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Evil -- The Excoriating Pain of Living with a Passive-Aggressive
The Devil in Disguise
I was unfortunately married to a passive-aggressive woman for several years -- long before I knew about the costs of being connected to this type of psychological nightmare. When I finally could no longer endure the torture, I suggested a trial separation. Her response was baffling at the time but quite revealing. She said something to the effect that she could not imagine why anyone would want to leave her.
The woman could never see any fault in herself, basically viewing herself as some kind of angel graced to the earth, a person incapable of being poisonous and abhorrent.
But believe me she was spilling over with venom. She was of the type who stored her resentments for long periods and then would spew her animosity at key moments -- most notably when we were in the company of others -- a kind of background that made her comfortable to vent a huge stockpile of negativity. I was always taken off-guard by these revelations and later asked that if she had issues about me or our marriage that she should share them with me before being stockpiled and becoming a kind of pure noise for our guests.
Devil in Disguise
None of this had any influence.
I was always amazed by her ability to store unsavory moments in our relationship and recite them months later. She held onto details that seemed trivial but obviously were far more important to her than myself. For me, once the dam burst and the flood gates were wide open, I'd get this completely opposite composite based on putrefying aggressiveness laying dormant within her mind.
The avocado-vomit-like stuff that came flooding out of her mouth always overwhelmed me because of its density and convoluted depiction of herself as being an innocent and perpetual victim to my bestiality -- the exact incidents of which I could hardly remember. This strange juxtaposition of personalities almost seemed like a kind of possession.
The Evil of It
Besides being simply polarizing or off-putting, passive-aggressive behavior is actually pretty evil. I don't use the term lightly, and I realize that using such a term as "evil" may not mesh with everyone's conception of modern-day psychology.
But, I don't think I'm alone in this perception. It's not a new notion that people who lack self-awareness and allow their unconscious side to take a forefront in their actions are releasing the very worst of human nature.
Carl Jung wrote:
To the degree that a person remains unaware of their own malevolence places them in a wide territory where evil can reign supreme. A passive-aggressive personality provides a vast opportunity for evil to take over because they remain unconscious of their own behavior. They portray and identify with what they can only view as their passive mask and seem to have no inkling about their submerged darker self. It's almost like dealing with an individual with a split personality. The subterfuge to themselves and others within their circle is an automatic process of identifying with their passive side and totally ignoring the underlying and probably more dominate aggression.
Passive-aggressive personality types can be the most difficult cases in which to detect the presence of evil. Their every-day persona that projects almost nothing but innocence, vulnerability and a seemingly easy case for influence, provides the passive-aggressive with the ultimate disguise. Their passivity is often alluring because it outwardly presents a kind of ideal partnership -- one where your own personality can play a dominate role on seemingly safe ground. I suppose we all would prefer to be in a flag ship position because being in the lead presents no threat to our own weaknesses.
The passivity is the trap. It seems real, so many of us stumble into a mine field. When the first signs of aggression show up, the result can be stunning if not outright shocking. In many cases (I assume) the aggression never manifests itself as a recognizable corollary to the ongoing passive mask. The aggression can leak out in the most innocent and passive manner via mere suggestions that you are truly the beast and are making your nothing-but-loving, passive mate bleed on your behalf. Unless you are self-aware, conscious, alert and objective about your own behavior, this kind of subtle undermining can be devastatingly effective. The ground under your feet turns into a kind of quicksand, and gravity takes its toll.
Evil as a Psychological Phenomenon
M. Scott Peck has written a great deal about the actual existence of evil in such books as "People of the Lie." This should be mandatory reading for everyone because we tend to dismiss concepts such as evil as belonging to an era of superstition or one connected to the dubious concepts of dogma. Peck, very convincingly, writes that evil is alive and well, dwelling comfortably within the roots of the maladjusted psyche. It's not what anyone would claim as a "fun" read. No, the subject is deadly serious yet highly enlightening. For that you can feel either grateful or deflated -- depending on how you digest serious material that has no intent to amuse but to inform.
I think that real evil does exist and is connected with the abject fear of some to confront their own shortcomings. To the extent that a person is unable to look inward and objectify themselves, the greater the chances that unconscious and selfish impulses will begin to reign. I tend to align the passive-aggressive personality type into the camp that has already relinquished their better selves by the fear -- even dread -- of self-examination.
I have first-hand experience of suffering the consequences of these revoltingly weak human beings. My ex, who I already headlined as being a passive-aggressive, worked assiduously to dislodge me from having a relationship with two daughters. Once I remarried, her campaign went into high gear -- and she never took any responsibility for the split -- even though the kids themselves informed me that their mother took on the campaign of disparaging me, as if my mere existence was the equivalent to a war room enemy -- someone to be disregarded... or better, despised.
And if you were to have a conversation with her, she would disclaim any involvement or concerted influence to turn my daughters against me -- for no reason other than that I might expose them to a truly good, decent and caring woman. She wasn't about to allow any comparisons. For fear of losing her grip, she found it necessary to discredit me in the eyes of my own children. I think that's pretty evil.
Toward the end of this bitter contest, she would simply hand the phone over to her new husband so that she wouldn't have to deal with me directly at all. The new husband was exactly what she required -- a shallow man with an overarching yet misplaced sense of self-esteem, a pseudo-intellectual with no interior awareness, i.e, someone much like herself who could be manipulated into playing the role of a protector over her false innocence and vulnerability.
No parent should have to suffer the loss of a child who proceeds them into death. Even more poignantly is losing a child because of the wobbly insecurities yet nevertheless vehement drives of a passive-aggressive who will make any kind of sacrifice to uphold their own misbegotten sense of purity and innocence.
To carry all this off requires a firm belief in the unassailable sanctity of your own intentions. In order to turn children against a loving father requires a deplorable degree of self-centeredness. A light should have gone on in my head before either child was born when my spouse proclaimed that she wanted children so that she'd never be alone. Since I was husband number two, she must have realized that men may come and go, but if you have children, they can never abandon you -- at least as long as you play the role of a martyr and reduce the father to a kind of flatulence.
The passive-aggressive personality type can do all this as a mere instinct of survival. It doesn't require any introspection whatsoever. To the contrary, any introspection would be counter-intuitive of the passive-aggressive, so the less reflection and thought about one's actions, the better. And it is this automatic response to one's own desires and absence of reflection and self-examination that leads straight into the path of what can be regarded as true evil.