I had deleted this, but kept thinking about it and realized it’s a pristine example of passive-aggressive communication. So thought I’d blog about it and break it down here.
Can’t seem to do a simple copy & paste in WordPress at the moment, though. Ugh, what’s up with that? Anyway, I’ll retype it and do a line-by-line analysis.
Hi ******* (spelled my name wrong)
This is *****. I just want to tell you that I will fly back to china tomorrow. I am very glad that we met and became friends (hmmm…bit of a presumptuous assessment), thanks a lot for the shopping day (I will talk about this day in a moment). I think there is something wrong with my ipad, I could not find any email from you before (there is nothing wrong with his iPad, I just never wrote back to him, after a previous email that I now realize was also passive aggressive, which I will also discuss later). Anyways, I just hope things will become easy for you here, and I will pray for you! Be safe be happy!
The above email was a close copy of the following email (that’s right– he sent me essentially the same email twice, from two different addresses), which was sent first, from his gmail address. By the way, I hadn’t originally communicated with him through his gmail addy. He had given me a “business card”-type thing, which listed various social media contact info, and a hotmail address. I used the hotmail address to initially touch base with him and we had a few emails back and forth on that.
So anyway, check this one out too, angrier and more aggressive, in my estimation:
Hi ******* (again, my name is misspelled):(using a colon instead of a comma, a subtle but authoritarian way to start out an email; I would overlook this in another context, but here I think it’s significant)
This is ***** (he felt it necessary to reintroduce himself because he knew he was writing from a new email address, which is also of significance & I’ll muse about later), I will flight back to China tomorrow, I am glad we met and became friends (yeah, I wouldn’t go that far at this point, but this doesn’t bother me so much), thank you so much for your help that day. I hope everything will work well for you and your family! I could not find the email from you before, I don’t know if you deleted me or blacked me, if you don’t want to contact me, let me know (wow– this is where his aggression is apparent to me. Prior to this I just read desperation/frustration– which are certainly unattractive and perhaps slightly alarming…? But not as off-putting as this. My take on it explained below) I sincerely hope everything goes well on you! Be safe and be happy!
So I get it. He wanted me to write to him. He wanted/wants to be friends. He wanted to hang out one more time, have another shopping day or something. This is nice, isn’t it? Yes, it is. But I didn’t give him this– for reasons I’ll get into later– which apparently displeased him.
Let me make clear that I empathize with him. I have been in his position before, and not infrequently. Also, we have something in common. Both of us lost our mothers early on. Different circumstances as to how exactly this played out for each of us, but I recognized in him something that I know exists in myself: a continuous, visible to everyone, perplexed, heavy, multilayered, deeply anguished grief– to the point of manifesting as a kind of emotional disability in daily life– at times quite severe and crippling– regarding the lack of a maternal figure during the formative years.
Not just a maternal figure, I realize as I write this, but specifically, lack of care from, and a non-existent relationship with, the woman who gave birth to us.
During our first conversation he revealed this aspect of his childhood experience to me. A hallmark of someone afflicted with this particular type of disability. Aren’t there other things to talk about? Aren’t there more appropriate things to share in an initial conversation with a stranger, someone whom you hope to become friends with? Yes. Of course. But.
I wasn’t bothered that he misspelled my name. There are so many variations on my name, at this point in my life I like seeing how different people adapt it to their own personal preferences or particular linguistic bent. It’s like a Rorschach test in a way. Men of a certain generation tend to call me one particular nickname consistently– my father included; my sisters call me by another nickname; people from Europe or Latin America call me a whole different version of my name, one more suitable to romance language speakers; African-American women (and sometimes men) and both men and women from the Caribbean have tended to have a whole other take on it, and it’s so interesting the consistency I’ve noted with this.
So anyway, there’s that. Not sure why I noted his misspelling. I guess actually it did bother me. Or at least made me laugh or something.
But let me get to the really aggressive part– there’s something wrong with my ipad/if you don’t want to communicate with me let me know. ROTFL!!!! Processing this. For the sake of developing my emotional intelligence and strengthening my intuition, I feel I must unpack this.
1) There is nothing wrong with his iPad, and he knows this. I suspect he really just wants to say– Hey, why didn’t you write to me again? But this would be too open, too vulnerable of an expression of need. One could come out and say this but it takes a lot of emotional equilibrium and self-respect to come out and say such a thing, in a way that is conducive to dialogue.
2) This request to let him know if I don’t want to communicate with him– wow. This is mind-boggling. It’s the single most aggressive thing he said, from my point of view. It’s a boundary violation, isn’t it? It’s also just outright pathetic. It’s like if someone doesn’t invite you to a party and you say, “Oh, if you don’t want me to come, let me know.” Or it’s like if someone closes the door on your face and you then try to open it, or just keeping knocking on it, saying, “If you don’t want me in here, let me know.”
I have to take a break now. There is more I want to process about this but I’ve done enough already for today. To be continued.