Some thoughts on The Silent Treatment

Lorna

I’ve always found silence a power thing. When I’m alone with it, it is a friend. When someone is using it against me, it is a weapon more damaging than anything anyone would have to register with the state.

Me

I’m with you sister. There’s the silence of being complete and then there’s … THE SILENT TREATMENT!!! Most damaging weapon known to human being. I’ve got two people in my life who’ve been engaging in it for years. I used to get upset about it, especially after I did the Landmark Forum and I got the damage I’d been inflicting on myself and others from years of doing it myself. I tried everything I could to have them give it up .. apologised, pleaded for forgiveness for whatever I’d done that didn’t work for them, kept inviting them to meet me and .. nothing. Then I got something about it last year.

I saw I’d been believing they were preventing me speaking, that they were controlling my self-expression especially my expression of love. And I got it wasn’t true. I could express myself freely, and had been. What was missing was not my self-expression, what was missing was a response that I liked. Once I got that I was able to drop it. Now I don’t engage in the game (even though it looked to me like I hadn’t been engaging in it before, I had been). I’m standing for the possibility of love and affinity between us.

Lorna

Good for you for letting go of the need to resolve it. That’s hard to do. I’ve had too many “friends” go out of my life by passively engaging silence. Just becoming ghosts unless I called them back. I kept wondering about them and would call or write. They would seem “so happy” to hear from me and make promises to get together. Then nothing until I reached out again. Communication has to go both ways for it to be communication. I finally got that and decided not to be a “stalker.” If they wanted my friendship, they knew how to find me–but they haven’t come looking for me yet! ;)

Me

Here’s my point of view. They may not be speaking but they are communicating. Whether it’s the passive type of silence or the hostile type, it’s a communication. It’s saying “I’m punishing you for x”. The person may not be clear that it’s x at the bottom of it but there’s always an x and usually it’s a tiny incident. Even if the person gets clear about x it’s usually so tiny they can feel embarrassed to raise it, embarrassed to acknowledge it’s driving them. So it’s easier to keep on punishing, to “win”, to be “right”.

Lorna

Well said. Being “right” is everything to so many people. It’s as if they wouldn’t exist without making their point loud and clear.

Me

Being “right” is the default way of being of our world. It’s Gaza, Israel, Syria …

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14 thoughts on “Some thoughts on The Silent Treatment

    • I agree that wanting the easy way is what keeps it in place. It’s just easier not to because giving it up would require giving up the “looking good/avoiding looking bad”. George Santayana said, “Fanaticism consists of redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim.”

      Since being involved with Landmark, I’ve also seen the miracle thousands of times now, when someone gives up their resentment. Biggest. Miracle. Ever.

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  1. That impenetrable silence despite all attempts to heal a wound can be disheartening, especially when you do not know what the wound is in the first place.

    The only comfort is the knowledge that you have tried. If you are religious, you might also reflect upon the silence God knows but never accepts.

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    • [God’s] love for us does not [come and go]. It is not wearied by our sins, or our indifference; and, therefore it is quite relentless in its determination that that we shall be cured of those sins, at whatever cost to us, at whatever cost to him. [CS Lewis, Mere Christianity]

      Do not despair, then, if a friend does not forgive.

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  2. Some people are easier at dropping the ice curtain. It’s how they cut their losses. For others of us it’s baffling and inscrutable. The exit is understood. The silence not so much. I’ll reread this. I’ve been counting on the ‘fading (in me) process’ to address this very concern.

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    • My view is that fading doesn’t carry the day, that it’s always there until it gets completed on. I understand this through my training with Landmark and also at the Vipassana retreat I did. During 13 hour days of meditating, I discovered that every uncompleted hurt I’d ever experienced is still there, stored in the cells of my body.

      The “ice curtain” makes me smile.

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  3. As always, thought provoking, Narelle.
    For me, when I’ve been silent, it was needed. I’m good at dropping the “Ice Curtain.” …
    but when I have, especially after Kay, it’s because I no longer wanted those particular people in my life.

    xxx LOVE from MN.

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    • Got it, Kimmy. Grief reorders the world, especially after what happened with Kay.

      I get we all end relationships when they no longer work. What I’m standing for is communicating about it. The not communicating, the withholding, is poison and it’s most poisonous to the person withholding. Withhold one thing and one lops off that part of life, then something else happens that seems similar and one lops off that part, and so on and so on until one’s living on a tiny, tiny piece of land with enemies all around. Every tiny withholding is a loss of freedom and power.

      LOVE from MLB xxx

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