Sunday, January 16, 2011


I think I've probably mentioned before how a dear friend - one of those few people who sees more into my real soul than others - pegged me several years ago as passive-aggressive. Then, the term was new to me, so I had to ask for an explanation. With a working definition in hand, I had to admit that she was right. And, in the many months since that illuminating conversation, I've witnessed proof after proof that I am indeed passive-aggressive.

If your words or actions hurt me, I don't confront you. Instead, I go through mental gymnastics trying to understand or justify your behavior. "She must be all hormonal today." "He's probably just stressed from work." "I'm sure it wasn't your intention to be hurtful - you just have too much on your plate right now..." So, I make excuses (valid or not) and pretend not to be hurt and just keep plugging. Until....

Until some tiny, relatively unoffensive comment or action triggers a nuclear meltdown. And then, everyone around looks at me bug-eyed and asks, "Where did that come from?"

In trying to change, to be less passive-aggressive, I've encountered a few new frustrations. When I actually make the effort to say, "That really hurt my feelings" - or - "This is too difficult/you're asking too much of me" - or - whatever it is that is not my P-A reflex - many people don't really listen. It's as if I'm not truly serious unless I'm in meltdown mode. Or worse, they do what I've done myself for so many years - they formulate a theory that allows them to dismiss my issues. "She's all hormonal." "She stressed out from work." "She'll be 'over it' and in a better mood tomorrow."

I'm beginning to think that "passive-aggressive" is just another term for lazy. Not willing to exert the emotional or physical effort necessary to deal productively with the unpleasantries of life. I don't like something about the way things are at present - but I don't really want to do anything to change, either. Why won't I make the effort to change? Maybe fear - I expect to be disappointed. Shoot, I'll probably go way out on a limb, have to endure even greater frustration and hardship, and things still won't be any better. Maybe personal history - I don't really have a very good track record when it comes to productive change. Maybe exhaustion - at the bottom of the well, with no physical or emotional resources left. None.

One good thing about the bottom - the only direction left is Up. Up - sounds like climbing, hard work, especially from the bottom of a deep hole. But at least there's no confusion about which direction to head, no perplexing options to weigh, no "wrong" paths to take. The bottom of the well - a win-win location. If I take a step at all, it will have to be Up - and that's a step in the right direction. If I don't take a step, it's an opportunity to rest, to rebuild strength....until I can take that first step.

Today is the Sabbath, a God-appointed day of rest.

Tomorrow, I pray I'll be rested enough, have courage enough, to begin climbing.


troal said...

Dear Camille,

Passive-agressive is SO not you!
Check it out:

Christian gal issues said...

I think of it more as not wanting to hurt anyones feelings, so you let it go. Though in reality, you don't let it go. You just bite back in suttle ways and under your breath ways. Then it isn't a full huge fight. BUT, in the end, there is always a meltdown as all that trying to keep the peace, trying to be nice, trying not to make anyone get their feelings hurt just bottles up inside and then BOOM! All the pressure lets out at once and they end up crying or getting hurt anyway.

I can't change either. I am trying, but it is hard! :)