The other day I was talking to a friend about the perceptions and feelings one picks up on, from how something is said to the way it is said. In particular, how dealing with someone who is passive aggressive elicits a less than hospital emotional response to what has been said. I’ve found many times the way passive aggressive people communicate, is by jabbing and attacking you with their words and negatively expressing themselves. Often their actions do not totally support what they have said and you are left feeling like the wind was knocked out of you. There are other times their communication is copacetic, but their body language says something totally different and again you feel under attack.
The problem, I’ve found, in dealing with someone who is passive aggressive, is unless you completely understand the dynamic of their communication style, and realize they are attacking you, you think the issues is you, (or at least that has been my experience). I had such an individual in my life. For years I wondered what was wrong with me, I’d say to myself “he said X, why do I feel so bad?” It took a long time before I was able to realized what was going on, and even longer to not be drawn into his cesspool.
Now that I am in process of divorcing the individual, he still manages to occasionally passively attack me, for things I am not responsible for. (It’s divorce after all). The sad part is, he communicates with our youngest child in this adverse manner, and it has affected her. (The other two children do not talk to him at this time).
I brought up to the friend in question how hard his passive aggressiveness was on the youngest, by commenting on a recent comment he made on social media. Of course the comment set me off, as it was directed at me, and of course the youngest sees all his posts but isn’t suppose to. (I also do not see his posts, someone alerted me to his attack).
I was up In arms. The youngest reacts morose to many of his dialogues and posts. A disportionateamount of his communication is geared in the jargon and she is effected in adverse ways.
I was so sure others wouldn’t see through what he said (or hadn’t over the years), and I could see how it was pulling the one who still conversed with him, into an emotional chasm of negativity – she was making me the brunt of her hostile attack as she backslided and was in an emotional place that scared me. I realized it was from the communication she WAS NOT to be having with her dad.
The friend pointed out, “he has to create drama, he feeds off the dynamic he causes.” I was utterly blown away, jaw drop shock blown away at this epiphany. In all these years it never occurred to me what he did was dramatic or he fed off it. It made since because it caused excitement of sorts in his life.
It never ceases to amaze me how eye opening another’s insight can add to what I already know. Like I’m seeing something clearly for the first time. Because of my ex’s way of communicating and my quest to figure out why I reacted how I did when he interacted with me, I gained mind blowing understanding on the subject. Funny how our experiences make us novice experts. I came to realize in part his behavior was manipulation, control, anger, and of course a surfeit more.
Words have tremendous power and weight and can be positive or negative in feel and meaning. I can say the same thing in two different ways, and you will get a different emotional response from them both. Now add body language and tone of voice on top of that. If you’re passive aggressive it’s great ammunition.
Now and then I get excited over things if they cause me any real anxiety. When I’m in this state I’ve been told I come across as angry, when in actuality I am so far from it. It bothers me this is the case, and no amount of insight has helped me to prevent others from seeing me this way at these times. I am shocked when I find out and reassure whomever I am not upset. In instances like this I have been oblivious to how I am perceived. I make it a point to be aware of my overall communication style and if I do offend I assure them I don’t feel the way they have surmised or I make sure to make amends. Besides in my line of work it is paramount how I am received.
People who communicate in the style my ex does, can they really be clueless? Or is it indeed a way of controlling or trying to control people and their world? I can’t believe people who communicate in the style my ex does have little or no clue to the malice they stir up. Could their way of communicate be caused by poor self esteem?
I know I will not change my ex nor do I have any desire to do so. But by knowing the why, I can react or not react better to him and or anyone who has these traits. By knowing the how, I can prevent myself or youngest from being drawn in. When you realize it isn’t you and you clearly see the pattern, it is freeing. Oh so too is divorce!