Saying Nothing To Tell You Everything


The Silent Treatment. One of our most potent methods of manipulation. Whether it is a present silent treatment where we talk to everyone else around you but not you or whether it is an absent silent treatment where we disappear and cannot be found or contacted, we know that this is highly effective.

It does not matter if the silence lasts for ten minutes or ten days the impact on you is considerable and your reaction is always the same. That is, of course, the main reason that we do it. You will repeatedly ask us what is wrong as you fail to understand what it is that we are doing. You will hang around us, if that is possible, asking the same questions over and over again.

“What is wrong, please tell me?”

“What is the matter, I wish you would tell me?”

“What is it? Why aren’t you speaking to me?”

Your concern mutates into frustration and anxiety and even occasionally anger. All of these states suit us as we drink the fuel you are providing to us. If we absented ourselves then we will face a slew of text messages, e-mails and voicemail messages as you keep ringing every five minutes trying to establish contact with us.

After a time the nature of the questioning changes as you shift from asking us what is wrong to hauling yourself over the coals. It is all so predictable. You ask yourself what is it that you could have done which has caused us such offence that we are no longer speaking to you. You analyse everything you have said and done over the last hour, the last five hours, the last day.

Did you insult us in some way and not realise? Surely it was not that comment about our tie, that was a joke. Was that the catalyst for this silence? Did you fail to kiss us on our arrival home? You cannot remember but these days you often find that is the case since the days all seem to merge into one as you pad around trying not to tread on those eggshells. If only the tiredness would lift. You might be able to think straight then and be able to ascertain what is going on.

You keep providing us with different suggestions and scenarios as to what has happened. You grope around, utterly unsure as to what it was that proved to be the trigger. You issue apologies and it gets to the point that you do not even know what you are apologising for but that does not matter does it? All you want is for this horrible silence, the aching absence to end. It has happened before and then it ended as arbitrarily as it arrived.

You cling on to the hope that it will end as it did last time but then there is that gnawing doubt which keeps manifesting in your mind. What if it won’t end? What if this is it and we have gone for good? Surely not and for what reason? The doubt is horrible and you feel a rising sense of panic which causes you to redouble your efforts to find us and offer yourself up in sacrifice in order to get us to come back.

Time after time we do this to our victims but they do not realise what our silence really means. They are trapped by fear, paralysed by indecision and this is naturally how we like it. This confusion and inability to really see what is going on serves our purpose.

What is our silence really telling you? It is telling you how we enjoy to play fast and loose with your feelings. It is telling you that we do not care about you. You mean nothing to us other than the fuel you provide.

We are reminding you of how inferior you are to us. You are nothing more than an appliance which we can switch on and off, pick up and put down at our convenience. We are trumpeting our lack of respect for you and your identity. We are heralding our flagrant disregard for your well-being. We are telegraphing our disdain for our supposed responsibilities.

We are reinforcing that you do not matter. Instead, you seek to eradicate the silence, you plan and arrange to do anything which you hope will dispel the absence of communication. Too caught up in trying to remove the unpleasant sensations that wrap around you, you fail to see the clear message that we convey to you each time we behave in this manner.

We are behaving as we did when we were told we could not have another biscuit and we sat sulking until our worn-down parent gave in. Most people grow out of such conduct but not us. We saw the power it would wield over certain people (others of course would never countenance it and we knew never to show it to them or suffer the consequences) but everyone else would flock around us, flapping and attending to us and we realised just how we could wrap people around our little fingers so they gave us what we wanted.

It was not the extra lollipop or permission to play out for an extra hour.

It was attention and attention laced with emotion. Fuel.

We may not have realised it then but we took this childish response and turned it into a weapon which causes you fear and frustration every time we unleash it.

If only you could understand what we are really doing, then you would understand just how much we are truly telling you by saying absolutely nothing.

16 thoughts on “Saying Nothing To Tell You Everything

  1. Rebecca says:

    Asp Emp,

    I can handle physical pain myself, but emotional pain to me, goes deeper and I can’t tolerate it as much or as long. My mom enjoyed inflicting emotional pain on me the most,she knew it hurt me more and it doesn’t leave evidence. She got furious one time,when a teacher hit me. I was her’s, no one else is allowed to hit me, in her mind.

    1. Asp Emp says:

      Rebecca, thank you for sharing your experience on this. I agree – emotional pain is invisible and therefore cannot necessarily be understood to those who have not necessarily experienced it in the same way. In some respect, it can be (in my opinion anyway, classed as a ‘hidden’ disability to some degree, whether that is permanent, or temporary yet long-term) considered a strong ‘component’ of CPTSD and even worse when it involves a narcissist parent because one has to really dig deep to understand themselves as an individual as part of the brain / emotional ‘re-training’ process AND understand about narcissism too.

      Having said that, HG answered a question in ‘Ask HG Episode 6 : Part ‘ video (from 09:06 minutes) about his own experience when he was a child.

      I stated similar, I can never forgive muvver but she is dead. I can view my ‘recovery’ as my own form of ‘fk you’ to her. She is not granted any ‘space’ in my memory, it’s there but I no longer have to acknowledge it. I no longer grant her ‘space’ in my emotions, I no longer ‘hold’ any, not even anger where that bi*ch is concerned. In my own way, I can do that, for me, for my father, and my grandmother – by remembering them and my love for them. She no longer ‘over-shadows’ them, or me for that matter.

  2. Rebecca says:


    The silent treatment was the worse for me, caused me the most pain, but I understood why he wasn’t talking to me because my mom would do this to me growing up. I understood she was mad and not talking to me. I also knew the reasons they were mad at me. What I didn’t know then and now know is that it means they’re showing me I don’t matter to them, they don’t care for my feelings, my well being or if I even survive their treatment of me…and that knowledge hurts most of all. That to them, I’m no more valuable than a cup to put coffee in and that hurts.

    1. lickemtomorrow says:

      Rebecca, thanks for sharing those thoughts. I can relate to your experience and sadly come to the same conclusion. It is hurtful to think your own family can dismiss you as irrelevant and not worthy of their time and attention. I always felt I was being given a message in these moments. It wasn’t just the message of being irrelevant or unworthy (otherwise how could they toss you away so easily?), but also the message that they were in control and I needed to ‘come to heel’ somehow. You mention them (your family/the narc) being mad at you. I often didn’t know what I had done to upset them, I just knew I was ‘painted black’ and there would be no respite unless I made a move to try and find out what the problem was, what I had done wrong, why they were so mad at me and, of course, try and fix it. More often than not, this would be the manner of me ‘coming to heel’ and whenever I refused to do that the silence was prolonged into weeks, months, sometimes even years. This is the reality of refusing to be brought under the narcissist’s control. You will be ostracized, and sadly if you give in then you will continue to fulfill the role of coffee cup, or useful appliance, until they decide they don’t like something you say or do again. It’s an eternal merry-go-round. It’s why I am no contact now, so I can get off the merry-go-round finally. It still leaves you bereft, but the good news is you are not subject to their whims anymore, often no knowing what is going to set them off. The silent treatment is a cowardly, albeit effective, method of making you their puppet. I’m sorry you have been hurt in this way and just want you to know you are not alone in feeling the way you do. I hope your time spent here will help to enlighten you and resolve some of these issues for you.

      1. Asp Emp says:

        LET, I can totally relate to more or less all of what you have typed here. It was good to read.

        1. lickemtomorrow says:

          Thank you,, AspEmp 🙂 It really touched on a nerve when I read Rebecca’s comment so I decided to share some thoughts around it. I’m sorry you can relate to it, but we’re stronger for being here and at least being able to understand it now <3 xox

          1. Asp Emp says:

            LET, thank you for your response. I agree, with your words in your last sentence. xx

      2. Rebecca says:


        Thanks for your understanding and kind words. It was just my mom who gave me the silent treatment and the one he was emotionally and physically abusive. My brother did his thing to cause me harm, that I won’t go into here. My dad was the only one who showed me love and understanding. My mom would try to hurt my relationship with my dad by lying about what I did, while he was away on overseas duties, he was in the Navy. She’d tell him, I drove her nuts and acted out badly and she would turn on the fake tears and before I knew it, I would get the belt from dad and grounded. She would be smirking about my punishments. I never blamed dad for her manipulating him, he couldn’t see her being a manipulator, he loved her and was blind to her lies.

        The “them” I was speaking of was my mom and also the recent narcissist in my life, whom I went no contact with since mid October 2021. My mom, I believe was a narcissist and I still loved her,eventhough she was abusive to me. My brother she favored and was nicer to, but she still messed with him some too.

        I still think I’m lucky I had a narcissistic mom because without experiencing her manipulations and seeing it in action, I wouldn’t have caught my recent narcissist as soon as I did, so thanks for the early lessons mom, at least they came in handy for something. I’m grateful of the previous lesson, protected me in the end.

        I sometimes worry about being a narcissist myself HG, though everyone in my personal life tells me no way, you’re an empath. I still worry because of my temper, previous abuse and it being in my family. What do you think?

        1. lickemtomorrow says:

          Hi Rebecca, thanks for sharing more of your experience.

          Your father being absent while serving in the Navy must have given your mother greater control in the circumstances, over him and you. He wasn’t present to know what was really going on and she could use that to her advantage.

          I see you have taken some positives out of that in being able to recognize narcissism when you see it, at least in your last relationship. Perhaps you’re only coming to understand that it was narcissism that impacted your relationship with your mother? I always knew there was something wrong in the relationship with my mother but could never put my finger on what it was until much more recently.

          One way to find out if you’re an empath is to take the Empath Detector Consultation. It will help clarify if you are an empath and also what kind, as in Schools and Cadres. That would help resolve the issue once and for all and help you to put your mind at rest.

          Sometimes abuse will lead to a dimming of our empathic traits which means we can come off as more narcissistic.

          You’ll find all the answers here, so I hope you stay on board 🙂

          1. Rebecca says:


            Yes, my dad was away on Naval duties overseas a lot when I was a young kid and mom took full advantage of his absence. I knew my mom was a manipulator early on, but didn’t know what it all meant as a child. I just knew as a kid she liked to act and get her way with acting,faking crying, lying etc. I was observant as a kid too, too mature for my age, but when you’re afraid of your mother, ya grow up fast and ya watch out for her bad moods. She’s mad, time to leave and play outside for the day…

            Yes, I didn’t know she was a narcissist until I came upon HG’s work and read, read,read all I could, and subscripted to the blog. I also asked a lot of questions because I wanted to understand it all. After I read a lot of articles here and asked questions on here, I pieced together a clear picture of my narcissistic mom. It explained a lot of how I felt towards her. Why I both loved her and resented her. Why our relationship was a difficult one, nothing I did pleased her, it was never good enough…she would tell me she never bonded to me and I always thought it was my fault, like I had something wrong with me for her not to boim nd with me. I discovered it was her and her lack of emotional empathy and ability to love anyone. It blew my mind and helped me feel better about my lack of a good relationship with her. I tried for so long to make her happy and I recently came to understand it all here and I’m at peace with it now. She passed away, so it’s the only peace I can have now.

            I really believe the trials in life are here to teach us what we need to learn in order to improve ourselves. Nothing is without a lesson to it. I’d rather look at the positive side. I’m grateful for finding HG’s work and the support I’m finding here on the blog with all of you. ❤

          2. Rebecca says:


            It’s weird, but emotional pain always affected me more than physical pain. I guess because I’m such an emotional person, I can handle physical pain more easily than emotional pain. I’d rather have a beating, than my feelings hurt. How weird is that??

          3. Asp Emp says:

            Rebecca, interesting comment and question. In all honesty, a ‘beating’ can possibly invoke a moment of ‘a lack of control now returns us to the lack of control then’, but it rather depends on what one has learned about narcissism, learned how to manage the addiction to it, and also learned how to manage one’s ‘reaction’ to such an incident. It is not acceptable to get a ‘beating’ from anyone.

            Having said that, the emotional pain goes deeper than any physical pain yet the two can have be ‘combined’ ie from a parent when a child.

  3. Toni says:

    I’m now in my fourth round of being blocked. The first few times, yes, interacted exactly how you described, chasing him for an explination. This time, I don’t even really care too much. It doesn’t hurt. I laugh at the childishness and ridiculousness. Thanks to you, I know it’s to elicit a reaction, which makes it all the easier to not give him one (and it’s not that I’m holding back, I genuinely don’t really care for the why). I kind of get a kick out of rhebirony: he thinks he has the upper hand by blocking me and telling me to f… off, when in reality he totally gave me the upper hand. I guess what I’m saying is “thanks for your help”!

    1. HG Tudor says:

      You are welcome. You will find all the answers here.

    2. k mac says:

      Be kind to yourself Tony ❤

    3. Alison says:

      I understand exactly how you feel. My situation is a bit different because I still live with my narc. I’ve gotten three present silent treatments so far this week… And they’ve become just that… presents (excuse the bad joke). Ever since this site helped me to understand why he acts the way he does, now I view silent treatments as “me time” where I don’t have to listen to self centered monologues or unprompted history or science lessons. It’s all about retraining yourself not to react to them and to always remember what their motivations really are. Part of me is worried that he’s going to figure out that I actually don’t mind the silent treatments anymore and move on to something worse. So I periodically try to engage with him in small ways during one and pretend to act relieved when they are over. I realize that he’s not very good at figuring out when I’m not being genuine.

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