Maxine dressed provocatively, flirted, and fished for admiration from men. Her gestures, touches, and seductive display of cleavage sent out the sexual signal that she was available and hungry for sex. But when one of the patrons approached her and asked for a drink after work, she assumed he wanted to be sexual. She acted as if she were insulted, even though she had been behaving provocatively. In this scenario, her power lies in her ability to reject him and to imagine in him the shame that, in fact, she feels within herself for having been the illicit object of her own father's sexual objectification. When a patron triggered her traumatic memories of her father, she hid the shame she felt then with the sexualized anger she feels now. When she shoves her shame onto him, she feels that she has been restored. She deludes herself into thinking and feeling that she has resolved the original trauma. This relief is only temporary, and she will inevitably return to that feeling of shame.
Among my clients who have dysfunctional sexuality at the heart of their relationship problems, the passive-aggressive anger hides the truth of their shame core from them. This sense of resentment, shame, rage, and anger that infects their relationships originates in their sense of having lost power and control, even as they were being shamed. Their passive-aggressive manipulations are their way of undoing their disempowerment. They will ruin their attempts at sexual relationships by dysfunctionally trying to win back the power and control that was stolen from them when they were children abused by their primary caregivers.