The silent treatment runs in my family. They are like haughty toddlers.

(101 Posts)
AnFiadhRua Sat 20-Nov-21 10:35:26

So sick of it, and dreading Christmas. It's weird how rife it is, clicked on two threads and two people are being given the silent treatment by their partners.

My mother used to give me the silent treatment the moment I failed to endorse her rosy perception of herself. My father holds her coat in this quite happily, her willing foot soldier. My brother threw me under a bus for trying to be heard. They all talk about me but not to me.

The narrative in my family of origin is that I am sensitive, emotional, that I ....shout

And yet, my mother, having orchestrated a smear campaign that has reached cousins via my aunts, now wants ''a happy Christmas''.

She wants me to play the part of Daughter. Summonsed back to play the part of daughter but still, just to be clear, STILL denied any voice, any communication. She told me that my father and her decided not to throw accusations around. What I call a conversation, she calls '''throwing accusations around''.

If you try to connect with my mother, she literally gets angry.

But if I'm to go back to heel for Christmas, not sure what I'll be invited to under sufferance yet, but the narrative will be that they're saints overlooking my ''behaviour'' (ie, me raising my voice trying to make my point after they'd decided between them that there would be NO conversation with me about the hurt I told them they caused me, but not telling me that this was decided, and yet, when I said that they were stonewalling me, I was told ''no we're not''.)

I'm single and that's a problem only in that they don't respect me on my own. If I had a partner in my corner they would have acknowledged that they hurt me. But they have no respect for me. They own me.

I must respect their right to hurt me and stone wall me. But.............. I'm summonsed at Christmas. Even though, whatever distorted martyred accounts of our falling out my mother has given to my aunts, they didn't respond to a simple text I sent to thank them for something they sent to my daughter.

Anybody else feel like their family has the emotional intelligence of a bunch of toddlers? But worse, haughty toddlers who have zero self-awareness but act appalled by my ''behaviour''.

If I cut them off, I'll be the worst in the world and it'll be half way around Ireland what an ingrate I am after all they did for me. The 8 aunts will tell the 32 cousins who'll tell their spouses and they all believe it.

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Theplantisgrowing Sat 20-Nov-21 10:44:11

My dad is .....I don't know, a victim? Self absorbed, never listens, always hard done by, makes me feel like crap. I sympathise, we are so overly invested emotionally with our parents. I feel for you.

AnFiadhRua Sat 20-Nov-21 11:32:32

Thank you for getting it.

My parents are in their 70s but I'm 51 now, I feel like I also need to look after myself and not put myself in situations that erode me. But they'll always be older, they'll always be worthy of more consideration (in their eyes) because of the 26+ years they have on me. But they are such a unit, they back each other up against me whenever I raise anything that is unhealthy and then they bully me in to submission with the silent treatment. My brother has joined in this time, because I stood for longer in my own truth and didn't go back to them to try and extend an olive branch like I always have done in the past.

They really messed up when they smeared me to relatives because that moved me so much closer to accepting that I can never get through to them, never be worthy of being heard, never be treated with the same respect they give my brother.

The harder I try, the more I'll be smeared to the extended family

So this Christmas will be interesting in a horrifying way.

OP’s posts: |
AnFiadhRua Sat 20-Nov-21 11:35:23

If I'm invited for Christmas I will have to give a response that is 'nice' enough not to give her martyred account of our falling out fuel.
But that's really impossible come to think of it. No matter how nicely I put it, her narrative is going to be all about my grudge, my accusations... nothing about how they ganged up on me and stonewalled me for most of 2020 and it's still going on.

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2Gen Sat 20-Nov-21 17:36:57

Has anyone else family who behave like toddlers and can never be wrong? Yes, I have. Or did to be more accurate; my late mother, Lord have Mercy on her and her sisters, my aunts!
My mother is long passed but the relationship was difficult, sort of emotionally abusive. One of her sisters is far worse and is very domineering, the others always siding with her and deferring to her. NONE of them can ever nor could ever be wrong! It was always me and according to them, I might as well be the spawn of Beelzebub, lol!
I went NC with them a while ago now and don't miss them. They ignored me and DS for years when I was a single mother, so there was nothing to miss except their toxicity! Same with some cousins!
It'd be lovely to have a close, loving extended family and here in Ireland, people are mostly closest to their families so it can feel lonely and isolating so I feel for you! But honestly OP, it sounds to me like you are a scapegoat and if you go for Christmas you will be put in that role again and they will ruin it for you! In your place I'd either decline outright or make some excuse and enjoy Christmas with people who really DO love you- your DC!
I'm sorry they treat you like this and I'm sending virtual hugs! Let us know how you get on!

2Gen Sat 20-Nov-21 17:43:51

Could you cod them you've had a positive PCR test and have to isolate with your DC? Would that be enough to get them to back off or would you be worried you were tempting fate?
They've been used to cause so much havoc and suffering so far, I feel it would be quite reasonable to use them for your wellbeing AND your DCs, because it won't be good for them either to be hearing you being put down and made to feel crap! My mother and her sisters could always make me feel horrible; if yours do that to you, you've a right to protect yourself and a duty to protect your DC!

DarkDarkNight Sat 20-Nov-21 17:53:06

My mum and Dad are like this. Not with other people just each other and in the last few years it has dawned on me how much of an impact it has had in my emotional (im)maturity.

When they fall out with each other they sulk and don’t talk to each other. It could go on for days, weeks sometimes. I was expected/encouraged to take my mum’s side and then switch it off when they started talking again.

I carried it on in my relationship with my ex and never realised where the behaviour came from, I like to think even though he is now my ex I have got over the behaviour . My mum and dad still do it now and I have grown so intolerant of it. My mum is in her late 60s my dad in his 70s and it just seems such odd behaviour.


layladomino Sat 20-Nov-21 19:51:51

Please don't accept their summons. Why would you put yourself through that?

Can you say that you already have plans for Christmas - you don't have to give the details?

ToniHargis Sat 20-Nov-21 19:56:45

There's a great book (been out for decades now) called "The Dance of Anger" and it talks about damaging relationships like this, and how to break out of them.

AnFiadhRua Sat 20-Nov-21 20:12:53

Thank you all. So nice to read other people who get it. @darkDarkNight i admit i also used to do it in my first relationship. I was lucky that he said to me "talk now or it's over" and i believed him. I decided never to use silent treatments and to be direct.

@2Gen it's the elusive fantasy, i nearly have the big family, they're there in number but not in warmth or connection. Just a big family with enmeshment, passive aggression and silent treatments.

But the fantasy that one day we'd connect authentically has been like a dangling carrot for decades. Im a single parent too, and I think I'm perceived to be low status in the wider family, so my mother isnt proud of me and runs me down to her siblings, although they would never run down their own marvellous children to her. So yes, I do feel like the scapegoat. The aunts and uncles happily listen to her trash me and even allow themselves to be drafted in to give me more silent treatment, even if it's just no response to a polite text that i could normally have expected a response to.

@layladomino I won't go. I will think about what I say. I will be happy here on my own with teens but she will try and poach my dc away from me on christmas day.

My dc1 doesnt want to get involved but if she goes over to my m&d's house on christmas day, ill be hurt.

It is awful @2gen but when they're gone there will be relief. It can never be fixed and all hope of that is gone forever but also, the constant reopening of scarcely healed wounds must stop.

OP’s posts: |
AnFiadhRua Sat 20-Nov-21 20:15:10


There's a great book (been out for decades now) called "The Dance of Anger" and it talks about damaging relationships like this, and how to break out of them.

Oh thanks is that harriet lerner? I listened to that on audio but it was abridged. I should buy the full book. It was good.

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Dacquoise Sat 20-Nov-21 20:19:22

I think you may be waging an unwinnable war with your family. They are not interested in your point of view, nor your anger about past injustices. They are not able to listen and want to keep you in the scapegoat role because it keeps the family safely dysfunctional. Unless everyone attends therapy this will not change. Save yourself.

I was exactly the same as you, trying to 'out' my narcissistic DM's behaviour but she controlled the lines of communication and had been smearing me sine I was a small child The only thing you can do is to detach emotionally or walk away altogether.

I finally outed my DM in a letter to one of her flying monkeys in my forties. She had a field day convincing everyone that I was the problem. Interestingly ten years later I am now believed by my DB who has now gone NC with her and therefore the rest of the family, her funkiest. I don't care. I have never been happier and more at peace walking away from them.

Are you able to get some therapy to deal with your emotions? It's been life changing for me.

Theplantisgrowing Sat 20-Nov-21 20:22:39

safely dysfunctional

Brilliant expression

Livelovebehappy Sat 20-Nov-21 20:27:11

It’s awful isn’t it? My mother has alienated my brother and sister against me for daring to stand up to her domineering behaviour, and Ive stepped back from them for my mental health. But it hurts, and I can’t quite reach a place of contentment, because it all eats me up inside. Christmas is worse because you see all these adverts, and hear friends and work colleagues describe their lovely extended family christmas’s. And I would love that to be my life.

Iguessyourestuckwithme Sat 20-Nov-21 20:27:37

I've just shut the door on a relationship with my mother, father long deceased and written to my sister to close the door but with the option of opening it with time.

To my mother and sister I'm a narcissist, I make everything about me, I shout, I don't care about their needs and everyone hates me. To my friends I'm kind, lovable, funny, reliable and yes a touch on the dramatic side but usually because it courts me, I can't just have a quiet week, the universe always has to send me some drama. To me I'm an introvert who loves her friends and would rather be in her bed watching Netflix reading worrying about her friends happiness and whether I'm a burden on them.

I hit a big depression this summer which got bigger and bigger culminating in thoughts if suicide. Both sister and mother thought I was doing it for attention. I have never felt such utter despair yet clarity.

4 weeks on, no contact and my depression scored have gone from 21/23 to 8.

I know that they'll have their own story and that I'll be the demon in their eyes and those who they tell and I too am wondering about how they'll explain my absence at Christmas- probably me throwing a tantrum but yeah I get it.

Wishing you clarity and peace

Iguessyourestuckwithme Sat 20-Nov-21 20:30:33

And daquoise has it right, when I spoke to a therapist they explained that I was the scapegoat and that I could do all I could and I would try for a relationship but they had me in a box and they weren't interested.

Knowing that when they were told I was suicidal and had a plan neither spoke to me about it/about my feelings/just ignored it and called it attention seeking opened my eyes.

Workyticket Sat 20-Nov-21 20:30:56

My mother hasn't spoken to me since a fortnight after my wedding in July when she basically ripped me apart emptionally or not including her enough. We were still in Covid restrictions and planning was shit.

I'm devastated but I'm not running after her this time - I've had a life time of it. We usually have them for Xmas and, quite frankly she can fuck off if she thinks she's ghosting me for 6 months then getting an invite.

AnFiadhRua Sat 20-Nov-21 20:31:31

Ive just finished 18 months of therapy. I think it helped a lot. It may not sound it now 😬 reading my thread, but it hurts a lot less than it did, im far less anxious, less angry, i understand the dynamics now, and i am in a place where i am finally about 50% accepting the hopelessness of the situation. I cant imagine ever completely accepting this though. Not 100% totally accepting my family have zero emotional intelligence.

At one point my mother wanted to go to family therapy but i think she thought that the therapist would give out to me for having hurt her. Then when i went ahead and organised it, she suddenly couldnt make it but encouraged me to go on my own as i was the one who needed it, she was fine. 😡😤

She doesnt know ive been seeing a therapist as she wouldnt think "oh that's responsible, working on your wounds" , she would see it as PROOF I am the crazy one that she put up with.

I had therapy when i left my abusive x and she knew about that. I remember feeling really uncomfortable that she wanted to know what i said to the therapist. I glossed over it and she was annoyed. So, NO BOUNDARIES!!

IM sure all the aunts and uncles know i had therapy 14 years ago so ive kept it to myself this time.

The first therapist tried to get me to look at my parents parenting of me, and i wasnt ready at that point, but these last 18 months, I WAS READY!!

OP’s posts: |
Iguessyourestuckwithme Sat 20-Nov-21 20:32:49

I've just bought a book called difficult mothers which is eye-opening.

AnFiadhRua Sat 20-Nov-21 20:32:56


My mother hasn't spoken to me since a fortnight after my wedding in July when she basically ripped me apart emptionally or not including her enough. We were still in Covid restrictions and planning was shit.

I'm devastated but I'm not running after her this time - I've had a life time of it. We usually have them for Xmas and, quite frankly she can fuck off if she thinks she's ghosting me for 6 months then getting an invite.

That is awful, your new married life marred by her sulking. Hopefully you can detach from it 🍷

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Iguessyourestuckwithme Sat 20-Nov-21 20:35:35


I went to therapy as I wanted to learn how to behave better as it was ruining my relationship with my mother. She explained that she couldn't teach me to behave better for someone as that was unethical and also as my mother scapegoated me, whatever I did would be wrong and all she could teach me was to create a healthy balance/distance
In fact she told me to not let my walls down with my mother.

I can't tell you how much I needed to hear a professional person tell me it wasn't my fault and that I was being gaslit and scapegoated . Still bloody hurt though!

Theunamedcat Sat 20-Nov-21 20:37:37

Personally I would mouth my acceptance but catch covid for Christmas

You might even be able to Google a picture of a positive test pro tip never click on the first picture

Seriously though don't go just to be an emotional punch bag catch norovirus have a car emergency miss the bus break your phone win an emergency trip to Scotland for the season but your 51 ffs you don't "have" to do a dam thing

IncompleteSenten Sat 20-Nov-21 20:39:35

"If I cut them off, I'll be the worst in the world and it'll be half way around Ireland what an ingrate I am after all they did for me. The 8 aunts will tell the 32 cousins who'll tell their spouses and they all believe it"

What happens to you because of that that's so scary ?

Santaischeckinglists Sat 20-Nov-21 20:40:13

Just say you will have to decline as you have offered to help at a homeless shelter..
And do that.
At least you will be with people who respect you and will treat you as an actual human being.

FusionChefGeoff Sat 20-Nov-21 20:40:21

Don't go.

You're never going to win and they will always say what they want to about you. And do you really care what they think?!? You know the truth, the people that matter know the truth.

But this way, they will still say it all, whilst you are having a wonderful Christmas free from their tyranny and bullshit...

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