Part 1 of this series on the narcissistic silent treatment explained how the narcissist or sociopath intentionally creates chaos so that we either become immune to it or co-dependent upon it. We may not even pay much attention to it until the turmoil crosses a line or forces our hand (or both) but the fact is that the constant chaos is a narcissist’s very deliberate strategy to keep us off-balance so that the he can have his play time sight unseen.
A narcissist typically initiates a silent treatment in a manner that catches us off-guard and this is deliberate. Think about how crucial those first few days must be for the N in his plan to ignore you. It is within these first days, while you’re home-bound, confused, and waiting for a call, that he quickly sets up shop with his new source of supply for this round. The last thing he needs is you running interference so he has ensured that you don’t by making you inconsolable. After a few days have passed and he’s fairly secure in his new digs, he’ll be much better prepared to deal with the fallout from the situation with you. Don’t forget, the N knows you and how you will react to his actions better than you do!
No matter how it happens, a silent treatment feels just plain awful. I would literally feel erased….as if I never meant a single thing to the asshole ever (which, of course, I surely didn’t). Sometimes a silent treatment would last up to six weeks and longer and I’d feel absolutely consumed with getting him to break it. This was, as I now know, a futile reaction that did nothing but waste precious time in my life during that long 12-year ordeal. Although I surely felt that it was, nothing that I ever did during those silences was the deciding factor as to when he reappeared. And this is true for your situation as well. Nothing you do will matter. A narcissist does as he pleases and, if and when he returns, it will be when he’s ready and not before.
What we need to learn to do is appreciate this awful silence and use the time to do some positive work on our own battered psyche. At the very least, the N will return as he always does, right? So, why stress over it? At the very worst (or best!), he won’t return. So, work on making yourself the much better person in the meantime.
- probably haven’t the slightest idea why you are being ignored
- feel extreme anxiety not knowing how long this one will last
- will feel compelled to love-bomb him out of the silence even though he certainly doesn’t deserve anything even close to “love”
- will feel compelled to apologize for the sole purpose of apologizing even though you know damn well you did nothing to deserve anything of this nature
- are feeling completely out of place in your own environment without the usual daily bombardment of texts, phone calls, voice and emails
- can’t stand having to be alone with your own horrible thoughts: What is he doing? Who is he with? How can he just blow you off like this….as if you meant nothing???
Just like a prisoner in solitary confinement who goes crazy after months of complete silence and no human contact, so can we go crazy in our own minds and hearts when the narcissist bastard that we love says – in unspoken words – that we are about as important as the shit on his shoe. Again, the narcissist’s tactic of creating noise and chaos right before he vanishes is intended to distract you…..to divert your attention away from the fact that he’s quickly trying to hunker down somewhere else. You’ll find this tactic on page 63 in the strategy guide for the narcissist’s pathological relationship agenda (not really, but it sure sounds true, doesn’t it?).
So, how can we fix ourselves and begin to move forward? By learning to appreciate the silence. Once you do this, the rest takes care of itself, I promise. In When Love Is a Lie, I talk about the series of mental shifts that began to occur for me out of nowhere once I got a grip on the big picture and started letting go. I started to relish the silence. In Part 3 of this article series, I discuss these shifts and how they began to happen naturally when I took the time to fix me instead of worrying about him….easier said than done but entirely possible!