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Author Topic: Silence: The Ultimate Control - Dorothy M. Neddermeyer, PhD  (Read 8958 times)
Auspicious
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« Reply #30 on: May 26, 2009, 11:20:12 AM »

Question:

I can see that intentionally not being communicative with my SO except to make her worry, as being abusive.  How about in the case where my SO has been consistently verbally abusive to me, and I withdraw refusing to discuss it, because my boundary has been violated so many times.  Am I being abusive in return?

Yes, good question ... .I can't help it, articles like this always set off my "warning, warning" system. Having been accused at one time of "emotional abuse" ... .by my dBPDw.

A BPD could easily read this article and come away thinking that they are the victim.

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« Reply #31 on: May 26, 2009, 11:58:13 AM »

Hi Auspicious and Arjay --- Unfortunately my STBHX had such a big dose of paranoia/narcissism thrown into the mix that he could read (or read into) most anything and consider himself the victim.  I see your point about the article, but victimization seems to be just a basic part of the illness as least as far as my X was concerned.  There could be no supposed "payback" of the silent treatment however justifiable on my part.  And often, after my attempts to talk things out had failed -- again -- distancing would often be the most civil choice I had to protect myself.  When he was in Martyr mode, it was all about him.  In fact, given his History with a capital H (as opposed to mine), he was the one allowed to use the word "abuse" and only on his terms.

Yeah I'm feeling feisty today.  And sad, wishful again that he would have read something to turn on the "aha-moment" lightbulb.
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« Reply #32 on: May 26, 2009, 12:10:26 PM »

... .wishful again that he would have read something to turn on the "aha-moment" lightbulb.

Something we all "wished" would happen "one day".  I quit "wishing" my friend, when I realized BPD was an illness and not just someone having a series of "bad hair days", something I naively thought for a long, long time.

Peace
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« Reply #33 on: May 26, 2009, 12:15:32 PM »

I guess my concern is that the word "abuse" is both very highly charged, and frequently unhelpful. 

Like a big, very poorly calibrated gun or something. That randomly shoots either blanks or high explosives.

OK, I can't think of a good metaphor. That one sucks. But the thought remains
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« Reply #34 on: May 26, 2009, 02:04:25 PM »

Good points, both Arjay and Auspicious.

Good analogy, to connect wishing and bad hair days.  I still get caught in that -- sure boils down to the Serenity Prayer doesn't it? 

And good analogy, actually, about the big out-of-control gun shooting whatever it would at the moment -- marshmallows or dirty bombs.  Abuse is a very highly charged word.  In our case, STBXH insisted on his exclusive right to use the word about his experience, as a victim, past/present/future.

I guess I'm still butting my head up against the things I can't change or control.  Sigh.  Sometimes I still catch myself wanting Utter Vindication.  But that would be black-and-white thinking wouldn't it?
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« Reply #35 on: July 06, 2009, 07:05:18 AM »

my wife gives my son (her step son) the silent threatment almost every day... .unless he speaks to her first in a very clear & direct way so that she can't possibly ignore him.

she never says good morning, good night, hello, good bye... .she'll often talk about him to be when he's right there in the room as if he's not even there... .

so would my wife's actions be verbal abuse?
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« Reply #36 on: July 06, 2009, 07:13:45 AM »

I've been NC for 5 years now with uBPD parents. Been somewhat puzzled by one thing. Parents kidnapped me and my kids many years ago and I got away from them 5 years ago... .long story. There was so much control, verbal abuse, physical abuse, and even some sexual abuse. When I got out of their house and away from them, they stopped contacting me completely. Don't BPD's keep trying to contact? Is this the silent treatment (another form of abuse) they are trying to inflict on me? Sometimes the absence of healthy parents is overwhelming and I feel like an orphan at times.

But is this the silent treatment you speak of or something else altogether? Parents do still have contact with my kids: now 21 and 23.

Thanks.
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« Reply #37 on: November 26, 2009, 05:48:40 AM »

When I got out of their house and away from them, they stopped contacting me completely. Don't BPD's keep trying to contact?

Not always ... .sometimes they paint you permanently black in their mind.

Is this the silent treatment (another form of abuse) they are trying to inflict on me?

Usually their actions aren't even really about us. They are about their own internal pain and turmoil.

Is it possible that you seeing their silence as active, directed, abuse toward you is a way for you to picture at least some connection with them?
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« Reply #38 on: November 26, 2009, 06:15:54 AM »

Excerpt
Usually their actions aren't even really about us. They are about their own internal pain and turmoil.

Yes, I am slowly beginning to understand this.


Excerpt
Is it possible that you seeing their silence as active, directed, abuse toward you is a way for you to picture at least some connection with them?

This is an interesting question and I am trying to think about it from all sides. This is not the first time they have been silent towards me, but the longest. I guess it is most puzzling why they continue to have contact with our kids who look so much like me and have similiar mannerisms: why not reject the offspring also? When I realized that they really have been rejecting me all my life, it was quite painful and I grieved. But I feel like my grieving is about over. I AM realizing that it has more to do with them and not me. That they don't reject me because I am undeserving of their love, but because of who they are. By the way, I am not the only relative that they have "cut off" for years at a time. uBPDm's sis has been cut off for 15 years.

I do not desire a connection with uBPD parents. My son recently told me that "you have more to learn from your parents"    Quite a shock to hear this from him. I assumed that it was actually a near quote from uBPD parents. I am much more careful what I tell my son now, knowing that he is in regular contact by phone with them. He also said that he was enjoying getting to know them better.

I have gotten SO much healthier in so many areas in my life since I went NC and uBPD parents (and sisters, nieces, nephews followed the FOO mandate). It has been painful as I tried to love all of them while I was still around them, even my uBPD parents. Thanks for the reply.
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« Reply #39 on: May 08, 2010, 10:24:27 PM »

I read the article on this that Joanna posted, and it was helpful to see the silent treatment as abuse.  As a victim of the silent treatment by my uBPDD, it hurts.  I have never understood the silent treatment, but was told by my mother that my grandmother used it often.  Dont get the idea my mother was/is savvy at communication, but that's not the topic.  I used tocall the silent treatment a withdrawl of love technique, educating my children that it was not a healthy way to treat others. My D didn't get that; she uses it regularly.  Anyway, I am not expecting to hear from my D for mother's day, as she's in a mood... .or maybe not thinking about the fact that I exist (object constancy).  I read about others not wanting to communicate with various family members on certain holidays, and I want to recognize their need to maintain boundaries and set limits, but I'm also looking at it from the perspective that if I am in a relationship with someone else, someone I want to be involved with or am related to, and I genuinely care about that person, why would I want to hurt them.  Wouldn't I want to make an attempt to mend the fence? share my appreciation for what we do have together?  Doesn't the silent treatment identify a person as the immature one?  the angry one?  How does the party ignoring the other justify their behavior in their own head?  My daughter is a very smart person intellectually, I just don't understand how she rationalizes her behavior... .
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« Reply #40 on: June 22, 2010, 01:18:46 PM »

This is exactly what my husband does to me. He wont talk to me for days. When I ask him things about the kids or daily occurrences he will respond in a negative way by snapping a short answer at me. It is so frustrating, when he goes into one of theses episodes I feel I do not know him and can not reach him emotionally at all. He will talk to other people like our children, like nothing is wrong. It is only me he does this to. I used to try and talk to him and get him to tell me whats wrong but now I just try not to talk to him until it passes.
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« Reply #41 on: June 23, 2010, 12:07:01 PM »

Hi, Momm22- My DH uses the silent treatment, too.  Only he will not speak at all until he is ready- and it often takes days and days.  I am learning to enjoy the quiet, these days.  Silence is control- they are refusing to give us any affection or emotion or even common courtesy of conversation.  If the check-out person at a grocery store treated us with stoney silence- would we ever go back there?  And yet, the folks who promised to love, honor, and cherish us do it at will.  Have you checked out the tools on the "Staying Board"?  Very helpful to me!

Praying for you, as I do for us all.

God bless,

JDoe
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« Reply #42 on: February 24, 2012, 10:21:39 AM »

Wow, if only I had read this insightful article 4 years ago, when it was first written... .might have saved me alot of heartache in the interim, and searching for answers I could never quite find.  So many of the answers I needed are right here in this article.  Thank you.
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« Reply #43 on: March 23, 2012, 02:06:26 PM »

   This is an insightful article.  I'm not in an exclusive relationship right now.  But I can

   see how this has happened to me in the past.  I've been on both sides.  Ghees.  Hate

   to even think about that.   It usually happens after an arguement.   With family

    members for instance.   Sort of who will speak to the other first?, kind of thing.   

            Reading through this,  I feel there's a difference between being 'silent' as in not

    wanting to answer a question or go to a topic that may feel inappropriate and

    'the silent treatment'.   ?   Any thoughts on that.   

             Thank you for this post.  I like applying them in my life in general ( good

          communication practices)

                 and realizing I'm still on the path of 'getting healthier' in my

           expression.                 
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« Reply #44 on: April 19, 2012, 03:33:48 AM »

yep - basically the only reason I found this forum was through my search for information to ease the pain at being given complete silent treatment.

my exBPD went to with-holding, and then complete silence

said he'd be back in touch when 'he could stand being in the same place as me'

so, by virtue of not being able to chat it out, you effectively sit in a permanent state of 'waiting'.

suddenly 5 months has gone by and they have not broken

they have not replied to requests by voicemail or text to break the silence, chat it out over coffee

nothing. just the awful silence

and it drives you crazy!

ultimately, you live with a lump in your throat and you wait

only time has diminished the intensity of the pain, but having never been abused like this, there is still some pain every day and I worry that there always will be

it has past the point of no return now. he is loving the power, and every attempt by me to reconnect is another feather in his cap and another nail in the coffin of the relationship

BB12
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« Reply #45 on: May 14, 2012, 08:00:01 PM »

Thank you Dorothy for your excellent work.  xoxo

My uBPDd31 didn't give anything of herself verbally, while she was growing up. 'what did you do at school?' 'Nothing' etc etc etc. I only wished I knew how to address the situation then, maybe things could have turned out better.

And my dh hasn't been much better. I constantly am trying to develop a stronger intimacy in our relationship. Over a week ago I asked him three questions: what do you want me to change doing? what do you want me to keep doing? what do you want me to do differently? Initially he treated as a joke. He has responded to my answers for him. But he doesn't know how to give of himself. Years of on and off MC and it has boiled down to the same thing. You don't listen to me, you don't talk to me... .Nevertheless, it is a strong relationship we have on so many levels. So, I'll send him a copy of the article, let's see how it goes then... .

Sad thing is, I think I can also put up barriers... .currently NC with D. For her sake as well as mine. Sometimes it all just gets too much.
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« Reply #46 on: July 05, 2012, 07:53:13 PM »

The silent treatment started during the devaluation and then progressively got worse. I would walk on eggshells as they say and get no answer. Sometimes she would be on the phone and not say anything for minutes at a time. In the early stages, when this occurred, I would wind up the conversation but she went out of her way to either make it difficult to hang up by starting a new topic, turning it on me and hanging up first or she would come up with statements to the effect I was treating her poorly by inferring had something more interesting to do. Near the end, it was cold, calculating, ruthless and anything I said or didn't say was attacked or used against me. I also played into this, so I was enabling her to get away with this punishing behaviour so it was not one way traffic. By that time, I was almost in a state of shock seeing her ugliness emerging.
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« Reply #47 on: July 05, 2012, 09:03:57 PM »



My feeling is that with the Silent Treatment, we (nons) can not win. It either drives us to react / lash out... .in which case they find an excuse to justify the ongoing silence... .or we cop it but feel a massive sense of abandonment, social isolation, ostricisation and other anti-social cues.

My last communication to my ex (after 8 months of silence) was to send him a JPEG I found that had a caption "I don't chase anyone anymore. If someone no longer wants to be part of my life, I show them the ___ing door"

For the first time ever, he responded... .with "do you see how actions like this make me not want to talk with you?"

So I feel wrong, immature, at fault, crazy. When this person abandoned the r/s 8 months ago for no apparent reason and has never explained himself or what I did that was so bad as to warrant complete severance and the ignoring of my many early attempts to communicate.

Insane stuff... .and not about boundary setting on their part at all. Not about needing to gather their thoughts. just impossibly cruel, childish, unnecessary stuff!

BB12

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« Reply #48 on: July 05, 2012, 09:21:28 PM »

Your experience was similar to mine. As you mention, if we reacted in any sort of way, it justified their abusive behaviour and they'd project it, calling us abusive. Lines such as your actions/words "make" me not want to talk to you again are common. I heard that one tons of times. My ex used to "joke" with me about how she never cries over boys and that they are not worth the trouble. I asked her if that included me and got the silent treatment. Then, moments later I rationalised all this by suggesting that two people who loved one another would surely miss each other if they parted. She told me she wouldn't care if I left because what could she possibly miss about me and that I would be lost without her. I asked if she loved me and she said, no. After a few minutes of this she laughed and told me she might miss the intimate stuff.
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« Reply #49 on: July 05, 2012, 09:32:10 PM »

Hey BPDlover

Mine needed me for a while as I pulled back during the 'reality testing' phase. Called a lot and was very nice even after we'd stopped 'dating'

This lasted about 3 weeks, then cut me cold when found new supply. Came back again when that one didn't work out. I chided him for dropping me when he finds new people.

He said, "well if I needed you once, I certainly don't now". I asked if he missed me at all. He laughed and said "hell no".

As he withdrew, I became so needy. He barely called, never initiated anything (especially phone calls). Whether I played it cool and or not... .he never called. I would wait a week, two weeks. Then even a month. Nothing. Everything he came to was done begrudgingly like I'd become a massive burden. Made me feel awful. Yet I still paid for everything, booked everything. Then in DEC he found new supply and when I called around xmas time he texted back saying "take your midlife crisis somewhere else"... .never communicated with me since.

We were together romantically for 2 years. But if I look at it objectively / clinically... .he has never actually initiated a phone call or email since the day we stopped dating and agreed to be friends. Mindblowingly cruel stuff. But we can't win. They project everything back onto us and make us feel completely nuts

BB12
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« Reply #50 on: July 07, 2012, 10:53:15 PM »

They sure do bb12. You cannot win with a loser. They don't identify with a loving heart or seem to understand loving behaviour. Just like a toddler, they want their needs met and do not really care who does it for them. They see good and bad in all but not to the degree a healthy adult does. We know who we like and dislike. They pretend to like everyone and end up a victim and perpetrator in one at the end. There is so much shame tied into them from all these destructive associations. Like your ex, mine vanished for new supply or space often and told me many times she wanted nothing more to do with me. I was on the other end of the phone questioning why a person would find fault with a conversation or situation where there was none. She would return or I would call to see how her pregnancy was as I was in a no win from that moment on. I didn't know whether to walk away, check in on her or be with her. Of course, she didn't know what or who she was from one day to the next. The second last break was five weeks and I never found out if she had new supply. The last one has been for over two years and I am now very aware that I did not know her at all. She can have all the silence in the world back now.
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« Reply #51 on: July 08, 2012, 12:14:30 AM »

I didn't know whether to walk away, check in on her or be with her. Of course, she didn't know what or who she was from one day to the next. She can have all the silence in the world back now.

I hear that BPDlover! And that's the crazy-making part for us, the Lonely Children. We try to understand the speed of the withdrawal... .the cruelty when the situation never called for it. The punishment when it doesn't fit the crime. and ultimately, we try to make sense of reality... past and present, for their behaviour now brings into question the entire time you were together.

I have come to realise that my 2 years with my xBPD was so one-sided and so unhealthy. But I couldn't see it at the time. Mine was also fairly casual. Emotionally connected sure, but we didn't see eachother much more than one or two times per week and no real intimacy was required. When I decided it wasn't a genuine partnership and pushed for a bit more empathy and commitment, he felt engulfed and completely withdrew.

So amazing to come out the other side a year later and to see things for what they actually were - to have learned so much about how life and even how I work!

BB12
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« Reply #52 on: August 11, 2012, 01:39:35 PM »

Thank you, thank you.  I am new to board, new to the recognition that I have an uBPDm.  All the many painful years of shunning and the silent treatment - I thought I was all alone in this experience since I have no friends who have ever experienced this.  The bullet points essentially summed up my feelings through most of my childhood and adulthood.  Have gone NC, as I can no longer bear the soul-destroying feeling of being shunned without reason, and then called back into the fold (aka forgiven) at the whim of my Witch mother and enFOO who goes along with her (othewise, they would be "betraying" her).  I can't say I understand the behaviour, but it helps to know this is a (sadly) common way for pwBPD to behave.
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« Reply #53 on: June 27, 2013, 07:10:31 AM »

Great article thanks so much! and this is not just for BPD! I am beginning to realize that I have expirienced this type of abuse in more than one relationship, without even knowing! It is like I am so used to it... . damm
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« Reply #54 on: July 07, 2013, 08:34:47 PM »

It is probably up there with the worst abuse I have suffered. I was on and off with her for eighteen months, then suddenly barred from her life over three years ago. The baby was six months old then. She is now pregnant again and has recently married. I cannot help but wonder is she the same person? It is hard to view this with a fresh perspective. Maybe she is now healthy, on medication and her four kids to three different fathers will all have emotionally stable lives. My life is quiet without her around, there is no crazy making. I wonder what the new husband is feeling? Is he feeling powerless and emasculated? That was the worst sort of abuse. She made all decisions about her children without any consultation to her parters/the fathers. She would talk to her family and friends/helpers before trusting a man. She openly told after having our supposed child that she would find a good man to raise him. I wish I could go back. Why did I believe in someone so hollow? My life was simple for thirty five years. It feels as if I met an alien. She switched her birth control and I thought nothing of it. I insisted on condoms and we then used them. How did this happen? It has happened again and I am a bit traumatised. I wonder if there is continuous chaos in her life still? Is he being scapegoated and set up like I was? It is sad. Her family convince themselves I am the worst person on earth. I hate injustice.
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« Reply #55 on: July 07, 2013, 09:13:00 PM »

Wow!  Great article!  Silence was and still appears to be my exes weapon of choice.  Intimate periods in our r/s were always followed by days of silence.  The more our relationship progressed, the more silent he got.  I was slowly conditioned to this behavior, amazing how I found it acceptable. 
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« Reply #56 on: July 07, 2013, 10:52:05 PM »

Great article.  My exBPDbf gave me the silent treatment often.  Probably the most painful time was Easter 2012.  He got angry and stormed out the night before because "I didn't make him feel welcome."  The next morning he came over to pick me up to go to an outdoor Easter church service. Immediately when he got to my house I could see the (still) angry look on his face.  I tried to placate him by giving him a hug.  He didn't hug me back.  We then drove to the service in silence, got out of the car and started walking. I told him that I loved him. He responded that "love is more than words." He didn't speak to me before or during that whole service. 

After the service my parents were coming over for brunch. I was in turmoil about how to smooth things over with my bf so the time with my parents could be a special. It was the last Easter I would have with my dad who was terminally ill with cancer. He passed away 2 1/2 months later. 

I look back at that day and I'm still astounded at the lack of emotional maturity and compassion by my bf during one of the worst times in my life.  The memory of that day is still so very painful.
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« Reply #57 on: August 12, 2013, 07:51:00 PM »

Question:

I can see that intentionally not being communicative with my SO except to make her worry, as being abusive.  How about in the case where my SO has been consistently verbally abusive to me, and I withdraw refusing to discuss it, because my boundary has been violated so many times.  Am I being abusive in return?


I have the same experience and I'd like to know the answer to this too... .
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« Reply #58 on: August 12, 2013, 08:42:21 PM »

I am sure there are wiser minds out there than mine, but this is what I think... . I think... .

Boundaries are based on our values. If they are not based on our values, their purpose is hazy. Our boundaries, when we have to verbalise them, should be explicit, they should have consequences if they are broken.

So, if I have a boundary based on my core value of respect that says I will not tolerate verbal abuse, then I will have consequences for that violation, eg I will leave the room.

To maintain a silent treatment is abusive. It is about 'revenge' they have hurt me, I will hurt them. It is not healthy for anyone involved.

PwBPD can learn that if their behaviour is not getting them what they want - they can change their behaviour. But this is not easy. Our behaviour needs to be kind, logical and consistent and of course, based upon our explicit values. That means we act with integrity.

Finally, I have to learn to meet my own emotional needs, not expect others to do so. If I am hurt, I need to learn how to soothe myself.

does that help?

Vivek    
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« Reply #59 on: June 11, 2014, 09:45:31 PM »

I am sure there are wiser minds out there than mine, but this is what I think... .  I think... .  

Boundaries are based on our values. If they are not based on our values, their purpose is hazy. Our boundaries, when we have to verbalise them, should be explicit, they should have consequences if they are broken.

So, if I have a boundary based on my core value of respect that says I will not tolerate verbal abuse, then I will have consequences for that violation, eg I will leave the room.

To maintain a silent treatment is abusive. It is about 'revenge' they have hurt me, I will hurt them. It is not healthy for anyone involved.

PwBPD can learn that if their behaviour is not getting them what they want - they can change their behaviour. But this is not easy. Our behaviour needs to be kind, logical and consistent and of course, based upon our explicit values. That means we act with integrity.

Finally, I have to learn to meet my own emotional needs, not expect others to do so. If I am hurt, I need to learn how to soothe myself.

does that help?

Vivek    

You are completely correct.  I used to go crazy, apologize and beg every time I would receive the silent treatment from my BPDbf but now i have completely changed my attitude.  Every time he gives me the silent treatment, i try to reach out to him once, and when he does not respond, then I just stop reaching out to him, move on with my life and he knows it.  The silent treatments have actually decreased in length and he know that he will definitely lose me if he continues the so called, "punishment".  I guess, you need to just treat them like little kids and ignore their negative behavior.  I believe that if he cares enough for me, then he will come back and act appropriately.  If he doe snot want to act approriately then I will ignore his tantrums and move on with my life. 
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