I visited a very good friend of mine yesterday. Like me, her mother was a narcissist. A much more malignant narcissist than mine. While we were talking, she mentioned that her mother never gave her the silent treatment. In fact, instead she would fake illness brought on by the stress my friend caused by either disagreeing with her or disobeying her.
I told her what she was missing out on! The silent treatment can be a wonderful thing! It gives you a break from your narcissistic mother’s drama, cruelty, mind games & more. At first, it may not feel good, but after a while, it really feels like a gift from God. Yes, that sounds awful, I know, but it’s the truth!
Many daughters of narcissistic mothers have faced the silent treatment at some point. As young children, it can be devastating! It certainly was for me. I couldn’t understand why my mother wouldn’t speak to me. I would try anything to gain her attention. I even asked what was wrong, & was met with among the most ridiculous responses ever: “If you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you.” At first this made me try harder, but I quickly realized that was why she said it, & stopped trying so hard.
As I grew older, I learned some more things about the silent treatment, & I’d like to share them with you to (hopefully!) help you.
- The silent treatment is about control. It is supposed to force you to ask, “What’s wrong?” so your narcissistic mother can tell you exactly what is wrong with you to upset her so much, she had to withdraw from you.
- The silent treatment is also to make you feel inadequate, flawed, wrong, crazy. The more messed up you believe you are, the less likely it is you’ll stand up to your narcissistic mother. You will be easier for her to control.
- The silent treatment really has nothing to do with what you did. Whatever you did was just an excuse to give you the silent treatment. Didn’t do anything? That’s fine too- narcissists aren’t above lying to get what they want.
- Normal, healthy people do NOT use the silent treatment!! Normal people get angry, & may even want a little space from you if you said or did something hurtful, but that space doesn’t last long. It’s only a little time to cool off, & not to punish you.
- The silent treatment shows the person giving it is very immature, selfish, childish.. If your narcissistic mother can’t approach you like an adult to work things out, using the silent treatment instead, she’s behaving like a spoiled rotten little child.
So how does one deal with being on the receiving end of the silent treatment??
- Keep the above list in mind. This will help you to remember that this silent treatment speaks more about your narcissistic mother’s problems than something being wrong with you. Like I said, normal, healthy people don’t use the silent treatment! They speak to the person who hurt them & work things out like mature adults.
- Never, ever ask, “What’s wrong?” If you do, you most likely will open up her narcissistic rage arsenal of weapons. “What’s wrong?” seems to translate to “Now I can really abuse her!!” in the mind of a narcissist. If your narcissistic mother won’t try to work this out, then that is her problem. How are you supposed to repair whatever you did wrong if you don’t even know what you did wrong?
- Remember, refusing to play your narcissistic mother’s games is honorable! Honoring your mother as the Bible commands doesn’t mean play into her manipulation. To truly honor someone means you want the best for them, & the best is for your mother to be a healthy person. Granted, to become mentally healthy, she has to want to become healthy- you can’t make her want that, nor can you make her healthy. However, you can gently push her in that direction by refusing to engage in her games.
- Think of this time without your narcissistic mother as a break. In all honesty, probably you aren’t getting the silent treatment because you did something bad. Probably, you dared to have your own opinion, didn’t praise your mother enough, didn’t jump through some ridiculous hoops that she wanted you to jump through. Why beat yourself up over something so stupid? Instead, just think of this silent treatment as a reprieve. Enjoy the peace & quiet for however long it lasts! Besides, most likely your mother will contact you soon anyway, as soon as she needs something from you.
- Take care of yourself. Refuse to think about “What did I do wrong?” or feel guilty. Instead, do nice things for yourself. Get a mani/pedi. Get yourself a new book you’ve been wanting. Spend a day relaxing with herbal tea & good movies.
It probably will take you some time to stop feeling guilty & to start enjoying the silent treatment. And then, you may feel somewhat guilty for enjoying it. I know I did at first. But, that doesn’t last long once you realize how peaceful your life has become!
I have realized that the last few times my mother has given me the silent treatment, it took me a while to realize it was happening! Weeks would go by, when suddenly I realized she hadn’t called me. Quite an improvement over fretting about how to get her to start speaking to me again & feeling guilty for being such a terrible daughter, don’t you think?