Going "No Contact" means cutting off all forms of correspondence, communication and personal contact with a person who suffers from a personality disorder in order to protect yourself from recurring abuse.
There aren't many long term solutions for dealing with a person with a personality disorder. Going No Contact (NC) is a solution that is sometimes necessary to prevent recurring abuse.
Going No Contact is an example of setting Boundaries. NC is generally considered to be the boundary of last resort for a Non in trying to protect themselves from dysfunctional or abusive behavior.
Going No Contact is often a painful decision to make - as you may have to let go of the persistent hope that a loved-one will get "better".
Going No Contact is not an attempt to change a person or to teach them a lesson. If it were it wouldn't be "No Contact" but a bluff and an ill-advised one at that. Going No Contact is more about protecting yourself and letting go of the need or desire to change another person.
If you are experiencing recurring abuse as an adult you need to take responsibility that you may be 'enabling' or 'allowing' the abuse to recur to some extent. If the person with the personality disorder doesn't have the self control or capacity to stop abusing you, the only way to make it stop is to go NC. If you have grown up as a child of a personality disordered individual, it may always have been that way and that may have become a way of life for you. You may not realize that you have to make the choice to not be abused.
Going No Contact is a touchy subject. Some people don't feel comfortable with the idea of cutting off a family member for life and facing the consequences of what they or others might think of you. Making the decision to go NC is never easy and is more like choosing the lesser of two evils. It may feel like a death of sorts - the death of a relationship. You may find yourself grieving or mourning the loss of "what could have been". You may feel deeply depressed as a consequence of going NC.
Going No Contact is not necessarily a decision to stop loving the person. It is a decision to stop struggling with them and let them be who they are going to be while not letting their behavior hurt you any more.
People who go No Contact sometimes feel a great deal of Fear, Obligation and Guilt (FOG) about it:
Fear - They may fear the retribution or anger of the person whom they have cut off. People with personality disorders have an intense fear of abandonment or need to be admired and may react destructively, vengefully or even violently when faced with the humiliation of being shut out of a family member or former partner's life.
They may also fear the misunderstanding and anger of other family members, friends and acquaintances. Some of these third parties may feel like they are being left to "deal with it" and may express anger about that . They may also feel anger at their own situation while they don't have the nerve to take such a step.
Obligation - Many people will resist going No Contact out of a sense of loyalty to a relationship, marriage or family unit and out of a fear of being judged by others. People who leave a marriage or family are often misunderstood as being selfish, over-reacting, disloyal, unfaithful petty, shallow and weak.
Guilt - People who go No Contact are familiar with guilt. They will often be subject to hoovering by the person whom they have cut off which serves to play upon those feelings of guilt. They may be made to feel like they are the ones who destroyed a trust, broke the promise or threw in the towel. In reality, the promise was broken and the trust was destroyed by the person who behaved abusively before the relationship ended.
People who go No Contact are likely to face a campaign of hoovering, both by the person whom they have cut off and by other family members and friends. It can be easy right after someone hurts you to feel like No Contact is the right way to go. However, when they start heaping all sorts of kindness and sweetness on you it can take an iron will to resist the temptation to give them "one more chance".
Some thoughts about going NC from our members...
"Aames" described No Contact like this on this thread in our support forum:
The greater part of NC is exercising our right NOT to be damaged by another person's words, moods or actions. It keeps us out of harm's way. It relieves us from the (often self-imposed) responsibility of carrying the other person's baggage.
It isn't about punishing them, but protecting, even nurturing, ourselves.
NC in the short term, can give us the distance from a situation or relationship that we require to gain perspective, and the time to examine our own role or reactions as well as how we feel about the other person and whether we can resolve a conflict, or if we even want to. It creates the space we need to heal, forgive (ourselves and others) if necessary, learn from the experience and either resume the relationship in order to take it in a new direction, or, if the circumstances and our feelings about them direct - leave it behind, for the betterment of both parties.
NC in the long term, isn't necessarily rooted in holding a grudge (though it can be sometimes, of course) - but rather, as part of our own decision to move on and leave behind the damaging people and experiences of our lives while we work towards more healthful relationships and living.
When is it appropriate to go No Contact?
- When a person has used a threat or an act of violence against you, your children or themselves.
- When there is a history or track record of verbal or emotional abuse directed towards you.
- When abuse is recurring or habitual or your boundaries are consistently disregarded.
- When the person who is hurting you is capable of taking care of themselves (not a child or dependent).
- When you have thought it through and decided this is the best solution for all concerned.
- When you are able to let go of any desire to change or fix the other person.
- When you are ready to work on yourself and become the best that YOU can be.
When is it inappropriate to go No Contact?
- When you want to teach the other person a lesson
- When you are reacting impulsively in anger over a recent event.
- When you share children with the other person.
- When the person who hurt you is a child or dependent or an adult who is not able to take care of themselves.
- When you are bluffing and intend to go back.
Here's another insight from "kayjewel", one of our support board members:
There is a fundamental difference between No contact (NC) and Silent treatment (ST), and it's a big one:
The purpose of NC is to disengage from the toxic person or situation. That means your intention is to disengage emotionally, mentally and physically. When you go NC, you take your focus off the toxic person and refocus onto yourself: your own life and your family of choice.
Of course, since going NC is a radical step, we usually don't do it perfectly at first. We may feel guilty, or think of the toxic person with anger. But our intention is to pull away from the dysfunctional system that we were trapped in, the relationship with the toxic person or the toxic Family of Origin. In other words, NC is a step toward mental health. It's a step toward reclaiming our own lives and our psychological integrity.
By contrast, when someone does the Silent Treatment (ST), they are acting from within their dysfunction. ST is a toxic act, and it is meant to be toxic. Someone doing ST is very much engaged emotionally and mentally with the person who's the object of their ST. The purpose of ST is to "get to" the other person, to get a rise out of them, and generally to reinforce their connection with the person doing ST, albeit in a negative, creepy way.
Another one of our members, Catia, wrote the following about going NC with her mother:
I'm NC 6+ years--maybe 7...
I will tell you that it has been the MOST LIBERATING EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE.
I will never go back to having contact with her, period.
Not for grandchildren (LOL especially not for them!!!), not for illness, not for any crisis real or imagined--not for all of the $$ in the world.
For the 1st time, my life is my own, for real--you will have no idea what this feels like until you're about 1 full year into NC--but I promise you, it's the most life altering experience you will ever have!
I had 2 tries of NC before my 3rd and final--both times lasted less than a year--these "failed attempts" were not a real failure--In hindsight now, I realize this fully.
The "obsessing" happens.
Under normal circumstances, I'd call it "obsessing"--but these are not normal circumstances.
What you are experiencing is a lot of different things rolled into 1 --
You have guilt, anxiety, anger--and fear of the unknown outcome as the result of the NC...
Also, there is a "mourning process" that occurs and it takes a year or so to acclimate to your new and QUIET drama free environment, mourn the mother that you never had, and will never receive--heal your inner child...
Lots of stuff happened in my 1st 2 years of NC--this is where you get to work on you--without your mother manipulating and gaslighting and stealing the attention of you being able to focus on yourself.
If you have truly made up your mind to remain NC, you gotta be strong against not only your mother, but her minions as well--they come out of the woodwork to draw you back in--plenty of this the 1st year. She will personally referee this drama, she'll cry victim, you'll want to defend yourself against the accusations that are bound to fly.
This is all just a smear campaign...
If you're ready for NC, you're ready NOT to verbally, or in writing defend yourself against these false accusations as well--there's nothing to defend--it's all fabricated bullshit anyway.
Remaining NC IS THE DEFENSE--
It can empower you on a level you never thought possible.
NC isn't for every situation, but when dealing with a BPD parent who refuses to stop being abusive emotionally, it is definitely a solution.
Remaining in the abusive relationship will never end the abuse--even if you go MC (Medium Chill) --you'll be forced to still tolerate some level of abuse, and walk away when you can not tolerate it anymore...but NC eliminates that completely.
You will have to put a tremendous amount of thought into this--which I sense you are now doing--and you're trying to process the "what if's"--this is good--it's not obsessing.
You must feel comfortable within your decision, and you have to decide how you will handle all future family events--holidays, birthdays, births, deaths...it's a lot to think about.
What is it that's on your mind that isn't settled?
BTW--my mother may NEVER EVER be able to see how crazy she is. Nothing I can say or do will ever allow that to occur. In all of my time on several boards, dealing with thousands of people, LOL, we all seem to want this to occur--It does not. It's not in her nature, it's an impossibility.
Also, don't accept gifts, it opens a window where you've closed the door, and it will make you feel obligated in some way--NC is NC, no contact of any kind, under any circumstances.
Keep that in mind for the future, and send gifts, and cards back--via mail, not in person.
If you have kids, their gifts still count as contact, because you are responsible for them. Best to not let the kids even know of any gifts and send them back--this keeps the kids out of it.
Sorry, but this is a part of it, NC doesn't work as intended if you allow some contact and not other--that's what MC (Medium Chill) is for.
Are you able to be fully NC?
Like I said, it's not for everybody.