Silent Treatment

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Hilltop

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Silent Treatment
« on: September 22, 2020, 03:36:06 AM »
My mother appears to be a covert narcissist.  I'm the scapegoat, my sister the GC, enabling father.  I have been VLC for most of the year.  At the beginning of the year my mother would talk about my sister who has nothing to do with me and I calmly told my mother that I didn't want to talk about her.  My mother continued to talk about her every time I would visit and I told her another couple of times I didn't want to talk about her however she continued and as COVID took off I just took some time out and text only with her.  So she then mentioned my sister in text.  I have kept all her previous text, guess what no previous mention of my sister in any text, now that she wasn't seeing me I suddenly got texts mentioning my sister.  Fun times.  I ignored it.

My mothers birthday came up.  I usually just text her Happy Birthday which I did.  I realized later that it was her 70th so I organized to get together for lunch.  At the lunch both my Mom and Dad were both weird, firing off random digs.  Even my husband said they were weird and appeared standoffish.  I get that I forgot it was a milestone birthday for my mother.  I did apologize for remembering late.  The thing is she is an adult, if the birthday meant so much to her she could have contacted me and said "hey it's my 70th how about we do dinner" or dad could have organized something.  I didn't forget her birthday I just hadn't realized it was a big one.

But this is how it is, they are upset and my mother hasn't text me since the lunch.  I have text a couple of times and she has responded but apart from that crickets, it seems like the silent treatment. I know I should be glad for the breather but I'm tired.  If they are upset about something whether it is because I have seen them less or the birthday they can always talk about it but no, they stay silent and just treat me horribly the next time they see me such as all the digs at lunch which were so obvious even my husband picked up on it.

I'm wondering if anyone else has started thinking about their role in it all.  One of the digs my mother threw at me at lunch was that I had always been a difficult child and I jokingly said back to her "and you probably still see me as a difficult adult".  It's the first time I could openly say it and just acknowledge that this is how she feels.  She didn't say anything in reply and she has in the past referred to me as a difficult adult so it is what it is.  However I think I am ok with accepting that she finds me difficult, that is her opinion of me, I realize I am not going to change it.  Her opinion doesn't make it fact, it doesn't mean I am always difficult, it is just a difficult relationship.

I do wonder what is different about me taking time out earlier in the year and then her doing that now.  The only thing is I openly addressed my issues with her about my sister and she ignored me.  I get the feeling she thinks that its not her problem, she can talk about what she wants and I'll have to get over it, however I am assuming that.  With my mother she doesn't say she is upset she just gives a lot of digs, the silent treatment and you just get a general feeling that all is not well, she does not rage, she'll act all cheery but just put me down.

I guess I am starting to think to myself, the scapegoat role is their role.  I didn't assign it, I don't have to live by it.  If I don't want to see them as much because I find it unpleasant why should I feel guilty about that -  but at times I do.  Most of the time it all seems peaceful, well on the surface anyway, but the relationship just leaves me feeling deflated, its stressful.  I really don't want that as much in my life.  I feel like they are constantly judging me and my husband even mentioned to me that when I stood up at lunch my mother was just continually looking me up and down trying to judge if I had lost weight, put on weight.  It's a horrible feeling.  Yes I am overweight, yes it plays into my mothers opinion of me that I am depressed and overweight  - she has told me that in the past, that's what she thinks.  I have recently gone on a wellness challenge and am eating well and exercising.  It's a start, a month in and I'm still going strong.  I am moving into a phase where I want to concentrate on my own life, get busier with hobbies, do things I enjoy and love.  If my mother judges and compares my sister and I (again how I feel about it), I am wanting to move on from that.  Perhaps I react to conversation about my sister because I am not solely happy with my life or perhaps my mother knows how to play me.  My sister and I are individuals and our lives are so different, I simply want to move on from the role they have given me, they can play the same old dance but I want to move on from that and just be me but why is that so hard with them? Can anyone relate?

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Thru the Rain

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Re: Silent Treatment
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2020, 04:21:03 PM »
Hilltop - I can totally relate!

I'm in my mid-50s and my uPDM still wants me to hold onto my childhood scapegoat role.

It's taken me a long time and a lot of hard work to simply reject that role. She takes that as a rejection of her personally.

I've invested my time into reading here on OOTF (and some other places, but mostly here), learning from other poster's experiences and trying out baby steps in establishing an adult role in my own family.

You mention the pouting over not making her milestone birthday special. You are absolutely correct that as an adult it's her job (or her husband's job) to communicate her desires for birthday celebrations. You're not a mind reader!

And I wonder if any level of celebration would have been acceptable to her? You could have thrown the biggest party ever, only to hear her complain that you did too much. (Just projecting from my interactions with my own M.)

You mention the difficult child/difficult adult comments from your M. What does SHE mean by difficult? That you are a separate human being with thoughts and autonomy? That you have opinions of your own? That might be worth thinking through or even asking her next time she brings out that mean little jab.

And I can totally relate to the unspoken nasty "up and down" look about the weight. Someone looking from the outside may not interpret that look, but from having grown up with this woman, you KNOW what that look means.

Ask yourself if you M would give that blatant, rude, judgmental look to a friend or even a stranger. That is a level of disrespect that just makes my blood boil.

I think you are completely justified in being annoyed and angry with your M's behavior. Many of us with PD parents have been trained to ignore or stifle our anger. But anger is a normal human emotion. It's the emotional equivalent of touching a hot stove - your reaction tells you "something's not right, something is threatening me."   

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athene1399

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Re: Silent Treatment
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2020, 06:43:16 PM »
I agree with everything Thru the Rain has said. Thru the Rain makes a lot of good points.

If I reject anything M says about me she takes it as a rejection of her. Like it hurts her feelings somehow if she says "I know you like x" and I say, "actually I don't". She goes into this defensive mode. I don't know how to describe it. But it's like you said, I don't accept her reflection of me. And he judges me all the time for my feelings about things if they don't match up to how she thinks I should be feeling. I would never say to my friend "you're dumb for being upset about x". Instead I would ask her what she needs to feel better or to work through/process it. My FOO has never asked me what I need to feel better. They just judge me for feeling what they think I shouldn't. And they let me know they don't approve. It's like they can't accept I am a separate person with my own feelings. And I always feel the need to defend myself about my feelings even though they never listen. I want them to acknowledged that I am me and I am different but they don't. That's why I choose to distance myself. Sometimes it just makes me feel too crappy. Or I grey rock and don't tell them about important things in my life.

I might be getting a little off topic. But it's just so frustrating to me. They will never accept me and I guess that bothers me sometimes.


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moglow

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Re: Silent Treatment
« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2020, 07:51:01 PM »
It's been my experience that any attempt to change my mother perceived status quo is met with resentment and indignation, if not outright raging and violence. She sees my differences as a personal affront and somehow a negative reflection on her, much like y'all describe. Mine also has the unspoken expectations and can be vicious when she builds it up in her own mind. Never mind that I can't read hers and have no clue what she's so angry about - I'm supposed to somehow know!

One thing I do recommend is putting her on an information diet, so to speak. I've found that there are very few things about my life mother actually needs to know and even those are less with every year that passes. Mine is frankly not that interested in anything that isn't about her, so she doesn't push for more. She does make comments that she didn't know this or that, um no, she didn't. That's because I choose to share with people who support and celebrate, not those beat me down and drown me in negativity!

Hilltop, my best advice is to learn to be who you are, accepting yourself and changing things you don't like. We all have them - most of us just thought we had to change to suit mommie dearest. It never occurred to me until well into adulthood that maybe *she* was wrong and I'm the normal one OR that me being different from her isn't necessarily a bad thing.  I still get a lot of pushback on varying levels when I don't fit her mold, but that's okay now.
"Expectations are disappointments under construction.Ē  ~ Cap'n Spanky

Stop Stinkin' Thinkin'!

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nanotech

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Re: Silent Treatment
« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2020, 08:09:17 PM »
Mine love to do the silent treatment but I think theyíve just realised that Iím quite happy if I never see any of them again. This, they donít like!
I used to think I HAD to put myself though horrible family parties, for the sake of duty.
I choose who Iím in contact with now, and itís a handful of extended family who are not PDs.
While my BPD mum was alive, there were no end of rifts with my aunties ( bar one) and this caused estrangement from my cousins. Recently, Iíve built bridges with these cousins and itís been lovely.
Immediate FOO dislike it. They want me to be disdainful of them, like before. They want to gossip and denigrate them and their life choices. I donít want to do that. Iíve also rejected their imposed role of scapegoat.
No thanks!
Iíve secured another role- The Invisible Man ( woman!)
Iíve got hubby on side these days too, God love him. It took awhile because heís very big hearted and a people pleaser too. They were too cunning to drop their mask for a long time. 
He sees it now too. The rudeness, the digs, the put-  downs. The invalidation. As soon as he saw it, they noticed. Then he began to be dragged into the whole sorry process, starting with a great big discard.
The first boundary I put up was saying no to discussing my Unpdsisterís behaviour, with NPDdad. I wouldnít discuss her over the phone. Iíd  read up about enmeshment and triangulation. So my dad tried it face to face, in a restaurant of all places.
I said that I wasnít going to discuss her.  My dad tried to appeal to my husband, along the lines of Ď control your womaní.  :unsure: :sadno:
Hubs just laughed, supported my corner and cracked a joke. They hate it when someone jokes about their supply being turned off!
Iím so glad you are getting away from them. No more horrific meals! Just donít attend. Thereís always a reason. No need to JADE. You have other plans.
« Last Edit: September 22, 2020, 08:20:02 PM by nanotech »

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Hilltop

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Re: Silent Treatment
« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2020, 09:45:53 PM »
Thru the rain - thanks I plan on doing more reading.  The look up and down is really uncomfortable and you are right she would never do that to anyone else.

Athene1399 - I understand the feeling of needing to defend yourself, I feel that too but its one of the things I want to change.

Moglow - I definitely need to curb the information flow.  I do to a certain extent.  My FIL had been in hospital and my MIL was constantly getting into trouble by the nurses for doing the wrong thing eg giving FIL too much water which was making his heart struggle.  I had made a comment to my parents about it as I was so frustrated that she was doing things which were making him worse.  Well at the lunch they asked about my FIL. Then my father says something about how much my MIL was carrying on and acting the way she was.  I was flabbergasted.  I mean its something DH and I had spoken about but its probably not right of me to have mentioned it to my parents and here Dad was letting my husband know what had been said by me, its like he was trying to cause trouble as he sort of laughed uncomfortably as he said it.  At that point I just knew I couldn't tell them anything.  It was a side of them I hadn't seen before, in their anger over who knows what they were trying to stir up trouble for me, put me in a bad light with DH. 

My mother has also forwarded my texts to other people, I know because she has sent them to me by accident with a message to the other person saying that this is what I had sent, nothing private but still its not appropriate.  I do remember when I had stopped seeing them as much she text me what was wrong, I replied nothing.  I had spoken about not talking about my sister and my mother wouldn't talk about it.  However she had no problem texting about it,  I have no doubt those messages would have been forwarded.  Its been an eye opener and I realize how much in the past was probably sent on or spoken about behind my back.  Ugh.

I agree its time to work out who I am and want to be aside from what they tell me.  So much of what I have believed about myself really comes from them.

Nanotech - I love the Invisible Man/Woman.  Great role.  My mother is also estranged from her sister and I have tried to keep in contact with my cousins but that side of the family is drama prone.  It's annoying.  My mother restricted our access to the paternal side and I have no idea where they are now.  I do think I will keep restricting visits, its more pleasant than going and feeling awful after.

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Lisa

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Re: Silent Treatment
« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2020, 05:46:37 PM »
Hilltop,
I too have been getting the silent treatment.  I declined her request for a visit twice back in April/May due to COVID and she hasn't called me once since.  The only texts I get are either a picture of her food or a new purchase (with no words incl in message) OR I get a message demanding to know what is wrong, why I am not talking to her and demanding a visit.  Like you said, I am trying to enjoy the silence but it has brought up a lot of feelings.
I also have similar experiences in being told what I like or don't like, what physical ailments I have (that aren't true) and how I feel about things. Usually it's in the form of "we have upset stomachs" "we can't stand up for ourselves" "that's just what we are like" etc... She gets very upset when I disagree with her version of who I am.
The view of who I am is also fixed, so what I liked as a teenager is still supposed to be important to me in my mid 30's, I am mocked when I say otherwise.
A small example would be that in high school I would have said my favourite flower is a sunflower.  So as a wedding present (when I was 32) my Mom gave me a blanket with sunflowers on it.  Of course I heard through my siblings that Mom had been ranting to them because I was not enthusiastic enough about the gift and apparently it's "special meaning"?
Simple things like taking up a new hobby, eating a new type of food, styling my hair differently are all greeted as atrocities. 

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Hilltop

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Re: Silent Treatment
« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2020, 12:51:27 AM »
Needingsupport - I get that as well, the text message asking what is wrong.  I have worked out that my mom won't talk about things in person, she really isn't interested.  She only wants to know if something is bothering me and will only ask by text and then the times I have told her, she will just end the conversation and not talk about it.  I also tried texting if you want to talk come over for a coffee, nope no good, she ignored that as well. Now I just reply and say everything is fine.

I think in part if it's written down my mother can forward the text or show other people to prove she is the victim and I am the nasty one. I have caught her more than once forwarding my texts.

I think the view of how she sees me is also fixed.  Its weird. I remember telling her I was seeing a friend and she actually asked me how I met the person, if it was my friend or my DH's friend.  I think in her head she believes I don't have any friends as she finds me difficult so others must as well.  I couldn't believe she was trying to ensure that her opinion about me was right and that it wasn't actually my friend.  I have seen this happen a few times where I have mentioned things and she is visibly uncomfortable as to her someone who is depressed with no friends wouldn't do that, so she seems confused that I am doing it and is doesn't correspond with the image of me in her head.

I now keep my life more private as she has on occasion tried to interfere in my relationships.  Most recently she tried telling me my cousins birthday was 3 weeks earlier than I said it was, so she tried to get me to send a birthday message on the wrong day whilst she sends one on the correct day.  Such small things but nutty. 

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Thru the Rain

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Re: Silent Treatment
« Reply #8 on: September 24, 2020, 01:58:50 AM »
I remember telling her I was seeing a friend and she actually asked me how I met the person, if it was my friend or my DH's friend.  I think in her head she believes I don't have any friends as she finds me difficult so others must as well.

My M does this same thing. I refuse to discuss or introduce friends to her since some really ugly incidents in my childhood, so she imagines I don't have any friends. And she really doesn't have friends herself cause she's toxic!

She happened to notice nice things that my friends have posted on social media. It's clear these are real people who I really interact with, and she wanted to know "how did you meet those people anyway?" Paraphrased, but pretty close. In a tone of complete bafflement. She was stunned that 1) I have friends and 2) she's never met any of them.

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nanotech

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Re: Silent Treatment
« Reply #9 on: September 24, 2020, 06:54:43 AM »
Yes they expect us to stay in role. Preferably one where they can look down on us and feel superior, whilst we serve them endlessly.
Iíve detached from them. Sad and painful at first, because you have to give up that hope that it will change and they will turn into loving family.

UNPDsister used to call me every day and speak for at least an hour about her emotional problems.
 I would drop everything for her calls. I would advise her best I could.
 Once, I had my best friend from school staying with me for the weekend. I hadnít seen her for years.
Sister found out about it, and rang constantly.
That weekend I stupidly gave up A LOT time with her to talk to my sister who I see now, used emotional blackmail to keep me on the phone. That was precious time with a friend sacrificed.  :sadno:
Sister and mum persuaded me to intervene on something ( they thought)  niece was doing, that they didnít like.
It was apparently making my sister feel suicidal.  :stars:
I nobly obliged.  :doh: I didnít know anything then about flying monkeys and triangulation.

Then, sister didnít speak to me for four months. She told mum Iíd upset her daughter. BPDmum  told me this,  and laughed.
I said to my mum, Ď Is she still speaking to YOU?
ĎOh yes!í 
It was sister who had laid on the emotional anguish, then mum who rang me and  suggested Ď someoneí should speak to niece.
I stupidly obliged.
 They got what they wanted. Which was an invitation for sister to be included in a family meal with my niece and her ex -husband. 
I got four months in the cold. :unsure:

Mum made no appeal to sister on my behalf,  re the silent treatment. Sister had no idea she had played a part, and mum wanted it kept that way.
It would have been longer,m I think,  but mum wanted us all Ďspeakingí again for an upcoming family party,  so she then told sister to drop it.
 For her sake.   
I only see all this now. 

You couldnít make this stuff up.

A few years ago I happened upon the term Ďnarcissistic familyĎ online. OMG what a revelation!
So.........
I began to say a big fat NO when she repeatedly twisted my arm up my back wanting me to tell this or that family member  this or that, using emotional blackmail in despicable ways. Guess what- she stopped ringing me.
Cold, cold turkey!
There were other times when the same pattern of events would occur. I came Out of the FOG after the last one, which was truly horrendous.
Iíve been out for nine years.

I havenít even got her phone number now.

Iíd absolutely love to have a sister who would ring me just to see how I am, go on shopping trips with, etc. But I havenít got that kind of a sister, not with either of them.   I have to accept what is. And I do.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2020, 07:13:07 AM by nanotech »

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Hilltop

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Re: Silent Treatment
« Reply #10 on: September 24, 2020, 10:35:16 PM »
Nanotech - that is my mom, well how I feel about her anyway, when you say "where they can look down on us and feel superior".  My mother even suggested that I was jealous of her being thin, it's her competitive side.

I relate about the triangulation.  My mom was upset once when I didn't speak to her on the phone after an operation, I was still waking up from the anaesthetic however DH called her and told her all was fine.  She was upset so she rang my sister complaining saying I was refusing to talk to her.  My sister sent outraged text messages to me, telling me how dare I treat her so horribly, how dare I refuse to speak to our mother.  I did call my sister and told her that mom had lied and it wasn't how it went.  At the time I thought everything was fine with mother, she was talking to me ok.  This was all going on behind my back, she was acting one way with me and saying another to my sister.  I went NC for 2 years after that. However have since come back, LC then this year VLC.  At first everything was more normal however it has degraded again.

Thanks to all the responses, I feel so much better.  I downloaded the book "Will I ever be good enough" by Karyl McBride that was recommended on this site and so far have found it very useful.  I am going to continue with VLC, just responding to any text message she sends.  At the moment I am not sure about a complete NC, although if every interaction continues to be as bad as the last one I see that happening down the track. 

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chowder

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Re: Silent Treatment
« Reply #11 on: October 11, 2020, 11:36:05 AM »
Hilltop, I think we had the same family.

My mother could have written books and held seminars on triangulation.  She grew up doing it with her sisters.  She was a pro.

A typical example would be my parents going to my sister's house to celebrate their child's confirmation or communion.  Sister would not invite me, for reasons still unknown....though she doesn't bother with anyone else in the family, no cousins, etc.   I would not even be aware of this function at the sister's house.   Later my mother would brag about how they went, talking about how lovely the function was, etc.   Now, they knew I wasn't there.  Did it not occur to her that it would be hurtful to learn that I was left out?  Mother had a need to brag because this sibling and husband were well-off, and the material things mattered to my mother.   She was very shallow, and always wanted to impress other people.  And she also got satisfaction in driving the wedge.

Of course, anyone disagreeing with my mother got the silent treatment.  That was her form of punishment.  And then she would try to recruit others to her position.

One time my mother had a falling out with her sister.  However, I had a very nice relationship with this aunt.  I was in my twenties and living on my own.  Of course I continued the relationship with my aunt.
One day my father came to me and said, "You know, your mother is very upset that you are still in touch with your aunt while your mother is not speaking to her."   They thought I should cut my aunt off as well.

Well, my blood started to boil.  I told my dad on no uncertain terms that:
1)   My aunt had done nothing to me, and I had no intention of cutting her off.
2)   I didn't even know what the issues were between mom and aunt, and didn't care to, that was their deal
3)   If my mother had a problem with me, she should have the courage to speak to me directly about it and not put him up to it.

I never heard another word.  My mother was a coward, but acted tough while hiding behind her puppets. 

She set me up a few times, when my heart would be in the right place and I would unknowingly get sucked in.  The last and final time she did this, I told her she lost a daughter.  We never spoke again, and she died a very spiteful person.   
« Last Edit: October 11, 2020, 11:41:38 AM by chowder »