I read with interest your post about the silent treatment as a response to conflict and thought it might be worth offering an alternative view that sometimes this is the only option (The Silent Treatment: One woman was ostracized by her husband for 40 years, December 12) . I’m not sure that framing all people who stop talking to blood relatives as shut-ins is necessarily right or helpful.
I haven’t spoken to my biological brother for the past 15 years. The basis for this was his psychological and physical abuse that not only overshadowed my childhood, but continued into adulthood, long after he should have known better. It took me years of therapy to realize that I didn’t need to include this person in my life and I made the decision to cut ties. Although our mother asked me to reconcile, I have made it clear that reconciliation can only happen after she apologizes and acknowledges her end of threats, physical abuse, and making me a figurative and literal punching bag, even for our 20s. Until then, there can be no basis for a meaningful adult relationship.
He refuses to acknowledge what happened, as does my mother. Excuses are made, memories are twisted and questioned. When I challenged my mother to cry Why do you treat your brother worse than you treat a stranger on the street? At last I ventured to answer: that a stranger in the street would not hit me or call me hideous; that if my husband had done what my brother did, shed told me to call the police; that it is shameful for him to ask his daughter to be tolerant under such circumstances.
Refusal to participate is my last line of defense. I’m not ashamed of it.
Name and address supplied
Throughout my life, I have often been on the receiving end of the silent treatment from my mother, who in turn has taught my siblings that this is an acceptable way to handle relationships. It may be, as your article suggests, that this behavior is not unique to any particular personality type, but in my experience it has been covert narcissism that has been the driving force.
Anything that has been seen as drawing attention to myself and which in any functioning family might have been a source of celebration (showing independence, going to university, having a successful career, getting pregnant, playing a role in the local community) has been punished with extended periods of the silent treatment. My mother has covered for me several times in public, and, contrary to your somewhat sympathetic description of this behavior of criminals treating unpleasant feelings, she seems to revel in the unimaginable shame and self-reproach she has inflicted on me. feel and with which he has guided our relationship.
A lifetime of this treatment, and the very real possibility of being crushed by its physical and mental effects, has ironically caused me to be unable to contact my mother despite the fact that we live on the same street. Unlike him, I do not rejoice in this, but he has taught me well.
Name and address supplied
Eighteen years ago, my marriage broke up. My husband and I had three children together. He wanted a shared parenting arrangement. The problem was he wasn’t talking to me. Anyway.
All communication went through lawyers and the courts, who pointed out that making a shared parenting arrangement work requires a tremendous amount of cooperation and communication. Once the divorce was finalized, all communication ceased.
The article talks about the psychological damage that the silent treatment can cause; However, I found that the consequences were more damaging to our children. The arrangement changes were transferred to me through the children or not at all, that is, the children were sometimes standing outside the home when I returned from work, when my ex-husband had to be somewhere else. Sports equipment, uniforms, jackets were in the wrong house at the wrong time, making life very, very difficult every day.
For the last 18 years I have felt like a woman with children alone. My husband’s family also participated in the silent treatment. It was never my intention to raise my children alone, as if the father didn’t exist, but that’s what happened. I haven’t spoken to the father of my children in 18 years. No discussions about school, curfews, driving lessons, or whether they’re allowed to go to parties. When problems arose, I was alone. Even worse, it meant that the children were not consistent about discipline or family rules.
I agree with the article that one reason for the silent treatment may be learned behavior. My husband’s family used the silent treatment whenever relationship problems arose. His grandparents didn’t talk to each other, his sister didn’t talk to her mother. My kids have been asking this for years: why doesn’t daddy talk to you? Why doesn’t Auntie talk to Nana? It is very difficult to explain the reason for the behavior of others. All I can say to them is that keeping the lines of communication open is essential for everyone. And they learned it first hand. Now in their 20s, they still talk about the hardships they experienced.
Name and address supplied
#silent #processing #Letters
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