July 13, 2009

Passive Voice

Posted in *cringe*, Darth Vaguer, Grief, Guilt, The Just a Little Sad, The Why at 9:55 am by Dagny Taggart

The problem with passive, you see, is that you don’t get anything done.  And if you don’t get anything done, then you can place the blame squarely on yourself when things don’t work out the way you wanted them to.

For example, say a friend confronted you because you attended a party hosted by someone with whom she was having issues, instead of attending a party of hers – and you didn’t make it explicitly clear that you were going to do so ahead of time.  And so she found out about it from someone else, and was fairly pissed.  And you thought she was being immature about the situation with the hosting friend, and that she’d get over it in time, because you thought she’d kind of known that you were going to go to the party in the first place.   And so she was sitting there annoyed at the situation, and irked that you hadn’t apologized, and gradually moving closer towards writing off your friendship and forging closer bonds with other people, and you didn’t notice because you had inconveniently gotten mired in yet another emotionally abusive relationship, and the next thing you know you’re staring at a laptop, noticing that you weren’t in any of her photos at her wedding, and feeling a little sad because you’re still not entirely sure how all of that happened, but wishing you could go back in time and fix it.

And now you have an overdeveloped need to let everyone know about things that they might care about so that they hear it from you, and not from someone else.

And so when you’re in a position to watch another set of friends go through a similar dance of letting everything else in life get in the way of having a straightforward conversation with each other, telling themselves that they’re not sure how much they cared about that friendship anyway, you just want to shake them and tell them to take the chance to talk to each other NOW, because in a year or two they’re going to look back and wonder what the hell happened and how the rift got too big for them to bridge.

And then you realize that maybe it’s not your place to tell people how to manage your friendships, and yes it makes you sad to watch them throw one away, but that’s their prerogative and trying to help them fix their friendship won’t get you yours back anyway.



  1. Gabrielle said,

    Sometimes the ‘take the bull by the horns’ approach doesn’t work out particularly well either. But at least then you know exactly where you stand, even if it isn’t where you want to be. As far as other people’s relationships go, I’ve tried over the years to develop a more “que sera, sera” attitude. It’s rare that entangling yourself in other people’s issues has a positive impact – most of the time it simply sucks you into unnecessary drama (or worse yet, comes back to bite you in the a$$).

    • It’s true, I think, that taking the bull by the horns doesn’t always work out. I guess I’d just rather know that I’d done everything I could to try to make things better. My personal regrets are all situations where I’m not sure I tried hard enough.

      As for other people’s problems, I concur. Not only is it unlikely to be productive, but it’s not my place to tell others how to run their lives.

      At least, not until I win the lottery, go back to school, get my license in psychology, and am getting PAID to help people figure out how to run their lives.

  2. Lisa said,

    Reading this made me very tired. I’m pretty certain I’d curl up in a ball all passive-like in response to all this stuff.

  3. Alias Faux said,

    Also, to slowly let yourself get angrier and angrier while waiting for an apology that the other party may or may not know you feel entitled to is a pretty petty and childish way to go through life.

    If you’re the type of person willing to write off a friendship because somebody attended somebody elses party insteat of yours, you’re probably not a friend worth caring about that much, one way or the other.

    • Hm. I think the problem in that scenario was at least as much a perception of dishonesty as it was choice of festivities.

      But I guess my point was that when situations like this arise, both sides are at fault for not making reparations a higher priority. And that everyone loses out as a result.

      • Gabrielle said,

        I appreciate your efforts to be equal-opportunity in apportioning blame (and there is always more than one side to the story of any relationship gone wrong). But I have to agree with Alias Faux – a person who responds to a problem that is clearly rooted in a lack of communication by reducing communication even further is not armed with basic adult coping skills. The silent treatment went out of style around the second grade.

      • And, in fact, I completely agree with you. The silent treatment isn’t a mature response to conflict. What I perhaps failed to clarify is that what happened was not the silent treatment. Both parties made their positions clear, and then both sides seemed to try to wait out the stalemate – as the friendship faded beyond retrieval.

        The crime that I see here is not specific to the perceived origin of that one particular argument, but the failure of both people to try to be the bigger person before it was too late to do anything about it. And I understand that some friendships are meant to fade – I just don’t think that either of the examples here need(ed) to, and that’s sad.

  4. Hammer said,

    The gas pump says this is why it prefers dealing with cars instead of people. When there’s a problem the car makes noise. Which alerts humans to the problem, which is then fixed by other humans. Everybody wins, especially the humans whose names are embroidered above their shirt pockets and will facilitate biomechanical conflict resultion at eighty bucks an hour.

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