Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Saga of the Latest Silent Treatment

This is embarrassing to write. I'm afraid people will just tell me "It's your own fault for not cutting ties with a person who treats you that way". But I have to be honest here and tell the tale of the Latest Silent Treatment and how, apparently, my father Won.

In my culture, it is relatively customary for parents of adults to still worry about them and wish to be informed when they have arrived safely at their destination after a trip. My very normal aunt has the same expectation from her very normal very adult kids, who don't have a problem with it, so I know it's not an insane request. But my father is.

A day before we were going to visit my ILs for our daughter's first birthday, my father sent me a message saying, and I quote "If it's not too hard and if you remember, please let me know when you arrive."

Translation: If sending a message to your father is too hard or you forget, then you're evil and reprehensible.

I forgot. Here's the story of that and of how I even learned I was getting the Silent Treatment in the first place (again, I didn't even notice he hadn't called on my daughter's birthday. If his girlfriend hadn't sent me that insane message, I'd never know I was being "punished". No communication with him just feels like normal, pleasant life).
So he wouldn't call me to ask if we arrived safely (something normal parents would do if their kids forgot). No, instead he chose not to wish his granddaughter Happy Birthday and start trying to recruit an army of Flying Monkeys to Put Me in Line. He called my ILs and complained to them. Then he wrote to my aunt, telling her he was angry with me. She wrote back saying he shouldn't be so hard on us and he should have just called us. She forwarded me his reply. I have to share it because it even made my very calm husband angry. Well, I'll share the highlights, the rest is boring cliche narc talk. My comments are in green:

"I'm not too hard on them, I was raised that way. I don't know who Pronoia takes after, it's as if she hadn't been raised by us."

What his parents did to him can't be referred to as being "raised" but that's beside the point. The fact that he's angry and confused by my behavior and feels like I'm a different person than the one he "raised" is a huge compliment and proof that he knows he can't control me and he knows it.
"Me and my late wife weren't like that." Followed by a story on how they went to the post office to call their mothers as soon as they arrived to the seaside.

He may have been fully controlled by his narcissistic mother, but he's appropriating my mother here for his purposes. She never really called her parents and I have heard her say so repeatedly. It was only at his insistence that she'd do the same as he and call her mother on arrival.

"Perhaps times have changed, and I'm still living in another, older time, when parents were respected."

So there we are. This is not about worrying, it may not even be entirely about control. It's about "respect" as it always is with narcissists. He's offended that I forgot. He wouldn't call himself to check, because he doesn't really care or worry. The only emotion he's capable of is being offended.

"Perhaps you're right and we should bore them and call them, but I try to avoid it. I know she's busy and I don't want to get in the way. Even when I want to drop by to see them I ask them if I can come first, in case they perhaps have some other plans or business :--("

This is the part that made my husband angry. The hypocrisy aside (I don't want to bore her, because I'm not so important, but I'll get angry if she forgets, because I'm so important, more important than Birthday Girl on her first birthday), there's an outright lie there. No, he doesn't call to check if we indeed have other plans. He did at first, but he dropped it altogether. He just drops by, not to "see us" but to wait while his girlfriend is in class. He drops by at a time inconvenient for us, late in the evening. When his girlfriend has no classes, he won't come at all, for weeks at a time. 

The SAD FACE at the very THOUGHT that we might DARE have other plans or business is the SCARIEST part of this message. It's a fake message to someone who loves me, and STILL it's showing. Can you imagine what's actually in his head if he'd WRITE that to my aunt?

The silent treatment went on for 10 days. I wondered what to do when we got back and the next opportunity for "normal" communication came up. I chose to ignore the ignoring and wrote a message to let him know we got back home, like I normally would. He chose to interpret it as his victory, sending me a sickly sweet message in reply. My husband told me to save that message as proof to others, who don't get it, that it's all a fake game. Going from "angry" to saccharine in a beat is not something normal people do. 

I'm not sure I did the right thing, but I just didn't want to engage in the game. Let him think he won. I wanted him to understand that if he has a problem, he's supposed to TELL me. I'm not interested in reading between the lines of his girlfriend's messages or being "scolded" by other family members. I'm not interested in him believing I'm obsessing over whether Daddy's angry and why, oh why? I'm not sure I made him learn that. But ignoring him would have clearly said I noticed him ignoring me. And I'm so dead set on not being vulnerable to him that I won't acknowledge to him or myself that I have even noticed that he wouldn't say Happy Birthday on my daughter's first birthday. And I might be hurt. But it's too stupid to be hurt about anything a narcissist does, so I won't acknowledge that.


  1. It seems to me that he hasn't "won" if you KNOW that he hasn't...if that makes any sense.

    I think it's great that you chose not to argue with him about it, because that wouldn't have solved anything (you know, Narcs seem to love all that drama. They WANT you to argue with them so that you look like the jerk and they can tell everyone so.)

    I highly doubt that bringing attention to his ignoring would have made him change his ways.

    (Pausing to re-read some things)

    I totally understand the dilemma here, as DH has faced the exact one so many times. To ignore, or to confront, that is the question. The problem is, they are going to think they "won" either way, no matter what you do, because it's all about winning and losing to them and they REFUSE to lose.

    In addition, I completely understand your DH's anger over that one part of the message in particular. I think your interpretation: "because I'm so important, more important than Birthday Girl on her first birthday" is so spot on. I believe that is an accurate interpretation of the meaning behind your fathers words and actions. Boy, are we familiar with that over here! Its all feigned interest in our Dear Babys' well being and "here have some presents when we see you, kids!" But really, NMIL doesn't give one shit about our children. If she was allowed, she'd be using them for her own personal gain, just like every other person who allows her in their lives.

    I understand your dilemma Pronoia. And I believe that if you KNOW he hasn't won, no matter what he might think, then he hasn't. I think it's just something you'll come up again from time to time, with him in your life. The most important thing is that you See him for what/who he really is and you know the game he is playing. Unfortunately...sadly, that is all it is for him.



  2. Correction: "you'll come up against from time to time..."

  3. Winning and losing is only in his mind. He lost the opportunity to build a better relationship. He lost the opportunity to wish your daughter a happy birthday. He lost at having good feelings between you. He may believe he won the battle but he is well on his way to loosing the 'war.'

    I appreciate what my counselor taught me. Choose your battles. Some things are just not worth the anxiety and fall out. I believe you took the higher road by telling him you arrived safely. Deciding yourself what is the right thing to do in a given situation makes you the winner. Congratulations.

  4. It's presumption from the very first words: "I'm not too hard on them..." You are not his dependent, ward, or employee. He doesn't have the right nor the power to decide what kind of master to be.

    - GKA

  5. Thanks, guys! I didn't expect those kind of comments!

    I wanted to ask you all what normal people did in situations like these, but realized normal people don't get into situations like these in the first place.

  6. Normal is a setting on a drier. I am learning everyone faces different challenges. The challenges of a narcissistic in your life has similarities to others with a narcissistic in their lives. I appreciate you sharing your frustrations because I experience similar frustrations. Have a great day.

  7. Hahaha, Ruth! I'll try to remember that!!! Thank you, I intend to, have a great day too!

  8. Sad to say but narcissists are, for lack of a better word, DEAD inside. They have no compassion, no logic re their behaviour, you can't reason with them as they are ALWAYS right and you are wrong and as much as you want to show them what they're doing is wrong, it's futile. It's totally frustrating and will make you insane. I have a NM and she is a classic case, has all the characteristics. My hands are tied. The only option I have is No Contact which may happen real soon since I am presently at the receiving end of a course of Silent Treatment (4th one this year, each lasting about 3-4 months). Good luck to you re your dad. He and she have much in common, especially the demanding of respect. Love isn't the issue, respect is paramount in their twisted world view. It's like I can envision her inner core being this black, empty, dead zone. On the outside they appear human enough but on the inside, it's a barren wasteland.


I encourage comments!!!