Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Art of Passive Aggression, Part Two

It takes effort and energy for me to handle any interaction with the NSP.  I am not a slick and smooth operator, who handles the psychopath with a wry smile of confidence, and a deep breath of satisfaction.  No.  When I ignore the NSP, it takes effort and energy; I don't like it.  It takes self-control to avoid responding when he baits me.   I often have to resist checking email from him, which is why I have protocols in place, which can be read here.

The Narcissist's Game 

The NSP (Narcissistic/Sociopathic/Psychopathic) father of my children tries to engage me with his  nonsense games.   He pushes and violates boundaries.  It is subtle to the unknowledgeable observer, but I know the deal.    He wants to time-waste.  He wants to bend me over backwards.  The contact is via email, of course, since I will not see him in person or talk on the phone. Oftentimes, I can simply ignore him.   Sometimes, due to shared custody, I must play his silly game.

Recently, he accused me of not being responsive to him in the coordination of activities for our children (a big no-no in shared custody).  He demanded that I respond to his goodhearted, earnest and lovingly fatherly awesomeness 'for the sake of the children' (always that ploy).  He asked me some weird, inappropriate questions, all dumped into an overly lengthy, wordy, pompous email.  It was purely a trap to engage me in some narcissistic, mind-numbing, nonsense.

This particular matter has been lingering for the unimaginable length of nearly a year, which is totally-completely-100% unreasonable.   In fact, the matter was closed and settled for weeks, because I shut the nonsense down!  (I had let it go on longer than normal as a sort of experiment.)  

He's insane.  He is a Psychopath.  If he were sane, normal, decent, kind, and reasonable, the issue would have been easily settled in one month, maximum.  It would have been a month of easy, languid emails.  We could have been flexible!  What works for you? What works for me?  Let's work together!  Yay!

If the guy was sane, normal, kind and reasonable We Would Still Be Married!  He's not; And we're not.  So, in order to get his rocks off, and get some narcissist attention, he attempts to engage me, and make a relatively simple situation, utterly complicated.

On the Horns of a Dilemma.

In this situation, I have two options, neither of which work for me.

Option 1: Bend to his (ever changing) will.  Do what he demands.  This doesn't work, because I am constantly jumping through hoops, just like the marriage.  I'm out of the marriage.  I don't play that game.  

Option 2: Argue with him.  Reason with him.  Negotiate.  Compromise.  This doesn't work, because then I am caught in the web.  He can accuse me of further nonsense.   He has baited me because he wants to catch me in a trap.  He wants to be able to accuse me of wrong-doing.  He wants to be able to have something in writing that proves to the world that I am bad.  "You See?" he wants to proclaim, "She is a bad mother!  She will not co-parent!"  He wants to wrap me up in his web of craziness.  No thanks. 

The Bottom Line

This is where passive aggressive techniques work wonders with the NSP.

When I feel that I must respond, but I want to still avoid the trap he has set, I respond in the following way:

1. Ignore the Nonsense.  He wants (more than anything) for me to argue with him and defend myself.  I don't.  I won't.  He can't make me.

2.  Assume Nothing.   He's done a lousy job of asking me direct questions on purpose. It's not just laziness on his part, he wants to engage me.  If I fill in the blanks for him, he will assert that I have done it wrong.  (It's such a dumb game.  He's such a passive aggressive a-hole.)

3. Play Dumb.  I know what he wants, I can read between the lines.  He asks me 8 questions, none of which have a yes/no response.   I play dumb, and I ask a benign question like "What do you mean?"

4. Apologize.  I say a meaningless apology like, "I'm sorry.  I'm confused here.  What are you asking me?"

5. Redirect.  I will respond to his lengthy nonsense email via text.   If he writes me 1000 words on a text, that's crazy.  So, I'll respond via text, which sometimes ends it.  Or it will at least delay it.

I can't make him go away.  

I can only slow down the game, and make it no fun for him to play with me.  

I know, I know, all this sh*t is freaking exhausting.  I agree.  Protocols and procedures to interact with an ex-husband?  Seriously?  YES!  He's a freaking disaster, so I respond like a well-trained pilot; I whip out my manual of How To Land The Plan In A Disaster, and I follow the procedure in the manual.

The really hard part is: I have had to WRITE THE FREAKING MANUAL WHILE I'M LANDING THE FREAKING PLANE.  And this is why I feel it's important to share my experience.

Am I exhausted yet? 

Yes, it is exhausting.  But I must deal.  I had the rotten luck of getting conned by a con-artist and I had children with him.

Sometimes it's like a puzzle, an intellectual problem to be solved.  How to deal with the monster?  How to respond to cause myself the least about of trouble?  How to deflect, and sustain the least amount of damage?   Sometimes, it just feels like a whirlpool I am caught in.  A riptide, dragging me out to sea.  I have endured the nonsense for far too many years, and I am worn from it.  I feel war-torn.  Thread-bare.  Like a broken-down house.

Luckily, I have a coach, who walks me through it.  My touchstone and friend, Agnes, wraps her mind around the problem too.  We bounce ideas back and forth, strategize, and laugh together about it  because it can be very very funny.  It's so nice to have someone to share it with, otherwise it would be very isolating.  Also, when I am tempted to engage him in a fight, she will often talk me out of that tree.

Here are some gems that she wrote to me recently:

"Any contact with the man is such a waste of time.  The point is "engagement" -- his endless circular argument.  Time wasting."


"Ns are not reasonable. With them, it is the opposite of communication. They do not want settlement,  understanding, or peace. They want strife. It's all about control and destabilizing the victim."

What about you?  

Do you have a technique that works when you you deal with the Narcissist/Sociopath/Psychopath in your life?

Do you have a coach, or listener, or helper?

Take Care,
and I wish you peace,

AKA Rose Lee Mitchell

The Art of Passive Aggression, Part One

Why must I employ Passive Aggressive techniques to deal with the NSP?  Boundaries.  He has no care for boundaries.  In fact, he relishes opportunities to violate boundaries.  Why?  It establishes dominance.  It creates conflict.  It tests the water for future violations (abuse).  It wears the target down. 

Photographs by Toni Frissell
Public Doman
"Woman in tennis outfit, 1947"
"Weeki Wachee spring, Florida, 1947"
"Victoria Station"

I write about being silent when the NSP tries to pick a fight in this article "Nothing to Say."


  1. I recently heard the term "Contra-parenting" to describe co-parenting with a narcissist....

    1. "contra-parenting" is a great term.

      thanks for sharing.

  2. This was so eloquently and accurately stated! Thank you so much. I totally understand -- this echoed my situation completely. I look forward to following your other posts.

    1. Thank you. It is an ongoing struggle.

      Take care. :)

  3. I LOVE your technique. I'm going to print it out and "staple" it to my computer. Please keep writing. There are many of us in the post divorce abuse stage attempting to counter parent with NSP's. It was only today I thought "I need to think like a disordered person to get any traction."

    My lesson for this summer, don't ask for anything that requires modifying the judgement. It's not fair your kids can't do fun things, but that's our reality.


    1. Thanks. I hope it helped.

      Not modifying the agreement is a technique that keeps contact to a minimum, but I do end up modifying quite a bit.

  4. Thank you so much, Rose! It has been a while since I have had a court date but vividly remember the feeling after leaving the courtroom of having been hit by a train. ANy sustained interaction has the same unsettling effect. I now have extensive debt (arrears calculated from lies)and minimal time with our son. I appreciate the strategies and wish I had happened upon you a few years ago.