Resenting The Passive Aggressive Pt. 2

Okay everyone, we left off in “Resenting the Passive Aggressive” part 1 with doing a little “soul-searching”, making a list of who we resent and why. Now let’s get to how to quit resenting the passive aggressives in our lives, since the only one it truly seems to bother is us. LOL. (Not only that but if we openly show the resentment, it puts us at a disadvantage).

Now that you have your list of grievances, one by one, we need to work on forgiving those people. I did not say to necessarily forget, just to forgive. Easier said then done, I know, but it’s got to start somewhere. LOL.

The first place to start is with yourself. When I’m resentful and really angry it’s usually because I’m angry at me for “falling for the same old crap” or “they got to me again”. Then I have a tendency to beat myself up.

“How could you be so stupid?” or “Aren’t you ever going to wise up?”

We want so badly to believe things will be different, that everything is going to work out when the passive aggressive uses their charm, that it’s easy to fall into the trap all over again. It’s human. It’s natural when you care about someone, and the sense of loss, frustration and helplessness when it doesn’t work out is how the resentment for the passive aggressive begins. So put forgiving yourself for being human at the top of the list.

Now for the good stuff!

Go down your list and write each passive aggressive person you are holding resentment for, a letter. Not one to mail, but one you can truly express yourself in, the “down and dirty” stuff. Tell them exactly what you think of them, what they’ve done to you (the way you see it), and what effect it’s had on you and your life. Once you have that all out, save the last paragraph for telling them how you are “breaking the hold” they’ve had on you. That you are no longer going to let them affect your life this way, and that (here it comes), you “forgive them for they know not what they do”. (Luke 23:34).

Then throw the letter away, or burn it, what ever will suffice for “letting go” for you. I know, after all that hard work, aye? But if you hold on to it to read later, 1) you’re not really letting go of the resentments and 2) it’ll probably just make you mad when you read it again. LOL.

Now, figure out what it is the passive aggressive does that get’s to you so easily, ‘your hot buttons’. Figure out a way to counteract that. Have a ‘plan’ for the next time. Start seeing how your life could be if you diffused the situation. Let’s face it. You are never going to change the passive aggressive in your life, so why not change how you react so they don’t upset you so? One of the reasons we get so resentful is that we cannot accept the reality of the fact that “it is what it is”. The sooner that you start dealing with how things are instead of how you wish them to be, the sooner your “hot buttons” won’t be so hot.

The Plan- Now that you’ve gotten all that resentment and anger out into the open, we need a plan to stop it from rebuilding or coming back. You should be feeling a little freer already.

Think about what you think about. Are you being just a little irrational when it comes to this person or these people? Did you cause them to be how they are? I don’t think any of us took our spouse or partner on to raise. And if you’re the parent of a passive aggressive child, remember many things influence how they perceive things growing up. People you don’t even know or realize will have said things or done things regarding your child that influence them, or maybe they’ve taken on traits of your spouse.You are not the cause, you can’t control them, and you’re not the cure (to borrow a quote from AA).

If all the resentment of the past, if all the wrongs were forgotten, how would your life be different? If you started today looking forward instead of looking back, what would change for you? Would you allow yourself to be happy? Would you get along better with the people that matter to you that surround this relationship between you and the passive aggressive? I see it in my own kids. When I start bitching about my passive aggressive boyfriend, it’s like they turn off. “Oh Mom’s ranting again”. Do you find you’re alienating people because they don’t want to get caught up in the crossfire? Would you be able to get on with your life?

Then starting right now, for each passive aggressive person on your list devise a plan for the next time you see them. Think about how they are, what they will probably do, and how you can not react in your usual manner. As you get better at this, you’ll realize more and more how much better you feel after an encounter than you used to. You’ll start to feel the control over the situation coming back to you. It really is in your hands, you know. You may not be able to change them, but you can certainly change how you react to them.

The last step is to do a little day dreaming. In a perfect world, how would your life be different for you? If you didn’t have these resentments hanging around your neck like an albatross, what would you be like? Would you be carefree? Would you take a class? Go out for cocktails with friends and laugh it up? Would you start singing to the radio even if you can’t carry a tune? (Alright, so I do that, but what the heck? LOL).

We all meet people as we are growing up that we admire, and we want to emulate. Why can’t that person for you now be the “you” you want to be, or maybe the person you used to be? What is stopping you? Whatever it is, dissect it, and get rid of it. When you look at it under a microscope, it’s probably not all that rational anyway. You need to be careful and recognize what negative things you’re telling yourself and when you start to hear those thoughts in your head, stop yourself and think of something else, even if it’s just “la, la, la, I can’t hear you”. Negative thinking is a habit. Like any other habit, we have to break it if we want to be free.

Write on a piece of paper the person you want to be, the way you would be if you didn’t have all this negative resentment of the passive aggressive impacting your life. Make a list of the things you enjoy, the things that make you happy. These are the steps to making you the you you want to be. It’s just like setting any other goal, we’re just setting a lifetime goal to be happier and less out of control.

Keep this paper with you. Read it every day. Carry it with you to read either waiting at the doctor’s office, or when you’re feeling down due to some offense, any time you need it. Reinforce the good feelings you get from knowing that “every day in every way, I’m getting better and better.”

It takes practice. Our old habits don’t change over night, but don’t lose faith in yourself or your new plan for a brighter future. You’ll get there. Be good to yourself. You are worthy of a happier life, despite what any one tells you, or even what you tell yourself. If you can make yourself happier, think what you can do for those around you.

Feel free to leave any comments. I’d love to hear if any of this is working for you, or how you felt about it. Like I always say, I’m no therapist, I can only share with you what has helped me. Nothing is going to work for everyone, but hopefully you’ll get something useful out of just trying the steps. If you aren’t happy anyway, what do you have to lose?

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12 Responses

  1. I appreciate you taking time to address the topic of resentment. I wanted to start on the road to not feeling this way. I wanted to forget and forgive the stupid, stubborn decisions he made. I wanted to get beyond the total disregard for his health and lack of pride. But today with one decision, all my good intentions are now forgotten. Today he informed me he had decided to retire (at age 62), and in doing so was dropping our health insurance. The word Jackass comes readily to mind. Never mind at our age,we are most vulnerable to catatropshic diseases. Forget that it is 5 years for me until Medicare kicks in without health insurance, if any of us receives Medicare. He said it would be too expensive for him (on his reduced income) to carry. I am an independent contractor and cannot sign up for insurance at work. So I told him to get me the paperwork and I would pay for the insurance. Yes that will cover him. But that is okay. I actually don’t want my retirement wiped out by ill health. I am in the process of building a house to retire in and I want to be able to retire without fear of total loss. Today a friend called to mention a mutual friend’s father-in-law had died. For whatever reason they had been without health insurance. They had gone from being homeowners to living in a small apartment because of health. Now I understand where my resentment comes from and now I understand that it is well-deserved.

    • PA’s Mom- Ahhh, damn. I am so sorry to hear that, especially if you were making progress. Since he doesn’t do anything with his time except go to work, did you ask him what he plans to do with himself?

      I’m an independent contractor also, but I belong to a couple of associations, one at the state level and one at the local level. Both of them offer group insurance and they have open enrollment a couple of times a year where they accept everyone without a physical, etc. Do you belong to anything like that? Maybe you could check on insurance through them. Unfortunately, you’ll probably want him covered anyway since you don’t want to be responsible if anything happens to him, bill-wise, which you would be since you’re still married. Will he be getting Medicare? I always thought you had to be 65 for that to kick in, but I’m not sure when you retire early. In fact, I didn’t even think you could retire at 62 any more. LOL. Shows how up to date I am. I have about 5 months before the BF gets to 62, so I should be paying attention. He isn’t working still so he might as well collect.

      I totally understand about being worried about the health aspect when it comes to the future. One of my best girlfriend’s husband called me last night to let me know she passed away. He tried to get her to go to the hospital on Sunday and she wouldn’t go. Monday morning he woke up and she was gone. She had passed in her sleep that night. The funny thing was (if there is a funny thing) is I was always expecting a call like that from her about him. He’s been in poor health for years. You just never know. At least you’re able to continue with your insurance if you pay for it. I think I would talk to him about at least splitting it. He’ll be on a reduced income, but that would reduce his bill as well, without you paying for all of it.

      Good luck, My Dear. I’m just curious as hell what he plans to do with himself now? I hope it’s not move in with you. LOL

      • Well he imagines that he is building a house as well. He has a slab poured. But that is about it. No he knows better not to try and move in with me. I don’t know if there are any options for me to obtain insurance. I will check into that. I had better determine what my legal rights are as to being separated. We do not file tax returns together. I will contact my attorney on Monday. I would not want to be responsible. You can’t get Medicare until age 65. He was “surprised” when I first told him that when he broached the subject of retiring. He was a little shocked when I told him I would pay for the insurance. He wanted to know if I could get it from work. I said no I wasn’t eligible. I don’t think he is going to do much with his time. I don’t really care.

        • Thanks for the suggestion about looking around for a policy. I have searched online and have found some good and affordable options for my college aged daughter and myself. Yes when he drops coverage it will drop her as well. He said that at orientation he was informed she could obtain health insurance from the school. But who knows what type of policy it is and what it would cover. This way there are no surprises. It is with a well-established company. I would be using an insurance broker. My spouse would not be covered, but it sounds like he could get affordable health insurance on his own. His health is remarkedly good. Not even one maintenance medication. I am certain our relationship has reached a point of mutual disdain. He dislikes me as much as I dislike him. But I am sure it is all my fault. And in many ways, I guess my intolerance of him as he was is my fault. I have other issues to clean up from him as well. We have property that the insurance is being canceled on because of vandalism. He has left this to me to clean up. I have worked months to empty the house of all the liter. It was our home and now I feel I have no other option but to tear it down. Perhaps a bit symbolic of our relationship. On a positive note, I had lunch with my PA son yesterday and it was a good visit. I have to accept him as he is. He is coming into his own a bit. I am still a bit stressed as to his choice of friends (many with odd colored hair), but he is past the original seedy friends that he originally moved in with. The marijuana still plays a part in his life I know, but he is maturing. I pray nightly that he prepares to be an independent adult. One kid moved back in and is preparing to take the GRE. One is taking the bar exam. One is thinking about starting a family. One almost through freshmen year in college. Overall, PA son is very sweet, same as he was when he was little boy. But my other son describes him as very stubborn. I think that he is intent on making his own way on his own terms. Thanks again for listening.

          • PA’s Mom- I’m so glad to hear you were able to find a new policy for you and your daughter, although when my girls were in school, the insurance through the school was pretty good. I think we paid like some minimal fee like $75 for the clinic there and they can get most of their general needs met. I’m sure that’s gone up now, but I should see if my youngest daughter is doing that for her and my son. She probably hasn’t even thought about it. You’re right though, it wasn’t a complete policy for big things, obviously for that price. She’s lucky to be in school so that you can insure her. It was so hard explaining that to my kids when they got to be over 18.

            I wouldn’t be so quick to take all the blame for things going awry in your marriage. First of all, it takes two. Two to make it work, two to let it fall apart. None of us when we get married sign up for what we sometimes get. When we agreed to marry the person we’re with, we usually have discussed our dreams for the future and figure we’re at least close to being on the same page, or we probably wouldn’t be with them. Somewhere along the line, someone changes the rules of the game. Sometimes it’s so subtle while it happens, that we don’t really realize it until the day we realize it’s a whole new game and the one we signed up for has totally disappeared. I’m sure that there were some things you could have done differently just as we all can look back and see that in ourselves, but there is a lot that you have no control over when it comes to another person’s choices. As they say “You didn’t cause it, you can’t control it, and you can’t cure it”. You have a right to expect adult standards out of an adult person.

            Now for the fun stuff! I feel like I love your son and I don’t even know him. You and I have gone through a lot together regarding our youngest boys this last year, and I’m so happy for both of us that they seem to be finding their ways. Your son sounds so much like mine, and with them both being about the same age, I’m sure I feel a special “kindred spirit”. Like yours, mine has a good heart, even if he didn’t make good choices. Well, for one who was worried about how you were going to fare on your own, you sure are busy! LOL. My goodness. Good luck and God Bless to all your children and their endeavors. See, you definitely did a lot of stuff right. You must be very proud of your children. It sounds like they are all accomplishing something for their lives.

        • PA’s Mom- Building a house! LOL. Well that ought to keep him busy for awhile since he doesn’t like to do anything. OMGosh, that is such a big project for someone who never completes anything. (At least my PA never completes anything. LOL).

          I didn’t think you could get medicare until you were 65, but then I thought if they let people retire at 62 maybe some part of it kicked in. Cobra from his work to continue on with his insurance will be even more expensive than what he pays already. Yes, if he is going to quit working, etc. you should get at least a legal separation if not a divorce. Otherwise, even being separated physically, you can still be held responsible for some of the things he does. Do you two have any credit together or anything like that? You would want to protect yourself all the way around. Maybe he just thinks he’s going to retire and let you work and take care of everything, like you always have. It’s time for a wake-up call, aye?

  2. I was going to take over his policy under the Cobra law. But I was really glad that you suggested looking around because I found a much better policy and a much better price. The health insurance for my daughter is about $100 per month at her school, but I can add her to a more comprehensive policy for a little less than that per month. He can take over his policy under Cobra for a limited time, but I am going to suggest to him that he look into purchasing insurance from the company that I am going to go with. It would be very reasonable. I seriously doubt he finishes his house. He has only finished a few things in our adult life. It’s just getting very hostile on both sides right now. We don’t talk. We may send a note back and forth, but we don’t talk. The children are drifting away from him, because frankly he doesn’t have any place for them to visit. It’s odd how my contact with you all started about my son, but has somehow focused on the husband. I won’t mind helping him out when I get all this student loan, business loan debt paid off. Which if I am reading the law correctly, he is responsible for half. He thinks he is debt free right now. God forbid I die suddenly. But fortunately for him I do have an insurance policy in place that will take care of my debts. I do think parents together are an anchor for kids, even adult kids. And I think that anchor is missing in our children’s lives. They haven’t drifted off course by too much. I regret not having that center for them. Nor the extended family. His family is quite large so they have that. I don’t have any family other than my children. But that is okay. Sometimes it doesn’t work out like we think it should.

    • PA’s Mom- That’s funny you mention about him not having any place right now for your children to visit him. I was going to ask you when you said about having to clean up your old house now, and him not being there. Why, if he’s only got the foundation for the new house, would he move from your old one? Of course, who knows why they do what they do, but that just doesn’t even come close to making sense. Where did he go? LOL. Sorry. I know that’s probably a little “nosy” but I just can’t resist.

      When it comes to all the debt, it usually boils down to who signed for it. A judge in a divorce decree or legal separation could set an order that he’s responsible for half, but the companies you owe go after 1) who signed the papers 2) who they can find the easiest.

      I know what you mean about families. When I married once, my kids loved having the huge family we got with the wedding. When he died, there was a lot of hostility with his kids. Most everyone went their separate ways. It was hard to go back to getting used to it just being us. All my relatives live on the other side of the US. My sister and brother are out here, but we never see them. Luckily my sisters daughter and my kids are very close, so they at least have each other. Of course sometimes I have to remind myself, not having too much family around can be a blessing. LOL.

      Take care of yourself. I’m sorry to hear he’s becoming more hostile. Nothing’s ever easy, is it?

  3. This is all good stuff, these ideas about flushing resentment. I, myself, can say that I’m continually working on it all. I can honestly say that I am moving very forward in feeling the resentment (old and weekly new ones) and spending less time ‘in’ it. For me, however, forgiveness is simply not an option I choose. I firmly believe that forgiveness should only be granted to those who demonstrate regret. Oddly, this makes me more able to deal with it all. I guess mostly b/c a lot of my resentment is based in the idea of being asked to forgive someone who is not sorry. I resent being asked to say ‘I forgive you’ if the person has not said or behaved in a fashion that says ‘I’m sorry.’

    I don’t have to be rude or disrespectful to that person; I can move on with my life – but in that moving on I choose to continue to say ‘That hurt. You are not allowed to treat me this way. If you expect my forgiveness, I expect your remorse. No remorse, no forgiveness.’ To me, that’s self respect, it’s self advocacy and it’s stating and upholding your expectations; saying ‘It’s not okay and remains not okay until you acknowledge it’s affect on me. I’m going off to do x,y,z and leaving this incident behind, but I will not forgive you for your choice until you demonstrate behaviors that align with being sorry.’

    It makes no sense to me. Would a judge look at a case and simply ‘forgive’ a crime b/c it’s the healthy, ‘right’, ‘godly’ thing to do? No. Would a judge reduce a sentence to someone who demonstrates true remorse through behaviors that are consistent with being sorry? Sure. I choose to look at PA behavior in this much more practical manner.

    I understand that I cannot ‘convict’ a PA person (when you do you make yourself nuts and everyone else thinks you are crazy) but I can continue to choose to hold him to expectations and not forgive him when he is not accountable.

    I believe it’s more healthy to be the opposite; ‘forget- or at least pay no more attention to – incident #32, but no forgiveness without behavior to match.’ It’s degrading to just say ‘I forgive you even though you’re not sorry.’ I choose “I don’t forgive, you haven’t earned it. My forgiveness is worth working for. I respect myself enough to expect people to acknowledge when they hurt me and say they are sorry.”

    I uphold myself to the same standards too. If there is one thing that being involved with a PA has taught me, it’s the undeniable power of expressing regret and truly working to make whomever I hurt feel safe, heard and respected. I have said “I’m sorry” and “What do you need from me to feel better” – then behaved in a way to match it. I have no problem doing the work to earn forgiveness.

    • PSE- Thank you so much for your input here. I know, trust me, how hard it is to forgive someone who is not remorseful at all. It’s tough, and I as much as anyone feel the resentment and the anger at someone hurting me. I do not ever say “Just forget it” or “let them do it again”, but many people will never be remorseful, and if we don’t find a way to free ourselves from the hurt and the bondage of resentment, they still end up “winning” so to speak.

      Carrying it with you until they earn your forgiveness in the end only hurts you. It’s sort of like a sore that starts out very small and you “ignore” it. Then it starts to develop this redness around it and it starts to grow. We pay a little more attention, but before you know it in the center it starts to turn green. Now we realize that the sore has gotten infected and we put some salve or something on it, trying to make it better, but it doesn’t work. Pretty soon we either have to have it cut out, or it explodes with puss all over the place. (Excuse me for being so graphic). If we just let the hurt “fester under the skin” sooner or later it is going to come out somewhere, whether it be ill or very ill health, or in anger, or something. It needs a way out because we’re not built to handle it. Forgiveness is the only way I know.

      Many people have issues with their parents that they will never be able to resolve. If they don’t learn to forgive them even though the parent never admits that they were a crappy parent, they will never get past it and be able to truly enjoy life the way it was meant to be enjoyed. And say the parent dies. If they have not learned to forgive their parent, they go through the rest of their life still waiting for this “fix” that now for sure can never come.

      To me, the lack of forgiveness is a total waste of energy and human emotion. In your last paragraph you state that you have learned to apologize, ask for forgiveness, and work for it. Many people never learn that, ever. Thank God you realizing it makes you the special person you probably are. I do understand what you’re saying, and I feel the strength in your comment, and when I was younger I would probably agree with you 100%. I’ve grown older now and I hear about my friends and their cancers and can’t help thinking about what sore they had festering, what they never resolved. In the ones I know well enough and are close to me, I can almost always link something they have never quite gotten over.

      When I speak of forgiveness here, it’s not in a religious vane, although I do believe that Jesus died on the cross for all our sins to be forgiven “unconditionally”, but it’s more for the relief, the self preservation, the forgiving of ourselves also, and the freedom to go on.

      Thank you so much. I love actual discussion. I am always interested in a different opinion and you stated yours very well and respectfully. I would love to hear from you any time you have something you would like to say.

  4. I think it would have benefited if I would have mentioned that I am divorced from the PA of my life- and that has made all the difference in the world on the options I have as to how to deal with him. I only have to co-parent with him now (which is where any ‘new’ PA events occur), so I have an option to ‘go around and past’ him that were not options when I was married to him. I don’t have to live with him and that has made all the difference in the world. I’m quite sure that if I lived with him my mindset would not work at all. I would have to keep coming back ‘to him’ and ‘through him’. So maybe my process would only work for women who no longer have any intimate connections to their PA.

    I think another key element – maybe THEE key element- is that I no longer have hope that he’ll ever even WANT forgiveness. I tell him it’s not acceptable, tell him I will continue to say it’s not acceptable, I will continue to tell him the consequences of his behavior, my expectations of future behavior, and my plans.

    I could give example after example of how this has worked for me. The most concrete example is in child support. Initially, we had no court order for child support. I had (naively) thought he would not pull PA behavior with it and we could work out a payment option with no court order. Well, about a year ago he got upset with me and used child support as the avenue to projectile PA all over. He withheld payment (would give it to me five days late, or just ‘forget’ to write the check) from me.

    Old me would have come to him trying to talk to him – trying to state how he hurt me and we should talk and we should work on forgiveness and build trust and make some type of commitment to communicating about money, etc. BLECK! Where would that leave me? Overtired and overdrawn… and resenting his non-remorse and beating myself up b/c I didn’t forgive him.

    New me stated to him clearly that it was not acceptable, that he needed to pay me on time all the time or (consequence) I’d start court proceedings. He continued to be vaguely unreliable. I started court proceedings. My absolute favorite PA moment of ALL TIME from him was this email:
    “I haven’t been able to write out the check for child support to you b/c I’ve been too busy filling out the court paperwork.” BEST PA RESPONSE EVER. Made me laugh right out loud.

    Court proceedings came and went. I now have court ordered child support. I haven’t forgiven him for his choice of behavior (going to court is a pain in the ass) but I’m also not angry about it. I will go to my grave feeling that withholding child support to me is an unacceptable choice. I used the word ‘disgusted’ about it in my head… but I also use the word GRATEFUL just as often. I am so grateful to be going ‘past and around’ him not through him.

    What I wrote in my first entry is very much ‘positive’ for me. And I wrote it to give other women who might be as frustrated as I was with being told ‘forgive, forgive, forgive’. Being told to forgive felt personally degrading and a compromise to my self worth. To others, it may feel very much the ‘right’ path to peace and happiness. I could practically ‘sing’ what I wrote in that first entry it has felt so ‘right’.

    I am very much at peace for the first time in 15 years since shifting my mindset. I feel that my choices have given me personal peace without compromising my self worth or my relationship expectations. Going past and around him instead of ‘through’ him has made every difference in the world. Again, divorce probably makes that about 1000x easier.

    I think there are probably other women out there who need to hear how I came to peace. I use the analogy of math. I watch children do math problems today and I literally have NO CLUE the process they used to get the answer. They set up the problem different than I ever did (anyone hear of lattice math??? Holy mind boggling to me but to a fifth grader – simple process). I watch kids put numbers here and there and work through the problem… and get the same exact answer as I did when I set up the problem, added the right column first, carried, and added the left column. Bottom line – we did it in polar opposite ways but ended up at the same place. Both processes are correct.

    I’d love to hear from anyone who has come to similiar terms… am I really the only one that took this path????

    • PSE- Thank you so much for sharing your experience and your feeling. I am absolutely sure you give a lot of hope and inspiration to anyone who passes through here and takes a minute to read. You sound so positive and upbeat, clearly getting a divorce was a great step for you. I don’t believe anyone should stay in a marriage that is doing nothing more than causing them mental and emotional harm with every passing day.

      Please feel free to leave your comments anytime. It helps all of us to know there’s hope for so much better “on the other side.”

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