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Calmly Aggressive

Updated: Sep 20, 2023

**Random picture from a graveyard I explored one day...

Did you know its possible to be calmly aggressive? Another word for it is passive aggressive. Something starts out as a minor issue and becomes a full blown mess through no fault of your own. You do your best to be clear and set boundaries to protect yourself from the other person's spilling out of their anger, jealousy and aggression only to have it all "mushed up" and smacked down on top of your head like it's all your fault and you started the whole mess and just look how awful it is?! Have you ever had someone like that in your life?

I have. From one that I considered my best friend.

Some of you know how much energy it takes to move. Especially to another state. Some of you may know how hard it is to go through your belongings and downsize and downsize and downsize again just to get to the place where you can move all your belongings to a new and smaller place. Some of you know what it's like to leave behind almost everything familiar except your most precious stuff and what a loss it is. Some of you know what it's like to leave behind almost all your friends in order to move to another state and start over with your life and just how painful and lonely that can be. Some of you know how it is to leave behind most of the things you had been stockpiling for your future dream home, a space to call your own. Some of you know what it sounds(and feels) like to hear and see your dreams come crashing down and shattering into an unfathomable amount of pieces seemingly slivered beyond recognition. Some of you know what it's like to push yourself till your health is at the breaking point. Picture for a moment all the grief and loss and loneliness and heartache of such a situation. Can you feel how heavy that feels?

Now add to it the fact that the friend who invited you to live with them, discussed things with you to come up with a living arrangement that works best for both of you. You felt like this person really cared for you and was so very supportive (blame that on social media...). You considered them your best friend. You went to all the work and effort and expense to move to their place and settle in, hoping against hope that this will finally be a good safe place to stay to rest and recover your health and to heal from a large amount of the past trauma and abuse you had had to endure.

You took that person at their word.

Fast forward a bit of time and this individual is triggered by a former housemate at an event. This individual comes home and in a moment of jealousy and anger lashes out at you. (They had numerous times invited you to spend time with certain individuals because they wanted you to feel included and you refused because you knew you weren't ready to face strangers yet. ) This individual in lashing out says they never wanted you around those people to begin with. Can you see the contradiction? And how it could feel like you have been lied to? Can you see how that might undermine someone's trust? To invite someone only to later tell them that they actually aren't welcome?

Now imagine trying to tell this person that it has undermined your trust in them and that you are giving them space by staying away from them because you don't want them to lash out at you again. What do you think this person might say? How would you respond?

Imagine you told them what your needs are and what helps you feel safe and they turn around, bringing up the original agreement and thanking you for your clear communication but then list all the ways that things are now going to change because they don't seem to like the space you're taking up in their home. That you are using doors they don't want you to use. That you are being unreasonable to request communication about their coming and going in order to help yourself feel safe while you expected to communicate the same with them about yourself. To be reminded "gently, gently" that this is their home and to be left with the implication that you are being unreasonable in your requests and if you don't like the way things are you can go move out (and they list a number of suggestions that either would not feel safe or is way out of your renting range). But then they still ask you what you think about various arrangements as though they still want to work around your needs. Can you imagine how crazy that could make your head feel? When you were only trying to set boundaries to protect yourself and help yourself feel safe and it becomes this full blown mess of changing the entire living arrangement? Would it make you feel defeated? Would you keep trying to state your boundaries and in so doing add more "fuel to the fire"? Would it feel like a loss to you to have this "friend" flip on you? This friend you thought was the most supportive of all?

How would it make you feel to be in such a situation? Can you feel the exhaustion? The defeat? The grief and loss and heartache? The loneliness? And the shock? After you had tried so hard, risking your health and other resources, just to try to find a safe place to rest and heal so you can make a better life for yourself?

This is where I find myself. Last week was so bad I thought I was going to go crazy. I questioned whether it was just all in my head. I felt like I had made a mountain out of a molehill. I beat myself up. I was SO HARD on myself. Simply because I was overwhelmed with how everything was being flipped around on me as though I was at fault. I gave up. In defeat. This was their house and they are allowed to do however they want whether I am comfortable or not. I am still so exhausted from all the resources it took to move and settle in that I had no energy left to hold my space in the middle of all this drama. There is no way that I can pack up again and move in such a short time. I am exhausted. I have no resources left of any sort: physically, emotionally, mentally or financially. And sadly, it is not a safe place for me anymore.

One simple thing would have taken care of the issue: if they would have taken responsibility for their jealousy and apologized for lashing out. That's all. That would have started rebuilding my trust. It would have opened the door for more communication. It would have done so much good.

But sometimes people are so out of touch with themselves and others that they are unable to handle the "raw emotional truth" and the only "escape" for them is to turn it around and make it the other person's fault.

How can you tell if a person is passive aggressive or in other words, calmly aggressive? Here is a definition:

"being, marked by, or displaying behavior characterized by the expression of negative feelings, resentment, and aggression in an unassertive passive way (as through procrastination and stubbornness)"

Here is a list of ways that you can tell if a person is passive aggressive:

And another one:

I'm sure there's more information out there but I thought these 2 articles were very well rounded out and explanatory.

*Random picture from a graveyard I explored one day...

Now you may be wondering what I'm planning to do in this really has been hard to break through the confusion and "crazy making" of the situation. Here's my thoughts:

  1. I need to listen to my body and rest.

  2. I need to nourish my body with food and for now that means using the kitchen when they are gone.

  3. I will try to observe the way they want things to be ("walk on eggshells around them") unless they are gone. Just not leave any traces of my "disobedience ".

  4. If anything more is brought up about how things are or I have to talk face to face I plan to use the "grey rock method" I dont need more drama right now. I dont have the energy to deal with it. If you want to understand "grey rock" this may help:

  5. I am trying to find something low pressure I can do from home as I have energy for income because I need to find something to do.

  6. I will keep working on my website, etc. which is bringing in a little bit of income though not enough.

  7. I have till November to live here rent free and then if I choose to stay there will be a conversation about "term and limits". What I would like to try for is to have enough money saved up to buy a tiny home and park it at a friend's house till I can get on my feet and save enough to buy my own property. That seems a bit of a tall order but I can try for it. I mean, after all, I do somehow have hope that its possible...

  8. I know that the best thing for me is to have my own space. That will help the most. That is what I will work toward. I want my own space to then share with others on their healing journey. Nothing wrong or selfish about that at all...just dreams that will hopefully amount to something big some day...

Why have I shared all this? Partly because it reinforces it by writing it down. Secondly because I am not crazy and I tried to communicate clearly. Third, perhaps down the road someone will be able to read this and find hope and understanding for their own situation. And most of all know that they aren't alone in their situation.

Aggression dressed up in a pretty package is like poison in a relationship. We may be unaware of our passive aggression but we are still responsible for it. Not taking responsibility will ruin our relationships.

Thanks for reading! I hope you found something good to take with you...and...have you had to deal with such a situation in the past? Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments. At the least it may help someone else know that they are not alone...

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