Author Stories, Mental Health

The dreaded silent treatment and what to do when they will not speak to you.

I have been through this so many times that I can’t even tell you a number. And each and every time it hurts like hell. When I was going through it I always felt like I was invisible, insignificant and not worth much. Why wasn’t he speaking to me and trying to work this out? Why does he shut down and ignore? Doesn’t he see how much this hurts and it’s making me go to places in my brain I do not want to go.

Well…

They do know. They are trying to hurt you and yes, they are trying to make you slowly go crazy. The silent treatment is a form of abuse and it’s a way for the abuser to control you.

How many times have you felt the need to apologize just to keep the peace? They flew off the handle, but you’re the one being punished. You feel like you have to apologize to make them feel better knowing damn well you did nothing wrong. I am realistic here and let’s just say you did make a little mistake you should be able to talk about it in that moment and it should be ok. Sincerely apologize and keep it moving. That’s how it should work.

When you are in a toxic relationship this could be a daily or weekly occurrence. You start to question if you really ARE the problem. What is so wrong with you that you make him so mad all the time. The answer is nothing. Every couple will fight…it’s going to happen but how you treat each other in that moment is what will make or break a relationship. Being heated and maybe saying something you shouldn’t happens. We are human, that’s normal, but saying something hurtful to your partner then shutting down and ghosting you is not.

So what is the Silent Treatment and what can you do to help your mental health while going through it.

The silent treatment is when your partner, parent, friend is hearing what you say, write, text and they purposely ignore. It’s a control tactic they put in place to make you the one that is struggling with the silence. I will talk about Gaslighting in a future post but this is a form. You are the one that is the problem and they want you to know that they are not happy. They want you to be the one groveling back and saying sorry first. To admit you messed up. To beg them for forgiveness. It’s all about having the upper hand and making your point of view and feelings pushed back and non existent.

Some woman I talk to will not think of the silent treat as abuse. They say they are not getting hit or they are not being yelled at and called names..it’s just silence. I completely understand there are levels to things. Each of us has a story for sure we could tell. But what the silent treatment actually does to your mind and body is 100% real. You may not have a bruise or a screaming partner in your face but you do actually have long term effects from it.

So what does it actually do to you while you are going through it. Well some studies have actually shown that the silent treatment triggers the brain as it would if you are being physically hurt.

A recent study at Perdue University shows that the silent treatment triggers the anterior cingulate cortex which is the same area in the brain that triggers physical pain. 1400 participants in the study also showed extreme bouts of panic/anxiety attacks, depression, erectile disfunction and unitary and bowl issues. Different levels of emotional stress could lead to more serious health risks, such as eating disorders, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, blood clots and cancer. Just because they are not laying hands on you this is STILL a form of abuse and should be taken vary seriously.

I have totally been there. When it first started happening it would consume every inch of me. If they were in the house I would talk, cry, have panic attacks and feeling so low about myself that going to a dark place was easy. I just wanted the pain to stop. I would always say I would rather have them yell and me because at least I was being seen. Sometimes I even thought that I’d rather get punched because the physical pain subsided easier than the emotional.

If they left the house or not around me I would rapid fire texts off telling them how I feel, how bad it hurts and I’m so sorry I hurt you and please forgive me and blah, blah, blah. Why the Fuck am I apologizing when they were the ones inflicting pain. I always did it though. I was desperate to be seen. To be heard. To be acknowledged, and understood.

The more he did it to me the crazier I would become. I was playing right in to what he was telling me. Your too emotional, Why are you so crazy, You are the reason why I need to leave he would say. Was I? I was crying a lot, having panic attacks, am I the cause of all this? I would tell myself awful things and start to believe I really was the problem.

So what are things you can do to power though the silent treatment and remain calm as to not damage your body and self worth.

Make sure you know for sure if it truly is the silent treatment. Some people really do need a cooling off period.Most rational and an effective form of communication would be to say ” I need a break from this but we can talk about it later” This shows that they really do care about the topic..but maybe they just need time to collect their thoughts, calm down and come back to resolve the issue TOGETHER.

Calmly state your feelings verbally or in writing. Let them know that the silent treatment is hurtful and draining. Let them know exactly how your feeling and don’t leave anything out. Make sure he knows what his silence is doing to you and how it’s effecting you mentally and physically. If you feel strong enough you can stand up and let him know you will not tolerate this behavior. Please only do this if you feel safe.

Step back and control the urge to keep talking. As much as you want to keep talking it’s best to fall back a bit. If you calmly expressed how you feel and they still did not respond then you need to let them be. Even though they are not responding they ARE seeing your messages and with every crazy text it just makes them feel more in control. They know you are hurting and that’s exactly what they wanted. If you say your peace and then stop you are not giving them the satisfaction of watching or hearing you break down.

Put your mental state first. You need to take care of you during this time. You may be crying or going crazy on the inside but please try and remember your self worth. You do not deserve this and the only person that will take care of you is you. Take a shower or bath, go for a walk, work on something you can’t do much of because of your partner. What brings you joy and a distraction? I personally take a hot shower. I allow myself to cry a little bit alone and then I try and tell myself all the things I do well. Give yourself a pep talk. You ARE worth it.

I know not everyone has the same situations. I’m fully aware the consiqences that some of these can bring. First and foremost I want you to be safe. If you really can’t express the hurt and pain it causes you then it’s best not to say anything. Meanwhile use that time to work out a plan in your head on how to get out. When I was at the worst point with my ex I would use the shower as an escape to be alone with my thoughts. I could never tell him how I felt because it would end badly but he could never take my internal thoughts away from me.

Bottom line is that the silent treatment is NEVER ok. If you have a mutual respect for each other it should be ok to talk things out opening. You should never feel like your being punished. That your words do not matter. Cooling off is fine as long as there is a time you can talk later. I know it’s so hard to process when you are left with nothing and no idea when it will end..just know you deserve better and deserve a partner that will always listen to you if it’s good or bad.

Author Edit:

Wow! After reading this again I can feel the anger and hurt I still have when I think about it, I’m 3 years removed and sometimes a trigger can set me back a little bit but it’s all about a process and everyone is different. It’s good to be open and honest with yourself about how your feeling about certain things. My truth is that this set me off a little bit. I can sense it in my writing and how I said things. I can feel the panic and pain I had during those times. Time to take a shower and have a little me time with my thoughts.

That’s all for now.

XOXO

Amy

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