Monday, April 26, 2010

Doing and Undoing

One of the hallmarks of Obsessive/Compulsive Passive Aggressive Personality Disorder is doing/undoing. This characteristic, more than any other, has made the miserable parts of my marriage the most miserable.

This is what the boys did to the iguana on the court. This is what my husband does to me. It is no fun.

On the bright side, I am getting better at recognizing it. I start counseling Wednesday to find out if this will ever work out, or if I choose to stay married, will this be what life is like with my husband for the rest of my days.

Also, it's Mother's Day season. It was last Mother's Day that he said he should kill me because I don't deserve to live. I wish people would lay off the Mother's Day rhetoric.

Here's the general gist of how it worked this morning. After greeting me in the morning, He asked if there was anything he could do for me. I told him yes, he could get me a cup of coffee.

(Note: this is the set up- asking me what he could do for me, appearing -in words at least, there was no real intimate connection- to care about me in some way. The real point in getting a victim to express a need is so that they can then deliberately avoid meeting that need, thereby revealing the true contempt the PAPD feels for the victim.)

He offered to help me look for my slippers (another PAPD technique, appearing to be helpful while deliberately not doing what is asked/expected) and I told him no, I didn't need help with that, but it would really be helpful if he would get my coffee.

You see, opening the foil seal off of a new creamer is difficult for me. I have to find a pair of pliers because I do not have the strength in my hands to get that seal off. It is vacuum sealed and the glue holding it on is a serious glue! So it would have been truly helpful, loving and kind to do that for me. It would have been meeting a real need. And regardless really of what the need was, THAT was the need I expressed when he offered to "help" me.

(Another note: a second way the PAPD victimizes his target- no matter what, the target will come off sounding petty when they try to explain how they have been victimized. I am tempted to be embarrassed now, but I know better.)

For years, after abusing me with this PAPD dance of doing/undoing, I would wind up praying earnestly to be more forgiving, more tolerant, etc. I would believe him that somehow I was at fault. It is all so confusing, until you really understand what's going on.

I have come to find out through the years, that the more forgiving, tolerant, etc. I am, the longer this scenario plays out. He is intent on provoking a response from his victim. It is a compulsive need. The longer the intended victim holds out, the longer he will provoke, that's all. Being more patient, more kind, more long-suffering just increases the frustration level on my part when I do eventually crack. He will not let up until he gets the response he compulsively seeks.

When I came back down with my slippers, there was no coffee. He was "looking for my slippers". So I (now suspicious as to what I was in for, but not sure) told him, no I told you I didn't need help with my slippers, I asked for help with my coffee. He said "oh, sorry" over his back and left the room. He walked out of the room and to the other side of the house.

I started digging through the junk drawers for the pliers. I finally found a pair, pried the edge up and tore off the seal to the creamer. I made my coffee and was about to head upstairs when he came back down. Ever mindful of relationships, wanting to obey the Word and also, honestly to check if this is the start of a PAPD episode or just a misunderstanding, I point out to him that he walked out on me and still didn't help me like he offered.

From another room (this dual message I want to be apart from you while claiming I want to be close to you is part of the PAPD) he calls out "I'm sorry I hurt you. (Sounds sincere but he doesn't stop there.) I'm sorry I didn't make you coffee immediately."

Now it is 100% certain, he is working out his anger at mommy on me. I am not an authority figure who demands instant obedience. I was only responding as any human would, who was manipulated to expect one thing and then confusingly had it withheld.

(Perhaps unintentionally? That's how PAPD works, the victim wonders did they just not hear me? Did I not make myself plain? Am I being touchy? Trust me, you're not being touchy. You are responding as any human would, and the PAPD is counting on your response. Because now, they have an excuse for letting their anger out!)

So there you have it- the classic doing/undoing. I am sorry (first message) you are so demanding (second undoing message). More of an accusation than an apology. *sigh*

And so I went to the guest bedroom and wrote in my journal. I figured I owed it to him to point out his PAPD behavior and give him a chance to truly repent, but at the same time I feared that I was falling for the sadomasochism spiral. You see, relationships are so important to me, that I keep returning for more doing/undoing treatment. In the past it has lasted for days. In his parents life it is the permanent state of affairs.

So I got up and sought him out (a no-no) and told him "I shouldn't be coming to you, you should be coming to me but..." to which he sweetly replies "oh,go back then and let me come to you." So I returned to the guest room, wondering how this would end- truth and love or more of the doing/undoing.

He didn't follow me. I waited a few minutes (PAPDs are geniuses at guessing how long others will wait. Either that or he just chills until I can't stand it anymore and he hears my footsteps. However he works it out, it's all part of the disorder.) I return to ask him if he's coming or not. (This is the way they needle their victims over and over, until even the most patient person shows anger. I think "shows anger for him giving him a sense of release because he feels guilty expressing his own anger", but the motivation is unclear, really.)

He follows me back to the other room (now I am starting to ask myself why he didn't just talk to me where we were?) and sits down. I explain how he has put me in the mommy box, by asking what I need and then deliberately withholding it so that when I confront him, he can accuse me of demanding instant obedience by the way he worded his "apology".

There was just more doing and undoing. He's sorry, he says in a sincere voice, but then jumps up and tersely says "I have to go to work" and stalks out briskly. He even left the house, got in his car, came back in, hugs me, says I'm sorry and yet I could feel the anger coming off of him. I told him I was suspicious that this was more doing/undoing, that he was still really angry.

Then he said, "Yes I'm angry, I'm angry at YOU! You got up this morning determined to fight. You have a sick need to argue and I'm done with it." There were more angry words, but they were all saying the same thing. He stormed off upstairs, and I (foolishly) followed, calmly (thank God for grace) asserting that this was not true, that I did not make this happen, that he was the author of this whole scenario. He led me to the fartherst corner of the house, so that he could turn around and storm out, slamming three doors in my face as he went.

I called out that this wasn't necessary, I got the message that he hated me then I realized I should just stop talking. So I did. He kept on about what a crazy bitch I was, apologizing to our son that he "had to hear this", and went back to the farthest corner of the house, complaining about me the whole way.

I did not follow this time. After about ten minutes he came out of the bedroom and left the house without saying a word. I don't think he's coming back this time.

Doing and undoing. I'm sorry. It's all your fault. I want to reconcile. I hate you and want to be away from you. Doing: apologize. Undoing: blaming. One right after the other, over and over. Obsessive Compulsive PAPD.

It's such a mess. And all set up by him in the first place, with the seemingly innocent act of asking how he could help me. *sigh*

Well, good thing I have an appointment with a counselor on Wednesday. As far as I can see, there is only one way out of this that only relies on me. That would be, cut the man out of my heart. Just never believe a word he says, totally reject all of his efforts at relationship, coexist in the same house as if he doesn't matter. Any desire on my part to be in relationship, to be loved by him, is a weakness to be exploited by the PAPD. That's the kind of marriage both his grandparents and his parents have. And, if I am honest, it is how my grandmother lived too. Her and grandpa even had separate bedrooms the whole of my lifetime.

Of course, it's not always that way. Mot recently there were ten days of sincerity and peaceful, blissful, emotional and physical intimacy. But then I just never know when it's going to come screeching to an end. It comes out of nowhere and seemingly has no relationship to anything I say or do. And also, I know that living this way is not pleasing to God. He desires healing, sincere love, true relationship.

So I could stay and completely detach. Or I could leave. Or ask him to leave. But those are the only three options I can control.

The final option: my husband seeks healing, deals with his unresolved mommy anger and lives a life of love like all Christians are called to live. Of course that is the option that is my favorite option. But that is beyond me. As much as I want that for him and for me, I have absolutely no power to bring that about.

Oh well. 10/14 followed by 4/14 followed by 4/14. It is not looking very good for me. :(


  1. shadowspring,

    I hope with all my heart that your work with a therapist can help you to find your own path to peace with this relationship. It looks like one of those things that will get worse before it gets better: if you decide to end the relationship, ending will be worse than when it is ended; if you decide to remain in relationship but no longer to engage in the games he needs to you play, he will try harder and harder to make you play before you both learn new ways to relate.

    But as long as you have a good therapist (or other team members), you aren't struggling alone. You have a team to help you. And we, your readers are praying for you as well. You are not alone; you have the energy of all our support to keep your soul whole during this transformation (whatever form it may take).

    Love to you,

  2. I got an email at 11:45. He said (in so many words) that he is really sorry for this morning and that he is crying as he types, that he feels powerless to stop these episodes from coming on, and is so ashamed once it's all over. And he says that he wants me to live safe and loved.

    I told him to come home and I would hold him while he cries. So he did. And I did. And he did. And this is such a messy journey.

    He left to go back to work forgiven, encouraged and loved. He is no longer angry right now though he has a well of unresolved anger at mommy dearest that he needs to work out somewhere (not with me!).

    I am feeling accomplished (that I shut up when I did; that even when I was still speaking I stayed calm and on point; that I didn't keep trying to reconcile but just stopped interacting with him at all until he truly repented). I am feeling grateful (to God, who answers prayer, because as soon as I finished this entry I went upstairs to pray earnestly for my husband's healing). I am feeling hopeful, because my husband was honest and sincere and vulnerable and he cried, and also because he was loving and tender and kind and no longer acting crazy when he came home for lunch.

    So, I have a lot to share with my therapist on Wednesday! :)

  3. Thanks for your love and support, Sandra. I know you walk with God, and knowing that you pray for me is truly comforting!

    God bless you, dear one! SS

  4. Wow. This is my relationship with my mother (and my dad's with her, and hers with her mom) to a T. Thank you for writing about it. You use different words than those I read about it last time, and that is helpful. I need to hear the same thing a million different ways.