Differences between the Vacillator and Controller:
There are similarities between the vacillator and controller. Of all the styles these two are the quickest to anger. It is easy to judge the anger and conclude these are the “worst” styles. Let’s remember avoiders, pleasers and victims tend to be dishonest and minimize the truth to avoid conflict. Lying isn’t one of Gods’ favorite character traits either. Each broken love style has different ways of defending against pain and each has different sinful tendencies.
Vacillators and controllers tend to be angry about different things. Vacillators are angry because they are disappointed and wished for something they didn’t get. Vacillators want connection and desire to be seen, heard and tended too without asking directly for what they want. Controllers are not driven toward connection as much as vacillators. Controllers get angry because someone has threatened their authority and made them feel powerless. Most often the need for control comes from a very painful childhood experience where feelings of humiliation, terror, despair, hopelessness, confusion were common. It’s impossible for a child to make logical sense of the daily interactions in a chaotic family. Bad things happen with no rhyme, reason, explanation or resolution. There is no relief for painful feelings.
Control is about keeping these painful memories from being re-experienced in adulthood. If a controller is in charge and keeps everyone in line, painful feelings can stay submerged. Powerlessness is a huge trigger and reminder of childhood and to be avoided at all cost.
We can see how the vacillator and controller display anger for different reasons. Depending on the degree of the injury both the vacillator’s and controller’s anger can be intense, scary, and overwhelming to others. Anger without ownership, resolution or apologies is destructive to all relationships. A read through the book of Proverbs is a wakeup call as to the destructiveness of unchecked anger. For both styles expressing the feelings under the anger is important. Usually anxiety, insecurity or hurt are the primary emotions that end up getting expressed as anger. Growth comes from seeing anger as a red flag to stop, get the list of soul words and identify underlying emotions.
Both vacillators and controllers have difficulty with vulnerable feelings. Vacillators want you to just “get them” and “know” what they want and need. Asking directly for what they want and need feels too vulnerable for a vacillator and they resist this step of growth. Controllers just want you to obey and agree and equate vulnerability with the powerlessness of childhood and resist any neediness except sex. Controllers are more cut off from the pain of childhood while vacillators are much more aware and willing to talk about painful experiences during their childhood years.
Vacillators easily feel abandoned while controllers easily feel threatened. Vacillators are triggered by unmet expectations whereas controllers are triggered by loss of control and the feeling of powerlessness. Neither of these styles likes anyone to disagree with them. Vacillators feel if others really understood them they would agree with all their thoughts and opinions so they feel misunderstood, rejected and abandoned when others disagree. Controllers see disagreement as a threat to their power and get angry to intimidate others into compliance.