Behind the Facade of the Narcissist’s Silent Treatment
The other day the beautiful and insightful Kim Saeed gave me a Not Featured on Freshly Pressed award nomination. Her blog – Let Me Reach – tackles the painful experience of being in a relationship with a Narcissist and offers ways to heal and recover from it.
In her own words:
“…what matters to me most is that the people who are recovering from emotional and Narcissistic abuse are able to take something meaningful from my site, and maybe even muster the courage to leave their abuser.”
Please check out her blog, it is inspiring and informative.
For those of you who are reading this and do not have a WordPress blog, Freshly Pressed is an accolade given by WordPress to the bloggers in its community.
In their own words:
“Every day, we hand-pick eight new blog posts to highlight on the Freshly Pressed section of WordPress.com. Freshly Pressed posts can be about anything, but they all have a few things in common: they enlighten us, inspire us, entertain us, and get us talking.” – from So You Want To Be Freshly Pressed.
Please check out the posts which have been highlighted on Freshly Pressed, it’s a wonderful way of discovering blogs and finding inspiration.
In his own words:
“The idea is entirely my own, I created the award because I’m not on WordPress’ Freshly Pressed (FP) and probably 99.99% of other bloggers aren’t either. Seems some are envious that they aren’t on FP, others couldn’t care less about FP. It’s seen as an elite accolade in WordPress circles, if you’re on it, you’re at the top table, you’ve made it, you’re in the VIP, “THE” clique. Others will certainly get on their hands and knees and pay homage to you, you clever so and so. Or NOT as the case may be.”
Please check out his blog, it is humorous, intelligent and Don is a prolific photographer of wonderfully inspiring sights. He is very charismatic.
Now you may be wondering why I’m talking about this award in a post that is supposed to be about what lies behind the silent treatment which Narcissists are known to use on others.
One of the ways to bring your blog and your posts to the attention of the editors who choose which posts will be Freshly Pressed is by entering the Weekly Challenges on The Daily Post – WordPress’s own blog. This week’s Writing Challenge is The Sound of Silence.
As I was reading the brief for the challenge, wherein they give you possible ideas for your entry, I spotted this:
“Breaking the silence: is there a post you’ve been chewing on in your mind for a while, but have been nervous to publish? Break your own silence by getting it out there.” – by Erica.
Which reminded me of a post which I wrote a while ago – Being a Child of Narcissists – Breaking the Silence.
It also coincided with the post I had just published on my blog – The First Sign of Madness – which was a rewrite of one of the very first posts I wrote when I first started blogging. I’ve been reposting quite a few of my early posts recently because I am going through a period of having nothing to say. It happens. So I’m using my voice from the past when I had something to say to speak for me now, while listening to that voice wondering if I still agree with those words spoken… and if the me who once was has a message for the me who is here now.
Our own words often reveal ourselves to us and help us to understand ourselves better. Something like that.
For me the act of blogging is a continuous breaking of my silence, a deep reaching silence which has been a constant part of my life since I was born. Sometimes I love that silence, it nourishes, protects and keeps me whole. Sometimes I hate that silence, it denies my existence, suppresses, oppresses and suffocates me.
There are many different types of silence, and understanding each one is important as it helps to understand those moments filled with noise and sound. Words need a pause of silence, a space, in between them for them to be understood.
For me, understanding is the most precious treasure in the world.
And as much as I have needed to rant and rage, release my personal anger, against the Narcissists in my life, I do not want to get stuck in that anger – expressing my anger openly, publicly on my blog, was an act of releasing myself from the heavy silence of my rage and the cage it had created for me.
Expressing anger can be euphoric, especially if it releases you from silent bondage – if you keep it bottled up inside, it has nowhere to go and it stagnates, festers, toxic fumes leaking into every part of your life, silently poisoning you and those around you with secondhand fumes. The happy facade which you show to the world becomes a cork holding back an almighty volcanic eruption.
For a while I got caught up in the rush of it. But I had a sudden awakening when I realised that I was becoming righteous in my rage, an activist against all the Narcissists in the world. That frightened me.
Narcissists see monsters everywhere. Their lives are one long fight against monsters, and one long yearning search for a hero/heroin to save them from those monsters… but the heroes/heroins who they find always disappoint them, betray them, turn into monsters. One minute the Narcissist adores you, thinks you’re an angel incarnate, and the next minute they hate you and try to destroy you because you’re the devil in disguise.
They live inside a ball of fear, stuck in anger. But for Narcissists expressing their rage does not release them from it, because it is the side effect of fear, and they never face their fear, for to do so is too horrific an ordeal.
What created the fear which rules their lives and the lives of all those who interact with them?
Narcissists were NOT born evil. To believe that may be a magic formula which appeases your pain and helps you to heal, stops you from feeling sorry for the Narcissist giving you the strength to break away from their hold over you. It may be a truth which you need to hold on to for your own sake, to save yourself from drowning in the confusion a Narcissist creates. But is not what created a Narcissist.
A Narcissist is born human just like you. As a child they experienced the same abuse they inflict on others when they are an adult. What they do to others was done to them, they are passing on their wound, repeating the pattern in which they are stuck, over and over again hoping each time they do it that it will turn out differently.
“Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.” ― Narcotics Anonymous
An authority figure, who had complete control of them when they were a child, abused their position of authority and the power they had over the child and the child’s life. This authority figure consistently criticised, denigrated, and punished that child for being, existing. They gave the child an ultimatum – if you want to live, kill off your real self and become who I want you to be.
The child may have tried to fight against this for a while, but eventually they gave in to the continuous bombardment of attacks against their right to be who they were and they decided to try and become who they were told they had to be to gain the love and acceptance of the authority figure, their dictator, their hostage taker, their torturer, their keeper. They were alone, afraid, helpless and powerless, with no one to protect them or to see what was being done to them, the authority figure had complete control and dominion over them, and may have even had other adults aiding and abetting their campaign of repeated abuse.
The message which the child who became a Narcissist received was – you are flawed, a reject, disgusting, not fit to live, unloveable, useless, worthless – and this is a message they still hear, it never shuts up, never goes quiet, a Narcissist never knows real silence inside.
They internalised the constant tirade of abuse of the authority figure. This is why they hate to be alone, why they need to talk so much, the endless stream of words from a Narcissist’s mouth are designed to blot out the voice inside which berates them. When they lash out and scream at others it’s because they hear the abusive authority figure speaking to them through those others’ mouths and eyes.
It’s never about you with a Narcissist, it is always about them. It’s always about their past haunting them 24/7 in the present. A history of violence against their soul repeating itself without reprieve. Once their abusive authority figure has taken over your mouth, you become the same monster they have been fighting since they were a child, and they will never be able to see anyone else but that monster, they see it everywhere, in everyone.
This dynamic is in every relationship and interaction which they have. They are seeking redemption, escape, but every time they think they’ve found salvation… they find that they’ve been tricked and what looked like heaven is actually just a new old kind of hell.
Redemption, salvation, heaven for them is to be loved unconditionally, to be seen as perfect, special, unique, a celebrity, a star, a genius, a hero, someone the world can’t live without, the best in the entire universe and beyond. They are looking for the exact opposite of who they believe themselves deep down inside to be. It’s the antidote to their disease. Ideal love to cure the grim reality of self-hatred. A huge affirmation of their life to wash away, like Hercules and the Augean Stables, the self-annihilation which eats away at their insides. They want admiration and accolades to lift them out of hell into heaven. They are searching for Nirvana.
And for Narcissists who have a WordPress blog, Freshly Pressed is Nirvana.
They will set their sights very adamantly on being featured there. On being a Chosen One. They will obsess over it to the point where they may not be able to think of anything else. They will study the rules of Freshly Pressed very carefully, and follow them precisely.
At first they will be filled with the joys of Spring, overenthusiastic, exhilarated, high on life, inebriated by the aspiration of winning the challenge.
If they do not succeed immediately, the fear will begin to creep in. They will feel rejected and dejected. They might write a post for their blog which subtly hints at someone not appreciating their genius. But they won’t lash out at the culprit openly, not yet, they still hope to win the prize and don’t want to get on the bad side of the prize givers.
They will keep plugging away for a while, still hopeful of being noticed, of having the spotlight turn on them and acknowledge their beautiful brilliance. It will happen, it must happen, it can’t not happen…
They will study the posts which do get Freshly Pressed looking for clues, for a magic formula, for the secret ingredient which will get them noticed by the editors who make the decision about which posts are worthy of such an honour and which ones aren’t.
They will follow blogs like this one – The Return of the Modern Philosopher – which are superb and powered by winners who keep getting Freshly Pressed. Hoping that the magic which these bloggers have to get attention and be admired and lauded for their genius will rub off. Hoping to learn from these bloggers how to write the perfect post which will get them Freshly Pressed so that they can join the exclusive club.
Their dedication to studying what makes other people successful is probably one of their greatest talents. They will learn the rules with intense loyalty. Doing things exactly as they are supposed to be done, seeking to please, to gain approval, to belong. This is exhausting and requires every ounce of concentration and focus in their being, their stress levels will sky-rocket, the effort will feel as though it might kill them. But they keep at it because that’s a rule of being successful.
Each time they get rejected, the fear will take a stronger hold over them, inciting their anger. They will let of steam by taking pokes and jabs at others. They may even do a post or two about how the less talented and less deserving writers always seem to get published while the true geniuses get ignored.
It’s a conspiracy. The masses are being fooled or the masses are fooling themselves. They’ll refer to the masses as ’Sheeple’ or ‘Zombies’ or ‘Drones’ or something equally condescending and self-righteously arrogant… completely oblivious to the fact that they are insulting those who are reading, following, their blog because it’s not about you, it is about them.
It’s not about the rest of the world and other people, it is about them. They think everyone looks down on them, so they fight back by looking down on everyone. Their superiority complex is an inferiority complex desperately seeking redemption.
At some point their sense of being rejected will cause the fear to take over, and it will express itself through rage. They may lash out directly at WordPress, at Freshly Pressed, at the editors of The Daily Post (although they may avoid this one because it is too risky and they are good at assessing risk) because WordPress has now become the authority figure who abused them when they were a child (who may still be alive, still abusing them because they rarely if ever cut that person out of their life and go no contact, they’re too afraid to do that, they are also still trying to win their approval, just once… just once… once).
They may do a post on their blog claiming that Freshly Pressed is a scam, a con, a clique of snobs who think they are better than everyone else, the 1% elitist minority who make life hell for everyone else, take, take, take and never giving back anything worth having. Who needs them! They’re jealous, envious of the Narcissist and the sheer brilliance of their work, so those elitists give them the silent treatment known as ignoring them, trying to deny their existence because it threatens them.
The stress of trying to win the approval of theis new embodiment of an old enemy and monster in their life breaks their silence wide open and they will launch into a wild and unfettered tirade, free from their bondage of self-control and self-censorship, fed up with following the rules and being who everyone else wants them to be. Their tantrum will be dramatic, words exploding like fireworks over a volcanic eruption. The pyroclastic flow will obliterate everything and everyone… and once it’s over a grey, stony silence will descend over the devastation.
The Narcissist will storm out of the room (blog), slamming the door so violently behind them that the house collapses.
A while later they will recover from their outburst and realise with horror that they have exposed their wounded underbelly in all its festering and toxic gory glory. This horrifies them, cuts them to the quick of their empty core. They have lost face, the facade has dropped. If only the earth would open up and swallow them. They want to disappear. Die. Wish they’d never been born into this world of endless pain.
They will retreat into silence and hide there, hoping that no one will look for them or find them.
Then they wait. Stewing, thinking… thinking dark thoughts… dark thoughts thinking.
They consider deleting their blog, wiping themselves off the internet… the internet is a lie… it doesn’t connect you at all, it makes you feel even more disconnected from everyone else.
What’s the use of trying to connect, nobody notices them, no one sees them for who they are. People just want you to be who they want you to be for them, people just want you to write what they want to hear not what you want to say. You might as well not exist because you’re just a projection of everyone else. Projection central… that’s what you are.
Still… always thinking… thinking light thoughts… light thoughts thinking… planning, plotting.
They consider deleting their blog. They could do that and then start all over again under a new name, with a new identity, and a new concept. Something positive, something which feeds into what people really want, a trendy hot topic blog which will tap into the collective psyche of all the users of the World Wide Web. They’ll draw people in like flies. Captivate them. And they will be loved, admired, sought out, their posts will become famous, shared everywhere, Liked a million times over… if your purpose in life is to serve as projection central for others, then why not capitalise on it and become who others, the masses, want you to be.
Life is hard, many people are suffering, why not become the knight in shining armor who saves the world from the monsters of the world, from the beast that is existence!
And so the cycle begins again… the pattern resets itself to square one… history begins repeating itself again.
The silent treatment of the Narcissist… it’s not about you, it is about them.
If you have recognised yourself or anyone you know in these words… we’re all Narcissists because it is a natural phase of human development. It is normal and healthy, nothing to be afraid of or worry about, nor is it to be used to diagnose Narcissistic Personality Disorder in yourself or another.
Being Narcissistic is not the same as having Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
However the fact that we are all a little Narcissistic allows us to understand through detached empathy – feeling sorry for and pitying someone is a trap, understanding is liberating and frees you – those who do have Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which allows us to see that the pain, confusion, fear and rage they inspire within us and inflict upon us… is not about us, it is about them.
Thank you for listening.
Please share your stories and links in the comments.
Oh… and I’m not going to pass on the Not Featured On Freshly Pressed award, even though there is a rumour circulating that anyone who receives it is cursed with a jinx which causes them to shortly afterwards be featured on Freshly Pressed, however if you would like for it to be passed onto you take what you need. Don’t be shy about it and have fun with it, and pop a link to your award acceptance post in the comments here or pingback. It’s up to you. Enjoy!
If you are recovering or are in a relationship with a Narcissist and would like more information and support, please visit:
Their forum – Web of Narcissism ( WON )
For more insight into The Silent Treatment – The Appropriation of “No Contact”: When Narcissists use “No Contact” against YOU
NPD traits and behaviours – Out of the Fog/NPD
Related posts on this blog – What is the Silent Treatment