Bringing Down The Shutters

SHUTTERS DOWN

 

Once we commence our devaluation of one of our victims there is a vast array of manipulative techniques that can be used to fulfil our aim of extracting negative fuel from you. Some of these methods are subtle and may not be noticed by the subject, such as triangulation with an object. Others are brutal involving the smashing of property and the flailing fists and stomping boots. It is often the case that you do not realise that devaluation has commenced because you have yet to have any familiarity with this word or even with what it signifies. You will notice however a change in our behaviour. One of those changes is akin to us bringing down the shutters whenever we deal with you.

Once upon a time we exited our car and cantered across to where you stood waiting in the doorway as we wrapped our arms around you and embraced you passionately. Our face had lit up and our delight in seeing you appeared genuine enough. This happened each time we came to see you, as if we had not seen you for months on end, even though it was only the day before when we last held you. Now when we meet you there is no joyful skip towards you, the smile seems forced and there is no light in our eyes anymore. Whereas they once lit up a brilliant blue and sparkled, now they just seem lacklustre and dull, darker than usual. You try to lift our spirits in that indefatigable way of yours. You ask what is wrong and you are always met with an answer of “nothing”.

“Are you sure?” you ask, “you seem unhappy.”

“No there is nothing the matter.”

“You can tell me.”

We realise we must say something but we are pleased by your concern and the fuel that it provides.

“It’s okay. There is nothing wrong.”

“It does not seem like it. Please, tell me what is on your mind.”

Time to step it up a little and extract some further fuel.

“I said there’s nothing wrong,” I snap and pull my hand away from yours. Your face turns from concern to upset and the fuel flows.

This continues as once we used to talk for hours on the ‘phone about all manner of things and laughed and planned, now we still talk for a long time (or rather you seem to do more of the talking this time) as we draw the negative fuel from you. You try to find new topics to keep the conversation going but our responses are limited, our tone flat and then irritable as you try to remain chirpy and upbeat but the sadness and confusion is all too evident in your voice. It needs to be. We need that.

“I just don’t understand, “you protest pleasantly, “you seem so different these days.”

“Really? In what way?”

“It’s like, it is like I am dealing with someone else.”

“Well that’s nonsensical, it is me.”

“Yes I know that but you are not the same.”

“Of course I am the same, you are imagining things.”

“No I am not. You don’t seem to be into me as much as you once were.”

“I am, it is just, you know, I have a lot going on at present.”

“I understand that but it is more than that. It is like I am talking to a different person. You don’t seem to connect with me the way you used to.”

“I don’t understand what you mean.”

“How can I put it? It’s like you have made a conscious decision to distance yourself from me and you do not say the things you used to. You always used to sign off your texts with three kisses and now it is only one.”

“You are concerned about how many kisses I put on my texts?” I ask in disbelief.

“No, well yes, well it is not that. That is just a symptom of something else. It concerns me because I love you so much. It is like you have brought down the shutters and put up barriers when we are together. There is a distance between us that wasn’t once there.”

“I haven’t noticed it.” (Of course I have. I know precisely what you are talking about.)

You then spend many minutes trying to convey this sense of distance and alienation as I listen. I am not hearing the words that you say, nor do I pay attention to the explanation, I am too engaged focussing on the hurt in your voice, the frustration and the exasperation as I suck the fuel from your sentences. This technique is subtle. It is easy to implement and enables us to draw negative fuel from you without you realising what we are doing. It is often the beginning of the devaluation period when the simple cessation of the golden behaviour produces in itself a reaction which provides fuel. We do not need to shock you, we do not need to shout or yell, there is no need to lead you on a confusing and merry dance with our denials and deflections. The simple act of pulling up the drawbridge and no longer allowing you access to the wonderful part of us, illusion that it is, remains highly effective.

“I just feel like you bring the shutters down and I am dealing with somebody different. You are not the HG I know and love. You are someone else.”

Time to throw you a little lifeline to give you hope.

“I’m sorry, I think sometimes when I am under pressure I withdraw into myself. My friends have commented on it previously. It is just something that happens. I think that is what you are referring to. It doesn’t mean that I love you any less. Just last night I was staring at the chair where you usually sit wishing you were there opposite me talking to me.”

That should do it.

“There you see, that is the HG I know, back in an instant. I wish I had been sat in that chair too, I missed you so much last night.”

It really is so easy.

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26 thoughts on “Bringing Down The Shutters”

  1. Sounds so familiar, HG.
    I’m glad you’re here because it reminds me of how it was.
    And happy I’m getting over and off the emotional sea of insanity.

  2. I think that one of the reasons the narcissist ex affair partner hates me so much is that my husband ended their affair before she could do anything described in HG’s post. She was still anticipating that we were getting divorced, and then I found out about the affair and within three days, he ended it. She wasn’t done with him yet.

    Nothing like a narcissistic rage that never ends. It’s curious to me why she continues to come around and expose herself to ridicule. People notice that she stares intently at my husband, even if her current boyfriend is present, and they comment on her behavior. She doesn’t get any fuel from him, he never speaks to her even to say hello and wishes she would go away for good.

    She never will.

  3. I got this a lot.

    “Nothing”

    “I’m fine”

    “I just want to be left alone. I am happy in my darkness with my drink.”

    “Don’t worry about me”

    Me: “I feel like you don’t want me.”
    Him: *silence* or “I didn’t say that.”

    “You’re so nosey.”

    “I have a lot going on.”

    “Go to sleep.”

    “I don’t think you will be happy with me.”

  4. In my experience, there is also another benefit to the narc in the various stages of devaluation: managing down the victim’s expectations has the effect of giving the narc more freedom and control. So if you protest the diminishing frequency/quality of your interactions, whether in person, by phone or text, and they tell you “it’s nothing”, not only do they get your attention, their notion of superiority and resentment at the idea that they have to answer to you for their behavior also makes them continue to diminish the quality, so that you begin to accept it. Then they do the bare minimum that will keep you from protesting even more. They also eventually make it so unpleasant to interact with them if you do comment that you just stop bothering, but the fear and anxiety you inevitably display over what’s “really going on” is also fuel/positive reinforcement to them and it becomes a downward spiral. For me, it reached the point of pointlessness so that I just stopped protesting at all and eventually, this narc behavior is what got me to leave him – after one afternoon intended to be a romantic outing turned sour and he shouted at me that he didn’t even want to talk to me.

    1. Kelleygurl, This is what made me leave too – or rather, this is what made me not return. We were not in the FR at that point but he was trying to get me back into it. I observed the behavior you describe play out within a span of 10 days during which he tried to come over, I finally let him (it was fine but I would not sleep with him) and then he bombarded me with emails. The second he ‘switched off’ I dumped him for good. It didn’t end things because he hoovered (I hadn’t found this site and did not know what a hoover was), but that is definitely the point where I decided not to be intimately involved with him anymore.

      1. @SMH – GOSO! I’m almost at the 3-month mark! What finally made you decide that you were worth more than the crumbs you were getting?

      2. Kelleygurl,

        It wasn’t so much the crumbs (as IPSS with knowledge of an existing IPPS, I didn’t expect or want much). It was more his bizarre behavior. However, it took 6 months NC to look at it more objectivity and leave – the 10 days I described in my previous post, when the approach/avoid stuff became clear.

        I left four times over the course of our relationship, the first time only a month after I met him. But I did not know about hoovers so I kept thinking things would improve. When I left, I told him I didn’t want to be in an affair anymore. Later, after the chaos/stress of trying to be friends (following more hoovers, a wounding and his first ever silent treatment, which made me go ballistic and is when I found this site), I told him the real reason – his disordered behavior. Eventually, I told him he was a psychopath and made him come over and delete all of our correspondence in front of me. On the warpath much? Haha.

        I am at 4.5 months. We’ve gone longer NC and/or not seeing each other, and I’ve bitten his head off before, but this feels pretty final. He’s tried some lame indirect hoovers but now I know what they are. It helps that we are in different countries now. Keep at it!

        HG, you should print T-shirts with GOSO on them. You’d make a tidy sum. Imagine all the questions we would get and how far and wide your teachings would spread!

      3. @SMH: That “hoping it would get better” BS is what kept me there as long as I was. There was always a promise of “better later” and because I had invested so much already, I kept hoping that the promise would – miraculously – be kept. It never was. The emotional need to be “right”, to be vindicated for all the good I did, was so huge…. No mas. I Keep reading HG saying it’s not “if” it’s “when” the hoover will happen, and while I doubt he will anytime soon, I remembered this morning that he contacted an old GF by text TWO YEARS after they were done. Supposedly looking for “closure” from her. fortunately, that avenue of communication isn’t open to him. While I don’t have any warm fuzzy feelings for her, GOOD ON HER, because she never responded to him. I can also expect that if he ever learns where I actually AM, he’ll have one of his lieutenants drop by for some kind of – most likely unpleasant – encounter. Guard up, GOSO, NO Contact, forever and ever Amen.

      4. KelleyGurl116,

        Throwing good money after bad, as they say. Right? If I only love him enough and in the exact right way – a tweak here, a tweak there – it will be okay!

        I couldn’t figure out what was so difficult about actually having the affair he persuaded me into. I told him he would change his mind (didn’t), he would take his guilt (zero) out on me, that I already had bad anxiety from his previous treatment (yup), it would be a train wreck (yup) – forewarned goes both ways.

        Funny you should mention hoovers because I’ve suddenly had three FB and one LinkedIn thing happen, and autumn is the beginning of hoover season for him (I predicted it would start up again in September) because that’s when I travel, my work lets up, and his 3 week summer holiday ends so he starts to miss/resent/be jealous of me. I also just met someone I really like. Not the best circumstances so I don’t think it will go beyond friendship but MRN can probably sense it so everyone should be rooting for me!!

        Anyway, since it looks like MRN is getting bored with IPPS or whatever thing he is playing with, I’d better get my defenses way, way up. GOSO R Us!

      5. @SMH – GOSO you! GOSO you! You can do it. Keep your emotional thinking in check and your logic-meter on HIGH! Funny how things are cyclical….
        I heard through a third party that MRNarc was toying with a person from his past that “was underage, but now is not”. I laughed out loud! One of my insecurities was that I’m 15 years older than he is, and his lack of intimate attention (or any attention for that matter) underscored my own feelings of unattractiveness – hence the “underage” bit. It’s entirely a fiction and was a dig aimed at eroding what little self esteem I had left when I ghosted. Too bad he doesn’t know how hard I’ve been working on self-care and self-love, he might have saved himself the effort!
        Interesting that you mention LinkedIn – i don’t even know if he’s on there, but now I’ll check and block him there too. Thanks for the heads up! Stay strong!

      6. Aww KelleyGurl,

        Sorry to hear that. I am also older than mine, though not by much. I often wondered why he didn’t look for some young thing but he is not a somatic. Maybe yours is?

        My MRN never criticized my appearance (and rarely anything else) or tried to tear me down. But it cuts both ways. He once said ‘I don’t think any man could resist you,’ as if I were some evil seductress. I couldn’t even ask how his day was going without him getting a boner. I would laugh but really I was just a bunch of body parts to him. Objectifying happens even if they can’t keep their hands off of you. They will find whatever insecurities are there and if they cannot find any, they will make them. How else would they get fuel?

        I didn’t lose my self-esteem but I did lose my ‘self.’

      7. No, he wasn’t much of a somatic – just totally uninterested. Mid-range Victim-Guru narc. HG’s article “10 Rejections of Intimacy” explained a lot. He didn’t comment one way or another on my appearance, good or bad, except to say on maybe a half-dozen occasions over two years “I like your dress.” You can have it if you like it so much, but I don’t think it will do anything for your legs!
        I’m finding myself again and there are pieces that are taking longer than others. I’ll get there – I hope we all do.

      8. KelleyGurl,

        I’ve read that about some mid-rangers- especially the cerebral types. I think mine was that type and I always interpreted the shelving as withholding sex, whether it was meant that way or not. Even though he was most relaxed in bed, there were signs that he had psychological problems with sex. Sounds like yours did too! I always saw it as his problem and not mine. I think he really wanted me to try to seduce him so he could reject me (fuel) but I wouldn’t give him that satisfaction. I would wait until he was all in.

        I am glad you are finding yourself again!

  5. OMG, I know this so well… first I didn’t know what is going on…
    But now it is getting more and more clear with every day.

  6. I’ve got one for ya’ll if anyone feels like translating….hey I know Doc HQ is back and she used to always translate stuff for me as only she can. LOL. Anyway I experienced the above situation described a few time and here are some of the explanatives that I heard.

    Me: Why do you push me away? Ignore me for weeks? Ghost me and disappear?
    Him: I do it….because of you.
    Me: Because of me? Why? What did I do? Why can’t you just tell me whatever is that I did (since I have no clue what I did) rather than ignore me?
    Him: It’s just….it’s you. You are too intense! On a scale from 1-10 you will be at a 7 and then you go to a 50! It is too much for me. When I open up to you and allow more to happen it is too much for me. You get too intense.
    Me: Again, okay. But why can’t you just tell me you need space? Why not just say that?
    Him: Well when I feel like that it gets very ugly and that is an ugliness that I do not want you to see. Trust me, you do NOT want to see it.
    Me: Well maybe I SHOULD see it!
    Him: And how do you expect for me to do that?

    1. Fuel on the Shelf,

      Yes! I got this too. But instead of “intense”, he would use the word “aggressive”. You’re so aggressive.

      He had an apartment he moved into that he said was his sister’s. When I finally found out it was his apartment (15 min from my house), I asked “Why didn’t you tell me this was your apartment and you moved? We could have spent so much more time together?” Answer from him: “Because you are so aggressive. You would have been coming over all the time and I need space after work to relax.”

      Yeah, I found out he was sleeping with other women. I was too blind to see. It should have been obvious.

      He also used to tell me he “had to go” when we spoke on the phone. He did it a lot when I was bringing up things that hurt me or he was tired and didn’t want to talk.

      He would say if he kept talking to me, that he would say really ugly things and it would hurt my feelings. He made it seem like the safer thing to do was just give him space. I never understood why it was so hard to control saying really awful things to someone. Why did he feel the need to say mean things?

      I always told him, “you are not the only one who gets irritated.” I get annoyed and frustrated with people (and him), but I control how I react. I step outside of myself and try to mediate, understand, discuss. He called every discussion an argument (fight).

      Disagreements are healthy. Arguments are healthy. You are not going to agree with somone 100% of the time. The way you handle disagreements is a sign of character. Respectful and productive “arguments” help both parties understand each other’s point of view. You learn things, you compromise, you appreciate the civil discourse.

  7. I have known many narcissists well enough to have been cycled by them, but only once was I the IPPS. During our short (3 month) relationship we went on one romantic getaway. I booked the room overlooking the water and we were both looking forward to sharing a hotel room. We went out on the town and got drinks and saw a show and I came back to the room and put on something frilly and crawled into bed with him. He sat there, watched late night TV for a while, then rolled over and went to sleep, not even touching me. I was horrified. I went and slept elsewhere in the large hotel room, which further infuriated him. At the time that blew my mind but it was only a small taste of what was to come. Of course when I’d bring this up he’d reassure me that he was thinking “romantic thoughts” about me the whole time; there was nothing to worry about. It’s all so familiar.

  8. These dialogues are of supreme interest in that they fully align truth with what we are experiencing. H.G., if I may ask, when in life does your kind learn these techniques or begin to realize their manipulative prowess and machinations as you put it? Was there a time when you realized for yourself? I just find it quite interesting that narcissists all innately employ the same tactics….as if you were all connected to a source of understanding and knowledge of them..(the devil perhaps)…what is the likelihood that an exponential number of individuals could hone and display such calculated traits in a similar manner…..without one having known the other? Or is it learned from another narcissist during developmental years….? Please keep the dialogues pouring in like positive fuel.

    1. 1. For the majority of narcissists they are instinctive rather than consciously learned.
      2. Yes, I realised with regard to some.
      3. No, you are looking at it the wrong way around. Narcissists do not decide to operate in a similar way but it is because we act that way we are narcissists.

  9. Me: ‘you seem like two different people.’
    MRN: ‘people do say that about me.’
    Me: ‘you are paying for my fucking therapy.’
    MRN: dead silence.
    Was that the end? Of course not!

    1. Oh yes… By the way, someone suggested in a previous post that Mr. Tudor should have his own Knowing the Narcissist Karaoke (re James Corden). His line in this post – ‘Time to throw you a little lifeline to give you hope’ – reminded me of an old Simply Red song ‘Fairground’ and its chorus: ‘And I love the thought of coming home to you / Even if I know we can’t make / Yes I love the thought of giving hope to you / Just a little ray of light shining through.’ Creepy as hell! And yet I still like the song with its upbeat Brazilian vibes.

      1. Sorry, I missed a word in the Simply Red song, it should be ‘Even if I know we can’t make it’. (Not a big deal but want to have it right…)

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