy for life from and I’ve been thinking about that quite a bit because I know I need to align my life with sources of positive energy. I just haven’t quite figured it out yet. Music and Animals seem to empower me the most but I’m not a great musician and I don’t want to go to Vet school at this point in my life.

              Have you ever had Nopalea juice? I’ve been picking prickly pear fruit for about a month now from anyone’s yard that has them and adding to them to my smoothie. Not many folks know that the fruit is edible and very good for you. Pcking my own is a whole lot cheaper than buying Nopalea. The fruit sells for 4.00 a piece here at the grocery store!! If I set up a roadside stand and sold mine for 2.00 each, I’d probably make 100- 200 dollars a day!

              Like

        • newshoes123 says:

          I have PTSD also. It’s terrible. Just had a memory while driving yesterday morning. Blogged about it too.

          Like

      • myknifedream says:

        Yup, yup, yup to every single word you wrote! “DROP IT!” is his favorite phrase.

        I’ve never met a person so very wasteful of food. It absolutely boggles my brain. Ham. Lots & lots of ham that nobody eats. Not me, not PA, not even his 2 kids. Bananas. Nobody here eats them. But he buys a HUGE bunch of bananas at least once a week. I don’t even freeze them anymore because I have so many. Milk. Nobody in this house drinks milk. PA buys two gallons a week. Nobody touches it. I had him talked into getting the half gallons, but he’d by 6 of them LOL when I pointed out the lunacy… He went back to gallons.

        *sigh…

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  3. paescapee says:

    PJ- it sounds exhausting. I really notice this because I have found I have so much more time and energy now that I am not continually trying to figure out what is happening and thinking of what I can do to defend myself next. You are much better than I was at ‘seeing it coming’ but in a good relationship, you shouldn’t need to do it, I feel ;(

    Liked by 2 people

  4. newshoes123 says:

    PJ, that stress response you are feeling is anxiety caused by the fact that you know down deep that his sorries are empty and it’s just your body’s reaction to the whole day. I used to get them and they would also come in cold sweats at night when I have my nightmares. With pa s you can pretty much be garanteed that what they say is one thing and what they do or feel is another. Your gut instinct is pretty bang on, that uneasy feeling that you have will no go away because there is nothing to back up those words. I agree with marsocmom, the apologies are only worth what they back up, and he’s not really sorry… he will continue the shenanigans because he can.

    I gave my stbexpah so much time to make up and prove to me that he could treat me with respect, and he was able to do that for certain things and only for a certain period of time. He was never able to sustain it for very long. Periods ranged from 2 weeks to 2 months and at one point 2 years. I was so different then, felt loved and appreciated, gave love freely and was just so happy, I felt like the luckiest girl on the planet. Until the shoe dropped one day and I saw the real man that he was, all this time, he was holding it in, making nice. Once the floodgates of his pa behaviour opened, there was no stopping him. He was like a raging bull and I was so confused because after a few years of being treated with respect, I ws in a state of shock and dismay. I cried my heart out. I deteriorated pretty fast after that, realizing that those years were nothing but a smokescreen.

    My point is, please be careful, sure they may be some change but I would never let my guard down just in case.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Bronze says:

      Wow, the exact same thing happened to me with my ex. After he moved out and went to anger management he was able to treat me well for about 9 months (there were still skirmishes, if truth be told) and I felt like a different woman. I was happy and hopeful that FINALLY he had got it and that we might actually make this work. Also, I think because I got so little prior to this that him living out of the house and mostly being nice was so very different that I felt he must be different. There were still fights though a lot less. Anyway after about 9 months he just BLEW and didn’t stop blowing until I was almost wrecked. It was like he had been holding it in for so long and he just couldn’t take the strain of being minimally nice to me anymore. I also deteriorated fast and it was after a sustained months long effort by him to bring me to my knees, that I had to call it quits. I think he was never going to stop until he destroyed me. I guess, he was punishing me for having to be nice to me for so long. But yes, I look back on those months as the best of our marriage and he wasn’t even living with me, lol…. That shows how dysfunctional these men are. I think the deterioration was so bad because after 20years of slings and arrows I slowly let my guard down over those months and allowed myself to hope and love and BAM – he got me. I guess that is what he was waiting for and as soon as I let my guard down he went for the jugular. I can honestly say I was as close to a full mental breakdown as I’ve ever been in my life and the months of shock after I went NC for my own sanity I barely hung on to it.. I still don’t quite understand everything and one day I’ll try and write it down in some sort of time line and see if there is any discernible sense to be made but on the whole nothing he did or said during that time makes sense. It all seems to just be said with the intention to wound.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Exodus says:

        Bronze, ” I guess, he was punishing me for having to be nice to me for so long.”

        There’s no need to guess. You’re correct in your assumption. They are physically addicted to the high they get from expressing anger just like someone is addicted to alcohol. They get high from inflicting pain and suffering, they get high from retaliating with PA behaviors because they lack the ability to express emotions in a constructive healthy way. My therapist told me that PA abusers are usually addicted to other things as well- food, sugar, sports, porno, work, exercise, alcohol, etc.. and that when they are not abusing us, they are usually abusing someone or something else that keeps their dopamine levels up. It all has to do with dopamine dysregulation and it does have a cognitive component as well.

        Norman is a sick man. If he were not sick, he wouldn’t be a repeat offender. I’m sorry that he is sick but I can’t help him and unfortunately, most mentally ill people with addictions and character disorders won’t seek treatment. SO, we’re left with only one choice and that is to leave unless we are willing to accept that they are ill, live with them and tolerate them and nurse them. No thanks. I have no desire to become Nurse Ratched.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Bronze says:

          Nursing is not my thing either… It takes a long time to understand not only are they mean, nasty and completely self absorbed but that this is not something they are despite wanting or wishing they could be different. This is something they are because it is their fundamental, core person and they don’t want to be any different because it would be like me telling you to change WHO you are not WHAT you do. When they are being nice it is merely a manipulative act – they can ACT human when it suits them but in doing so, they are acting contrary to WHO they are. Now, you and I are fundamentally fair minded and empathetic so if we do something hurtful or act in a hurtful manner and it is brought to our attention, we want to change that to be MORE in line with WHO we are. When we are asking a PA man to be respectful, helpful, team orientated we are asking him to change in OPPOSITION to WHO he is and therefore that will build more resentment in him. The changes we have made over the years in ourselves to better cater to the PA man and his needs or in reaction to his anger are testament to our diligence in bringing our actions into line with who we are and also our desire not to hurt. I remember my ex telling I don’t love him for who he is and it puzzled me for years he could say that because I was practically a slave to the man and quite frequently did unasked for thoughtful things. That should have shown my dedication. I only had problems with his abuse, disrespect and PA behaviour. It took me until after we broke up to realise he was referring to his abusiveness – that was his real self and I refused to accept it/him (like his mother did with his father). They are truly sick, right the way down to the core. I agree. And they can’t change – any change is only an act because they remain who they are underneath – seething. It’s also against our nature to believe such humans exist – that are irredeemable and intractable but we ignore that fact to our own detriment but to learn it is to loss innocence and hope. It’s a tough one. That saying ”we change when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of changing”, applies to us but never, ever to a PA man.

          Liked by 1 person

          • newshoes123 says:

            Bronze, I get you. Just like you I let my guard down during those times, I was so hopeful and my heart was open, although I did have a few doubts that it would last, I still felt secure enough to let him in and then I fell like a ton of bricks. It was so painful, all the tears that I had been able to hold back all those 20 plus years came down like a river and I couldn’t stop crying for months, I would hide so he wouldn’t see and loss so much sleep that I highly doubt I will ever get those years of insomnia back.

            I left for my sanity and that of my children. It was a very difficult decision, I want to be home with the kids but I can’t stay in a house where the tension is so high that it can explode at any minute. It’s sad, I miss them… I can’t wait until things are settled and I’m moved permanently in my new place. I think then I’ll be able to relax and spend quality time with my boys.

            Like

          • Exodus says:

            Bronze, PROJECTION is the keyword that describes what NPA’s do to their victims. Norman and your husband always saw themselves as victims of people like us who didn’t understand them, didn’t love them. When they accused us of such things, they were really talking to themselves. We were trapped in their mirror like any victim of narcissistic abuse.

            I was thinking this morning about how I spent years assuming that Norman was experiencing the same emotions that I was during our marriage relative to things, people and experiences. When I was feeling joy, I just assumed that he was too. I thought he appreciated the same things that I did. I thought he loved the holidays as much as I did and was looking forward to them like I did. When I was laughing at a joke, I just assumed he too would laugh and find it funny. When I was hurting or grieving loss, I just assumed that he would feel the same or at least understand mine. It took me so long before I understood how wrong, delusional and unrealistic I was. There’s no easy way to say this but, they don’t feel anything like we do and they don’t perceive us as separate beings from them.

            Anything positive that I ever experienced in my marriage was just in my head. I had to manufacture those assumptions about Norman in order to survive. I didn’t want to accept that he was all bad, evil or so broken that he couldn’t show up and one day be the husband that I needed him to be. Eventually, the toll of those delusions left me feeling so pathetic and broken in knowing that I had chosen such an evil man to marry. What the hell was I thinking? Am I that f’d up? Am I such a worthless human being that I have to resort to such pathetic delusions to survive? Am I not good enough for a decent man?

            I don’t feel bad about myself anymore- not as much anyway. I know that it’s all too easy to get charmed by these men and, given my codependence, want to help Norman to self actualize. I’m over that though. Maybe it’s age, maybe I’m just so fed up and exhausted that I don’t care about fixing anyone.

            The other day during Jury duty, I had many conversations with many different people. We cut-up, laughed, joked about the grueling painful process we were all enduring. Not once did I ever feel any disconnect with any of them. It was so wonderful that I almost cried with joy. I was surrounded by complete strangers who were full of empathy, humor, compassion, respect for others and despite the horrible situation were in, we were comrades working as a team. At one point, I just sat quietly in contemplation about how I’ve lived all alone with an empty angry evil man but somehow managed to protect my own character and not become like him. But, how sad it is that I had to live so isolated for so long with such a person. He may as well have locked me in a closet with crumbs for food and a filthy water bowl ( that’s how his family treats their dogs) and visited me once a day to tell me how much he loved me.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Bronze, I would highlight this whole comment and put asterisks next to it and say YES! It is WHO they are. Wonderful insight! Thank you.

            Like

        • Just a remark on the addiction/dopamine thing. I have seen the discomfort in Gregory as he faced withdrawal from the high he got getting me to respond emotionally or lose my cool and get angry and on and on. It coincided with him stepping up what appears to be an addiction to caffeine beverages and exercise. Neither one of these was significant in his life before. He has always been addicted to work and that has continued.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. If you find yourself in a dysfunctional relationship and your mate refuses to accompany you to a councilor or anyone else for help, it is not going to get better but will only intensify with time. Cut bait and run for the hills to save your sanity and dignity. I finally did and never regretted it.

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