Bringing Down the Shutters
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.
7 thoughts on “Bringing Down the Shutters”
Boy, this one really hit home with me. I felt the distancing when it occurred. I questioned him about it.
I mused over it, mulled over it, met it with sorrow, dissatisfaction, concern, and even anger.
I once asked him “where has my lover gone?” That was in the context of a lack of intimacy.
But, he was gone. And he made up excuses like the ones suggested for this ‘absence’.
My narcissist drew up the drawbridge on a number of occasions. It’s helpful to know I wasn’t imagining things.
I can relate the part about them throwing us a lifeline to an incident where I tested the narc late which had never been an issue before and he got snappy with me and said to respect his need for rest with the emphasis always being on RESPECT. Funny how he demanded respect to the nth degree but gave none. During his smear campaign, he called me a “disrespecting c**t” and isn’t that an oxymoron? Call me a c**t but add that I’m disrespectful cuz calling someone a c**t implies so much respect. lol. Oh the things I could’ve responded with but chose the lesser of 2 evils and gave him zero fuel by responding. I’d noticed that not a single friend of his had liked or responded to that comment he made about me underneath his original ranting post. I gave a silent thanks since we do have quite a few friends in common and what came after disrespecting c**t was a complete falsehood and even though I don’t care what his loser friends think about me, there are several mutual friends whom I didn’t want to deal with behaving differently towards me should they choose to believe him. My silent thanks was for his comment about me and it falling on deaf ears.
I’m curious…. Is it normal for a victim of narcissistic abuse to also become defensive when feeling criticized? If negative reactions to criticism is one of the hallmarks of narcissism, how do you know if you’re the victim, and not the perpetrator, if you also feel the sting of criticism?
All individuals can be defensive when criticised.
A negative reaction to criticism is not one of the hallmarks of narcissism, it is actually (1) The repeated need for control and (2) The response to a perceived threat to control (which can include criticism) which is a hallmark of narcissism.
If you want to understand more about this, I recommend you access “Why Am I Behaving Like the Narcissist”, “Understanding Emotional Empathy” and “Am I The Narcissist.”
Thank you, HG.
Lately I’ve been very defensive. I recently had a very negative encounter with my sibling and it’s left me troubled. Your site has helped immensely. Thank you for the reading suggestions. I’m slowing making my way through your books to gain a better understanding of narcissism. They are very helpful and informative. Thank you for writing them.
Some narcs specialize in phony apologies, from “Sorry, I didn’t mean to cheat on you and it will never happen again” to the currently popular “That is not who I am; I will use this time to reflect on how I can become a better person.”
And then there’sthis creature:
Woman Who Praised KKK Apologizes, Vows To Never Wave Confederate Flag Again
HuffPostJune 25, 2020, 12:38 AM EDT
The Missouri woman who went viral for waving a Confederate flag, praising the Ku Klux Klan and vowing to teach hate to her grandchildren while at a Black Lives Matter protest in Branson is apologizing.
“I’m so, so sorry,” Kathy Jenkins told Ozarks First. “I mean, if it would help for me to stand with Black Lives Matter, I absolutely would do that.”
Jenkins said she does not support the KKK.
“I wasn’t saying I’m KKK or for the KKK,” she told Ozarks First. “I was mocking them because I don’t like being called a racist.”
She also said she lost her job and left Branson over the incident ― and promised to never wave a Confederate flag again.
“I didn’t understand that the Confederate flag meant hate,” she told Ozarks First. “I don’t understand the whole history of the Confederate flag, but I’m learning.”
I have to admit, I’ve seen many incarnations of the “faux apology”. The “I’m sorry, but….”, is my favorite. I ran across this one link in my reading travels. It hit home for me. You might find you’ve seen many of these too: