Posted by: Marie | December 21, 2012

(765) Passive anger – Part 2 of 7

Post #765
[Private journal entry written on Wednesday, January 25, 2012 about a conversation with my therapist – continued from previous post]


Me: (After a pause) You know, Jeff doesn’t have to stick around after his lesson. But, he often sticks around and talks about meaningful things with me. The fact that he is choosing to stick around and converse outside the lesson time indicates that he wants to do it and enjoys that conversation. He doesn’t have to do that . . . he has no obligation to do so.

The same thing with James, the cop . . . he’ll stick around and have a conversation after his lesson. He talks about what is happening in his life. I think he finds he can de-stress little bit that way. Our conversations are deep and meaningful. He doesn’t have to do that, but he often does. I’m sure he wouldn’t stick around if he didn’t enjoy it.

And, I enjoy that time with both Jeff and James. It is an honor that they would share that time with me – that they want to spend time with me.

Selflessness Forest by Martin Chen

Selflessness Forest by Martin Chen

Edward: What is that like to have these two men in your life with whom you are having positive relationships?

Me: Actually there are four men . . . you, Jeff, James, and my cousin, Caleb.

Edward: It is an honor to be included in the four! Thank you!

Me: I often think back to when I was younger . . . when I was a teenager and a young adult . . . I was so desperate for male attention. The only way I knew to connect with guys was through sex. So, I would throw myself at any man who would pay me even just a little bit of attention. I would throw myself at single guys and at married men . . . it didn’t matter how inappropriate my behavior was because my need for attention was way stronger than my desire to be appropriate.

Of course, I got turned down a lot. Everyone – my sister, my parents, my friends – would tell me to not be so desperate. That’s where I learned that wanting male attention is a shameful, weak thing – a character flaw.

Edward: Do you still think it is shameful to want male attention?

Me: Well, yeah . . . logically I know it is not, but that belief is so engrained that I’m still not okay with my wanting that kind of attention.

The good news is that my relationships with those four men feel good to me . . . I don’t feel I’m weak for wanting those relationships and for enjoying them – I don’t feel I’m doing anything shameful. The relationships are above-board . . . their wives know about the relationships, we aren’t doing anything we aren’t supposed to . . . so the relationships are healthy, legitimate and allowable. I’m not doing anything I’m not supposed to do.

It is a shock to my system to interact with men in this way. It is a new experience for me to be respected and listened to by a man . . . sometimes I find it difficult to believe they really are men . . . it’s like they are a third gender, or something! Not really . . . but, they – you – are so different from what I have always known men to be.

Edward: What have you always known men to be?

Me: (After some thought) Sometimes I watch a TV show called Teen Mom It is a reality show about teen girls who get pregnant – it documents how things unfold for them. It is a high quality show, as far as reality shows go . . . it’s not staged or anything, it really shows what happens over the course of multiple years.

In fact . . . the talk show host I really like – Dr. Drew Pinsky – is heavily involved in the production of the show. The goal of the show is to pull back that romantic veil many teen girls look through when they think about sex and pregnancy.

Anyway . . . the boys who are the dads act like little boys. I acknowledge they are really young. But, they are so incredibly immature – and usually abusive. They tell the girls they are worthless and stupid . . . they shirk any responsibility like changing diapers or paying child support or coming home at a decent hour so they can tuck their children into bed . . .

I know the boys are young . . . but, I am often shocked by their behavior. They learned the abusive behavior from somewhere . . . and the girls learned to tolerate being abused from somewhere . . . probably the same place I learned it . . . from my parents . . .

So . . . my point is that the behavior I see coming from the boys in that show reflects my experience of boys and men for most of my life. That is all I’ve known of men . . . at least of the men with whom I’ve had the closest relationships.

Edward: Even with your dad?

Me: Well, he didn’t shirk responsibilities like taking care of his family . . . in fact, he worked an insane amount of hours . . . he worked incredibly hard to provide for his family. But, I think he was immature – or at least unenlightened – because he did whatever he had to do to avoid his own pain even if it took an emotional toll on those around him.

Edward: What do you mean by “unenlightened”?

Me: Maybe that’s not the best term . . . I use the term “enlightened” when someone is emotionally “awake” . . . when he is emotionally available and present . . . and aware of how his behavior affects other people . . . and cares how his behavior affects others . . .

People who are . . . I guess “asleep” is a good term . . . people who are asleep are not bad people, nor do they try to hurt other people on purpose, they just are unaware of what they are doing and how they affect others. It’s like a little kid who believes his viewpoint is the only viewpoint and see others only as props in his world . . . he has not yet developed empathy – it’s not because he is a bad kid, it is because he is still early in the development cycle.

So, adults who are still asleep are aware that, if they punch someone in the nose, it will cause the other person pain. But, they seem to be unaware of the less obvious ways they cause others pain . . . like boys who tell their pregnant girlfriends they are stupid and worthless . . . or dads who force their beliefs and preferences on their more vulnerable family members.

For example . . . several years ago, I asked a guy at the bus barn . . . well, interestingly enough, it was the same guy who now has cancer . . . hmmmmm . . .

Anyway, before I started my blog, I had captured the first year or so of my healing journey in an e-book that I wanted to distribute to people who might be going through the same thing. I was looking for feedback on the book before I distributed it to the general public, so I asked some people at the bus barn to read it.

One of the people I asked was the guy who now has cancer. He declined. The reason he gave me is that it is an uncomfortable topic for him because his wife is a sexual abuse survivor. So, I asked if maybe his wife would be interested in reading it (at that point in time, I hadn’t met her yet) – I asked him to ask her for me.

He said he didn’t want to ask her to do it because whenever that topic comes up, it stirs up bad memories for her and puts her in a bad mood for many days. Then, because she is in a bad mood and is not very nice to be around, it makes it tough on him – he is the one who pays the price for the topic of abuse coming up since his life is miserable when she is in a bad mood.

My jaw almost hit the floor. I thought, “What a bastard! You aren’t willing to give your wife space to express and deal with her pain because it might cause you some discomfort . . . really??? Oh my God! Do you have any idea the pain she goes through? Don’t you think it might be worse than your pain? How can you be that selfish?”

I didn’t say any of that, but I sure was thinking it.

I believe he didn’t behave that way to be mean-spirited on purpose – he really is a nice guy in most respects. He just doesn’t get it – he isn’t awake enough to get it.

And, I think my dad was the same way . . . he didn’t do it to be mean, he just wasn’t awake enough or enlightened enough to recognize that is what he was doing. I think he couldn’t allow anyone else’s pain to be expressed because it would be uncomfortable for him. So, he just squashed everyone else’s freedom to be expressive.

[Continued in the next post . . . ]

Quotes 675


  1. Wow, I really got a lot out of this post. I agree that many people are asleep–and I think, to some extent, all of us are asleep in certain ways and to certain aspects of life.

    But some people are so asleep that they just cause harm left and right.

    It is very astute of you to be able to see that about your father–and to have some empathy for how he was able to do some of the things he did.

    • Thank you, Aaron, for the acknowledgement . . .

      That empathy for my dad is a double-edged sword . . . it also keeps me from feeling the anger towards him that would be healthy and healing for me to feel . . . in time, maybe I’ll be able the balance all of that.

      It is good to hear from you!

  2. hmmmm. i didn’t interpret his not wanting to ask her as him denying her feelings of pain. maybe they had worked out something between them to minimize her being triggered. your relationship was not with her, so you have only his explanation, which might have been vague and polite so as to stop the conversation from going any further. personally, i don’t believe we have a right to share our stories without explicit consent from the other person, so i’m glad he was comfortable setting limits with you. in your current relationship with your music student you have chosen to listen and empathize, it seems to heal part of you when your student shares his experiences. but for other people, it could be more important to maintain safe emotional boundaries.

    • Wow, Catherine . . . you make some great points here!

      It is possible that the man and his wife had worked out some kind of agreement and it is possible he was politely establishing some boundaries with me . . . however, knowing the man as well as I do, I doubt it. He is just pretty asleep . . . very asleep . . . I can’t see him being capable of operating at that level of awareness. I could be wrong, though . . .

      I like what you said about boundaries around the sharing of our own stories . . . we need to be aware of those boundaries and how our stories affect others . . .

      Thank you for your input!

  3. My term for what I think you call asleep is ‘clueless’. Yours is a bit kinder I guess.

    • Six of one, half-dozen of the other . . . LOL

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