Why the silent treatment?

  • 15 Replies
  • 1637 Views
*

Afterthefox

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • 156
Why the silent treatment?
« on: December 06, 2016, 02:54:09 PM »
I have recently moved abroad and married my partner. This has been planned for a couple of years which I communicated clearly to my BPD father along the way.

We reached amicable relations prior to my leaving, spent more time together than usual and enjoyed each other's company. 
He offered encouragement, wished me luck, gave me his mother's wedding band to give to my wife and then even gave a financial gift to help me settle in a new city.  As I was soon to leave, we both brought more effort to our relations than usual. It felt like a breakthrough.

After I married my partner, I sent a wedding photo to him by email and I didn't get a response. That was two months ago. I feel insulted, hurt and confused that even a simple acknowledgment of my email was beyond him and has been met with silent treatment. While I am certainly not unfamiliar to his patterns of narcissistic and emotionally abusive behavior, this feels like a low point and I am yet again dismayed by his utter lack of empathy at such a turning point in my life. Having lived abroad long-term himself, I feel that physical distance is not the reason this time.

As I have expressed in my previous posts regarding my BPD father, I feel a resentment and confusion that increases proportionately to the duration of the silent treatment. He simply drops all communication, without reason, whether he is 20mins away, or living abroad. Each time, I wonder whether it will be permanent and if I will ever see him again. This is not an overreaction as, historically, he has eliminated communication with ALL of his other family members and closest friends. Unless you are his employee or of some use to his business and your loyalty is based on that dependency, you are expendable. As his one-time employee I have witnessed him cold-heartedly break ties with his peers, his brother, his oldest friends, his ex-wives, his son from another marriage - and then attempt to gain their favour by making outrageous (and ultimately broken) propositions, financial and otherwise.

On the one hand, moving abroad has brought a feeling of liberation from this long and painful history of difficult relations with him.
On the other, I am still distracted with thoughts of resentment towards him, made worse by his silent treatment after a period of renewed relations.

I am unsure what is the healthiest way forward.
Should I reduce my expectations of him completely now that I am abroad?
Should I be the civil one who tries to keep the relationship going eg. just send a Christmas card and pretend he didn't ignore my email?
How can I work on my anger towards him and lessen the distracting thoughts of resentment?

Why the silent treatment? Deep down, I still don't get it.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2016, 03:19:54 PM by Afterthefox »
"Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone." - Alan Watts

*

practical

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • 7041
Re: Why the silent treatment?
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2016, 03:23:56 PM »
This might sound like a couple of really stupid questions, but:
- Are you sure he got your email? Some programs trash emails with attachments or it may have ended up in his spam folder, sometimes the server of the hosting company doesn't let it go through due to size (you should have gotten a notice of that theoretically). So maybe to be sure you want to sent the photo in the mail?
- Since your move, did you have any communications with your F? I'm not clear on the time line, did you move, then get married? When did the communications cease? Is there another instance where he didn't respond? Have you contacted him in any way since emailing him the wedding photo and not gotten a response?

I know there is a long history and it is  unfortunately perfectly possible that your F has put you out of his mind and life again, I would just want to make sure this is what happened, so I would it a second shot before you draw your conclusions. You could include a wedding photo with a Christmas card (keep in mind many people don't respond to Xmas cards and he might be one of them) or you could call him for the Holidays and see how it goes and ask nonchalantly whether he received your email. You would also get additional information from how he interacts with you. If he shows no interest in you, then it is up to you whether you want to let it fall apart in a kind of sad, natural way as a relationship takes two, or whether you want to carry the burden for both of you. I'm sorry this is another messy situation to wade through and try to figure out what happened.
If Im not towards myself, who is towards myself? And when Im only towards myself, what am I? And if not now, when? (Rabbi Hillel)

"I can forgive, but I cannot afford to forget." (Moglow)

*

Afterthefox

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • 156
Re: Why the silent treatment?
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2016, 03:32:50 PM »
Hi Practical,

Communications ceased as soon as I moved. I saw my father the day before I left, I got married a month after arriving and sent the email a few days after the wedding. I didn't receive a bounce back notification. I also bcc'd my father onto an email a few weeks ago to inform my family and friends of my new mobile phone number and postal address. I didn't get a response from him.

"Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone." - Alan Watts

*

VividImagination

  • Fear is not real; it is a product of the thoughts you create. Danger is very real, but fear is a choice. - After Earth
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • 7491
  • Vivid the Blunt
Re: Why the silent treatment?
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2016, 06:21:05 PM »
Many PDs have serious issues with object permanence, much like an infant. Once someone is physically not present they pretty much cease to exist for the PD. Historically does this seem to be the case for your dad?
There are three solutions to every problem: accept it, change it, or leave it. If you cannot accept it, change it. I f you cannot change it, leave it.

Sometimes you're damned if you don't and damned if you do, so damn well do what's best for you.

*

Afterthefox

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • 156
Re: Why the silent treatment?
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2016, 07:08:28 PM »
Hi VividImagination,

I would say that historically, he has created enough distance by unexpectedly abandoning me and other members of his family at regular episodes such that I have never viewed our relationship as continual or permanent to begin with.

For many years I lived a 20 minute walk away from my father's apartment and this proximity had little effect on the frequency of our contact. While he lived abroad, there was certainly less communication than when we lived in the same city, but he has been unpredictably avoidant even when living nearby.

The relationship has been most consistent when I worked for him which eventually became intolerable due to his abusive behavior. He once offered to 'install' me in a property close to his, on the prerequisite that I continue to work for him and in his words 'do exactly as I say'. He made outrageous offer after outrageous offer to keep me sufficiently 'seduced' which he always reneged on. This continued for a couple of years until I finally 'woke up' and became aware of his PD condition, created boundaries and declined to continue to work for him. Our most successful relationship in terms of 'permanence' has therefore existed within the parameters of financial control. The only loyalty he gains has to be bought - either with money or manipulation.

I feel that now I am abroad, I am beyond control and beyond manipulation. I am of no use to his reputation building, social climbing or business interests.

My leaving is probably the best solution for my health. But my decision to 'turn him down' (which as a nBPD is undoubtedly how he will view my move) is challenging me and I suppose will continue to do so as long as I hold onto the image of my father as a FATHER and not the man he truly is - an uncaring sociopath.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2016, 07:36:03 PM by Afterthefox »
"Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone." - Alan Watts

*

VividImagination

  • Fear is not real; it is a product of the thoughts you create. Danger is very real, but fear is a choice. - After Earth
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • 7491
  • Vivid the Blunt
Re: Why the silent treatment?
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2016, 07:45:08 PM »
You have ceased to be of use or be available for use, so therefore you cease to exist.

Once I separated my "mother" from the woman who gave birth to me things became much clearer and easier to deal with. Realizing that the person(s) on your birth certificate are incapable of being parents (or sometimes even humans) is a difficult pill to swallow.
There are three solutions to every problem: accept it, change it, or leave it. If you cannot accept it, change it. I f you cannot change it, leave it.

Sometimes you're damned if you don't and damned if you do, so damn well do what's best for you.

*

practical

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • 7041
Re: Why the silent treatment?
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2016, 08:48:25 PM »
Unfortunately it sounds like he is really ignoring you now that you are no longer in his orbit, don't revolve around him anymore and cannot be made too. I think it isn't just that you moved, you now also "belong" to another person, which might mean to him he cannot control you anymore even if he tried again.

My leaving is probably the best solution for my health. But my decision to 'turn him down' (which as a nBPD is undoubtedly how he will view my move) is challenging me and I suppose will continue to do so as long as I hold onto the image of my father as a FATHER and not the man he truly is - an uncaring sociopath.
This last step is really hard, once you take it you'll feel liberated wherever you are, although from my own experience I have to add moving far away helped. Letting go of that last shred of hope that he might consistently behave like a father at some point is really hard. I hope you can take that last step and find your freedom and healing. For me the breakthrough was when I could see and accept that none of it had ever been about me, it was always about F, about M, and what they needed me for, projected onto me.
If Im not towards myself, who is towards myself? And when Im only towards myself, what am I? And if not now, when? (Rabbi Hillel)

"I can forgive, but I cannot afford to forget." (Moglow)

*

Afterthefox

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • 156
Re: Why the silent treatment?
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2016, 09:49:08 PM »
Thanks Practical,

I think you are right.

Each time we have a rekindling of our relationship, as we did shortly before I left, it does unfortunately give a glimmer of hope that a civil relationship is possible. My confusion comes from his very contradictory behavior. Generosity one moment, abandonment the next. Why give his mother's ring if he is clearly uninterested in my marriage? It is this 'borderline', very nearly normal behaviour, that keeps me endlessly guessing.

I have always understood that it is all about him, his vanity and self-obsession and I learned to conduct myself around him in ways that never challenge the delusion of his 'superiority' - as there is simply no point applying reason to a completely unreasonable man. But it is the depth of his inhumanity that surprises me every time he reveals it. The realization that his gestures of empathy are superficial and that his chief motivations are vanity and greed. That there is no deeper principle than that, as much as he tries to convince there is. The realization that, as his son, my role was never destined to be anything more than a service to his egotism. And if I am not serviceable, there is no point in maintaining that relationship.

I will send a civil Christmas card, signed by myself and my partner and leave it at that.

Then I will work on - not expecting.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2016, 10:00:31 PM by Afterthefox »
"Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone." - Alan Watts

*

Tamzen

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • 76
Re: Why the silent treatment?
« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2016, 10:48:33 PM »
I am beyond control and beyond manipulation. I am of no use to his reputation building, social climbing or business interests.

Each time we have a rekindling of our relationship, as we did shortly before I left, it does unfortunately give a glimmer of hope that a civil relationship is possible. My confusion comes from his very contradictory behavior. Generosity one moment, abandonment the next. Why give his mother's ring if he is clearly uninterested in my marriage? It is this 'borderline', very nearly normal behaviour, that keeps me endlessly guessing.


Hi Afterthefox,

This all sounds chillingly familiar. I was just telling a friend of mine that my mother's behavior has turned cold to me because I've limited access and therefore, "I'm of no use to her." It's an awful feeling. And the moments when it feels almost like a good relationship make it all the worse.

I'm glad you're far away and having a life of your own -- and it sounds like a very good one!

Edit: Having thought about this more, in the case of my mother, I think she perceives my unavailability as abandonment and reacts in a way that she's going to abandon me first and harder. There's that hair trigger thing BPD people have of always looking for evidence that they're being abandoned and then reacting very harshly to it, even though it's not real.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2016, 11:48:25 PM by Tamzen »

*

Afterthefox

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • 156
Re: Why the silent treatment?
« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2016, 12:50:54 AM »
Hi Tamzen,

Thank you for your kind words.

With my nBPD father, the hope for a 'normal' relationship with boundaries is a fantasy that ultimately leaves me feeling demoralized.

If your experience is anything like mine, it is necessary for your mental health to be conscious of the fact that the nBPD chooses to employ chaos, doubt and unpredictability as tools in the art of manipulation. The irrational, hair-trigger threat of abandonment (or accusing you of the same) is a classic weapon to achieve this aim. The warped rationale of their own egotism and delusion of grandeur places them (in their minds) beyond judgment. They will never be held to account for any improper action and therefore there will never be a 'resolution' besides one that places them in a position of power over you and therefore ensures your 'use' to them. This controlling pattern of repeatedly instilling hope and doubt in their victim will continue ad infinitum until you submit and become 'of service' to their egotism or, perhaps more positively, admit defeat and retreat.

My father's basic self-worth depends on his feeling of superiority over all others and the method of power that proved so effective for his success in society depended on recruiting 'idolizers' and subjugating subordinates. In his paranoid, hyper-vigilant mind, he uses the same strategy to control the 'threat' that his offspring, wives and relatives represent. These intimates (who have been witnesses to and know the language of his power games) are potential saboteurs, any one of whom may well be an unfavorable guardian in his old age or unwanted heir to his 'legacy'.

To attempt to hold him to account for his tyrannical behaviour is to reveal myself as a traitor - an unworthy heir. To accept his behavior is to reveal that I can be subjugated and encourages further tyranny. Damned if I do, damned if I don't. The only way out of his stranglehold is to 'drop the rope' and leave the game. Something I continue to struggle with. Moving away has helped. But continuing to hope for normalcy doesn't.

Let these damaged people live dishonorably. Let that be their experience of this life and not yours.
It was the manner of living they chose, not your own.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2016, 01:09:58 AM by Afterthefox »
"Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone." - Alan Watts

*

Tamzen

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • 76
Re: Why the silent treatment?
« Reply #10 on: December 07, 2016, 01:24:48 PM »
If your experience is anything like mine, it is necessary for your mental health to be conscious of the fact that the nBPD chooses to employ chaos, doubt and unpredictability as tools in the art of manipulation.

Hi Afterthefox, the point above is something I struggle with a lot. I don't think my mother is completely conscious of what she's doing. Often she seems genuinely confused about why people move out of her life or don't include her in activities. And of course then I want to be able to fix her or do something about this but -- as to your point quoted below -- the second I even hint that she has a problem, she's furious at me.

To attempt to hold him to account for his tyrannical behaviour is to reveal myself as a traitor - an unworthy heir. To accept his behavior is to reveal that I can be subjugated and encourages further tyranny. Damned if I do, damned if I don't. The only way out of his stranglehold is to 'drop the rope' and leave the game. Something I continue to struggle with. Moving away has helped. But continuing to hope for normalcy doesn't.

I moved away from my mother when I was 17 and have always stayed hundreds of miles away except for short visits. It does help, but I'm surprised how much subjugation happens long distance. I think in part because it relies on patterns from when I was a kid.

Your point about being perceived as a traitor and unworthy heir rings very true. I mentioned in an email this summer to my mother that she might have some problems with emotional regulation -- and got a reply all about how I hadn't made anything of myself, how I never applied myself, etc. Basically all about how worthless I was. But now I have the technology of reality checking, so I looked at my life and realized I'm further ahead in two careers than she was at one at the same age. That really helped take the bitter poison out of her accusations. But it was an eye-opening reminder that I'm not going to get anywhere asking her to see a therapist or trying to hold her accountable.

Right now I just tell her I'm very busy and limit contact. I get the sense that she feels hurt and confused about this and don't know how much of that is real or how much is a manipulation. I guess in the end it doesn't matter. I'm committed not to go back to the subjugation.

*

bopper

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • 1656
Re: Why the silent treatment?
« Reply #11 on: December 07, 2016, 01:28:10 PM »
I lived abroad for 3 years and felt like I went to mars. 
I set up a local phone number via magic jack for people to call and my friend who used to call every week or two didn't call at all.  When I came back, she started calling again.
So I am not sure if it is a PD thing or not.
Just because they are incapable of loving you, doesn't mean that you are unlovable.
Anything makes the false self appear real is supply.

*

Afterthefox

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • 156
Re: Why the silent treatment?
« Reply #12 on: December 07, 2016, 02:17:00 PM »
Tamzen,

The fact that you feel obligated to 'fix' your mother is a classic sign that she is manipulating you with a victimhood mentality. She has most likely successfully received attention using this method in the past, if not for her entire life, and it has become a question of habit. She craves attention whatever way works, but does not seek an explanation as to why she needs this, or why her behaviour has such an effect on others. She does not consider it a problem that has a solution because, as a narcissist, her capacity for self-reflection is simply not there.

My nBPD father once agreed to see a psychiatrist, at the request of his now ex-partner. I was thrilled to hear that he had taken this step for the first time in his life, at the age of 70 I should add. The result was, he went to one 'session' with his GP who he incorrectly identified as a therapist. He attached to one concept from the consultation - that the doctor had labelled him a 'sex addict' - something he appeared to have no awareness of, and felt mildly proud about. He was very vocal to me about this diagnosis but dug no deeper than that. Afterwards, he said that he felt 'much better' and that 'therapy' had 'cured' him. Very shortly after he left his partner who he claimed was 'impossible to get along with'.

Appearing helpless and shifting blame is all part of a lifetime of successful manipulation. The nBPD is perfectly aware of the effect they have on others. But the effect, whether positive or negative, is simply a manifestation of their influence or power over them, not a 'valid' feeling held by another individual. It is this lack of empathy that defines their condition. The 'truthsayer' is damned for attempting to lift the lid on a pandora's box of emotional conflict. Human beings for the most part are feeling, sensitive, curious and trusting people - sitting ducks for arch manipulators who feed off of their naive longing for integration and acceptance.

My nBPD father has a veritable library of books that includes titles by the noblest minds in history but he has not learned a single thing about how to treat others fairly and how to conduct civil relationships. He has failed miserably at this his entire life. Whether this is his choice is impossible to know. But he has all the opportunity we all do to improve the situation. He simply doesn't take it. It's like trying to move a mountain.

In my view, each person has the power to choose to wake up on any given morning and live a noble life.
It is the responsibility of the 'survivor', the crusader against narcissism, not to respond to unconscious, victimhood behavior in their relationships.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2016, 02:48:17 PM by Afterthefox »
"Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone." - Alan Watts

*

35andnewlife

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • 46
Re: Why the silent treatment?
« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2016, 05:45:06 PM »
I remember when I moved 3,000 miles away I suddenly didn't exist to my parents. I rarely heard from them. They were a bit miffed that I was leaving but I wasn't really getting the silent treatment, it was more like I had become...irrelevant? Unable to meet their needs and therefore not on their radar?

So sorry for what you are going through, I know it hurts.  :bighug:

*

Tamzen

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • 76
Re: Why the silent treatment?
« Reply #14 on: December 07, 2016, 10:51:14 PM »
The fact that you feel obligated to 'fix' your mother is a classic sign that she is manipulating you with a victimhood mentality. She has most likely successfully received attention using this method in the past, if not for her entire life, and it has become a question of habit. ...

In my view, each person has the power to choose to wake up on any given morning and live a noble life.
It is the responsibility of the 'survivor', the crusader against narcissism, not to respond to unconscious, victimhood behavior in their relationships.

Hi Afterthefox, argh, no kidding! I still get hooked by the victimhood thing. Not just by her, I get sucked in by random people in my life who are less victimy than she is because I'm so used to being the fixer/protector for my victim mother. I'm working on this!

One thing I've been saying to myself that seems to help is: "It's not her fault, but it is her responsibility." I get that she became this way due to trauma in her own life, but for decades she's had the resources to work on healing herself and she doesn't do it. And then she's mystified that her life isn't working better. Meanwhile, I've got my own noble life to work on. (I love that phrase!)

Your father's visit to the GP sounds classic and extremely frustrating.


*

Fightsong

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • 703
Re: Why the silent treatment?
« Reply #15 on: December 08, 2016, 10:39:03 AM »
I'm new to this thread but have been drawn into the horrible familiarity of it. I'm resonating with the doubt and confusion, the victim vibe/ abandonment  bouncing off the irrelevance / object permenance thing. Oh so subtle, always one sided, guilt laiden with no overt hostility, oh so subtle - dancing the steps no doubt learnt in early childhood-  with a sword edge between unconscious and unconscious awareness.  So deeply wierd, so finely tuned, as hard to grasp as smoke and as real as smoke in your eye!