by Dr. Irene
Burnt offerings? What’s that got to do with anything? Read on…Too often victims of abusive backgrounds are unaware of their anger, let alone their rage. They see themselves as loving people and would be shocked to hear that they are in fact very, very angry. The problem is that they are in denial of their anger.
I know a young lady who is a sweetie. She is pretty, outgoing, chatty, personable – and codependent. Let us call her Bambi. She is involved with an egotistical and angry young man. Everyone but Bambi sees that he does not treat her well, but she adores him. She rationalizes remaining with him by constantly talking about how much better he is towards her now.
Her mom, and favorite role model, was a Class A Victim. She never discovered her power. She got out of a bad marriage to an angry man, but stayed angry and remained stuck in victim role – constantly putting her ex-husband down. Unable to take her power and negotiate a viable co-parenting relationship with him, she focused on the wrongs he did to her and their child. She spent lots of energy convincing others of her plight and gaining their sympathy and understanding. Bambi and mom got along real well. They saw eye-to-eye and were united on how awful dad is. Granted, Dad is an angry guy and Bambi has a right to be angry with some of his behavior. But it is unfortunate how much energy she spends finding every opportunity to complain about what he does not do for her – and virtually no energy appreciating what he does do.
Bambi has no clue she is angry. In fact, Bambi has no clue, period. Her superficial world is centered around playing up to those who can do for her, or those whom she can please. She has virtually no insight into who she is and what she is feeling. She is terrified of what lies inside and avoids spending any time there. Fifty percent of her chatty but trivial conversation is pure noise: complaint, complaint, complaint about this one and that one, with a little gossip thrown in for good measure. The other fifty percent is directed at being entertaining and getting liked. Despite the forced undertone, she is pretty enough and young enough to get away with it. For the most part, it works.
But, she doesn’t always turn on the charm. Bambi blew it big time with disrespectful and passive-aggressive angry behavior towards her step-mom. No matter what this woman did, no matter how hard she tried – and she did – Bambi found a way to ridicule her, put her down, and to call her behavior self-serving – when it was not. Bambi blew it because she rejected a stepmother who badly wanted to befriend and support her.
Bambi blew it again with another newcomer into her family. Numerous acts of kindness were ignored or discounted. There was never a “Thank You,” nor an acknowledgement. Bambi’s behavior and attitude ranged from plausible sins of omission to thinly veiled contempt and disrespect. The disrespect was artfully conducted in a manner that was subtle and almost socially appropriate. Had this individual levied accusations, she would have looked petty at best. Daddy taught his daughter well.
Bambi rationalized her “inability,” (i.e., refusal) to engage with this individual by innocently proclaiming her fragility and inability to cope – one of the tricks she relied on to manipulate susceptible others. An inappropriate slap-in-the face “gift” to this individual cemented the end of any potential relationship. Once again, Bambi blew it by regarding a well-intended person who cared about her (and still does, though she won’t put up with disrespect) with unfounded contempt.
This lovely young woman is a lost soul. In using manipulative and passive-aggressive acts to garner support or alienate “enemies,” she is headed down a dangerous life path: she is certain to bring her unresolved conflicts with her everywhere she goes. She is at risk of becoming the poor victim who has no choice but to accept the scraps such a position generally offers. She is unlikely to get a handle on her life and her behavior until she owns her anger and takes responsibility for her behavior.
Bambi is the girl who burns the roast when she really didn’t want to invite you to the dinner…she invited you to.
Dear Bambi, be angry. It is OK. Your feelings are your feelings. But check yourself out. Who are you hurting when you act out? Could you be shooting yourself in the foot? Consistent with typical codependency stuff, you are angry where you shouldn’t be and are not angry where you should be! You give away your personal power when you don’t trust your feelings, when you manipulate people, when you make excuses for those who deserve no excuses, and when you displace your angry feelings onto those who have done nothing to hurt you.
You say you can’t deal with all this stuff? My reply is that you can’t afford not to. Why choose – yes, choose – to create a painful life? Why work so hard…to get so little? You deserve so very much more…
Read more about personal responsibility.