The Silent Treatment 

When I drank I messed up. A lot. Two things would happen the following morning. I would wake up with a monstrous hangover and, after a few seconds regaining my bearings, be hit with waves of shame and guilt as memories of the previous night seeped back into my consciousness like a slick, black poison. 

Or I would wake up with no recollection as to what had happened beyond a certain point in the evening. Towards the end of my drinking career I was a blackout drunk. If anything this was worse than recalling what had happened the previous night. I would lie in bed sick with worry as to what had went on. A vague uneasiness gripped me as I frantically tried to recall the events of the night before. If anything, not knowing was worse than knowing. I felt utterly alone and adrift. Just me and ‘the fear’.

On those occasions I relied upon family and friends to fill in the gaps, to piece together the jigsaw of a fun night out that invariably ended in disaster. I heard hard truths. And was revisited by fragments of recollection which revealed my darker, sinful side. I was mortified and left broken by my appalling behaviour. I cursed alcohol. I cursed those I perceived to have led me down the wrong path. But most of all I cursed myself and the deplorable decisions I had made. I cursed my weakness and naivety. I hated myself with an unrivalled passion.

There was one thing worse, however, than the physical symptoms of the hangover and the guilt and self-loathing that accompanied it. This was knowing that I had hurt and let down loved ones. I died a little every time I looked in their faces and saw the anger and repulsion that I had generated in them. I shattered friendships and broke hearts with effortless ease. I destroyed relationships that had taken years to build in the space of a few alcohol sodden hours. 


I didn’t drink to forget. I forgot when I drank. I forgot all about my responsibilities. My moral compass spun out of control like a roulette wheel which always landed on the wrong number. I was a loud drunk. The life and soul of the party. Bolstered by a few drinks my ingrained shyness and social awkwardness would melt away. I wanted to talk to everyone, to be everyone’s friend. I was the big man, the I am. When I drank I was surrounded by noise, people and laughter. I thought they were laughing with me, the great bon viveur. I realise now that they were often laughing at me.

The following day there was a different type of noise. Raised voices. Recrimination. Angry words driven by hurt and neglect. There is no noise louder than that of the heart of a loved one breaking right before your eyes. There is no sight more devastating than your rock giving up on you. Taking a knife and cutting you loose onto a sea of torment and despair. Alone and adrift. With only the silence and your own bitter thoughts to keep you company.

I hated this silence. When loved ones stopped talking to me. When they had said everything there was to say. When they brought down the shutters on their own hearts to save themselves from further pain. This silent treatment could last for hours, days, months and beyond. Occasionally it was permanent. Friendships were damaged beyond repair. Relationships were ravaged to the point of no return. The silence was deafening. 

Thankfully the four most important people in my life who I hurt the most forgave me. Fionnuala and the kids stood by me. They will not forget the bad times nor should they. They are an important reminder of what I am capable of. They are a destination that I never want to return to. The silence from them was the most excruciating of all. I never want to go back to those dark, desperate days. The days when I stood on the brink and wondered was this the end. 

Sin loves to talk. She is never silent, always whispering seductively in your ear that this time it will be different, this time you will not be caught. Sin is enchanting and beautiful. But it is a beauty that will rot. Sin is a liar. Her words drip with honey. Poisoned honey that will pollute your soul and expose you to a long and painful demise. A demise that inevitably leads to eternal silence.

I write this today surrounded by love and grace again. I am never complacent and walk out to battle afresh every day now. I always have to be on my guard against temptation and the darkness. I make the conscious decision every day to choose life and freedom. I choose the noisy babble of living waters as opposed to the never ending silence of the abyss. I talk to my loved ones every day. I talk to God every day. And I listen every day when they talk to me. I never want to return to the days of the silent treatment.

My advice to you today if you are embroiled in silence with a loved one is this. Make amends. Whatever it takes. Swallow your pride. Forgive them. Give them the opportunity and means to forgive you. Knock that door. Make that call. Before it is too late. Replace the silence of resentment and bitterness with the soothing sounds of healing and restoration. Raise your voice above the lies and deceit. Grasp the truth with both hands.

Scream it from the rooftops.

1 Peter 5:8 – ‘Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring line looking for someone to devour.’

Have you ever woken up with no recollection of the night before? You are not alone. Talk to me.

Have you ever been a ‘victim’ of the silent treatment? Or been the person broken by the actions of a loved one?

Are you willing to end the silence with a loved one today?

60 thoughts on “The Silent Treatment 

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  1. Your texts are so touching! It’s like they have their own heartbeat I can listen to. As for the silent treatment… I was on the other end before. My father drifted away from us years ago and it was impossible to reach him. In the end there was no option left than to become silent.
    I guess I know how it must feel when relationships break away. I’ve never quite understood relationships. For me they have never worked and I was surrounded by more silence than I could bear or understand…

    Your wife, I don’t know her but whatever she does in the background to keep the family going … wow, what an accomplishment. You guys are fighters… Please keep going. You’re an inspiration!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you. Yes, Fionnuala is the rock I referred to in the posts. She is the glue in our family. Thank you for your encouraging comments. I always try to write honestly. I pray that the noise of laughter and fellowship pours into your life. ❤️🙏🏻😊

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  2. Thank you for sharing this. I pray it touches hearts to help them break their silence as well. With over 26 years of sobriety by the grace of God, your words have helped to remind yet again what a gift I have been given. May we together bring glory to the Lord for it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “Sin loves to talk. She is never silent, always whispering seductively in your ear that this time it will be different, this time you will not be caught. Sin is enchanting and beautiful. But it is a beauty that will rot. Sin is a liar. Her words drip with honey. Poisoned honey that will pollute your soul and expose you to a long and painful demise. A demise that inevitably leads to eternal silence.”
    That’s a powerful and truthful paragraph. Praise the Lord you “choose the noisy babble of living waters.”

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I have been broken by a loved one. My dad did some things to me that are too personal to share on the internet, but they were so bad that I had angry dreams about hurting him almost every night for months. Just recently, I reached out to him, tired of the silence. Things are still imperfect between us, but we’re getting there. That’s all we can do for now.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I often say that everything after salvation is just a choice we make. Yes, the Spirit is alive and works within us, but we choose to grow. We choose to fight our demons – each and every day. We choose to love, we choose to forgive, and we choose to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for sharing so honestly. Many people will benefit from your courage in coming boldly before others as you have before God. We are all fractured in various ways. When we share our vulnerable selves and ask others to forgive us of our clay feet, then we can live as the church, God with us. Best to you,

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Once again sir, you have touched home for me in a post of yours.
    Always refreshing to see that you’re not alone in the world when it comes to struggles like this.
    I commend you for opening up about your life, for sharing your thoughts and giving us your expertise.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you for your vulnerability and insight into the world you lived. What an amazing testimony of truth, redemption, and grace. You have an important platform with many people reaching out to stand where you are now. Many blessings to you.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Thank you for sharing something that is not easy to share. I’ve been broken by people. Used for their comfort and security. Used to lash out against and belittle. Used as an excuse for their pain, instead of them truly understanding the underlying cause. God has helped me through the years work on building up my self esteem and confidence, as well has humble me through forgiveness. 🙂

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  10. Thank you for sharing that part of you. As a daughter of an alcoholic it helps me to understand who my dad was and possibly what he was experiencing. He who also drank to forget – he wanted to forget the horrors of war. You are very courageous and strong. I know you are helping more people then you could ever imagine by your words. You are a blessing to many with your honesty.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Do not fear, but be glad and rejoice, because God will do great things. He has given you the former rain moderately, and now He will give you the former and the latter rains. The floors will be full of wheat, and the vats will overflow with wine and oil. You will have plenty, and praise God. His people will never be ashamed (Joel 2:21-26).

    Your greatest days are yet to come dear friend. True, complete, healing with abundant joy in your family and restored relationships all around you. The Lord is faithful to give back what the devil stole…plus some! 🙏🏻

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  12. Well it is interesting to read of your struggles with alcohol, and it’s good you seem to be on top of it. In my experience when one walks away from another human, whether by the silent treatment, or to physically remove themselves from a situation, it is for very real and legitimate reasons.

    Many people who drink to excess have a host of psychological issues, and usually a dysfunctional personality. There inner turmoil and unhappiness will be manifested in difficult relationships with others. There toxic characteristics , the jealousy, the selfishness, the ingratitude, their constant criticisms and faultfinding of others.
    There attempts to destroy the happiness and crush the spirit of others. People such as these I will walk away from, everyday. To save my soul and spirit. Unless and until such people go through some serious psychological therapy, the likelihood of them changing to any degree of normality is virtually nil.
    It’s all very christian to say to forgive and forget and move on. It dose not work in practice. Unless these toxic people, for that is what they are, and I feel sorry for them, have a massive character overhaul, ‘their’ issues will still remain, and a relationship with them, will never be smooth, peaceful and normal.

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    1. Hi I’m Stephen’s wife Fionnuala thank you for your feedback but I have to say I completely disagree with what you say. In order for me to get where I am today I have had to forgive, forget and move on or else I would have become full of hate and bitterness which would have made me toxic. By showing my husband love and forgiveness it has helped him fight his demons and overcome his addictions and be the man I fell in love with when we first met. People can change all they need is for someone else to show a bit of faith and hope in them when they can’t see any themselves.

      I will pray that one day you will stretch out the hand of forgiveness to someone rather than as you stated walk away from them.

      God Bless ♥️

      Liked by 1 person

  13. This is an amazing piece of art. As one who walked a similar path; your prose used to describe the reality? Spot on. I feel your pain; and congratulate you on your sobriety.

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  14. This is a beautiful and articulate illustration of the pain and shame addiction, in any form, imposes on a person. I am struggling with it myself currently, though in a different form. It is a demon…one that is difficult to conquer.

    Thank you for your words.

    Like

  15. Hello. I enjoyed reading your passage very much and of course I can identify. I never struggle with Alcohol, I am not much of a drinker but I think you and I both know the substance is irrelevant. My nights on drugs caused the same carnage. I can’t remember every dealer I robbed to get what I needed but I can remember every little thing I done wrong to my family and I am grateful to be alive so I can make an ongoing amends to them all. Keep doing what your doing. God Bless.

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  16. Thanks. I was never a blackout girl myself, which helped. Sort of. Like at least I remembered most all of what I would feel guilty and stupid about. I have someone close to me who drinks to blackout sometimes, but he never talks about how that makes him feel. When I read this I wonder if he feels guilty and ashamed. I think he does, but he has trouble talking about it because he’s shy and not into talking about feelings much. But then that probably feeds back into the old “shame cycle,” eh? I am feeling more compassion for him reading posts like yours, but trying not to enable him either. Tough line to walk!

    Like

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