Hi, my ex bf is giving me the silent treatment for about 3 months now after our first heated argument. He’s in early recovery but reflecting on past patterns of behavior, I see silent treatment or ghosting is something he has done in the past. Back then, I was young and not as affected because I was too busy having fun (early 20s). But 11 years later, after he came back around, it’s harder for me to cope. I’ve been told silent treatment is a manipulation tactic often found in personality disorders (PD) and so now I’m between, do I feel compassionate for him if this is addiction / recovery related behavior? and Is he using me and manipulating me which is unrelated to his sobriety? It’s quite confusing. His initial return was great and then it’s like he discarded our relationship once actually work had to be put in. He’s in his first year and a half of sobriety so I’m not sure what to think. He blames me for triggering him and risking his sobriety because we argued but then I would think, if he’s working recovery like he claims he was, wouldn’t part of the treatment be learning to communicate and work through conflict? Does recovery encourage stonewalling behavior?
I think many people, personality disorder or addiction or not, has used silent treatment as a form of manipulation. I know I have. I thought by stonewalling I could guilt my husband into feeling bad, cleaning the house, getting up on time, all the things. Surprise - it didn’t work! Back then, I didn’t see it as manipulation. I wasn’t manipulative - I was just a victim to my husband’s addiction! But when I started to look at my own motives and realized I was only behaving in a certain way to try to get him to behave in a certain way, then yeah, I finally admitted that I was engaging in manipulative, controlling behavior. It sounds horrible. But it didn’t make me a horrible person. I just didn’t have the skills or knowledge to behave in any other way. Thankfully, today, I have learned those skills.
I’ll pose this question - Why do your feelings depend on what he’s doing? I think you know how you feel already. Lean into that. Instead of focusing on his “why,” focus on yours.
Being in recovery doesn’t mean behaviors change instantly. I thought my husband going to rehab would fix everything. Instead, it just opened the door to all the cracks in the foundation, and it took years to identify them, to seal them, to rebuild. It’s an exhausting process and we’re nowhere near done - I don’t think we ever will be. But if everyone works on their own part, then we all keep growing stronger.
Thanks for sharing here @Aria and for showing the courage to move forward. Big hugs to you!
@Aria The wondering what will happen next is so hard to overcome. One of the most important parts of the healing process, I think, is letting go of outcomes and expectations. Finding peace and joy in the present moment no matter what might happen in the future. I hope you’re able to find some serenity today!
Hi Jacqui, thanks for taking the time to respond. Sorry for my lengthy posts, I just have to get it out and make sense of it all. I thought I’d be further along in healing by now but it has been somewhat a grieving process, where now most days I’m okay and others I feel I’m back at square one. Feeling confused and hoping for reconciliation, since we just started to become a family after ten years of his absence due to addiction.
You’re right, I do know how I feel. As much as I want to be angry, and family telling me I should hate him, I don’t. I don’t know why, I just feel compassion and love and admittedly resentment as to why he’s doing this. I guess what I’m trying to understand is, our last conversation consisted of him saying he spoke with someone very knowledgeable who suggested he take a break. I asked if it was someone professional or personal but he insisted it was just someone knowledgeable, then said he needed time to work on himself and get back to himself (I’m guessing he meant since our argument triggered him) and then said he would come down (we’re long distance) and visit our child and that we could talk. That was a month and half ago. I remained calm and after we hung up, he then texted saying that was just where he was at the moment and an hour later, “I’ll get better”. I just said “ok”. And then it has been silence since. I’ve reached out in between asking for clarity and where he was at to help navigate myself and my son on our end. It wasn’t just me wondering what happened, our son was too. He reads my texts, has responded to a couple pertaining to our child, but does not respond to any of my texts where I asked for clarity and what the next step was. So I guess while I know how I feel, compassion and love, I’m wondering if maybe this is his way of permanently breaking up and is avoiding the situation in hopes it fades? If so, I will let go of hope and move on. Maybe I’m being impatient but it’s hard to ignore with family reminding my daily how horrible he is and how he abandoned us (me and child) again. Its painful and while I want to defend him, I really can’t. His actions are clear.
I see posts about success stories, like you and your husband, and it gives me hope. I just don’t want to give my self false hope if maybe he decided that he wants to officially end it and is just avoiding being upfront with me. Not sure how to take that. Hence why I’m wondering if he’s sober then maybe there are other underlying issues for this inconsistent behavior. Since I’m out of state, I have no idea what’s happening or if he’s still sober and we don’t have any mutual connections. He hasn’t reached out to my son directly in a few days, so communication there seems to be fading too. It’s sad but I keep trying to maintain a positive outlook and hold hope that he will at least clearly communicate what he wants soon. My biggest fear is him just fading away and never taking accountability. It’s a lot, I know. Just had to vent to get it out and remind myself of the facts and get out of my head