Sometimes the cuckoo clock is not the only cuckoo thing in this house.
Sometimes the pets are a wee bit crazy. Since we rescued a little cat this month, Beatrice the Bitchy (called thus for hating all other four legged beings) has been rather nutso. She alternates between being obsequious as a used car salesman in her behavior to humans and violently lunatic raving screaming hostile if she sees the bewildered little refugee on the porch. Does she know how wild that oscillation seems to us?
Likely not. She is just a
little very fat Uber-cat who thinks there should be only one! If only the cat and the cuckoo clock were the only oscillating irregularities!
But people should know when they are behaving that far off the mark, right?
People who are passive aggressive are generally that way for one or two different reasons. For instance it is possible they fear being direct for some reason or they don’t want to appear to be “the bad guy.” Nobody likes being the bad guy, after all. In our family, I’ve almost always had to be the bad guy: the one who said “no” to things we couldn’t afford, the one who enforced household rules, the one who made chore lists and punished those not in compliance — basically the adult in charge when others wanted to indulge in occasionally childishly defiant behaviors. Almost every parent knows what that feels like and gets very tired of it.
I’ve known parents of the “friend” model. They don’t do that tough bad guy “adulting” stuff well if at all – they want their kids to like them. They don’t call their kids, or their spouses, or their friends on negative behaviors like verbal grenading or passive aggression or bad grades or underage drinking or unsafe sex practices. It all gets swept under a rug by their OWN passive aggression. And it sadly seems to always end in a pattern of staggeringly bad consequences.
That is why I’ve become rather uncomfortably comfortable with being the bad guy; I even wear villainous black most of the time to remind myself to concentrate on honest confrontation as necessary to handle problems. But in a household of adults, to be honest, problem solving is rarely managed by only one person. There is a requirement for both sides to seek a solution and that means admission OF a problem in most cases. If one side simply labels everything that is not working as “not MY fault” or “not MY problem” there isn’t going to be a civil resolution.
Mental health issues are often a base for this sort of thing. For over 35 years of my marriage, I struggled to fix problems created by my spouse’s PTSD, for instance. He did not admit to the problem and fought all solutions. It made for a very rough marital road. It was destructive to us both. It wasn’t until his sons confronted him quite vocally that he realized how his behavior appeared to everyone except him. He has been seeking help with an increasingly cooperative mind-set over the last five to six years and it is helping. Now, I have to find my own road back from the damages I have taken over those years, too. My own emotions are pretty mangled and muted by years of not being heard. Counseling DOES help – even if at times it is uncomfortable!
If someone knows they have problems and refuses to seek help, deeming such “unnecessary” or “enough already”? It is not going to end well at all. Like this guy, he had an actual diagnosis and was on medication until he decided he was not mentally ill. Because sure, he would be the one qualified to make that decision, right? He bitches about his parents, who had to go to court to get him out of their house after eight years of his sponging off them while making them miserable and possibly frightening them, too. He says he doesn’t like their “small talk” and it is “harassment.” No, you giant ingrate – it is not harassment; it is your parents trying to let you know that although they cannot live with you, they CARE about you. Here is the hint: your parents are maintaining normal life. You are NOT: you can’t keep a job, your marriage failed, you lost custody of a kid for a REASON. If everything in your life is sucky – it just might be YOU that is the cause.
Adults living with other legal adults with mental health issues don’t have a lot of options. They cannot force said troubled adult – whether child, spouse, or in-law into medical help of any sort. Ultimately, all they can do is say “NO” to negative behaviors and such lack of tolerance for the craziness may end a relationship entirely. It is not risk-free. Ask any woman who said no to a husband with a gun and a mental hair trigger. Ask any parent who has had a child go from screaming “I hate you!” to taking a swing at them. It is a requirement for me to regularly ask myself if I am the source of “suck” in my own life.
Sometimes I am. If I am not taking care of myself physically and suffering more pain that usual – that is on me. If I am angry because I am avoiding dealing with a problem, that is on me. If I am being gaslighted because I told someone to stop being snide and nasty and they just couldn’t handle being called on their behavior? That is not on me. If this person KNOWS there are problems and refuses the help she insists any others in her own life must get? Well, double standard? Hypocrisy? IS there a nice word for it?
My life works. I’ve done my work on myself and keep doing it routinely. I’ve managed to hold it together for almost 65 years now without becoming a drunk, an addict, or any other sort of out-of-control sort. So when a twenty-something who doesn’t work, has never worked, and cannot manage phobic, neurotic behaviors is leaving because I shouted at her that one time? Well, yeah — I guess I should be glad I didn’t need a lawyer to make it happen, eh?