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King Rat
Private Life
Dealing with others

A few years ago (as in late 80s, early 90s), I was "angry boy." I seethed. I was also extremely afraid of confrontation. So rather than talk to people about problems, or just do something about them, I played passive-aggressive games.

I had a roommate in 91-92, Mel Danford, who was chronically short of funds. He tended to smoke a lot of pot and didn't do too well in school. Lack of focus, I guess. Anyway, that really isn't germaine to the point of the story, although it does show my mindset a little. Mel owed me rent money frequently. Now, you or I would probably look for a job or ask the family for money or something! Mel didn't like to have other people tell him what to do though. He came up with ideas to start businesses. He was gonna be a freelance bookkeeper. Never mind that he knew no business owners in town, and that he was flunking math, and that he had no bookkeeping experience. Then he was gonna start a window washing business, cause none of the down town businesses wanted to wash their windows themselves. At least that was his reasoning. None of these schemes ever got off the ground.

Mel also had a thing where he was gonna teach the world about better posture, starting with me. Apparently he thought my posture was the cause of my problems. He never failed to bring this up at least once a day. I saw him a few years later, and he still had a peculiar swayback manner of holding his shoulders. Nothing I wanted to emulate, even if my posture sucked.

Mel rarely purchased household items. Things like food or toilet paper. When he did buy food, it was always stuff that I didn't like. Of course, he ate the food I purchased and did like. So I started doing things like buying my toilet paper and keeping it in my bedroom, so that when he ran out he would have to buy some. He usually did, but he would buy single rolls. I forget what else I did in this passive aggressive manner. It was a long time ago.

When I dated April, she also played these passive aggressive games with her roommates, although she wasn't afraid of confrontation. She and her roommate had separate phone lines, but he would occasionally use her phone cause she had a cordless so he could wander around the apartment. This bothered April to no end. So she started doing things like hiding her phone. She would yell at him. And he would continue to borrow her phone. Which wasn't proper. However, it wasn't worth the time and energy she put into the matter.

She couldn't get it through her skull that she couldn't change his behavior. She had to change hers. There are almost always more solutions than one. For that situation, I suggested she purchase a cordless for him for his upcoming birthday. Of course she couldn't do that because that would be rewarding his bad behavior. It would have solved the problem, though.

So here I am at the point of my story. I have to ask myself almost every day, "would I rather be right, or happy?" I don't play those kinds of games any more.

I don't keep track of who owes who lunch. When I lived with Curtis, I told him the food is shared. Purchase some, purchase some that I like, purchase some that you like. But we weren't going to get into pissing matches over who was purchasing slightly more food than the other. If I have to complain about it, it will be so bad that he would agree that he wasn't buying anything.

So when a friend of mine bothers me, I may tell them, or I may not. I will work around their bad behavior if they do not change it. But I will not get into pissing matches over shit. No "he better call me first to apologize" crap. No "I didn't get invited to his party so I won't invite him to mine."

The key is that I don't carry the resentment. If it's occupying time in my head enough that my actions feel like retaliation, then I have gone over the line that keeps me happy.

4 comments or Leave a comment
staxxy From: staxxy Date: July 5th, 2002 01:28 pm (UTC) (Link)

Hooray for Happiness!

I made up my mind a while ago to be either passive about something or to be aggressive about it. But to always avoid the combination of passive aggression, all it does is make me feel stressed out.

If I think someone looks good, I tell them. If someone's behaviour is pissing me off, I tell them. Sometimes I wait to see if this is a pattern or a one time shot of bad behavior, however. I figure everyone needs to blow off a little bullshit every once in while. So I don't take it personally. So few people actually know me *personally* that it is difficult to justify taking their shit to heart for me. I find it keeps me a lot happier.
(no subject) - aaminahlefae - Expand
gkr From: gkr Date: July 5th, 2002 04:38 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: I agree!

Ah yes, that is one of the techniques I use. I just wasn't explicit about it in the entry. I kind of alluded to it in the "work around their faults" comment. If someones behavior is too much, I may simply spend less time with them. Not out of punishment or retaliation. Just because I can focus my time on something less aggravating. And if the person changes their behavior again, I will start spending more time with them. The key is I cannot and will not carry resentments, petty jealousies, and other such nonesense in my head for very long. Or I try not to. Like everyone, I am not perfect.
4 comments or Leave a comment