Friends and Your Passive Aggressive Relationship

I don’t know how many of you read the post I did regarding “A Passive Aggressive Victim’s Bio”which mentioned JMarie’s new book “My Life, My Understanding”, but she has left many, very good comments here on the blog. I have asked her if I could re-post for all of us one of her last comments that had a few, very interesting questions to ponder regarding mutual friends and our passive aggressive relationship. She gave me permission, so here we go.

Some friends or aquaintances will not want to be involved with your problems (and that is their right). Some will steer clear, or become very superficial in their dealings with you, and some will judge and tell you their opinion. That’s fine. It’s their opinion, but it comes from their beliefs..not yours. If they don’t want to understand the problem, how can they judge it?

A few question to all the readers…

1. When you began your journey of understanding about Passive Aggressiveness in your partner and your own involvement with it; even your own contribution to the problem, why you felt the way you do (all the hurts, confusion, anger,and crazy-making)…, and you tried to explain it to your friends or family…How were you acknowledged by them?…Or how did they acknowledge the problem?

2. If you had relationships with friends together with your PA partner, how were you acknowledged from those friends when you tried to talk to them about your problem?…….

Did they believe you?

Did they see the Passive Agressive in the way you expressed to them? Was their vision different from yours?
Were you ignored? told it would all be fine, or that you were crazy?

Did they want to support you– ie: Offer to talk – anytime, a place to stay, go out to a movie or lunch with you, etc…?

Did they want to listen to you and try to understand by asking questions?

Did they invalidate you and tell you to “get over it?”

I could ask many more questions, but it would be interesting to hear some of your answers. I know that what other people feel about you is theirs to deal with, and if they don’t tell you how they feel about it all, you are just guessing at what they feel—

There is a time of insecurity in all this Passive Aggressive relationship struggle that we all face that would be best addressed with examples; due to all the advice out there that says to “build your own support network”.

Just another way to learn from others…….

So there you go. I know I have received many comments regarding how mutual friends turn on you, or how a lot of us keep silent because we know our friends would never “get it”. Some are just embarrassed to admit to friends what is truly going on. What has been your experience regarding mutual friends and your passive aggressive relationship? Thank you JMarie.

55 Responses

  1. You are quite welcome Ladybeams.

  2. I will say that part of the complicating factor in getting to the realization that it WAS a dysfunctional relationship was my VERY well-meaning parents’ comments. I’ve always been a rather fiery, independent sort and they both explained that women are more adaptable and I needed to try harder. So in addition to HIS showing me how everything (celibacy, money problems, non-communication, etc.) was my fault, my parents, while trying to help, made it seem even more so to me.

    That is until he inadvertently lost it in a discussion with my mother one fateful Christmas Eve. It was THAT day that, not only did my parents see how he twisted words, placed blame and fought to prove what a victim he was, but I got to see him and his fighting techniques from the outside.

    That was the day I realized I had fallen into a very, very deep pit and it was up to me to dig my way out. Which I did.

    As for friends, I figured no one wanted to hear me whine. When we first married, I would complain a little that he wouldn’t touch me, but they all laughed and complained their husbands couldn’t keep their hands off them so I should consider myself lucky. So that was the end of any spouse-comparison discussions. I didn’t need to feel worse. Again, they didn’t mean to hurt me, they were trying to help.

    • Hi Anna,
      I am so glad you are firey and independent. It will help in all that you face. It does me. I just had to find that part of me again. And it is taking a while to get there.

      Your post is evidence that someone- finally- other than yourself, is seeing what you live(d) with. Without the visual proof of him actually doing something truly characteristic of how he is with you, outside closed doors with him, it is just your word against his. He validated your statements by showing his true colors. I would imagine it was a real eye opener for all concerned.

      I think mine should win an acadamy award when it comes to how good he is in making others believe he is a victim in life and that he is such a “wonderful guy”. I truly don’t know how a PA can move from one way with us and to another with other people so easily. I guess it’s their way of staying safe from whatever they fear. To me it’s being deceptive.

      I saw myself in a very deep pit too and I have done everything to encourage, confront, and walk the walk with him, but he DOESN’T WANT to get out of the pit and work with me. I had to climb out too. I can’t make him WANT it. That’s his decision.

      Just be yourself around the friends and know that they may never really understand. You don’t need to bring them into your world of hurt. They deserve your best self. If they don’t want to hear it…so be it. Just being happy around them and having fun will help you see there is a great world out there that is worth your time.

      I believe the support we need is just talking to someone who will BELIEVE us, try to UNDERSTAND our situation, SUPPORT our decisions, and help us move forward with POSITIVE ENCOURAGEMENT. All we can do is try to work through the problem for ourselves and move into the future. From there the world is ours.

      I do know how ‘not being believed’ feels. It’s a lonely, sad place to be. You don’t feel respected.

      Stay strong for yourself because no one is coming to rescue you, there is no magic pill to make it all better and by fighting for what you know is right ( who better to know what is right for you than yourself) You will come up with the answers. Just keep trying! It has taken me a very long time to get to where I can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have to stay focused on what my heart tells me is right.

      I hope your world is better now. Mine will be.

      • Thanks, jmarie. My world is MUCH better now. After that day, I spent several years taking control of what I could and had carved out a tolerable living arrangement until I saw what the children were becoming. They were saying the same nasty things he said to me and, while I no longer cared what he said/thought of me, I couldn’t let it happen to the boys and I left.

        While it is hard to let my boys go to his place and deal with his mind games without me, I also know they have ONE safe place with me and my new husband (yes, I DID learn to pick them better!)

        More importantly, I no longer serve as the buffer and the coverup person I had become in order to survive. I no longer, by my mere presence in the marriage, condone his behavior. They see his lies and his victimization of himself and his mind games. They don’t understand it, but I tell them they can learn from EVERYONE. Everyone does things they like (the ex-husband, included) and they don’t like (myself included) and they can become what they like and avoid what they don’t.

        It’s not perfect. The 15-year old gets embroiled in heated (and at one time very physical) arguments with the ex trying to “fix” him, The 11-year old, when I drop him off, I can almost see him shut himself off to avoid the fighting. I cry every time I leave them there, but I won’t put them through the fight to take them away. They walk back to visit my house often and are away with Scouts a lot, too. And they are learning what they do NOT want to live with.

        I’ve often thought of putting what I learned over those years down to help other people (because I do believe there are women who treat their husbands the same way), but haven’t done anything about it. 🙂

        • Anna- Congrats! It is possible to find a normal, loving relationship. LOL.

          It sounds like you got your boys out just in time, almost too late if they were already starting to talk like their father. Thank goodness they have been able to see what a normal relationship should be, and you have been able to discuss things with them so they are able to understand. I think the way you are teaching them to pick the good things out in people to emulate, and pick the bad things out they don’t ever want to become, is terrific. So much better than bad mouthing the other parent. They are choosing their own behavior by example, which is almost tangible for them.

          If you’d like to practice putting down some of what you have learned over the years here, feel free. LOL. We’d all love to know, especially anything that helps with our own situations. I agree also that there are definitely passive aggressive women that have been terribly bad to their husbands also. We have heard from a few men here, but for the most part they seem to suffer in silence. Good luck to you all, and thanks again for sharing.

      • jmarie- Very good. Not only encouraging for Anna, but for the rest of us as well.

    • Anna- Thanks for sharing with us. I think many parents, friends, are trying to be helpful, but just don’t ‘get it’. Just as your friends that said about their husbands couldn’t keep their hands off. They just don’t realize how much they would be yearning for those days if that stopped all of a sudden, especially when it’s usually with no explanation or lame excuses.

      How lucky for you that you had that Christmas Eve to not only help validate your feelings, but as you said, get a look from outside your relationship.

      It sounds like you have a very understanding and forgiving heart. Not many can look at their friends and parents comments and realize they weren’t trying to be malicious. You said you pulled yourself “out of the pit”. Would love to hear how you did it. It may inspire someone else. Feel free to comment anytime and let us know how you’re doing.

      • Wow, it would take a book covering the 9 years after that before I decided to leave. 😉

        But the highlights were finding the worst parts, coming up with a simple phrase or technique that either stopped it or stopped its effect on me:

        1. Change the way we argued. I call it “shotgun fighting”: start at one point and when he felt he was “losing”, he would quickly throw in some other past or future point of contention and I would foolishly follow THAT until I WAS that screaming, crying nut-case he told me I was. New phrase: “We can discuss that issue later, but let’s go back to ______.” Also the angrier I was inside, the quieter and slower I would speak.

        2. MONEY – From the day we married, I paid bills with my paycheck and had to ask him to cover what I couldn’t. My paycheck was deposited in our joint account, his was cashed. I announced one day that I had a GREAT idea. We were going to split our money and bills right down the middle! THAT way, what each of us did with our leftover cash was up to us! I still had to spend my “extra” on the kids activities, school lunches, groceries, but HE finally had to contribute to the bills regularly and I didn’t have to “beg”.

        3. SEX – I announced to him that from now on, we were nothing more to each other than roommates who happened to share two children. That he would not touch me (he liked to grab in a completely NON sexual way just to try and humiliate me) or behave in ANY way as if we were married. If he didn’t like the arrangement, he could leave (obviously, he didn’t).

        4. Reliability – one of his favorite control games was to make himself unavailable at the last minute so I could do anything. So I quit counting on him. I always made arrangements with someone else. Even if he SAID he was watching kids (or whatever), I had a backup plan. He would no longer sabotage my plans.

        There were lots of areas that I would think on, figure it out and act on, but these are examples.

        I learned to deal with him (and consequently LOTS of people) by figuring out what is important. With my Ex, he loved controlling the money, the affection, the arguments. When I took that away, he quit the behavior and we pretty much stayed out of each other’s way.

        As to other people, it’s the same – figure out what is important and you can get them to cooperate no matter how much they dislike you. With my husband’s ex-wife it’s IMAGE. What goes on behind closed doors (like her emptying her son’s college fund to shop) is irrelevant as long as people see she is married and has the requisite child who sits quietly and doesn’t bother her. So if she want’s to be seen as a good mother, she gets to act like one or the teacher gets an email asking her to give an extension on homework because his mother was sleeping with the boyfriend of the month until 1:00 a.m. the night before and he couldn’t finish.

        That having been said, I will remind you the reason I left was NOT because I was being abused anymore because I had stopped it. It was because I would do ANYTHING to save my boys from turning into that. If you have children at home and are in a relationship like that, you need to get out. Period. If you don’t, you are silently condoning that behavior. And that is what I realized with horror that caused me to file for divorce.

        • Anna- Excellent! Thank you. I can’t tell you how many women have commented here that they end up paying all the bills etc. while the husband contributes next to nothing. That’s the first thing that hit me. On top of that, the way you changed things from the ‘shot gun’ to actual discussions, if you can get that, is also great. Personally for me, my passive aggressive doesn’t say anything. He clams up. He is not disparaging toward me, but he does not provide solutions or anything else either.

          As far as sex goes, I think that’s partly what happened to us a long time ago. I let him know if he was not emotionally “all in” neither was I. For women, most of us know we need to be emotionally involved to go for the sex. While I did tell him that I was sick of always pursuing him and him never making the first move, I did not completely cut him off. I did tell him I wasn’t going to pursue him anymore that it would be up to him, so we are together maybe once a year lately, before that not that often. LOL.

          I am so happy for you that you actually put your kids first. It takes a lot of courage to do that. So many women need the man so bad they are willing to sacrifice their children to hold on. I’m so happy for you and thanks for the example and the encouragement you give to the rest out here! You have layed out a great “blueprint” for anyone to follow.

  3. I don’t like discussing spouses with friends, usually it turns into a one up session. Oh, yours does this, but mine does that….very few people can sit and truly listen. My daughter was caught up with a very serious passive-aggressive boyfriend. She is a beautiful, independent young lady and that relationship was so hard for me to deal with. I could see the PA, everyone could see the PA, but she could not. I simply had to wait for her to get past the love struck stage and see things for what they were. It hasn’t been easy, and I have been as supportive as I possibly can, helping her move past and learn from this experience. Yes, having a great support network is essential~we all need it because life does throw us some curves now and again.

    • Shyronn Crider- How lucky your daughter is to have you. Many mother-in-laws to be don’t see the passive aggressive for what they are either. It sounds like your patience and your loyalty to your daughter has paid off. Hopefully between the two of you she will be able to spot the signs easier and faster in the future.

      As I read your comment, I am almost as excited for you as I would be if you had rescued your daughter from some kind of cult. LOL. I didn’t realize I felt so strongly about the “one that got away”. Good luck to you both and may she one day find the real Mr. Right and live happily ever after. Thanks for sharing with us.

    • Shyronn,
      Yes!!! As you say, “Life does throw us some curves now and again”.
      I was not prepared for the curve I got, but I am so glad I tried to work on it because had I not, I may have had too many questions that weren’t answered for myself.

      Now that the die is cast that he doesn’t want to work on it, I can honestly say I feel no guilt or shame. It was he who basically told me I wasn’t worth his time- through his lack of effort. That is not acceptable to me. My life is straight ahead of me now.

      As for your daughter all you can do is be there for her once she realizes what she got herself into. God be praised that she got out. It is very hard to see your children struggle when they are adults. I know and experience that too. Before I would bail out, try to teach, suggest, and really get myself into the mix. To be giving is to give freedom for them to learn, sometimes just like the way we did. I cannot think who the author is of this, butt:

      ” Good Decisions come from experience. And where does experience come from? Bad decisions.”

      We all make bad decisions, but if we wallow in the guilt or the shame or the “oh poor me” of making them…..we can’t learn and move on from them.
      I now live in the present and will move on from here. Your daughter can too.

  4. I was a bit stunned to find my answers to a previous set of questions posted verbatim on another site…


    1. When you began your journey of understanding about Passive Aggressiveness in your partner and your own involvement with it; even your own contribution to the problem, why you felt the way you do (all the hurts, confusion, anger,and crazy-making)…, and you tried to explain it to your friends or family…How were you acknowledged by them?…Or how did they acknowledge the problem?
    If you had relationships with friends together with your PA partner, how were you acknowledged from those friends when you tried to talk to them about your problem?…….
    Did they believe you?
    Did they see the Passive Agressive in the way you expressed to
    Were you ignored? told it would all be fine, or that you were crazy?
    Did they want to support you– ie: Offer to talk – anytime, a place to stay, go out to a movie or lunch with you, etc…?
    Did they want to listen to you and try to understand by asking questions?
    Did they invalidate you and tell you to “get over it?”

    My Exodus from the Ridiculousness happened as such:

    By the time I really, truly started dissecting why I was feeling crazy, miserable and worthless I was acting crazy, miserable and worthless, so pretty much everyone treated me like I was crazy, which only made me feel more miserable and worthless.. it wasn’t purdy that’s for sure.

    By the time I started saying THIS SUCKS, THIS HURTS, THIS IS AN UNACCEPTABLE FORM OF RELATIONSHIP(S) (and yes I wrote that in screaming caps b/c that’s how I expressed it; ‘Dainty’ would not be a word used to describe my choice of breaking free ‘Flipped out’ would be better! )

    I take my accountability for how I ‘fed’ the problem. I allowed way too many bad behaviors for way too long; I was the quintessential rescuer, manager, ‘It’s fine’ model. Queen of the co-dependents. My choices. I did that. I cannot say I didn’t. I had what I now call a “skewed sense of impact”- I had a belief that if I threw enough ‘positive’, ‘acceptance’ and ‘good’ at him – and the mesh of people we associated with- it would soak in and he’d eventually make this giant change and morph into this internally happy, contented man. The group as a whole also was functioning in various states of dysfunction and I took the same attitude about them- I am guilty, guilty, guilty of playing ‘rescuer’ to the group.

    My thinking was ‘there has to be an end to this; it has to be a finite amount of hurtful choices, then he’ll recognize it and he’ll change’. (Yes, I do hear what I just said; believe me, that thinking is no longer part of me). And I thought – when he changes, the group will follow suit. He is- and has been for 15 years- the owner of the business that all of these ‘friends’ gather.. that added dynamic is a HUGE factor in how/why a PA culture maintains a stronghold.. that’s a whole nother post..

    I also believed that if I just ‘waited’ long enough he’d grow past the stages of sullen rebellion, infidelity, self doubt… I had been enabling, enabling, enabling and rescuing, protecting and making excuses for the PA, I had also inadvertently become the poster child of the group of friends we shared. I, essentially, had modeled unhealthy coping behaviors, and it ultimately kicked me in the backside because by the time I recognized those behaviors as wrong, there was a whole flock of blind sheep entrenched in a culture of dysfunction; a culture I accidentally cultivated.

    When the time came for me – when I recognized it and needed to exit the situation- no one else was in that place. No one else was at the same tipping point. No one else had a young child nor was anyone else as negatively affected by the PA behaviors as I was, therefore they remained.

    No one else was standing at the exit sign with me, and everyone else – except four- stayed in his orbit and remain there today. It’s a powerful orbit- PA’s have an uncanny skill of dangling hope and promise, add on to the fact that he’s the boss and it’s a molotov cocktail of PA war zone! There is just as much dysfunction, just as much denial and subterfuge as there was three years ago; I left and was quickly, easily replaced with another rescuer who will undoubtedly take two decades to catch on too.

    With my exit I lost nearly every relationship attached to both of us. Similar, I assume, to someone going dry and losing all their drinking buddies.

    Heartbreaking and profoundly dismantling?? Yes. Best thing I ever did? Yes x 1000.

    Was it the toughest thing I’ve ever done?? Hands down. The whole experience destroyed my sense of faith and loyalty in people I once perceived as ‘friends’. I was deeply, profoundly wounded to learn that at a core level, other people whom I believed I shared a sense of belonging, had a completely different set of priorities.

    My world view took a dive and a shift … but simultaneously my feet found grounding, my voice found strength, my choices became healthier and my life started slowly… painfully slowly… emerging and blossoming. I have been described recently as ‘being on a roll’ and ‘having one hell of a trajectory’. There were days, weeks, months I didn’t think I could make it another day it all hurt so badly and I felt so abandoned and dismissed by so many people I thought would be there… but that knowledge that they weren’t was also what drove me to stay away and not go back looking for support – my gut knew there would be none and that if I was truly going to make it through this I would have to do it alone and grow new relationships.

    In hindsight what I see is my own evolution. The entire time I was entrenched in that group – with the PA at the helm (he still is)- I viewed the entire experience as transitory, temporary- I always had a perception that the ‘bad years’ were just that – a defined set of rough years that would END eventually. But the years kept coming and going and coming and going and coming and going and there would be relative peaks and deep valleys… lather, rinse, repeat… and somewhere around ’round 3′ of prominent dysfunction I started to go ‘WAIT! NOT AGAIN!” Unfortunately, all the others had not had enough. I still struggle with that, more out of awe than anything else. I still find myself wanting to pick their brains and say ‘Really??? You’re really okay with this situation??? Do you really not see how suppressed it makes you? Can’t you see that everyone who has gotten out has thrived??” I know the answer though- they can’t. They do see it as ‘fine’ – just like I did for nearly twenty years. It took nearly two decades and motherhood for me to acknowledge the affects of PA behavior, find my voice… and use it.

    It took three years of self-driven re-setting of my life; I found myself a really good counselor, learned how to establish, state and enforce boundaries. I have expressed and held expectations for myself that give me safety, support and stability. I hold people accountable and I expect they will do the same to me. I’ve never been happier. It’s a completely different happy… I say that b/c if you had asked me 10 years ago if I was happy I would have said ‘Sure!’ but there would have been internal ‘bleck’. This happy that I have now STARTS from the inside place and leaps outward; the other happy was based on outward forces… tough to convey in words.

    I don’t even recognize the all caps crazy screaming lady anymore. I have not re-established relationships associated with my former self – but that’s okay, the present me would be a complete, utter stranger to them. There will always be a slightly intangible sense of loss associated with those ‘friends’ who turned out to be transitory, that’s just the reality of living a human life… but the happiness that emerged counterbalances and outweighs it.

    • Peggy- I’m rather surprised also. While I do collaborate on some things with that site, I didn’t realize they had copied anything word for word. Nora had sent me the basic questions and said I had permission to publish them here, (I just tweaked them a little), but she had said the answers were too long for her to use. I’ll mention it to her.

      Thanks for your comments on this set of questions. I think it’s very important as you explain here, that while getting out is no picnic, the rewards are worth it. I just don’t think we were meant to live life in misery.

      It never ceases to amaze me about so called “friends”. You mentioned “bar buddies”. When I was much younger I had been a bartender. I thought I had some really strong friendships there, close, but I was terribly mistaken. Once I got married and quit hanging in the bar, etc. no one ever came by to see how I was, called, anything. It was a hard lesson to learn. People have a tendency to stay in their ‘comfort zone’. People (you) moving out of the norm can upset that so they bury their heads in the sand.

      I am truly happy for you and where you are going with your life. I always enjoy hearing from you as you are very forthright with the challenges you have gone through, but still have the happy, positive outlook for the future. Thank God we don’t all wait until we’re on our death beds to decide there is something better, aye?

      • Ladybeams,
        Your last post is exactly what I had asked myself many times. I also don’t want to question myself on whether there was something better, because I now know there is. On that fateful day for me when I leave this earthly body, I want to look into the eyes of someone I love and who truly loves me and know my life was what I made it and know what I did was good.

        I want to see the challenges and the mistakes and the changes I made and be proud of how I lived. And, if I don’t have anyone there, then I can still be proud, because God is with me.
        To quote a portion of a mission statement I got from my counselor…

        “The die has been cast. the decision has been made. I have stepped over the line. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense and my future is in God’s hands. My face is set. My gait is fast, my goal is heaven. My road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions few, my Guide is reliable and my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, comprimised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negociate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander at the maze of mediocrity.”
        Adapted from original (author unknown) by Patrick Madrid

        This is only a portion of the mission statement, but I now have it framed and read it daily.
        Strength to all….

    • Peggy,
      If there EVER EVER was someone that could be a poster child for strength, courage, and self esteem it is you! The way you write puts the reader directly in your story and I -for one- see the courage of your life and the positive aspects of your advancement.. Should anyone not feel the impact in your writing, it would truly be sad. From me….Thank you.

      Keep posting when you can. When I read your posts I get a wonderful uplifting feeling and you write with passion, compassion and understanding of what we all have experienced, what we are learning about and ultimately how we need to find our direction.

      My trail up this mountain has just begun and it is going to be a rocky and steep climb… but with you at the top encouraging all who read you, we can’t help but arrive at the peak and finally view the world with a different ectasy.

      • Thanks Jmarie – I had no idea it would all turn out so well for me, and I hope the exact same for all who visit here. 🙂

  5. I need to write a post. Perhaps one that will be my last for a while… I am looking at the world with different eyes today.
    I must say that once a decision is made, things start to look clearer, brighter, and they start to make sense. The certain knowledge I have that storm clouds will inevitably roll in and rain on some of the days ahead of me as I follow this path to my new life– is absolutely nothing– compared to the uncertainty of what might develope further with your PA partner when you stay. I’ve had numerous times where I’ve been pulled back in just to suffer the consequences of my decision to stay.

    I have taken enough time and given him a chance to help himself. I do not know if he will ever understand, nor do I care any longer. While he procrastinated and stayed in that hole he dug for himself, not helping himself to climb out, I have taken the time and changed myself and have found that time is of the essense now for me.

    Once you are looking more clearly at the facts presented you and once your heart no longer aches for the fantacies of the relationship and you know for certain that there is no chance with him any longer…it isn’t so much of a “giving up” but more a form of “giving more” to the one that matters now…yourself.

    I have just begun my journey and I will slip, fall, pick myself up, and brush myself off over and over again, but I will survive. I am not afraid (oh maybe a little) but I will not let that uncertainty defeat my purpose because I will learn from it. Regardless of what faces me in the future, I will be there for it….completely.

    May you all have a level path, a bright sunny day, and a fresh breeze to cool you on your journey, no matter what trail you are on.

    For now I have a mountain to climb.

    • A sense of peace DOES come over you once you reach that point where all his pleading and promises to change fall on deaf ears. You have seen it far too often and you are no longer fooled.

      As for me, now, the worst feelings (other than watching my children have to learn what I learned) is why I let him talk me into staying so often. I am an intelligent, educated woman and I kept falling back into the trap.

      But congrats for the clarity. Peace

      • Anna- You are not the only one asking those questions. I don’t think any of us have gotten the clue with the first red flag. We can’t beat ourselves up about it. What’s done is done and time is still marching forward. We each have our own threshold of when we finally say ‘enough is enough’. Too bad our heads and our hearts don’t always see eye to eye. LOL.

    • jmarie- Clarity does bring confidence in your decisions, no matter what you’re dealing with. Thanks for sharing, especially the part about it not being a matter of ‘giving up’. I think that’s part of the problem is so many feel so defeated if they strike out for themselves, instead of realizing it’s a gift you have given yourself.

      No one gets sunshine all of the time, but it sure makes the rainy days now and then easier to take. LOL

  6. It gets SO MUCH BETTER. My counselor gave me a pretty great metaphor to think about when I was feeling like slipping back, buying in, etc. He would say “You recognized you were on a plane that was going to crash. You put on your parachute. You asked him to put on his. You begged, screamed and pleaded for him to jump to safety with you. He made a choice to stay in the doomed plane. You jumped. Now you are on the ground. You’re shaken, bruised, dazed, confused and sad because of what you went through… but you’re also on the ground and safe. Don’t you dare stand up and walk toward the burning wreckage. Walk the other way.”

    Whenever I feel myself even slightly inclined to ‘help’ or ‘engage’ in any interaction with my PA I ask myself “What are my choices of how to react to this moment? Am I about to do something that will move me toward a smoldering pile of wreckage or away from it and toward safety?” It’s bizarre, b/c I can visualize it so clearly and it makes my decision making on how to tackle each ‘next incident’ with my PA so clear. I always choose to walk away toward safety.

    Just did it today; he attempted to engage me in an argument – as soon as I read the email I pictured a smoldering pile of wreckage. I pictured myself walking away from it instead of toward it – I imagined what I would be saying as I walked away- and that is how I responded to him. I used respect and level tone- and above all I kept myself safe.

    It gets easier and easier and easier the more you practice ‘self safety behavior’… makes sense… the further away you are from a plane crash site the safer you are when some leaky tank finally explodes.


    • Peggy- Thanks for sharing. You’re right. As I was reading the what you wrote, I can picture it also. See, now if that was fact, our natural instinct would be to run away, not walk. Hopefully your analogy will help a few others who read it. I think it’s great!

      • I can’t stay away…I have a story…My PA asked me what I wanted from him- he wanted me to teach him how to be (playing the little boy, looking helpless and pouty). I explained that many times in the past I had hoped he would “get it”. That I had tried to tell him what I needed and I wanted to know what he needed too and he ignored me every time in it all. His response was to stare at me. Deer/Headlight look.

        I told him the story Peggy had shared about the plane crash and how over the past years I had hoped he would put on his parachute, but he didn’t.

        He started laughing and said…”Yeah I will be the dead one in this”. (referring to the divorce and to make me feel sorry for him). I said “you had the choice to put on the parachute and practice what counseling was giving you.”

        I asked why he didn’t take me seriously for so many years. I got no response. And I told him “I didn’t think this was funny at all and I saw it very differently, but what is done is done now and the plane has crashed and you chose to go with it. I’m walking away, not going back.”

        I have known for sometime he is so deeply rooted in this personality that he has, that he doesn’t know how to make himself better. I really don’t think he has the “ability”. And I have also known for some time that “he doesn’t want to”. He doesn’t have the “desire”. He has no “motivation”. “I” am not motivation enough for him. Does it hurt to know that?…sure it does. But I have no control over how he is or why he does what he does. I now just need to (as Peggy says) walk away from the burning plane before the leaky fuel explodes.

        I see myself taking a little while to bounce back, but I know I posess the desire and ability to do so, I now have the motivation, and now my attitude in doing so is more calm, more focused, and more accepting of my entire future….whatever I make of it, what ever I face, and wherever I go.
        My goodness!!! The “calm” I feel…after all the years of craziness.

        • Yup. sounds familiar!

          When he got the papers, he promised again to change. Unfortunately, it was the same promise I’d heard for years when I’d get close. And it would never change. I really don’t think they want to change – they are too afraid of the control they DO have over others. it is a leap of faith to give up manipulating people if your security comes from it. And he IS the one still suffering after the divorce. I feel sorry for him – honestly, I do, because I don’t wish him ill will. but I can’t fix him now anymore than I could when I was married.

          Good luck!

          • Thanks Anna,
            I think the acceptance of it all is what gives me peace.
            -accepting that:
            I didn’t just walk away without giving him a chance
            I did the work I was supposed to do to help
            I tried and it all went on deaf ears from him.
            Gotta go now. Nothing more I can do. Up to him.
            Wish him well and move forward

          • Oh my goodness! I’m jumping up and down with pride about this!

            You’re summing it all up so well!!! And it sounds like you did a fantastic job of communicating the ‘now’ !!! I’m so glad I wrote that analogy!!!!

            The word that is in my head right now is ‘dignity’. The stories being told here are ones of dignity- to both self and others. To be able to say ‘I did try, and I’m proud of what I tried’ and to say ‘I wish you the best in the choices you made / will make.’ To take our own accountability is important, to take control of our own choices is necessary.

            I am not proud of some of the choices I made early in this journey, but I’m deeply proud of where I’ve come in the last year. I can’t undo some of my ‘crazies’ of the past, but I can – and will- act forward in the manners I’ve developed over the past years. Yes, it does take awhile to ‘bounce back’, but it doesn’t take forever… and when you do finally bounce back, you’re still equipped with that working ‘parachute’ – you will forever be better at self preserving choices… CONGRATS!

          • Peggy- Dignity, that’s a word we haven’t seen here. Excellent. All of us have done something we’re not proud of. It’s learning from it and moving forward that counts. Thanks again Peggy. LOL

          • Anna- Good for you. Forgiveness and living well is the best revenge, if you could call it that. It sounds like you are so on the right track. Good luck to you, My Friend, and if you see a comment on here I hope you will give your wisdom as we can all learn from the help and support from one another, especially those who have escaped. LOL

        • I have been lurking here since August, soaking things up and drawing so much strength from all of you while I try and decide what to do in my own life, but I finally had to write. Jmarie, the things you said ring so true for me. I too hoped for years that my husband would “get it”. I too told him what I wanted, and when the message fell on deaf ears, I cajoled, begged, pleaded, etc. but I’ve finally run out of steam. I too begged him to tell me what he wanted from me. He never could, beyond a vague “I want us to be happy”. But could never tell me how to go about making that happen. Believe me, I tried everything, in true rescuer fashion. But like everyone else, I failed, and just feel sad, tired, drained and frustrated.
          I’m now looking at a divorce. In contrast to a lot of what I’ve read here, my husband’s aggression is right below the surface (although he vehemently denies it). Rather than the “poor old me” approach when I try to broach an issue, his line is to strike back hard, at least verbally. So many arguments where he interrupts, shouts, talks over me, mocks me for trying to lay down some ground rules for communication. Given that our children are still relatively young, he feels that my even contemplating a divorce is “completely irresponsible”.
          After years of living with behaviors that I couldn’t put a name to until I found Scott Wetzler’s book this year (and some counselling thrown in here and there when things got really bad), and months of trying to decide what to do once I knew what I was dealing with, I’m going to see a lawyer this week to discuss my options. Where we live, there’s no such thing as a no-fault divorce, so I have to look at divorce on the grounds of unreasonable behavior. And that’s where PA is so tricky: on the face of it, he is Mr. Nice Guy, great with the children (so far), polite and affable. And given the classic PA libido issues, I’m quite convinced he’s faithful (!). So it’s really hard to explain to a lawyer just what is unreasonable about living with a PA person. And here’s the kicker: if the behaviour you describe has happened more than 6 months ago, then it can’t be considered, as it’s deemed to be behavior that you’ve learned to live with and not grounds for divorce. Cruel, eh?
          Wow, this turned out to be longer that I expected! Again though, I wanted to say thanks to everyone whose comments I’ve read: your warmth, humanity, eloquence strength and humor have kept me going on many occasions.

          • Jane- Welcome here, and hopefully with the support, maybe we can give you some useful information.

            #1- Don’t think for a minute that just because you’re not getting any, he isn’t getting it somewhere. Although most of the time from my experience, when they cut us off of sex, they are not doing anything, but that is not necessarily true. Many times they have cut us off because we know them too well and there is too much responsibility tied to us so they go find someone else who doesn’t realize what they are like yet. They will find someone who thinks they are terrific. Someone who finds them to be charming and attentive, nothing like we deal with at home. It’s like a man always will love his dog because no matter what he does, the dog will always love him. Don’t just take it for granted that he hasn’t or isn’t cheating on you. If he is there should be signs. Money missing, strange numbers on his cell. Him hiding his cell. Strange bills, etc.

            Second, document everything. If you haven’t or aren’t having sex, when was the last time? If he’s aggressive, tell the lawyer how he intimidates you. In the meantime, between now and when you meet with your lawyer document the unusual things that are going on. While you may not be “no fault” most states accept “irreconcilable differences” or “non-compatibility”. If it’s decided you need to wait a couple of months then document everything that happens. It’s like keeping a journal. Keep it very private, or if your hoping if he sees it it may shape him up, you can do that, but at your own peril. He could either rip it up, or he could just laugh and through it back at you and ridicule you every time you have an argument on whether “you’re writing it in your journal”. If you date, time, and describe each occurance each time it happens, most courts will accept that as if it was written in stone.

            I’m glad the site is helping you gather your strength. That’s what we’re here for is support for you. Feel free to comment anytime and hopefully someone here will be able to help.

          • Jane,
            I was absolutely amazed this morning as I opened my email and saw so many messages. Thank you Jane, but we all do what we can do for those who have been through the same things.
            I too “lurked” for many months reading this blog; trying to get up the courage to put it out there.

            We are doing exactly on this blog what should be done…getting it out there! Telling our story to those that may be experiencing the same thing we are. We offer support. But in the midst of our stories, you also have a unique story and should never base the outcome of your life on what someone else is doing or what someone else tells you to do. Everyone guides their own life. Each of us are in different stages of our growth. I am glad you find us helpful. We are just telling it like it is.

            What we write are our opinions and stories and anyone who reads them can take them or leave them. Their choice. We have been silent too long because we are compassionate and caring people even in the face of our human needs being ignored. We need to grow a few kahonas for ourselves. Mine are coming in now and they itch..

            It took me getting my story out there in a book. That book did ME more good than anything or anyone else. That was simply a book of beginning for me. It was a little bit of myself reaching for those things I knew I had in me. It was a book of my frustrations that no one else saw. It was a book of finding my truth, not only about myself, but about him as well. I later saw through the words I had written that my “truth” was changing every day ( I was starting to understand) and I was seeing a new creature in me emerging from the catapillar he had made me into.
            Change takes time to happen as with any metamorphosis. Now I envision a catapillar as a creature- even though being beautiful- can easily be squashed. Once changed into butterfly, it can float, flitter and dart away, and feel the wind on its wings and soar to great heights if it wants to.
            I have been a catapillar too long and I was a beautiful one in my own right., but now I NEED to fly. I don’t want to get squashed.

            I gave it (the relationship) one last effort to become two butterflies soaring together since he was in counseling. I feared he would not take it to heart, as with all the other times before, but with the need in me to hope for the best, I gave him the time.
            He didn’t take it to heart. He just stalled. Time’s up.

            Since my book had to come to an end (paper wise). I look at it now and see the parts that are peaking out at me between the words that I wrote– beginning to open the door to my real goal…the good, the strength, and the determination in me to make MYSELF right.

            So much more has happened since I published, that I have been journaling until my fingers were falling off. Journaling was and is good for me. It allowed me to get the frustrations out and keep record of the things that I was putting up with. It allowed me to see into myself more clearly and become aware.

            There is a saying:

            “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed UNTIL it is faced.”

            Now it is my job to face it and change it. He doesn’t want the responsibility .
            God Bless you Jane

          • jmarie- Very well said. I’m stealing your quote. LOL. It’s excellent.

          • Ladybeams and Jmarie, thanks so much for your warm welcome and great advice. After so many years of living with someone who rarely gave me a compliment, I still feel positively overwhelmed by kindness and support!

            Ladybeams, re point 1, I think you’re right that he’s not doing anything. It would be an answer to my (albeit twisted!) prayers if he were having an affair, but he is so passive that he literally goes to work and comes straight home and always has done: no hobbies, no social life, nothing. He’s definitely what Wetzler calls the PA heavyweight: always physically present, which only highlights how emotionally absent he is…

            But you are right that there are certainly things that I can document. I guess, despite everything, it’s hard to act in a way that feels so calculating. I’m trying to keep in mind the “burning plane” analogy that Peggy wrote about. And Jmarie, I like your caterpillar/butterfly analogy as well: the idea of lightness, and the safety that comes from floating above things sounds very attractive!

            I just wish he would be willing to sit down and discuss things as a responsible adult, and agree to do things in a way that would be the least harmful and disruptive for everyone concerned. I know that probably sounds incredibly naive, and I’m not sure myself why I can’t seem to come to terms with the fact that it just ain’t going to happen.

            In any case, thanks again – it’s so heartening to know that all of you really understand the craziness: just wish none of us had to experience it first hand.

          • Jane- So glad you’re finding some useful stuff here. There really is so much good advice and ideas.

            I wish you luck on things being as easy as possible, but you should just be aware that sometimes when push comes to shove and they realize you truly are done, even the most passive aggressive can get very aggressive. All of us would hope that things could be straight up and above board instead of “calculating” (having to document), but most of the time it just doesn’t work out where everybody is all “nice, nice”. Documenting, and make sure little by little you put things away that are important to you, like special keepsakes, jewelry, etc. as they have been known many times to steal. I’m not saying that yours is like that, but it’s amazing how passive aggressives can change once their back is against the wall.

            It can certainly go the other way also. You may wonder if he even knows you’re there or who you are if he just decides to sulk and clam up. It would be nice if everyone could just act like responsible grown-ups, but like you said, it probably just ain’t gonna happen. Take care of yourself, and be sure to let us know how you’re getting along.

        • jmarie- Thanks so much for sharing with us.

          I don’t ever get that either, how they laugh in the face of despair.

          I have another girlfriend here that has gone through something similar. Her PA would ask her “what’s wrong with me”? like he was truly trying to find help to change, but when she would help him with the answers, or if it took him actually doing something, he disappeared for days at a time. While it looks like they don’t want to lose you, while it looks like they realize something is wrong with them, it turns into just another tactic to reel us back in. Really, if you think about it. It’s like, “oh well, nothing else has worked”, especially if I’m hearing from more than one or two people.

          I think Peggy gave us all something to think about or to visualize with that plane crash analogy. I don’t think any of us just goes on tomorrow like nothings happened once we make the decision to move on, but I do think after the first day or two of having the freedom to live, without being judged, without walking on eggshells, it’s like the first breath of fresh air when you get released from jail (not that I would know anything about that. LOL). The freedom to embrace the future. The ability to stretch your arms out as far as you can stretch. And you are so right My Friend, the future is yours to make what ever you choose.

          Thank you so much for sharing that jmarie. I hope you all know how much encouragement you give to those “left behind”.

  7. I had an entire post all written out and lost it…darn.

    Anyway I was thinking today -as I seem to do quite often -about abuse.
    Just a thought:
    I am still adament about this “physical vs. emotional” abuse dynamic in our society today and how society or at least the common man sees it.
    The same as you Jane, sometimes I wish my husband would have beaten me or had an affair. It seems that society understands those two forms of abuse better. They can see the bruises and may even see the infidelity in public, but when it comes to covert emotional abuse, people just don’t want to believe what they can’t see no matter what you say and if you try to explain anything to them, it falls on deaf ears. I have stopped trying except for on this blog.

    When you say anything about the PA in any way in public, you can be chastised by even the closest of your friends as being the wicked witch of the North for saying something about ‘him’……I experienced that just last night. I was chastised up one side and down another… until I realized that the person talking was simply being an a*^.

    So I took the opinion given by this person with a grain of salt and realized I was talking to a person who just doesn’t “get it” and more than likely never will. A huge red flag went up for me to never talk to them again about anything important to me. Not everyone will understand. Not everyone cares, and not everyone will want to listen.

    I am just beginning to start to practice my assertiveness again and after so many years of being a prisoner of war at the hands of my PA with all his propoganda, I am having a difficult time coming out of the darkness and adjusting to the new light of standing up for myself with certain people. I guess I just need more practice.
    I want to be tactful and civil, yet still tell them in no uncertain terms that their nasty comments to me can be filed where the “sun don’t shine”………

    Thanksgiving here was sandwiches. I am not going through the whole ordeal of cooking just for him and pretending nothing is wrong any longer. I’ve played that game long enough.

    But something that I am truly thankful for today is all of you here that commiserate, share your stories and just show the support that is very much appreciated. May God bless you all

    • Jmarie-
      You have articulated THEE toughest part (at least for me) of unraveling from a PA. It’s a rough, rough road – partially b/c we, as the (former) rescuer/manager/cheerleader helped pave the road to begin with.

      Remember back to when you were unaware of how he dealt with genuine conflict? Remember when YOU couldn’t see him as anything but the kind, quiet, sometimes ‘unfortunate’ person? Remember back when you thought – like they do now- that he would be the perfect catch b/c he was so easy-going, never caused waves, got along with everyone… and he just seemed to be that guy who tried and tried and tried, but ‘bad luck’ just ‘found’ him? (Unemployment, poor relations with his family, cruel ex-girlfriends, etc) Remember how you thought ‘Gee, if only someone would love in just the right way, for just the right amount of time, he’d blossom! If only all those bad things didn’t keep happening TO him!

      Their passivity and happy demeanor in public translates to him being viewed / treated among people who ‘know’ (notice the air quotes) him as ‘easy-going, accepting, non-confrontational’ and in my case he’s seen as the guy who just keeps trying SO HARD but ‘bad luck’ just seems to follow him

      • Peggy- OMGosh did you strike a cord here with this one. LOL. I would think you had been right behind us watching the whole beginning of our relationship.

    • jmarie- I can’t tell you enough how right you are about what people understand concerning abuse. Even victims themselves say they wish they had been beaten vs. emotionally abused because at least the bruises, etc. heals. When I was married to the father of my children it was amazing how much control that man had managed in the eight yrs. we were together, and I did some things I’m definitely not proud of. Once I opened my eyes and got the strength to get away, no one could understand what I went through or that someone could control someone else’s behavior like what I described. Yet I have heard more than one story of emotional abuse that sounded more like fiction than truth. If I would have had black eyes or a broken arm, then the same things would have been acceptable because the abuse was obvious. I’m sorry that this person that you obviously thought was your friend to have confided something was so callous. It always hurts to find out the loyalty and friendship you give isn’t returned.

      On a lighter note, what did he say when you had sandwiches for Thanksgiving? Was he shocked, or just the usual, quiet, passive aggressive self? Mine probably wouldn’t care as long as the TV worked so he could watch football. LOL.

      • “On a lighter note, what did he say when you had sandwiches for Thanksgiving? Was he shocked, or just the usual, quiet, passive aggressive self?”

        He is the quintessential Passive Passive Agressive. But knowing him like I do..I am fully aware of the land mine that lies just below the surface. I have seen it and have had to “walk on eggshells” long enough. Right now he is playing the “good guy” to the hilt. I think he is just “going along” thinking I will change my mind. I WON’T.

        As for the emotional vs. physical abuse. I’ve had them both. I can assure you 100% from personal experience BOTH have had to be healed in the MIND. It’s just that you have proof of the physical. I read on another website that “emotional abuse is the mutilation of your heart and soul” So very TRUE

  8. oops… hit ‘post’ b/f I meant to… cont’d… from other comment…

    Remember that mentality? Remember how, somewhere in that time, you too ‘stood up’ for him?

    Yeah- in some ways we helped dig our own grave (at least I did). I spent a lot of time covering up and cleaning up the hurt and mess he’d cause himself, me and others, but since I did all that covering up and didn’t really share it with anyone, no one saw it, all they saw was the shiny, good product.

    Have you seen American Beauty? There’s a scene in it where Annette Benning’s character – a realtor- does an open house- and she shows up a few hours early to the showing and does all the cleaning so the house looks it’s best when it sells. It’s her work, but she credits the pristine house as the owners work.

    We were Annette Benning for a long, long time. (Here comes another analogy… people tease me about my ability to form them)

    So now here we are- realizing that the house is not so shiny; the roof leaks, the plumbing is shoddy and the furnace is unreliable. We’ve learned this now, and we know this now.

    Unfortunately, it’s much, much, much harder to convince anyone of that. Why? Because at the first walk through, we talked up the house and how great it was and how wonderful the owners cared for the house and really, you should buy this house, it’s GREAT!

    Between the first and second walk through we learned a lot; but the buyers (our friends) didn’t witness any of that negativity, so they are still enamored with the house.

    We’ve rearranged our thinking b/c we’ve witnessed the toilet backup and the ceiling drip; they haven’t.

    When we attempt to re-align their thinking, they challenge us (rightfully so) with questions – including “If it’s so bad, why are you still involved as the realtor?” … tough sell…

    I wish I had some ‘magic’ way I’ve dealt with this as it’s been deeply, deeply wounding and painful to lose as many connections to people as I have.

    For me, the only way to truly re-establish a healthy life for myself was to establish and enforce boundaries (much like what you speak of ‘don’t share anything about myself with that person anymore’) – and that establishment of new assertiveness has, I’m sure, caused people to misinterpret me – and I’ve had to learn how to handle that too-

    But even writing that last paragraph I realize now that it’s not as much of an impact as I used to think it was; I don’t miss those people as much as I used to – or thought I would- mostly b/c the precious few relationships that did survive- those few who said “I’m listening”- are still here – they are my soul food. The others, it turns out, were just empty calories.

    Kid is BUGGING ME to go play… more later.

    • Peggy, as always you seem to have gotten well past what I am now going through. The pain of losing the friends is something that will be the hardest for me. And, right now we are in a situation where My old friends became his in such a unbelievably short time. But that is just as it has always been. He has probably one friend, but that friend’s wife thinks I am the most awful person in the world because I stood up for myself against my PA in front of her at one point in time.
      I watched the movie “Break up” with jennifer anistan the other night. OMG what a parrallel to what I am doing. One line in the movie that rang true was when jennifer (don’t remember her character name) said ” It would be nice for you to WANT to help me wash the dishes.” Her boyfriend did all the usual things that a PA will do and she -in the end- left him….even after the typical way a PA will become (or appear to become) sincere and remorseful. She left anyway! In my mind I was saying “you go girl”. I was thinking that I have to have the strength she had even with the pain, challenges and uncertainty that awaits me. I can’t look back!!! I know that now.
      It is something that -regardless of my losses-whether it be finacial, companionship, the trials I face in finding work at my age, the job of moving on from this emotionally or the loss of my friends (that is already starting) I must, I absolutely MUST move forward!
      I liked your analogy of the real estate agent who did all the work and credited it to the owners taking care of the home. Stupid Stupid Stupid realtor. LOL. But it is exactly what we have done. We HAVE dug our own graves so to speak by what we did with the PA. We loved too much, rescued too much, and managed too much….all to our own detriment, when it shouldn’t be that way. But I will be darned if I will fault myself for what he was responsible for and didn’t, wouldn’t and can’t do; that being the reciprical consideration of me as a person.
      If I weren’t a strong person in my own right, I would have fallen deep within an abyss of depression by now. I’m not going there!
      Yes, he did play the poor unfortunate “unlucky” person all throughout the relationship and he just couldn’t understand why the world would do this to him.(always something or someone else’s fault).
      Now I say to him….He brought it upon himself. He doesn’t want to change. He’s proven it by inaction. He doesn’t think I am worth it to him. Probably because I am not falling for his “pull me back in” scenario again.
      I do want to change and I will. Only this time…….without him. I have a far better chance of seeing the beauty without him blocking the view.
      In the movie, when Jennifer Anistan left her boyfriend, even after his last attempt to pull her back in-with his sincerity- I thought to myself…..My true strength is being tested now and I will not and cannot fail. I am doing this out of love for myself, not in wanting to hurt him.
      There is a story about these monks that were held captive for many years and tortured relentlessly. What they had endured was unimaginable. The day came when their captors released them and the monks were asked how they felt about their captors. The monk’s reply was that of forgiveness…….and when asked how they could forgive their captors from that which they had gone through, they answered “because we need to for ourselves”… They hurridly walked away from their prison and never looked back.
      Keep posting Peggy. I love your analogies. It sometimes helps to understand a situation in a way that just talking about it doesn’t. It allows the reader to put their own story into it. Feel the feelings, work through them and move forward with a new sense of understanding about what we all have experienced.
      To all who have a story– We are all here for each other. That is exactly the purpose- I am sure- that Ladybeams intended when she set this blog up. Thanks Ladybeams. You are a dear person.

      • jmarie- Thank you. You are right. When I started this blog it was to save my sanity, and I was hoping for this very type of interaction. I, like so many of you couldn’t really talk to anyone and everyone seemed to use the term “passive aggressive” so flippantly, only for me it wasn’t just a term. I can’t tell you all how much it has meant to me to share with you, to learn from you, and give and get the support and encouragement we all need and deserve.

        I saw the movie “The Break-up” also. Just like life, didn’t you keep hoping they’d get it back together but he just didn’t get it. It always amazes me also that I can watch a movie with the PA that absolutely parallells our life, but he never sees it, until of course I help point out similarities. LOL.

        • And many here are truly appreciative to your monumental efforts of having this “support group” on the web focusing on just the very kind of problem most people do not see due to the incidiously covert nature of it. Very rarely do you find this to be talked about, understood, or dealt within our communities unless it is in counseling. Not everyone can afford counseling. I think I speak for many ….THANK YOU

          • And can I just say that the advantage of getting support here is that everyone really “gets it” in a way that even counselors sometimes don’t. My PA and I went to couples counseling for about 6 months. The counselor was great, and the process gave me all sorts of insights, but when things broke down again, I went back to see her on my own. At one of the first sessions, she said that in order for things to work, we both needed to lower our expectations of the other. I initially felt crushed, but had to gather my strength and tell her that I currently had a relationship with someone with whom I could have no expectation of physical intimacy, no expectation that he could offer me emotional support during a tough time or even on a bad day, no expectation that he would ever be able to support our family financially (I do that), and no expectation that he can be relied on 100% to do even the smallest of tasks (e.g. pick up the right thing at the grocery store). I asked her how much lower she thought my expectations could go. After that, we had some useful sessions! ☺

          • Jane- I’m glad to hear you didn’t give up on counseling completely and she’s been able to help you. I truly believe a good therapist is an excellent form of support. Unfortunately you are right in the fact that many of them “don’t get it” which is why I advise everyone to interview their therapist first and asking them how familiar they are with Passive Aggressive Personality Disorder. Otherwise, a lot of therapists get duped by PAs just as we have.

            I thought your answer to lowering your expectations was great. LOL

    • Peggy- You do have a knack for analogies. LOL. Being a Realtor, I especially can identify with this one.

      As far as friends go what is that quote I like so much? Oh yeah? “Don’t worry about the people in your past. There’s a reason they didn’t make it to your future”. Pretty good, aye? The other one I like is “Sometimes you just have to smile, pretend everything’s ok, hold back the tears, and just walk away”. Ok, and last but not least “The hardest thing in life is knowing which bridge to cross and which to burn”.

      Ok, I’m done. LOL.

  9. “But I will be darned if I will fault myself for what he was responsible for and didn’t, wouldn’t and can’t do; that being the reciprical consideration of me as a person.”

    BINGO! That’s the sound of you getting up and walking away from the slot machine that will never pay out, the sound of you strapping on that parachute and jumping from a doomed plane, and the sound of you crawling out of the boiling pot of water.

    This part- the part you are in right now – HURTS LIKE HELL and feels LONELY- but hold on, hang on, find a good counselor, find a great friend, close your eyes and tie that knot at the end of the rope, and hold on… channel Marlin and Dori from Finding Nemo; “HOLD ON DORI, HOLD ON!” and ‘Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.’

    Cry a lot, journal a lot, be selfish as hell. Mourn those who you have to leave behind, celebrate those who you’ll find along the way.

    This part does not last forever; it will only last longer if you slow down, doubt yourself, or turn back.

    • Thanks again Peggy, you always know how to cheer a person up with your “right on” analogies.
      I had a rather unusual day. One that really puts me in a funk of sorts. A get together with family.
      All their focus was on him when he talked. When I would try and stay upbeat and just talk about the day, ask what they had been doing, or the meal, whatever, the responses I got were short and at one point curt. A few times, I asked a question and was simply ignored. I think I said it clearly and I know I made a positive comment, so why the cold shoulder. Maybe I’m reading it wrong, but I don’t think so. After I repeated it, it was not the same kind of conversation involvement that he got.
      When ‘he’ said something and they missed what he said..they immediately turned to him, and asked him to repeat what he said. I have to say this REALLY hurt. My daughter thinks I am wrong- I know that- and is treating him with far more acknowlegement, concern, civility and respect. In fact, they simply feel sorry for him…BINGO (as you say) he’s playing yet ANOTHER academy award winning role and is a ‘shoe in’ for the Oscar for his role as the victim.
      But I know my girl and she is one who will ask me later about it all. I know that for sure and today was just not the time or place to discuss any of it. He isn’t even her biological father and she was grown and out before I was married to him. I would totally understand her actions if he were her father. I guess she can only be told what is happening and why, if she is willing to ask and listen. She and I haven’t done that yet, not to any large degree…so I have to be patient and wait. I’m not about to bombard her with it all right now.
      I think my daugher will understand the ‘whys” of it in time. She is an intellegent girl. It would devastate me to know that my daughter thinks less of me because of it.
      So I go to bed tonight praying for God to guide my heart and words when she does ask her questions that need to be asked by her and answered by me.
      It isn’t so hard when friends give me the cold shoulder-sure it hurts- but my daughter OMG that is something else. I love her so much…
      So Peggy, I am crying, journaling, holding onto that rope for dear life, and swimming for all I’ve got, and not slowing down. And I promise you I will NOT doubt myself because in my heart I know I am doing this now for me. I am in ‘survival mode’. It isn’t comfortable, but it is necessary to stay alive. If I can eat bugs to stay alive..and I have, I can do this.

      “If you live your life according to other people’s beliefs and not your own, you will be living their life, not yours.”

      My beliefs have made a full 180 degree turn…and I am now beginning to get back to the part of me that feels “right” again. I don’t want to let that go.

      • jmarie- Just to butt in here for a moment, my situation is the same as yours. Imagine that. LOL. When my PA and I got together my oldest was a senior in high school. None of my kids cared for him much, especially the younger ones. Through the years as my kids were growing up, I was always the strong one, I was the one who left their father, I was the beatch that made sure homework got done, etc. All the kids have been out of the house now for a few years, and watching our relationship for the last 10 yrs. they definitely side with him. Every once in awhile I point it out where they actually see it, and they still side with him. All they see is he’s “trying so hard.” and he’s such a “pleaser”, that I once again am the bad one. While they still think I’m the tyrant, at least pointing out a couple of examples they sort of “get it”. I know though when the time comes for me to move on, they will totally consider me to be unreasonable.

        All you can do is talk to your daughter. You can give examples of things she probably wouldn’t want in a relationship either. Then they do start to understand, especially if your fairly close to her. Sometimes with my kids I think they just like to think that it’s “happily ever after” and don’t want to know any more than that.

        Good luck. I’m sure you two will be able to square it away, especially when you explain to her all the therapy is just a show as he doesn’t act on it.

        • You are not “butting in”…don’t go there. I welcome your input……always
          Isn’t it amazing how we are the beatch, the bad guy, the tyrant, the controller when we HAVE to take over the care and guidance of our little ones, because the PA just wants to be the “candyman” so he doesn’t have to get involved in all that “work” ? I just think since the PA can be children themselves that don’t want to grow up, it must have been the time period in their lives that they just couldn’t get past. The period of irresponsibility where mommy took care of them…They got too darn comfortable with it. Oh sure they went out and got a higher education possibly, a job, took care of themselves for a while, (and that was a great start for them, but they didn’t feel good about themselves enough in doing it, they needed someone else to stroke them), but as soon as they saw us walking down the street….Whammo! He gets his mommy back…but he does it in such a way as to make us all believe he is the big man on campus, can do no wrong, he’ll protect us.(and we believe him)..when it all boils down, we have the exact personality he needs…that of care giving, and we end up taking care of THEM. TOO MUCH WORK for me now. I’m tired.
          As for my daughter…
          I will do what I can to answer whatever questions my daughter asked, I know she will. She also thinks in the “forever after” scenario. I used to, that’s why I stayed in an abusive relationship for so long. That was the dream like state I got myself into. MY EYES ARE WIDE OPEN NOW and I won’t do that again. Not saying I won’t have another relationship, just saying I will be FAR more careful in my choices.

  10. Jane,
    Oh Yes, the banter from counselors over the years..”Don’t worry, be happy” and me wondering if they were understanding what I was trying to say. Maybe they did. I surely tried. Being a fully different person than myself and possibly never experiencing what I had, I felt they didn’t get it sometimes either. That’s where their experience and expertise is so very helpful. They surely don’t have to agree with us. We don’t learn about ourselves that way. The insights they give are meant to make usTHINK.
    I feel most counselors truly work for a “happily ever after” story. And that is wonderful!!.. But there will never be a happily ever after ending when your PA continues do what he does. If a PA can’t see within himself what problem he carries, what are we supposed to do. He has to WANT to help get to a mutual goal with us….Oh there is so very much more to this…..
    We all are living the Serenity Prayer now. I am at the part that says “and the wisdom to know the difference”.

    I really like my counselor. He gave me much insight into all of it, but in a way I think, even though he is very supportive of me, he wanted a succcess story. Most do. I can’t fault him for that…I wanted that also. But the nice thing about him was that he also wanted me to make that decision for myself. I did.
    Some of the counselors in my past also said to lower my expectations. All that did was make me start questioning myself as to why I couldn’t practice the LIMBO and have this “HOW LOW CAN YOU GO” attitude. I don’t want to have to look up to see the floor. It is not happening! I am a person of higher standards than that. I don’t want perfection, God knows I don’t. I just want what is better than what I got from my PA. To fall prey to the mindset that I must accept the unacceptable to me and still be satisfied is pure hogwash. I deserve better than what I got.
    On a lighter note Jane, I had to laugh about what you said about your PA not picking up the right thing at the grocery store. OMG, that has happened so many times here also…Why must they frustrate? Have they never heard of a list?

    • jmarie- What you say here about the PA having to be a participant is so true. That’s why when it comes to a prognosis they say counseling usually doesn’t work. Even most of the psych community know they are just getting lip service in therapy. I might agree with “lowering your expectations” if it seemed like we were all terribly unreasonable here, but I don’t think we are at all. What we expect is to be treated with love, affection, dignity, and to feel like we have a 50/50 partner in the relationship…I for one don’t think that’s out of the “norm”.

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