I just reblogged a post on the impact of the silent treatment in abuse. I was on the receiving end of the silent treatment a lot in my past relationship. When something triggered my ex partner’s pain or nastiness or when he felt the need to disempower me or control my valid responses and needs he would just walk out and refuse to speak to me for days. At the same time I would be slammed with judgement about how wrong, or bad I was, simply for expressing my self and being me.
At the time I met that person I was isolated and alone in a very out of the way place. I was suffering from the impact of a head injury and a nasty fall. When this person offered me titbits of attention I became quickly ‘hooked’, I was like a starving animal being fed scraps after a time in solitary confinement, admittedly one I chose myself due to the other abuses that had gone before.
As I look back I don’t know how I didn’t take my own life at that stage. The only thing that saved me was writing and writing everyday in my journal on the computer and going to weekly Al Anon meetings. Even there though I was sidelined a lot because I was a ‘dual member’, someone who participated in both AA and Al Anon and those affected by other’s alcoholism did not take well to knowing I was in recovery for addiction myself at times and I was told I needed to stay silent about that too. I was not in therapy at that times and I was all alone with, (by that time) over 40 years of pain locked up inside me.
I look back now with the benefit of hindsight and many years of researching and reading about narcissistic abuse behind me. When I read the post shared by Pascale’s Healing Journey and the poem it broke my heart. It made me realise how important empathy is and how profoundly damaging it is to abuse a child with deed or words and then leave them all alone to stew in their own juices in silence with no comfort or validation or understanding. If we are very young when this happens our little bodies cannot really cope with all of those powerful feelings of hurt and hatred at unjustified abuse, we literally have nowhere to go with them, so they stay locked or trapped inside and in later life when they are triggered and we have no rational way to articulate or release them in a healthier way, others may judge us as ‘crazy’ or ‘mad’. Welcome to the genesis of so called ‘borderline personality disorder!’
If we later find no way to solve the dilemma we were left with, we get attracted to the same ‘type’, narcissists tend to be attracted to the highly emotionally charged or intensely sensitive ‘borderline’ like moths to a flame! But in some strange way such a painful outcome may hold the genesis of our healing too. For the pain being retriggered in the present may show us where old wounds and injuries lay. However, that said, if we can’t find the right help to understand how such things as the silent treatment work to evoke and block access to our deeper feelings and reactions we may struggle for years. When my ex used to cut me off at those times, I would frantically try to re-engage with him to prove how he was so wrong, but later I was advised that a narcissist would have had to trigger me and then paint me black due to the dynamic. As one friend who knew us both said to me a few years after my ex and I separated. “He used you like a bar of soap to wipe his dirty hands on!”
If you are on the receiving end of this kind of abuse, please do all you can to get some help. No one deserves the silent treatment as punishment. Being left all alone with unbearable feelings which prevent and stymie our capacity to self soothe is dangerous on so many levels, physically, emotionally and spiritually. No one deserves this abuse and if you have suffered in this way it is so important you have someone there who can help you to understand, contain, unpack and work through your feelings which are too much to cope with alone.