Is it Thoughtfulness, or is it Passive Aggressive BS?
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Is it Thoughtfulness, or is it Passive Aggressive BS?


Ever had a day that went sideways on you?

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Photo by RODNAE Productions on

Ever had a day that went sideways on you? I think we all have experienced days that were ticking along as expected with no dramatic turn of events. And then there are the days that go sideways. That happened to me Monday, February 21, 2022.

It was Family Day here in Canada. The previous Thursday I flew to Winnipeg with my daughter Brittany to spend the weekend catching up with family and friends. We had a wonderful time, even though my left knee flared up with pain and inflammation. Not a big deal, but it is quite inconvenient on a packed flight with no room to stretch my legs.

I was struggling to keep up as we walked through the airport to the baggage claim area, apologizing when Brittany offered to take my carryon bag. This upset her, which confused me. I don’t expect people to fetch and carry for me. My bag, my problem. I expect to haul my own stuff, and I will also grab some of yours, because that’s the kind of thoughtful person I am.

Brittany made her displeasure clear when she asked me why I was treating her like she was some kind of a***ole. She wasn’t going to let me get away with that kind of passive aggressive b***s***.


“Don’t say Wow to me. We should talk about this tomorrow – this isn’t the time or place to get into it.”

The lady next to us agreed, as demonstrated by her side-eyed crab-walk away from us as she tightly gripped the handle of her rolling suitcase.

We did some deep breathing and talked it out.

We were finishing a wonderful weekend together. Neither of us wanted it to end like this, dragging our negative energy into the vehicle where the men we love waited to pick us up and take us home.

After we hugged I was still confused so I let it simmer on the back burner of my mind. I often get called out for being passive aggressive, and while I believe it to be true about 30% of the time, I feel I am allowed. My family disagrees with that percentage split, and completely resists the idea that it’s allowed at all.

What am I missing?

We hit a drive thru, dropped off the kids at their place, and went home. The barking dogs jumped all over me remedying the dog hair deficit on my clothes, I had a nice long bubble bath, and turned in for the night.

At 10pm I suddenly felt a stabbing pain in my upper abdomen that rapidly worsened, radiating into my right shoulder blade. It could have been a hinky drive thru sandwich, but the antacids weren’t working. Around 1:30am I dialed 811 and talked to a nurse at Alberta Health Services Health Link. I had two choices – call 911 or wake up my husband to take me to the hospital.

I spent a good 30 seconds perusing my options. 911 was a hard no. I didn’t believe I was sick enough for an ambulance (I was), and I didn’t want to disrupt the neighbours (it wouldn’t), or deal with the bill. Surely there were other options to get me to the hospital that was only 5 minutes away from my house without inconveniencing my husband?

I could order an Uber! It’s quick, quiet, and I could text Steve so he sees it when he gets up. I would have to wait outside to keep the dogs from waking him with their barking, and it was -25C. This was definitely a hole in my plan. Brittany’s voice in my head informed me that I was not being thoughtful, I was being a passive aggressive martyr, and Steve would not be happy.

I woke my husband.

He was kind and supportive and happy to sacrifice his sleep to take care of me. This is not a surprise, so clearly I need to spend some time with my therapist to discover why I expected him to react any differently.

I arrived at the hospital at 2am, Tuesday Feb 22. They immediate did an ECG in a curtained area of triage to rule out a cardiac event, but it turned out to be what Google had suspected all along – a gallbladder attack. I was admitted and in a room by 10pm.

Yup – you did the math correctly on the number of hours.

It had been an incredibly long and painful day, which I had to endure alone, because the hospital still has a no visitor policy. Thanks for nothing, Covid.

Today, after my surgery to remove my offensive and malfunctioning gallbladder, I thought through our weekend away, culminating in the series of unfortunate events that landed me on an operating table. Somewhere in the middle of this pity party a little light clicked on.

Ooohhh. Brittany was right – that was not thoughtful. That was, indeed, passive aggressive bs.

To be fair, I struggle with a core belief that tells me I am unworthy of love, kindness, mercy, grace, and any kind of gesture that demonstrates those things. I recognize the complete messed-up-ness of this core belief, and I am doing the work to correct it. Part of that work is not reacting defensively when I get called out on it. My family is simply doing what I have asked them to do. They have my full permission to call me out on my passive aggressiveness, as well as the defensiveness that inevitably follows.

Let me clear – it is NOT DISREPECTFUL when my family does this. This is what love looks like sometimes, and I need to banish my ego to recognize it as such.

I Hereby Humbly And Publicly Acknowledge the Following Statements to be True:

  • When I apologized for not keeping up with my daughter in the airport because of a sore and inflamed knee, I was in fact disrespecting her when all she wanted to do was help me, motivated by her love and respect for me.
  • I disrespected my husband when I, even for 30 seconds, seriously considered ordering an Uber to get me to the hospital in the middle of the night to avoid inconveniencing him. When I confessed earlier this evening, he reacted, predictably, with displeasure. He also reacted with kindness and love, because that’s the kind of man he is, and he understands the death grip this damaging core belief has around my heart and mind.

I say it all the time:

It’s OK to struggle. It’s not OK to struggle alone.

Tonight I am saying it again – to me.

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