The Silent Treatment Plays on Your Fear of Abandonment

By Kim Saeed | Contemplating No Contact

Oct 27

Fear of abandonment.  It can destroy your life if left unchecked; especially so if you are in a relationship with a suspected Narcissist.

Narcissists use this fear to keep you in a perpetual cycle of anxiety, causing you to crave their return when they give you the Silent Treatment, knowing they can do whatever they please and you will take them back with little opposition.  You might verbalize your dislike of their choice and explain how hurtful it is, but take away words and the fact is that they insert themselves back into your life with barely a hitch.

What many victims of narcissistic abuse confuse for love is really a manifestation of their fear of abandonment, which has been magnified by frequent silent treatments, as well as the devalue and discard phases carried out by their abusive partner(s).  As a result, they remain in a constant state of fight-or-flight, with no seeming choice but to suffer through panic attacks, loss of appetite or binge-eating, rapid heartbeat, sleep disturbances, mood swings, and horrible, undying fear and obsessive thinking.

Persistent sadness and insecurity are the result of emotional conditioning. They are rooted in earlier losses, abandonment, and disappointments. You might be stuck in abandonment grief from past events you no longer even remember.

If you suffer from cripplingly low self-esteem and feel like you’re always on the verge of being abandoned, you were likely wounded during early episodes of perceived rejection from parents or other loved ones.  Perhaps your parents, or later a lover, dismissed you.  Since then it seems you are always involved with the emotionally unavailable, encountering losses and disappointment, which results in you questioning your worth.  When the Narcissist gives you the silent treatment, you doubt the reality of the situation, taking the blame for this inflicted punishment, vowing to do what it takes to hang onto your fickle partner.

Every time the narcissist gives you the Silent Treatment, you are diminished in small increments.  Over time, your sense of self is eroded and your fear of abandonment kicks into high gear.  In spite of your accomplishments, friendships, and compliments by other people, you cling to the narcissist’s approval, which always seems out of reach.

Finally, the narcissist leeches onto a new source of supply (new girlfriend or boyfriend) and discards you.  This can be sudden with little or no warning, or slow and insidious, keeping you strung along as they woo the new love interest.  You are left shattered, your sense of security and hopes for the future ripped from your grasp.  You may feel you will always be lonely and will never find love again.

Sadly, many victims of narcissistic abuse remain stuck in this stage.  Many experience the added loss of other important relationships as they withdraw or are rejected by friends and family due to their constant neediness.

What you may not realize is these are all normal symptoms after having been “rejected and abandoned” by the narcissist.  Every single person who has ever been the target of emotional abuse will endure these feelings that seem to take on a life of their own.  In fact, this fear is innate in everyone and stems from survival mechanisms in the amygdala.  Ever notice the baby who gets frantic when their mother leaves the room?  Fear of abandonment is our primary fear and is why you experience a state of frenzy when the narcissist implements the Silent Treatment.  The reason it feels so horrid is that our brain cannot make the distinction between loss of a primary relationship and a threat to our physical survival.

And just like the baby who cries when their mother leaves the room, our Inner Child reacts in a similar manner when being rejected and abandoned by the narcissist.  Our survival instincts do not recognize the fact that we are now adults who are capable of ensuring our own survival.

The good news?  These are automatic responses that can be managed if we make the conscious effort to do so.  This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Breaking the pattern of attaching to the emotionally unavailable
  • Understanding the dynamics of emotional regression 
  • Realizing that most of the anguish experienced during this phase is mostly self-inflicted, meaning that your thoughts surrounding low self-worth are not grounded in reality, but due to your abusive partner’s conditioning
  • Understanding the importance of Inner Child healing and codependence recovery
  • Discovering if you are Highly Sensitive and how this may affect you inside of a toxic relationship
  • Understanding trauma repetition (or repetition compulsion) and how it keeps you hooked on the Narcissist

Let this be the last time you are abandoned by the narcissist.  If your partner uses the Silent Treatment to keep you in a perpetual state of fear and anxiety, it’s time to own up to it and make the promise to yourself to detach and move on.  Then, use your fear of abandonment as an opportunity to develop self-love and emotional self-reliance.

Does healing from Narcissistic abuse seem like a lot of work?  It is when you try to do it on your own!  Get tools to let go of the pain of heartache- and develop new ways of thinking and healing.  Find out more by clicking the image below!  

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[…] relieves that stress.  The most common tactic used by the Narcissist in this category is the silent treatment, which evokes your fear of abandonment.  When the Narcissist finally returns, you experience a […]

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[…] relieves that stress.  The most common tactic used by the Narcissist in this category is the silent treatment, which evokes your fear of abandonment.  When the Narcissist finally returns, you experience a […]

Reply

[…] have entered a cycle of “Hurt and Rescue.” Narcissists often employ the silent treatment as a means of enforcing fear of abandonment. When your partner begins speaking to you again, you […]

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[…] probably ignore you, anyway, just to make sure your abandonment triggers stay nice and fresh to pave the way for their […]

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Kate June 24, 2017

I’ve only just realized my partner is a narcissist. We’ve been dating 2 1/2 years and for various reasons we aren’t living together. The cycle was confusing to me. He has a very ill family member and as that person has gotten sicker and demands on his time/energy, that cycle has become much more rapid and vicious. After spending a wonderful day together and him giving me a gift(a heart necklace that supposedly has a drop of his blood in it so that I always have a piece of him with me). Three days later, in the middle of the day after having normal texting, I get a cryptic text saying his world has ended and he can’t see me. He said not to contact him if I valued my children and good bye forever. He’s come and gone so often that I waited to hear from him. When didn’t, I made one phone call, leaving him a message asking if that family member had died(a week later and I can’t find a death notice so I’m pretty sure that’s not it). I also sent an email saying I was confused but would be here to talk, craving some kind of closure and asking again what terrible thing had happened He sent me a curt text saying I needed to listen to him if I wanted even the most remote chance at a relationship in the future. If he decides to contact me it will be in one month, naming a specific date, said things are “ugly” and he needs this month to get things in order. He’s never cut off all contact like this before or for so long. After the text, my general low level panic blew up and I missed a day of work and cried on my bathroom floor for a couple of days. I’m a mess! I’m terrified this is the final discard. And hopeful it’s the final discard in equal measure. Thank you for making me feel less crazy and helping me understand why I really do feel like an abandoned child. The last 8 years have been hard. I got divorced, not my choice, then got involved with someone with addiction issues and now this. I used be hopeful of the future and maybe a good man in my life, but that hope is gone. I feel invisible to the world, this guy made me feel “seen”. It’s hard to go back to invisible. For a time, the abuse, was worth it because even then, he cared enough to interact and good times in between were soooo good. I really believe he won’t contact me again I guess I need to move on.

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[…] the target’s fear of abandonment, which the narcissist can then relieve with his return.  The silent treatment is executed by the Narcissist when his or her victim attempts to establish a boundary or shows […]

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[…] ways.  Due to the biochemical processes that happen during toxic relationships, i.e., the Silent Treatment followed by the ‘Return and Rescue’ cycle, love addicts typically enter relationships with […]

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[…] Self-awareness is a stepping stone to developing emotional resilience so that you’ll have better control over your emotions instead of your emotions controlling you.  Self-compassion will hopefully inspire you to develop better boundaries in relationships so that no one can use your abandonment triggers against you.  […]

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Tee April 11, 2017

I have been stopping by these sites more than a few times a day. I was in denial of what was happening in my life. I knew it wasn’t right from the beginning. He gave me the silent treatment 2 weeks after we met. It was over something very small. Then it happened again about a few weeks later. I thought he was just a sensitive guy. This went on and off for months and then I got used to it, it became the “norm” for us. I knew when to expect it. I knew when to give him his space and he was happy. Recently we made our relationship official. And the first two weeks were great. It was down hill from there. I discovered the gambling problem. The disappearing for days with no explanation and the silent treatment when I would speak up about it. They only lasted for a day or two at the most. One night he didn’t respond to me and I let insecurities take over and questioned his where shouts. I was completely discarded and immediately given the silent treatment. He has ignore me since. He texted me to tell me Happy Birthday” then continued the silent treatment. I am completely torn. I have lost myself in these two weeks. I love him and I think it’s because I know it’s not his fault that he is who he is. I care and I’ve been there for him all these months. I have been to his rescue for different reasons several times. I’ve forgiven him on several occasions without him even ever apologizing. I can’t find the strength to block him. Or let him go. I do not think he will be back. I know in my heart I don’t need him back. I was stressed the entire time as he played the victim of the consequences of his careless behavior. He was always stressed and said that I only added to it. I need help moving on.

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Tanya November 19, 2016

This is EXACTLY what I went thru off and on for 11 yrs. My ex Narc used to say to me “You’re always in fight or flight mode!” And he was right…..I was and NOW I KNOW WHY! I lived with so much anxiety frustration anger fear insecurity and the list goes on…all the stress started affecting my physical health and I found myself in and out of the Doctors office constantly…went through surgery where of course I recieved no help from My Narc in fact he ended up sleeping w some chic while I was healing from surgery. I have been One year NO CONTACT and feel better than I have in over a decade! I have one more surgery coming up but I have noticed my body settling down and feeling at peace again. I dont have the breathing problems I used to have or the irregular rapid heartbeats where I feel something is sitting on my chest. I developed this skin condition that is now clearing up after TEN YEARS! it really is a testament to the overall damage that these abusers inflict on their targets. Watching myself heal on all levels is amazing and sooo incredibly eyes opening. Thank you for this spot on article!!!!

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    Zita January 1, 2017

    This is all just insane. I’m going to go out on a limb and say you are probably a successful lady… with tons of things going for you! I am a professional, quite successful, well liked by many and am honestly an all around good person. Now let me say I am not perfect by any means… but a pretty cool gal. I’m currently trying my best to end a relationship w a narc, and I swear he knows when I’ve made headway because he slinks back in like a venomous snake. He know the exact buttons to push to cause me to allow him in, then before I know what’s happening, I’m hooked all over again. I’m not retarded-
    Not even a little slow! I’ve not tried this avenue of support, but I’ve got to be proactive! Let’s keep one another strong and supported. God help us get over these wolves in sheeps clothing. They are the monsters that openly walk around and pretend to be angels. I’ve wished HORRIBLE things that aren’t even like me. No one, and I mean NO ONE, has ever been so cruel and cold to me. He calls me every name in the book, expects financial support, and treats me with no respect. I refuse to travel through 2017 this way. I AM MORE VALUABLE AND YOU ARE TOO!!!!!

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Laurie August 25, 2016

All I can say at this moment 3 weeks later is every word of this is true. How I feel,what I am doing,my greatest fear,he used constantly against me.The research the everything down to I still feel like I am dying! I haven’t had to implement No Contact he walked off with another after 5 years an has never looked back.It was first time he ever did it BC he knew the one deal breaker was cheating. After finding out I am not the first in his pattern of behavior I know he is extreme narcissistic . I am just blown away it was a week before our wedding. I put up with things from him I never did before.He knew my biggest fear was abandoment an so many things .. I am so over whelmed an I know better!

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helenneeley41@yahoo.com June 28, 2016

Nobody could have said it better. Better to know who and what your dealing with now than later. Funny thing is we don’t have to live there Hamsters lives anymore. We can go on and they’ll continue to go back and forth with the next person in there lives.

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    Tanya November 19, 2016

    * helenneeley41
    Totally!!!! They NEVER grow or awaken and that behavior is just not GOOD ENOUGH. The fact that they believe they are superior is rediculous when you finally wake up and come out of the fog and SEE their unenlightened state of being. Mine used to say that he is “Up here and I am down there” He used to text me quotes from people like Gandi trying to make me feel like I am unevovled as a human energetic being. And now that I see….No one who is cming from a true love place or enlightened state would EVER feel the need to put another down or try to make someone feel bad about themself. He was just a WALKING CONTRADICTION! He’s still running around on his hampster wheel with yet another insta relationship. One of thany I’ve watched him go in and out of in the 11 years he kept toying w me. I’m Free! And he’s wtill in his cage :))

    Reply

[…] you are diminished in small increments.  Over time, your sense of self is eroded and your fear of abandonment gets worse.  If you weren’t aware of any abandonment wounds before meeting the narcissist, the […]

Reply
Nancy January 4, 2016

Oh my goodness. This is explains my current situation and was exactly what I need to read at the very moment I needed to read it.

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[…] them and the relationship”.  It becomes increasingly clear that the disappearing acts (a.k.a. Silent Treatments) are designed to punish […]

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[…] relieves that stress.  The most common tactic used by the Narcissist in this category is the silent treatment, which evokes your fear of abandonment.  When the Narcissist finally returns, you experience a […]

Reply
Priestly October 8, 2015

Thank you for your comments. I feel as though I am moving towards a sacred space.

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    Kim Saeed October 8, 2015

    Thank you for sharing that, Priestly <3

    Reply
Matt July 12, 2015

I wish I would have read this before my Narcissist left me after twelve years.

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thankful for the good.in goodbye November 19, 2014

I have asked myself how many times did I want to get the silent treatment and say anything or act anyway to break him to answer a simple yes or no? After 20 years I’ve decided I’m going to embrace the silent treatment. The longer I don’t have to hear him the more peace and happiness grows inside me. Learn to not take anything personal from these fools. They’re games, misery and drama is only a projection of how they feel about themselves and from the look of things in my story…This guy doesn’t love himself at all.

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    Anonymous November 22, 2014

    From what I am learning–how can they love themselves? Their inability to handle shame in a healthy way seems to be at their heart of their disorder. Shame and humiliation. Part of growing up is learning how to grow through shame. For some reason they get stuck in their shame and then they project their feelings of humiliation. onto those close to them. The pretend to love us and because it is all pretense, the victims of their “love” end up confused, puzzled, whiplashed from being on their emotional roller coast. The last time we talked was October 9. The week before he declared that we need to treat each other kinder–strange hearing that from him. So what does he do? Declares a silent treatment over total BS. It is something so irrational and so puzzling that it doesn’t even warrant me reaching out to him to find out what’s the matter.
    Days later it is my birthday. Nothing. Thanks giving is coming up. It’s the holiday season. Nice time to stop talking. It’s maddening. Believe you me, a 73 year old man having a temper tantrm, “not speaking,” not acknowledging the birthday of the friend who stayed by you during your brothers illness and then death–is a pathetic thing. The man hates himself I tell you and he projects his discomfort, feelings of inadequacy on to me. I am doing my best to stay strong during this holiday period without him. I can’t imagine spending five minutes with him. He kills my joy.Tramples my spirit. And why? For what reason. How do you do just stop talking at age 73. What a total waste of time.

    \

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[…] you once you seem serious about ending it – whereas a day before, they were giving you the silent treatment and gallivanting around town with another […]

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David Joel Miller November 11, 2014

Great post. Thanks for sharing this one. Best wishes. David Joel Miller counselorssoapbox.com

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Anonymous November 10, 2014

During the silent treatment–something I rarely experienced with my junior high or school friends–my typical response was to give it a week or two and then find an excuse to call him and persuade my darndest to let’s move on.I was a real UN peace negotiator. But handling disagreements in a relationship should not be like bargaining with ISIS or the Tea Party. This is not the Gaza Strip, West Bank and Jerusalem. .I live in Harlem, he lives in Mt. Vernon. We are human beings of a mature age. Not captains of troops from opposing parties.Shouldn’t life in our latter years be a little less ridden with so much guilt, tension, angst!

I would inevitably end up apologizing for wrongs I never committed. All I wanted was to make peace. After all, ours was a relationship that was meant to be were it not for the silent treatments, rage attacks, lack of empathy, and recent tendency to not follow up on commitments or at least “forget” or “deny” he ever said he was going to do what he he said.

Looking back now while savoring my new found freedom to be who I am, I am sometimes overwhelmed with a profound shame for the person I allowed myself to become– the victim of a man who did not have my best interest at heart who was so preoccupied with himself he didn’t care about the friend he had in me. So many times, in so many situations with him I found myself with both my panties and self esteem on the floor. No, it did not kill me. I learned a lot in the process of experienc=ing this kind of emotional pain inflicted by someone I thought loved me and who I loved and tried to be patient with. But boy, does it hurt.

Bless all of you at whatever stage you are in.

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Anonymous November 7, 2014

Gratitude to all of you for being part of this community. Today I googled compassion for the narcissist. I wanted to fnow if it is possible and advised. I found a wonderful blog that helped me understand that now only is it possible but that those of us fortunate not to be cursed with this perverse personality- disroder -must have compassion for these people who know not who they are and in turn create a kind of hell for those in their lives who do. Compassion doesn’t mean that we have to let them in our bedrooms–or even through the front door. (They certainly should not be allowed to use our bathrooms.) Stay away from them–as far away as you can. They will confuse the hell of your But you can share your compassion with them. To lose your sense of empathy for other people — especially those in pain–is to become ONE OF THEM.

MY more painful discovery is that my first toxic relationship was with my mother and my father. The more I learn about the narcissitts in my lives the more I am directed back to my days as a “victim in waiting,” MY father left when I was two, never to return in my life until 17 years later. I am still wrestling with that insecurity that comes when a girl is abandoned by her daddy. No child support. No birthday cards. Nothing, As a result, the single mother who raised me — she was neglected in growing up– was my toxic Mommy. How different things might have been if she respected me as a small human instead of someone to be envied and emotionally abused–the victim of her rage, bouts of hysteria, crying spells.

Compassion, I am 65 and she is 90. I can honestly say that she–unlike the N boyfriend , has mellowed with age. Become truly empathetic. i guess I can forgive her. We have gone the no contact route. It is not needed now. I wish that all of us could have become healthier at a much younger age….

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reinventing the wheeler November 6, 2014

Sooooo glad I read this, thank you!!!!

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Marie November 3, 2014

I’m at a complete loss how to move forward, decades of research, therapists who do not seem to understand how severe this is on many levels. Any success in my life undermined, ignored or shamed. My Dad tells me I see things wrong. Being excluded from my sibling’s events, its MY fault they say for creating chaos. I ask what I did but no answer. Years I asked they forgive whatever it was.
My youngest sister married someone who emotionally abused her. She blamed me and the whole family shamed me for not protecting her. Things so subtle yet insane. Cut ties after the attacks through third parties with them upset my husband and I adopted three special needs children after raising our three bio children. Death threats from my sister’s soon ex during their divorce yet no one heard how wrong it was for any family. I never asked for special anything, just to have the same. I turned to our Parish Priests who are good friends of my parents but only got silence. I phoned my parents friends who knew us very well yet they turned their back. It was too outrageous. I had to be the one unstable. They could not see what our truth was. Mom had such anger spells, no one wanted to cross her.
My Dad told me I had to just love my siblings like he had to his being the scapegoat in his own family. He was ashamed I would ask for things to be “my way”. My sister would arrive acting as if I was invisible yet she was the center of everyone else. We quietly would say our good byes and leave. We were accused of storming out. Friends we loved and supported over 30 years now turning us out of their life with my sister in law giving tainted information with her own jealous undertones. Mind games and emotional abuse slowly eating at our children who hurt deeply and now distance themselves from me. I did not protect them? I have struggled to understand why my husband would not “protect” me when someone attacked me. He stood silent when my sister and her sociopath husband screamed at me in front of the family how I was an unfit mother. The little baby girl we adopted from Korea they insisted carried SARs and bringing her to visit was going to KILL our parents. Facts never mattered. International adoption specialists cleared her, the Pediatrician too, she was HEALTHY. SARs was in China. More insane over the years.
But now my health is failing. I struggled to heal any co dependence. I focused on NOT passing these patterns on to my children. Relatives I loved and trusted now pulling away and now excluding me too. Somehow this insane personality disorder undermines and steals all I once had and loved. Two years ago they accused me of things that could have sent me to prison, my husband to jail and lose his pension for life. My fault they said. I sent an email to my Dad begging him to love his children enough to get all of us help as a family. My sister so broken she has to project her rage on me. She was MARRIED to an abusive criminal. FACTS. My sister convinced the entire family I was saying SHE had a criminal record and I must know something. Something only my police husband shared wrongly with me. NEVER! I lived all of it. Hiding my children in a closet knowing my brother in law was “on his way with a gun” according to my Dad, go get your sister. I still went knowing my life was at stake and my children but I still love them. They have serious emotional pain, personality disorders and dysfunction passed down.
I refused to give in to them, but now the extreme stress, being abandoned emotionally, shamed for being a strong loving person with advanced degrees, awesome children, a loving husband also traumatized my adrenal system so broken I now have Pheochromocytoma. A fatal condition if the tumor is not found and removed. I had surgery a few months ago in April. My parents did not come help with the young children or did anyone in my family. Knowing I might not even survive surgery no one called or sent a card of support. Our local Church where we’ve been active had no one to reach out either. I wrote asking guidance and prayers! I contacted our Pastor, the religion director, and several who had been through cancer and not one reached back. They did say they would pray. How can we find ourselves now invisible? Friends I helped during the years of their deep crisis stopped calling when I was unable to do for them. I rarely go on facebook for it hurts seeing people doing things I used to be a vital part of. What is wrong with me that it seems to be everyone in my life.
My current therapist is the first one to show us what this is yet she has not helped us find a way to stop the intense pain of isolation. She supports us in wanting to stop the old patterns. We are working intensely on our own relationship so my husband knows I am not upset with him but upset with how broken I am. For ten days now I have to be off the blood pressure med that kept it normal. I was in ER last week after days of malignant hypertension. Near stroke level high. The doctor knows I have not felt better since surgery! I’m on the second doctor and have another apt for second opinion. No openings for months. The EKG showed anterior damage to my heart!
The insanity of pushing myself my husband does not hear me when I say I am too weak to talk. I need help around the house. He tries harder but will not ask anyone saying there is no one to ask. He runs a police unit saving children from online predators. He has given so much of himself but will not ask for anything back. He finally has a therapist to just focus on his own trauma. His mother was likely a narcissist and his only sibling, his sister too. But she wants to be part of our life blaming and ignoring so we limit her.
This Wed I hope they can do the next test to see if I still have high cortisol etc levels in the blood and 24 hour urine. I asked what else could be done. He said if that is normal we just stay where we are. I hung up sobbing. I can’t survive like this. I can’t take good care of myself and children not knowing how to make this pain go away. The last two years of losing people I love and it did not make sense. Of no longer being included, but what did I do? They are afraid of my family. They know its contagious and not one will stand with me to say it HAS to stop for the sake of our little people. The next generation must be raised with uncontiional love. The people need our love and support, not silence or rage. No one wants to see the truth of it so they banish me so I will be silent. I’m studying psychoneuroimmunology in how the body and brain work together. I work intensely with our three trauma affected children and their therapist is amazed at how I can LOVE so completely, be so patient and help them heal when I was given this myself. To be 54 and realize I am not loved. I was raised to be quiet and keep mother happy. If my sibling wanted something of mine they got it. Now that I stepped out of the dysfunction the war is at me.
Tomorrow Mom will have knee surgery. I am told I am not allowed at the hospital. I’ve been a nurse over 30 years. I have over two decades of experience in bones, knee surgery and home care. My siblings cannot tolerate me doing anything for our parents and hearing our parents enjoyed it. They cannot tolerate crossing paths with me saying I cause them too much stress and that is wrong for Mom. I massaged my Dad’s feet and back, helped Mom with everything she asked. None of them do that but now I am the bad guy divorced from the family. Then it really hits. I had no family. I’ve lost what I thought would be. Growing up with large family gatherings and lots of fun. I cooked and had games for the children. Now I’m outside in the cold looking in the window at the holiday I no longer get to be part of. Our older children have pulled away due to the pain and do things with their spouses. The emptiness is vast. Our adopted children do not know where Grandpa and Grandma went. I do my best to create our own family fun but memories hurt. Two years they had cousins, Grandparents and FUN. An adopted child knows what it feels like to be rejected. Now I “let” it happen to them again.
Almost daily I see at least one of mine struggle with the traumatic rage. I put my entire focus on their world helping them move through the pain. My son in 1st grade comes home tired and hungry. Something triggers him and its nearly an hour of him raging, kicking me and clawing at my neck. He is not in his logical mind but the layers of trauma seep to the surface. Guiding him through his spell we are both exhausted but then he is ready for me to hold him close, rocking him while he drinks his milk. Much of this would scare most, but I know it must come out now or it will be toxic.
This is too long but I had to vent. I know there are no real answers and some might take this and turn it back on me as if I created it. I’m just trying to show how hard it is to stop this pattern around us and how serious it can be when no one wants to help you face it! Logic does not hold here. How can so many turn a blind eye? I did have medical POA and still my parents refused to join us for family therapy. My Mom sees someone for years. I contacted the office asking to send the doctor information begging he help my parents or if that was possible. His secretary only scolds me saying he only treats a person, not a family. He gives my mother adhd medication so she is happy. She gets what she wants.
if you have any suggestions or guidance if this was your daughter…I feel like an emotional orphan. Years I’ve worked on my broken inner child but feel like only more broken seeing how everything I love is attacked. I punish people so they don’t want me, but its my extended family doing this to get back at me for not playing their game. Even if it kills me.
M in Cleves

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myplace2spu October 29, 2014

Reblogged this on myplace2spu and commented:
This hits home in soooo many ways. O.K. I know too many “o”‘s but truly every word.
Thank you for posting this this information, it is truly priceless!

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True_Worshipper October 28, 2014

This post was so amazing and enlightening to me.Words cannot express what this post opened my eyes to. I’m thankful for it, and can’t wait to read more…Bless you!

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    Kim Saeed October 28, 2014

    Thank you for stopping by and leaving such inspirational words…I hope you are encouraged to make any changes that might be necessary to embark on your journey to happiness…Hugs <3

    Reply
songtothesirens October 28, 2014

Reblogged this on A Bipolar Journey Through The Rabbit Hole and commented:
This article makes my childhood and many of my subsequent relationships make sense….

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    Kim Saeed October 28, 2014

    Thank you for the reblog, STTS…it’s truly and sincerely appreciated. I’m very glad to know my article helped you make sense of things that may have seemed insensible at the time.

    Reply
Dr. Nicholas Jenner October 28, 2014

Reblogged this on Dr Nicholas Jenner PsyD MA and commented:
Narcissists use this fear to keep you in a perpetual cycle of anxiety, causing you to crave their return when they give you the Silent Treatment, knowing they can do whatever they please and you will take them back with little opposition. You might verbalize your dislike of their choice and explain how hurtful it is, but take away words and the fact is that they insert themselves back into your life with barely a hitch.

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bethbyrnes October 28, 2014

Well, as usual, Kim, you hit the nail on the head.

My last and most important narcissist was verbally abusive and belittling, and then would disappear or just leave me behind.

That played into fears I apparently established in early childhood when my father, whose mother was a cold and abusive woman, would tell me that he liked a fictional little girl named Mathilda better than me because she did everything right, was everything I was not. That is the kind of thing his mother said to play him off his siblings.

I was an only child so this was devastating. And, I was a very sensitive person. Of course I was not able to realize there was no Mathilda. Also, I was a very pretty, very smart, creative little girl. He knew that and specifically tried to make me feel that I was none of those things. I was very obedient, so he tried to find things that I did that were terrible, disobedient behaviors, things like a cross look on my face. He had terrible parenting, so he was a terrible parent.

So what did I do? Sought out men who treated me exactly that way, while on the surface, especially at the beginning they seemed so different. That was when they were pursuing me. I had three relationships like that, the last one the most permanent before I finally had had enough and met my current partner.

I am going to read Growing Yourself Back Up — thanks for that link.

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    Kim Saeed October 28, 2014

    Beth,

    My heart goes out to you and the little girl who had to endure such heartbreak.

    I’m very glad to know you were finally able to break the toxic pattern of reliving your childhood trauma. I think the book will help, and I’m also going to start research on our “narrative self” to see how the beliefs we picked up during our formative years are basically the ones we carry throughout life. The subconscious mind is a curious thing.

    It’s really becoming more and more clear that healing childhood wounds and recovering from codependency are of main importance when healing from narcissistic and emotional abuse. Those two factors are why we attract those types, and also why most end up staying. I joke with my clients that it “takes a village” to help a person recover from narcissistic abuse because there are so many elements involved. So much so that many people simply don’t have the strength or willingness to embark on such a path.

    I’m glad you were able to rise above it all. For the record, I think you’re simply brilliant.

    Reply
    Anonymous November 4, 2014

    Thank you, Queen Bee. I am always trying to find higher ground in these messy situations with Narcissists boyfriends that can be so dissatisfying and ultimately humiliating. I allowed my NB and his personality disorder make me forget who I am.

    But what’s a little humiliation? After all, if it doesn’t kill you it can make you stronger. One way to salvage my self esteem out of all of this is to thank him for being the catalyst for my personal growth and development–when and if he calls again-and then resume No Contact. Presumably he will call as he left some clothes and his Ferragamo shoes at my house. But as each day goes by I miss him less and feel more accepting and loving of myself for who I am and my resilience. This realationship was the catalyst to break through my longstanding pattern of being obsessed with obnoxious men.

    Well better late coming to this transformation than never.

    Even if I never hear his badgering, belittling, whining, raging and cranky voice on the phone again — “Where are you? Why did it take you so long to answer the phone?” –I would be quite surprised to find myself calling him again. I am having much too much fun without him. I am feeling alive and vibrant again. I am enjoying life for the first time in many months. I am meeting friends for dinner. Working on the second volume of my novel. Straightening out my closets, enjoying the company of my dog.

    Again, thank you Queen Bee and tthanks to all of you for sharing this part of your lives that resonates so deeply with me. Thank you Kim for this wonderful and transformation site.

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      Joanne December 19, 2015

      Thankyou for such an accurate article.ive been married to my narc husband 13 years,in that time he used the silent treatment constantly.i found it do hard to deal with and as the years went by it got worse.the most dangerous part of it for me was when he was done snarling with me.shouting,name calling and he wanted to be friends again.
      Over the years hes broken my nose,did so many vile horrible things,the last straw for me was raping me last summer.
      I escaped him,we live in same town so its awful when i run into him or see him.
      I spent many years begging him to change and stop the ST.but it never happened.
      My memories are haunting me and im really struggling to work through my feelings.its so hard as deep down i still love him.
      I know its myself thats the issue in attracting people like him.
      My childhood was awful.and ive lost my twin sister and my brother and mum on last 10 years.i was scared of losing another loved one.But im away from him.im in counselling and trying to keep my head up.sorry for such a long post thanks again.

      Reply
Anonymous October 28, 2014

All easy to say when you are relatively young and able to start over, but it happened to me in my 70’s.

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    Anonymous November 1, 2014

    And I am 65 and just beginning to get it. May I humbly suggest that you THANKS the narcissist who made you his/HER victim for revealing that place in you that is crying out for healing? You are not at the end of the story but at the beginning of some important self- discovery. Better to learn this lesson now than at 85

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      Kim Saeed November 2, 2014

      Very accurate outlook, Someone. I am very happy for my experience, though it was painful at the time. Once we address the core issues of our pain, we can experience joy and fulfillment at any age <3

      Reply
      Anonymous November 2, 2014

      And learning it at 85 is better than waiting until you are 95. About three weeks ago I was heartbroken to find myself once again the victim of a silent treatment delivered by a man who dressed beautifully, owned a wonderful art collection, a closet full of fine watches and was turning into a real Jekyll and Hyde. We broke up two years ago over his selfish behavior and temper tantrums, the belittling and hurtful behavior he blamed on me. I believed him. He too described himself as a simple person.

      Lonely and fearful that I couldn’t/wouldn’t do any better I was so grateful when he reached out again a little over a year ago. I believed that this 73 year old jerk had spent the previous 18 months engaged in reflection and self discovery was truly a changed man, realizing what he missed, the great sex, the wonderful meals that I cooked, the fantasies about plans to travel to Paris, to Jamaica–spend our later years together, combine incomes, watch old movies together, maybe start a small business together

      We talked and I laid down the rules”: no more silent treatments. We are adults. Not third graders. So there!

      I am in the second of a three week ST. It is the second or third he’s this time around. This one hit just before my birthday and as we approach the holiday season. (Thank you for showing me that this is all part of their sick MO. ” It would have been over by now if had done my usual and called him to make sure he hadn’t been run over by a sixteen wheeler and to insist/beg that he start talking.
      I haven’t call. Instead I googled:

      “What is wrong with a man who stops calling for petty reasons, lacks empathy,gets mad when you ask a question, redirects conversations to focus on HIMSELF, loves to grunt and groan when we pass a younger chippie with a big butt, finds great pleasure in venting about his money problems, his aches, his frustrations. ”

      Guess what the search turned up? Millions and zillions of pages on Narcissists. Blogs, forums, women and men of all ages sharing their stories. Experts describing the playbook followed by narcissists that are stunningly the same. It opened the door to a “type” I have wasted so much of my life on, but didn’t know had a name and was a bona fide=, non-fixable personality disorder.

      Reading these posts, the heart wrenching stories of people like myself whose vision has been blurred, self esteem has been left in tatters and spirits trampled by this confusing, abnormal, inhumane behavior has worked a miracle in my life that at 65 I can at long last appreciate. How blessed I am to discover all of you!

      But it raises the big question: what is it about me that draws or gravitates towards these kinds of characters? I am tired of reading about them. I want to learn about me–my hypersensitive, over empathetic nature. This is where I am now, trying to understand my role in this tired dance in which I have chosen to participate even through my feet ache from being constantly stepped on. Who are we: the enablers, and uber givers. How can I learn to embrace those qualities that are the traits of sensitive people like me while establishing those boundaries that filter out the chronic takers.

      All of you co-dependent men and women and experts and bloggers are helping me understand that it IS wonderful to be an empathetic giver and nurturer but it is also wonderful to NOT give away the whole house and sacrifice you own joy and pleasure for the sake of someone else.

      Self knowledge. Self-Awareness. You are never too old to grow.

      There is still a lot of work do to fully reclaim myself. So I must continue reading. While I understand that NO CONTACT is the best contact to have with these truly pathetic characters, a tiny bit of me wonders if I now start showing my independent, self loving, healthier side, will he find my new found boundaries seductive and start begging to come back. I mean if I learn to say no more will he decide to say yes. Yes, it is a cat and mouse game. Do I really want to play it?

      I think I know the answer.

      I am in trouble if I choose this route. I know that. But also know I am a teensy bit vulnerable. A person like me can’t risk being involved with non-empathetic people. Life is short. I am an only child. I need all the empathic people I can get. I appreciate your support as I try to make him out of sight and out of mind.

      I thank you all for your wisdom, your courage and for letting me be part of your community. I will keep reading and growing and learning.Thank God I am not the only one in this life long struggle that is finally leading me to some real self knowledge and self discovery.

      Reply
      QueenBee November 3, 2014

      You’re absolutely right. I learned so many things about myself that I’ve started working on. I do thank him, I’ve even told him so. He’s my catalyst for healing and growth.

      Reply
        Kim Saeed November 4, 2014

        Wonderful way to embrace your lessons and grow from them, QueenBee. I am so happy to see your comment <3

        Reply
Paul Senese October 27, 2014

Thank you for your article on fear of abandonment and silent treatment. I found it to be both information and enlightening. I am eager to learn more about the healing process and start the program.

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1smiles October 27, 2014

Kim,
I did take a period of time researching the narcissist. I just couldn’t figure out what was happening in this ‘relationship’. I went NC several months ago, relocating to a new state. I’m focusing on my own recovery. It seems to come in stages. For a while I feel like I’m doing well, then I hit a new level of emotion. It’s like peeling back an onion. Hope I reach the center of my healing soon.

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    Anonymous January 22, 2016

    I feel you and deal with the same issue. Chin up!!

    Reply
Angela October 27, 2014

Thanks again. Dead on. Silent treatment was his weapon of choice.

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emergingfromthedarknight October 27, 2014

This is the very best post, Kim. I did not fully understand at the time how the silent treatment was affecting me but everything you wrote is so true. It was a tactic of emotional manipulation and control. Growing Yourself Back up is a wonderful book. When we can realise we have regressed its easier to get in touch with the inner child and help him or her from our loving inner parent. Lots of us who are co-dependent have a critical parent and its SO important to be aware when that kicks in. The Anger Detour process by John Lee is also really helpful to understand when disproportionate anger is related to some earlier wound or trauma. Your site is just so clear and provides excellent resources for helping. Emotional abandonment when retriggered is so scary as I have experienced it. It can feel like dying. Truth is we wont die but come out the other side, its just young feelings are SO HUGE especially if the parent and others wont give us assistance to contain them. Others do abandon the traumatised co dependent, even therapists which is painful but essential to understand. When we are coming out of such a relationship we have been shattered and it takes so long for the pieces to come back together. There is a lot of anger and grief to work through and most people just don’t understand and will shame us for it, John Lee does say a therapist will not be safe unless they too have worked through earlier childhood anger and grief and aren’t just using their position to deny and project their own trauma. I believe this post is going to help a lot of people. <3

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18mitzvot October 27, 2014

It’s interesting how the human brain does not differentiate between an emotional threat and a physical threat. The panic just starts automatically. Nice post connecting The Silent Treatment to abandonment issues.

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GemGirl October 27, 2014

Kim, this is so well-written and describes exactly what I know to be true!

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