Monday, September 13, 2010

Saint Eleta

In my thirties I was in therapy with a woman my husband gratefully referred to as Saint Eleta. Back then, she described passive aggression this way: "There are only two people in the room and suddenly one of you is bleeding but no one has a knife."

I knew she was saying how much better it was to just speak plainly, but I recall looking across the desk at the petite copper-skinned woman with the perched orange wig and precipitously high heels and thinking 1) how much I adored her and 2) that the way she framed it, passive aggression sounded pretty fucking magical.

What Saint Eleta didn't mention is that the one who inflicts the stealth wound also bleeds, because you can't hand out pain without sharing in it yourself. I think she thought I was smart enough to grasp that. But I wasn't really. Not then.

Saint Eleta was close to 65 at the time, and soon enough she retired and moved south to be with her grandchildren. I still miss her. Now she was magical. God, how.


  1. Wow - that is a great description. I hate passive aggressive people and when I catch myself doing it, I hate it even more. It's almost cowardly don't you think? Why not just come out and say what you really mean?

  2. I couldn't agree more! But sometimes, I fail to live up to my own principles, especially in situations (like on the job) when you can't really come right out and say everything. Still, passive aggression is always a bad move. It leaves everyone involved feeling rather lousy and solves nothing.

  3. I very much enjoy reading your blog!
    Even your profile is a good read.
    And I love your now picture too.
    I've become a "Follower". :)
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Gabriele, thank you for joining the party! and thanks for the kind words about the "now". lol.

  5. Angella,
    I used to rant about how this was the thing that most bothered me about my mother.... and that no one else called her on it, or perceived it.

    and yes, as with most of life's great ironies, I realized that it is something I know and do quite well actually. ouch. of course I could blame her for teaching me the behaviour :)

  6. Saint Eleta described a complex unconscious process in incredible depth with ease. Admirable!!!

  7. deb, possibly the ability to express ourselves in this way is innate, and surfaces when we feel unable to speak our truth out loud. we are so human.

    Isabella, she was practical and plainspoken and gifted and compassionate without coddling. she was the right person at the right time for me. and to think, i found her in a completely random way! you know as well as anyone, i am missing her now.