Yesterday I was having a… discussion with some people online about politics, morality and forgiveness and the term “passive aggressive” was thrown around not directly describing me, but describing a hypothetical the people on the other side of the discussion would find offensive, and I wondered if that really meant what they thought it meant. So I looked it up.
I’ve been in recovery for compulsive behavior and codependency since 2001. And while I’ve had some relief of compulsive and addictive patterns, I continue to struggle with chronic disorganization, procrastination and avoidance. Passive aggression is characterized by these and related behaviors. But what really spoke to me was the theory on the origin of passive aggression, that we grow up stiffling emotional responses and the communication of wants and needs.
Without getting too down on my parents, I believe they tried to provide a good home. But they were products of their own home environments and they had very different ideas of what constituted a good home. By the time I was 14, they were legally separated and despite several adjustments in living arrangements, they finally divorced when I was 21. My parents each struggle with chronic disorganization and compulsive behavior.
A genetic component is likely considering an relatively high rate of cognitive and emotional regulation disorders (autism, anxiety, attention defficit) among their descendants. Though as I’ve explained to my own children, it may be part and parcel with above average intelligence and proclivities for engineering and art. A lot of us are uptight, living in chaos, or twisting in the wind between the two extremes.