The Silent Treatment

There is nothing quite like the silent treatment.  I remember it all too well – the pain and anguish of it.   It even makes you feel alienated.

One time in particular, when my oldest was still a baby about six months old, I got a call from my mother.  She phoned me and said she needed to see me.  When I pressed why she wouldn’t say.  I tried to get her to just tell me over the phone for over a half an hour.  She wouldn’t divulge – she wanted me to pack up my baby and come see her.  It should be noted that she lived a 40 minute highway drive away from me.  But as a compliant daughter, I succumbed to her wishes and reluctantly made the trek to see her.

When I walked in, I greeted her warmly.  Her response was a very cold, ‘Hi.’  A totally different demeanor than when we talked on the phone.  I came in and placed the baby down in the car seat.

I asked her how she was doing, while avoiding eye contact, she coldly replies, “Fine.”

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I sat down across from her and asked a few more questions while she looked blankly out of her window.  Without flinching, she just gave me cold one-word answers for my concerning questions – the whole time refusing to make eye contact.  She just sat there at her table and stared out the window.  Cold and stiff.

When I realized she wasn’t going to talk, I packed up the baby and drove my 40-minute drive home again.  If I remember right, I think I might have even tried to hug her, but she only reciprocated with rigid cold iciness – she never reciprocated my hugs – when I touched her, her body would actually stiffen and go rigid.   I was so hurt and confused that I cried all the way home.

This is one way the pull off ‘the silent treatment’ – other forms are when they just don’t talk to you for weeks or even months on end, which I have also experienced – or they ignore phone calls, letters and or emails.  There is never ever ever explanation as to what it is you’ve done – but they sure make you pay for it.  It’s nothing but a control tactic of the most sadistic kind.  I cannot tell you how many hours, days and even weeks I would spend racking my brain trying to figure out what on earth I had done to warrant such treatment.  It was always my gut feeling that her purpose of the silent treatment was for me to magically come up with how I somehow offended her over some little slight – real or imagined (yes, I have experienced both) – and once realized, I would come running to her in tears, on my knees, begging her forgiveness.  She was famous for being offended over things that, to me, were completely ridiculous and often infantile – but she’d never tell me what it is that I had done.  Ever.

Every time she did this, and even when I saw her, I always, and increasingly, felt rejected, despised, and unloved – even unloveable.  My soul was shredded a little bit more (sometimes a lot more) with every visit.  I was feeling more and more empty as time went on.

Abuse by someone who exhibits Narcissistic Personality Disorder is very painful.  It’s debilitating.  Every time you’re with someone with NPD, you give them an opportunity to shred your soul a little more, to suck the life out of you a little bit more, to make you feel like you’re not fit to breathe the same air as them, like you’re the one whose crazy in the head when its not you at all … and one of the ways they do that is through the silent treatment.

~ Saoirse Quill

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