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Passive-aggressive Mom

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Old 09-19-2012, 02:52 PM   #1
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Unhappy Passive-aggressive Mom

I'm the passive aggressive mom, I guess. My daughter has told me this for years but I didn't understand what it meant until my son in law pointed out what I do that's passive aggressive. I'm really hurt and sad that I have upset my daughter so much and have alienated my granddaughter.

The last occurrence was a few weeks ago at my daughters house. It was a gathering for an adult birthday.

First off, my daughter lets me know the birthday kid was "in rare form" which means he is more caustic than usual, and I am often his target. Having been teased horribly as a child, and with a dad that is usually critical, I am sensitive to this. I told my daughter ok, maybe l will leave a little early.

Then my daughter relates a story to me about a broken bottle of rum and that the birthday kid was beside himself because he wasted all the contents of the bottle and had to go get more. She indicated they had bought a lot of alcohol. Knowing the kid drinks a lot, I was surprised she would buy so much alcohol, and I said something like "that's enough for everyone to get sauced", and it was meant to be funny

A few minutes later, the kid tells the room in general that my daughter is an enabler. I thought it amusing and said "yes, she gets it from her husband!" In jest. Jest because I know she gets it from me, but it really hurts when she tells the room that IF she is an enabler, she gets it from me, in a mean and derogatory tone of voice. My feelings are hurt and I feel humiliated to be spoken of that way by my daughter in front of everyone present.

A this point, she looks at me as tells me I am bugging her.

I suppress anger. I normally do not ever voice my anger or let anyone know I am angry. Normally.

When she said I was bugging her, I became very angry. I said "ok, then ill go." And I got up, said happy birthday to the kid, said bye to others in the room and walked toward the door. My daughter said "bye" and I said the same.

I was hurt, near tears, and angry. As I went out the door, I said "wasn't that nice?" to myself. I thought I was saying it to myself, but it was heard.

I got in the car, drove away quicker than I usually do, and cried all the way home.

This is not an unusual thing, our fall out. I have always wondered why my comments - said in jest or just in conversation - always upset her. Sometimes we fight bitterly. It's time, I was too angry and too sad to talk, so she texts me that I hurt HER feelings.

The upshot is that I treat her badly, hurt her feelings, make her out to be the bad guy, etc. weirdly enough, I am feeling the exact same thing about her. I feel she is always making me the bad guy, etc.

I have been doing some research on passive aggressive behavior and personality disorders and am ashamed to find my own behaviors right in the middle of many descriptions of disorders.

I am afraid I will lose my daughter if I cannot learn to be a different person. I need input and suggestion, serious ones, if anyone has any knowledge of this disorder and can perhaps guide me a little.

Thank you.
death is for the living. it tells us that life is short; there is no time for meanness or cruelty.
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Old 09-19-2012, 03:45 PM   #2
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Re: Passive-aggressive Mom

It has taken a lifetime to get to the place where you are at the moment. Do not look for any quick fixes. Have you considered therapy? It is a good way to learn how to deal with things in a different way and also learn about yourself. Also there are many good books to use in conjunction with this. Avoid labelling yourself - you are much more than a condition, and probably deal with other matters quite differently. It really boils down to communication. Both you and your daughter need to work on this. It sounds like she pushes your buttons and you react in a certain way. Your efforts need to be to find out why your buttons are there, and learn a different way to respond. You will learn that you can actually choose how you deal with situations like the one you describe. Good wishes, Sera

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Lollypat (09-19-2012)
Old 09-19-2012, 09:26 PM   #3
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Re: Passive-aggressive Mom

Hi Lollypat, You are lile most of the moms out there,in that you want to be needed. There comes a time when you need to give yourself some time to think and moments to reflect on the good times you have had with your family. I think you do your best to ignore the remarks made by your daughter, but eventually it turns into bitterness and anger. I can only say you are human and allowed to be your self and express the way you feel in the right situation. There is no time for argumentive people when one involves turns and walks away. The smartest thing to do would be to be the better person and avoid the confrontaion with your daughter. I am sure she has the type of personality that can cause some compatiblitility issues, since she wants to nag at you, and belittle your efforts to entertain the family. Rememebr,its always wise to pause before we speak, and it takes two to tango. Maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel and at some point no more bickering. I hope I helped even just alittle so that you can be at peace.

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Lollypat (09-20-2012)
Old 09-24-2012, 10:42 AM   #4
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Re: Passive-aggressive Mom

Hi Lolypat! I don't know if I'm going to be much help...but I am the daughter of a passive-aggressive mother and I am familiar with the dynamic! The only insight I can offer on the subject is that with my mom, I am uber sensitive to the things that she says and this leads me to over react. When she makes a "joke" (ie a comment that is really a veil jab, or an attempt to get me to do what she wants me to do), I perceive it as a full blown insult and I go absolutely BONKERS. I usually react in kind, but since my mom doesn't realize that she initiated the passive-aggressive exchange and I'm just responding to what she is putting out there, she feels like she is the injured party and I'm the big meanie.

It's not just her...sometimes these exchanges go in the reverse order (ie initiated by my passive aggressive jabs, with her going on the defensive).

It's messed up. I don't know how to fix it. I do know that I have a lot of buried resentment for things that my mom did (and failed to do) when I was growing up. Most of it stems from childhood abuse (ie Dad was a jerk, Mom stood by and let him get away with it, even blamed me for it). She regrets it now, which is all well and good, but kinda feels like too little too late, you know?

Now, I'm not saying that is the case with you and your daughter...and I think that you are awesome for spotting the pattern and looking for a way to break the cycle. I guess that what I'm getting at is that passive-aggressive behaviour can be a symptom of deeper resentment, anger...and an inability to express that anger and resentment in a normal, healthy way.

I hope that you and your daughter can work through have already taken an important step by recognizing what's happening, and I hope she can meet you half way.

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Lollypat (09-24-2012)
Old 09-24-2012, 10:58 AM   #5
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Re: Passive-aggressive Mom

i can mom is passive-aggressive and co-dependent and I've "inherited" both traits.....
the best advice I can give you is to be DIRECT with communication, don't expect someone to read your mind

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Lollypat (09-24-2012)
Old 09-24-2012, 04:49 PM   #6
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Re: Passive-aggressive Mom

Violet, your response has actually helped me see the dynamic of what happens between us and why, so I thank you very much.

When my daughter flips out, it's usually over some "joke" I've made that she will say is a jab at her. In my head, I don't think of it that way at all, because I love her unconditionally, faults and all. She is an awesome woman, very intelligent, etc., but like anyone, has faults of her own that I don't think are nearly as bad as my own. At a gathering recently, someone "joked" that my daughter is an enabler. I "joked" that she gets it from her husband, and my daughter became irritated and said in all seriousness that "any enabling trait I have I got from my mother." The whole thing was a joke because yes, I an a bit of an enabler, her husband is definitely an enabler and even my daughter is a bit of an enabler, but she took it as my jabbing at her and being critical of her.

I'm sure there are times when I am critical, despite not meaning to be. My mother was critical and very aloof and old if I angered her, so I learned as a tot not to make anyone angry with me, and never to express my anger, lest they stop loving me. That, I believe, is the basis for my passive-aggressiveness and inability to communicate directly when I am angry.

When something like this happens, she pretty much melts down and gets very upset at my treatment of her (in her eyes). She then accuses me of being hurtful, mean, unloving, destructive, and on and on. It goes way beyond the seriousness of whatever has happened, in my mind.

She also has a habit of putting me down in front of whomever is at her home. She'll tell me in front of everyone that my hair is awful, or the lipstick color is hideous, or I look like a sack of potatoes in that shirt. She rarely says anything nice to me, even in private, but then says she spends a lot of time standing up for me and defending me, although I am uncertain of whom it is she does this with.

I know I need to keep my thoughts to myself and not make any comments about things in general, unless it is good, but that's hard to do, considering there are grandchildren involved.

Thank you, Violet, and all, for your comments. I'm up for any information I can get to help me understand what I'm doing wrong and how I'm doing it, because I just don't see it.

death is for the living. it tells us that life is short; there is no time for meanness or cruelty.
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