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Surprise of a lifetime

You could probably say that the ‘surprise of a lifetime’ would be something that would be the biggest thing to surprise you in your entire life. I think that’s what’s happened to me.

I discovered during the week that I suffer from passive aggression:

People with this disorder resent responsibility and show it through their behaviors rather than by open expression of their feelings. Procrastination, inefficiency, and forgetfulness are behaviors commonly used to avoid doing what they need to do or have been told by others must be done.

A person with this disorder may appear to comply with another’s wishes — may even demonstrate enthusiasm for them — but the requested action is either performed too late to be helpful, performed in a way that is useless, or otherwise sabotaged to express anger the person cannot relate verbally.

That’s me.

You might be wondering what the big deal is. Well, this is why:

Some of the common signs of passive-aggressive personality disorder include:

  • Procrastination
  • Intentional inefficiency
  • Avoiding responsibility by claiming forgetfulness
  • Complaining
  • Blaming others
  • Resentment
  • Sullenness
  • Fear of authority
  • Resistance to suggestions from others
  • Unexpressed anger or hostility

All of those signs are within me. And they’ve been within me all my life, ever since I was a child.

The common theme amongst passive aggressives seems to be that during childhood they were not allowed to express their feelings, and any feelings that they did express were ignored, rejected or resulted in being punished for. As a result, they learnt to fight back in subtle ways, agreeing to do what they were told but then never getting around to it.

His anger grows but he cannot express it so it becomes submerged and is expressed in an unconscious ‘You can’t tell me what to do.’ He is not allowed to get his way by direct confrontation and competition so he learns to displace his anger through resistance. He learns to use charm, stubbornness, resistance and withdrawal to protect himself in power struggles. He rebels by becoming moody, being an underachiever or developing behavior problems. His self protectiveness and duplicity from the squelched anger and hostility becomes a habit that he plays out with other women he meets. He desperately seeks a woman to meet his needs of being accepted for who he is, but puts her off with small, continual acts of rebellion. He replays the distancing drama of his original family in the relationship.

This is what I’ve been doing all my life, and which I’ve only just realised now.

It’s naturally had an effect on my relationship with Deidre.

The biggest irritant in being with a passive aggressive man is that he doesn’t follow through on his agreements and promises. He dodges responsibility while insisting he’s pulling his weight. He procrastinates, takes on big projects but doesn’t finish them then feels put upon or hostile if someone else tries to finish it. He often ignores reality as to his irresponsibility and withdrawal. He denies evidence, distorts, minimalizes or lies to make his version of reality seem logical.

What does one do when one learns that everything they’ve been doing in life has been to sabotage themselves, their partners, and anyone around them that means something to them?

One goes into something resembling shock.

Now I don’t know what I want any more, because I can see that what I’ve wanted in the past has often been to sabotage or to rebel against what someone else wants. Or even against what I want.

How the hell can someone sabotage their own desires, simply because they’re rebellig against the expectations of others?

It’s bizarre, absolutely bizarre.

I can’t trust myself any more. Every time I say I want something, I have to analyse myself to work out why the hell I really want it. Am I saying it to appease someone? Am I saying it to avoid conflict? Am I saying it to make myself look good? Am I saying it because it’s what I’ve always been saying, and has no meaning other than the pattern of past habits?

Passive aggressives – I – try to avoid conflict. We do so by agreeing to things we don’t want to do, and then finding some excuse as to why we fail to do it. That could be forgetfulness, procrastination, doing something else instead, making someone else responsible for it (or the failure of it being done), or causing an argument that results in not doing it.

It’s about control. I feel I have no control when I feel I have to do things for someone else, and so I take back control – one way or another – by not doing it or creating situations that result in avoiding what needs to be done.

I’m the rebellious teenager that never grew up.

I’m just really, really lucky that I have a partner who is understanding, committed and willing to work on my issues with me, because I’ve been doing the same with her own issues. And because she loves me.


So I’ve been in shock for a few days now, feeling like withdrawing, and simply not doing anything at all, because I don’t know the real motivations of why I want to do things any more. I know that a great deal of my agreements to Deidre in the past have been because I want to appease her, or to ensure she stays with me, because fear of loneliness and abandonment are prominent.

These haven’t been conscious decisions, but in the process of making these arrangements there has been residual and passive anger as a result of not having any control in my life. I’ve spent a great deal of time and energy passively blaming her without consciously realising it. Her anger at being blamed for things resulted in me being angry at her for misunderstanding me. It was actually me who was misunderstanding myself, and trying to make her responsible.

It’s a pattern of behaviour that I’ve been following ever since childhood. Underachieving at work, procrastination, inefficiency…

I can say that now I know what the problem is, I can work on fixing it. But the real challenge is that now that I want to fix it, I have to work out what I really mean when I say what I want, whatever it might be.

I told Deidre today that I feel like doing nothing at all, nothing whatsoever, and then to start doing things that I want to do, even though I know it might piss her off. Stop ‘caring’ about how she’s going to feel at what I do. Stop ‘caring’ about pissing her off, and letting her deal with those issues herself.

In order for me to heal the issues that I’m suffering from, I have to feel safe that the expression of my thoughts and feelings are appreciated, respected and desired. I’ve always told her that I’m angriest when I feel I’m not being listened to. It’s because it reminds me of my childhood, where I wasn’t listened to, or my feelings or thoughts were considered to be of no importance.

She has a big job ahead of her. We both do.

The surprise of my life has left me in shock. Now I have to move forward and make a new beginning.

I hope I don’t procrastinate about this…

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