The Silent Treatment (again)

My mother has always derived a particular vengeful pleasure in giving the object of her wrath “the silent treatment.”  She has often gleefully boasted about her prowess in this particular art form.  In the 16 years I lived under her roof, I watched her use it on many people, listening to her crow about how she would make them crawl back to her.

I think one reason she hates me is that I never would crawl.  I did go as far as asking what I did to set this thing in motion, but getting no answer, went about my business.

I know why I’m getting the silent treatment now.  After my father died two years ago, I no longer had to protect him from her rages, so I stopped doing several things I had done before, which I had been doing only to shield him from her wrath.

One of them was to tell her “I love you.”  I don’t love her.  I loved her desperately as a child, and all I got was curses, insults, belittling, mocking, and, of course, the silent treatment.  So, once my dad was safely dead, I simply stopped lying.  I never said “I despise you,”  “I can’t stand you,” “You make me sick to my stomach,” or any of the other endearments she showered upon me when she had the chance.  I simply don’t lie anymore.

To complicate matters, I was supposed to have visited a month or so ago, but I came down with the flu and had to cancel.  She of course thought I was lying in order to get out of visiting (she is a prolific liar herself, so she assumes the same for me.  I can’t lie to save my life.  I’m no good at it.)  

I really do need to communicate with her regarding some family business, but after two phone calls where she’s been so phenomenally “cool,” as she puts it (another way to punish someone: be cool and distant), in the two phone calls I’ve tried since I cancelled my visit, I’m beginning to think it’s not worth the emotional effort to try to help her.  Maybe I should just back off and let her manage as best she can.

I have to remind myself of the times I visited when I lived in Israel.  I would fly to America, 14 hour flight, rent a car, and drive the three hours from the airport, arriving completely done in, wanting nothing more than a hot shower and a bed.  Well, there was a bed, but no sheets, and the bedspread full of cat hair (and fleas).  So, fresh from a trip literally halfway around the world, I had to clean the bed and find some decent sheets and put them on before I could lie down to rest. 

Why could she not have a bed made up for me when I traveled so far to visit?  She always scurried to make up a bed for my cousin, who lives two hours away.  Why not me?

The answer, I believe, lies in one of her favorite pet names for me, her term of endearment:

“Your Lowness.”

It is as if God gave her an only child to despise at her whim.  


Children MUST love their parents, she has screamed at me.

Monkey see, monkey do, and I did not see anything resembling love from her.

My parental love died with my father**.  All that is left now is my Biblical duty to make sure that her physical needs are provided for.

“And in the end/The love you take/Is equal to the love/You make”–The Beatles

**And of course a good deal of her biliousness toward me has to do with the extremely close relationship I had with my father, who was in no way any sort of angel, but was generally kind and always honest, and never played stupid games or called me names or cursed me.  So she has always been jealous of my open love for him, and treats me like a rival.  Sick.

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  1. A bitch for a mother. I think childhood abuse can lead to Bipolar.(In some cases). I have read that in one book but I have no idea when or where. I am deeply sorry that your childhood was hell but yes, your mother was jealous because you were treated well by your dad, as a rule.

    She sounds like a miserable person. So sad. I hope you remain strong and do only what you feel is needed to have a clear conscience.

  2. I am so sorry for the loss of your father. My thoughts are with you. You are strong not to play her hand.

  3. 😦

    I went for walk a friend today and I commented -in a completely different context- how maddeningly ironic life is. So often it happens that good parents are taken away too soon from their loving children, while the awful ones seem to be immortal. As we say in Colombia, weeds never die. Or something.

    • That is the truth. And even I was reading Marlon Brando’s biography last night, and his mother was a total drunk, he had to go get her out of the drunk tank in jail sometimes, but he loved her deeply because she was a broken person, but beautiful inside and never purposely hurt anyone. He even named his theatre production company after her, after she drank herself to death. And I’m thinking, here’s a man who loves his mother even though she’s neglected him, and he loves her because she’s always been loving to him when she’s able. So he takes care of her when she’s in trouble. Unlike this other mother (mine), who demands love from the object of her derision. Right.

      How are you, ¿mi preciosa?

  4. I feel wrong to like this post, but I appreciate your honesty and openness on the subject. My mother and I had a rocky relationship in my formative years, and I am/feel very gratified that she is more like my girlfriend today than anybody else.

    • Thank you, Duck! I am so glad that you and your mom are close. That is such an amazing gift. When I see a mother and daughter who are close, I feel like a girl dressed in rags, standing on the outside of a storefront, nose against the glass, watching other kids slurping ice cream. Enjoy your mom.

  5. How awful. I’ve never gotten the silent treatment but I never felt the proverbial love mothers are supposed to have. What happened in her life to make her that way? I’m not trying to excuse her but understanding helps.

  6. You’re describing my mama, Laura…only I didn’t have the “loving” relationship with my daddy. He wasn’t as brutal as she was but his (and mamas’) first and only love was my older sister.
    Parents can really fuck you up. I tried not to do that to my children but I probably managed to scar them a bit. One thing I never did though, was beat them and call them a parasite or a street-walker…or ask them what in this round world they ever did to make me love them.
    Stay strong. Biblical obligations only go so far. God understands, I think.

    • My mother wasn’t vicious physically like yours, but she was always berating me for having a…poor self image!!!! (Hysterical laughter)

      It’s impossible to perfect the art of mothering when you have nothing but animals who eat their young for role models. My son suffered because of my emotional incompetence (“emotionally unavailable”). At least I never called him horrible names or sent him to school with pneumonia, like my mother did me. Smoking in the car with the windows rolled up is not good for baby lungs. Anyway. Yeah, I have to let go. I have a hard time letting go of even a broken button…even half of a broken button! I have a box full of them. Sort of like Holocaust survivors who are sure that these things are precious, it’s a sin to throw out things that might still have some good left in them…but stinking rotten poisonous things, I have to learn to leave those behind.

  7. Your mother is cruel. My father also give me the silent treatment. I’m trying to go no contact with him. But your mom is way worse than my dad. Geez, not to have a bed made for you!! That’s calculating. I think you’re doing the right thing. You’ll never ever please her no matter what you do or say. Any efforts will prove unfruitful. Stick to your guns. Sending you some love

    • Thank you!! I’m sorry you had to go through that torture. Purposeful withdrawal of not just love, but every acknowledgement of one’s existence, by a person who is allegedly a parent….that is such cruelty! And those who practice this, seem to do it with such relish, as if they are the agents of Divine vengeance!

      Thank you so much for your support. It means a lot. I was reading Rhonda’s blog yesterday, having run across the guest blog she did for me, and thinking about all of us who live from moment to moment on the edge. I really appreciate how much you do for our bipolar bloggers community, in the midst of your own struggles. 💞

  8. I had one too many blowouts with my dad so I had to cut him out of my life. A couple of years later I reached out to him, but was only doing it on my terms. If he became nasty and abusive, etc. I wouldn’t say a thing about his behavior. I would simply say, in a polite manner, that it was time for me to get going. It worked great.

    I’m sorry how horrible your mother is. You deserve much better.

    • Thanks, Bradley. Glad you were able to come to a workable arrangement with your father. My mother is a malignant narcissist, so anything she does is justifiable. Her tantrums are because I misbehave somehow. If she forgets where she puts her keys, it’s my fault. When I leave because she’s raging, I’m copping out, proof of my weakness. Just no way to coexist. I’m trying to take care of some estate business so she will be able to afford a decent assisted living arrangement, but she’s decided to sabotage that. I guess she’ll have to take pot luck, then.

  9. Oh how well I remember the silent treatment from my mom while growing up. She would do it to my dad and brother also, but I was the one it affected. They could care less while I would turn myself inside out trying to make her happy again. This could go on for days, so I understand how hurtful it can be for you. I wouldn’t go out of my way to talk to her if all you get is the cool treatment. Sending hugs and support to you sweetheart!

    • Thank you, Ava. They love to make you dance at the end of their string. Not any more!

      • I don’t for my mom she died long ago, now I dance for the son I have to live with. Does it ever end????

        • Gah! Too much. I hope it ends when it ends, I mean I really hope there is no life after death. This life has been quite enough, thank you. I’m sorry you have to live with your son, and that he’s not easy to live with. I’d have to go sleep on the sidewalk if it came to that…my son is not into sharing his space. If he felt forced to do so, the intruder would suffer greatly.

  10. hey my friend, sorry I didn’t respond sooner. I went to bed early last night and didn’t get the email until now. Your mother is a piece of work, much like my father was, though he will deny it, well would have, if he were still alive. I don’t know what it is about parents thinking we owe them love or whatever else they think we owe them. It’s pretty sad. My mother will say she loves me but will bicker at me none the less. Is that really love? I closed myself off from her and my family years ago. I say the words but I hardly mean them. Unless I am in a lovey dovey mood. Anyways. I support you for not giving in to that creatan. She doesn’t deserve it but I know it hurts, believe me there.

  11. sherry mcclanahan

     /  November 7, 2016

    Wow. That is truly an extremely sad story. The torment going on in your Mother’s head could be worse than anything you have ever experienced.

    • Uhhhhh….no. She is a vicious, calculating person who gets what she wants, when she wants it. You have no idea. Maybe John Wayne Gacy was a tormented person, but I don’t feel sorry for him. I feel sorry for his victims and their loved ones. This woman leaves a trail of broken lives wherever she walks. Nice fantasy you have there, but no.

  12. Wow, this is so sad. Your mother has to live with the bitterness and it will only make her ill. It’s not you x

  13. I’m so sorry Laura. You are to be commended for taking care of her in any way.

    I’ve been reading your blog for about a year now, and find you insightful, funny, and compassionate. And oh, can I relate. My mother’s favorite term for me? “Little shit”. Ever since I can remember, “You little shit!” Would begin her tirade. Yep. Fun, that.

    I’ll keep reading. Please keep writing. Your stories help me heal.

    • Hi K, thanks for commenting! I’m so glad you’re finding my blog helpful. Together we support each other and create safe space for healing.

      Oh, yes, “You little shit!” What a loving way to address one’s beloved child. I swear, babies should be handed rolls of duct tape so that if their parents start in on them like that, they can quick throw a few layers of tape over the source of the abuse…imagine! Oh dear, these fantasies of infant vengeance against their abusers are surely not healthy, but they keep me going 😂

  14. Wow you write very well… I have always considered myself to be lucky in the sense that I get on well with my family.. makes life a lot easier! I was just wondering- how long you have been blogging for, as I noticed you have 4 and half thousand followers. I am hoping to develop an online presence, to help promote my book; but am feeling fairly overwhelmed at the moment. Do you have any tips for increasing my following? Thanks a lot, and take care.

    • Hi Alex, I really can’t imagine why all these people follow my blog. I’m humbled and grateful. What got the ball rolling was a post that got “Freshly Pressed” a few years back. Now, I know people who do all kinds of things to get “Pressed,” but when it happened to me, I had never even heard of it, since I live under a rock and all. I know people who get tons and tons of followers by pumping out their links on social media. I think the best way to build a following is to write honest. That’s bad grammar, but it’s honest, up-front, clean, gritty, raw, from-the-heart writing that makes people want to follow you. And of course, do what you’re already doing, following and commenting on other people’s blogs, sincerely and engagingly.

      It’s nice to look at the numbers, but for me the most important thing is to be part of a wonderful blogging community that is more like “family of choice” than just random people in cyberspace. We support each other, we’re there for each other. It’s very real and very strong. That’s what I’m here for. The numbers do give me a pat on the back, but even if I only had three followers I’d still be here. It’s the best therapy I’ve encountered, so far, in this long struggle.

      Just write good honest stuff.


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