I’M NOT ALLOWED TO BE ANGRY
– but you are (lucky you)!
PREVIOUS: Passive-Aggressive ACoAs (#1)
REMINDER: See ACRONYM page for abbrev.
2. WHO plays the game (Chart – slide #7)
a. P-As always look for & often find another person who is overtly angry / volatile* (V.) to play the game with – no fun being stuck with all that UN-expressed rage alone! (See: Inter-personal games, Eric Berne). As adults, they desperately need to maintain their illusions of being perfect, in the faint hope of getting or keeping their parents’ approval, being taught that strong emotions are considered dirty, messy, dangerous – even murderous! This pattern of being P-A is another unhealthy way of coping with intense FoA – fear of abandonment
b. ✶ Volatiles need P-As (or their part, or the game wouldn’t work):
• it gives them an excuse for letting out some of their rage ‘legitimately’
• it’s much safer than aiming the rage at the real target – their family
• the rage makes them feel powerful, to cover vulnerability & emptiness
• Vs are used to being disappointed, too, and are equally unconsciously addicted to finding people they can act out their childhood ‘story’ with. And P-As do continually disappoint! It’s their trade-mark, & it can be used to identify them.
Sooner or later, usually later, it is inevitable that Vs will get angry, raging, even nasty at P-As – out of legitimate, intense, longstanding frustration!
Of course: Vs have to stick around for this! They’re part of the game.
DIRTY POOL – P-As unconsciously, sometimes knowingly, always use ‘available’ Volatiles as their own personal pressure valve – as if getting the V. to explode with rage would relieve their own pent-up hostility. When Vs get angry, P-As get very self-righteous. They feel victimized & cry: “I haven’t DONE anything! Why are you attacking me?”
SO THEY GET TO:
• accuse Vs of being controlling, even though they set the V. up:
— to take care of them emotionally & practically
— to vent their anger/rage for them
— to make all the decisions in the relationship!
• make Vs the crazy or bad one (instead of themselves), of being abusive & unfair, of reacting to ‘nothing’. That way the Vs can be ‘the monster’ for pouring out that vile stuff (anger) which P-As are terrified in themselves.
Then they can continue to feel superior & ‘clean’, keeping their ‘good boy / good girl’ status. After all, P-As can point to being easy-going, never raising their voice, or letting out that ‘nasty‘ anger – right?
BUT that’s exactly the point – they don’t DO many things that are their responsibility, as well as not expressing their needs / wants.
➼ When P-As make other people responsible for all the decisions they should be making do themselves, (even if they like the ones being made for them), they are neglecting to ‘show up’, hold up their end, be an equal partner or peer – ie. an adult. P-As passively, stubbornly – yes angrily – demand to be taken care of! but never say what they actually want or need, because they don’t have permission
• THEN, if/when something goes wrong – when they don’t like the choices the V. made for them, or are disappointed with the outcome – they can blame the other person & continue to play the victim role
• AND P-As can say to the other person: “YOU’RE always making the decisions! YOU’RE so controlling!” (& unspoken: “I hate you”). Wow! How dishonest.
✶ BUT if the V. stops playing the game, the P-A may finally tip their hand – if only briefly – showing the true rage behind their mask
EXP: Mark (P-A) & Sandy (V.) meet at a classical concert & become art-loving, theater-going friends. Mark regularly says self-deprecating things that are clever & funny, & Sandy obliges by laughing.
After a few months Sandy becomes increasingly uncomfortable with her complicity in Mark’s self-hate. The next time he makes a crack about himself – she doesn’t laugh & is quiet. He gets annoyed & indirectly insults her for not responding ‘correctly’.
Later he buys her a B/day gift which deeply offends her artistic & Christian values – an ugly-made Indian goddess statue – knowing her religious background! She can’t imagine his intention – but is outraged. She instantly blows up at him & gives the gift back. Naturally he’s hurt & angry – but doesn’t show it. Instead he mails her a scathing note – making her the ‘bad one’. End of friendship! Sandy feels ashamed for blowing up but also relieved.
NEXT: Passive-Aggressive ACoAs, (Part 3)