— Baiting and Picking Fights – “Baiting is the practice of generating a provocative action or statement for the purpose of obtaining an angry, aggressive or emotional response from another person.”
This is what I associate with Pushing away and Pulling back. That back and forth feeling of being suffocated, needing to escape being hurt, fearing the loss, and desperately trying to get that person back, often by apologizing profusely and doing everything we can to be perfect for them again. Repeat.
That’s the resulting cycle anyways.
It starts with something small. Gradually growing into something else. Baiting and Picking Fights is HOW this cycle is fed.
I know I have a very caustic tongue. I’m not physically violent towards anyone, but I know how to wound your pride, your ego, and your heart. It’s not necessarily a big explosion, though eventually it may get there. It’s small steps, little barbs. Small hurts, followed by tearful apologies about how we’re such bad people… For me the fear that’s generated turns my stomach and flips my heart. The person hurt is really wonderful, we don’t deserve them, we’re so sorry that we would even think to say such things, act that way. The thing you need to keep in mind is, we absolutely feel this way, at least I do. I don’t set out with this in mind. I don’t wake up in the morning and think, ‘Gee, today seem s like a good day to fight with so-and-so to see if he/she’ll leave me.’ It just happens. It happens gradually as we get closer to someone. And it’s always with someone we’re close to. The fear of being hurt by staying, coupled with the fear of being abandoned by leaving. I’ve never figured out how to find a way past this. I don’t mean to be this way, and I can see myself doing these things, which is why I know I’m such a terrible person when I do it. I try to make up for it, but I can’t seem to stop myself from doing it again when something sets me off. It’s generally not out of the blue though it may seem that way to the other person. I know for me, I’ll be triggered by something, read more into something than was there, feel like I’m losing myself to them and need to get myself back. I’ll bite back quick and hard and there’s really no thinking about what comes out next. Over the years I have learned to temper a lot of these reactions. I’ve learned to hold back, not be so quick to lash out. However this has the effect of allowing me to internalize the hurt I feel, bottle it up, ruminate on the things I want to say from it… it gives me time to tailor a harsher response when something bigger does set me off. I’m trying to fix this too. I’m trying to write down the responses I want to scream out. Release my anger onto paper. Come back to it. Find a better response, a calmer response, and then come back to it for discussion when I feel like I’m more in control.
There’s something else though. An element of, if the other person will allow me to push, stay with me through the hurtful things I do, it ‘proves’ that they won’t abandon me. The more we can push away, the more baits and barbs we can throw, the more fights we can pick, the longer they show that they’ll tolerate it or try to work it out with us, the more we can believe that they mean what they say and aren’t trying to deceive us … If we can make someone we care for SO ANGRY, they’ll either prove us right, or prove us wrong. Either way we’ll know something for sure, and it stops (momentarily) the constant second guessing going on in our heads. Believing someone, trusting someone… I know I’ve been hurt so badly that I can never fully do this. That doesn’t mean I don’t want it. I just have to test the fences to be sure.