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Going Gray Rock, a default or learned response in Narcissistic Abuse?

by Matt Pappas

It’s an interesting question to ponder, when you go “gray rock” with a Narcissistic person, is that a default response or a learned response? Normally, one might likely think that this is a learned response, but I believe the answer I believe lies in the middle, and here’s why.

Firstly, what does “Going Gray Rock”, really mean anyway? It’s way to cut off the Narcissistic Supply that the Narcissist has been getting from you. If they can’t get the validation they need from you, they are more likely to go elsewhere for it and leave you alone. Basically, you are giving boring, mundane, short, generic responses to any interaction they attempt to engage with you.

What is Narcissistic Supply – basically it’s what keeps a Narcissistic going, it’s what fuels their fire. – “Anything that builds the narcissist’s ego up and re-affirms their feelings of superiority, grandiosity, and entitlement”. NarcissisticLife.com gives a good, easy to read, breakdown if you’d like to know more. 

No matter what they say or do around you, what questions they ask, or how much they try to push you into further interaction of any type, you just respond with short answers, no emotion, no validation, and basically just not give them the time of day. If you can’t go No Contact with the person, then low contact is the next best thing. By using the Gray Rock technique of dealing with a Narcissist, you are protecting yourself, putting yourself first, and letting that person know that they no longer have any power over you.

In many cases, going No Contact is just not possible for a variety of reasons: You live with the person(s), work with them, perhaps it’s a family friend who comes over often; basically any situation where you have to see this person for some amount of time on a regular basis. If that’s the case, using Gray Rock and going as low contact as possible may be in your best interest.

I went Gray Rock with my mother in my early teenage years and didn’t even realize I was doing it. (Back then I had no idea what that even was). I used to think it was just me being a rebellious teenager and not wanting to let my parents nose into my business. After all, I was living the life I wanted too after so long, and enjoying myself, so why would I want them bringing me down and trying to make me feel bad about it. She spent far too long doing that as it was and I had to put a stop to it.

This went well beyond just the rebellious teenager attitude; looking back it was more about self-preservation and self-care than just about me wanting to “do my own thing and stick it to powers that be, in my life.”

You can read about the trials of my younger years by checking out some previous posts that I wrote about here on the blog.

All throughout my early years living at home, I was constantly questioned about my clothes, my hair, my music, my attitude, my grades, my friends, my outlook on life…you name it and it was a source of tension in the household. Mainly because I was living a life that my parents just did not agree with and over time it the drove the already existing going gray rock - narcissistic abuse quote - surviving my pastwedge in our relationship, even deeper.

No longer was I going to let her get a rise out of me, see me get upset, see me cry, watch me get so frustrated that I started to shake. I could no longer allow her to feel validated about how good she was and how bad I was, so I cut it off at the source. No more Narcissistic Supply for you!

All interactions became short, unemotional answers:  “Yes, No, Yeah, Not Really, I’m Fine, Don’t Worry about it”….you get the idea.

I opened up to my friends, sure, and I was fully capable of having fun outside of the home, but inside I was a recluse, closed off, quiet kid who kept to myself. If I was home it was only because I had to be, to do homework, or just biding my time until I could get out to see my friends. Pretty much my goal was to do anything other than be there, so I made it a point to come home as late as possible, whenever possible.

That was as low contact as I could get being a young kid living at home.

Within the last year, I’ve gone almost no contact, only seeing her when I have too for my kids, or if I want to hang out with my dad (in which case my mother has to be there due to his Alzheimer’s). Even then, I will concentrate on talking with him and limit face to face contact with her as much as possible.

Does it ever cause me to feel guilty? Very much so initially, and at times it does even now. It’s necessary though for my own well-being. The guilt is mainly because of my dad, so to say that I’m between a rock and hard place is an understatement.

No matter how long you practice putting yourself first, you still can get those twinges of “damn this feels selfish”.  It’s important to not allow that mindset to take hold like it perhaps once did. From the moment you realize that you were the victim of Narcissistic Abuse, and you begin taking your life back, you also begin taking the Narcissistic supply. By doing all of that, you are validating yourself!

You are doing what’s best for you, and that’s a good thing. You deserve to put your own well-being first.

While we may not have been born with the knowledge of what gray rock is, or why we should do it, often times we begin to use this technique without even realizing it. Once we do realize it, we are validated in what we did and we can continue to enforce those healthy boundaries.

-Matt

Reference – Skylar-180Rule.com

Pictures courtesy of Pixabay. Social Media images created by Matt Pappas using Canva.

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3 comments

sherylburpeedluginski March 29, 2017 - 10:18 am

Never heard the term before, but now I understand what it is/was I do with the narcissists in my family. Thanks for giving me the language to move to a deeper level of awareness and validation.

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TheWorryGames May 3, 2017 - 5:36 am

Great post Matt. I cannot say enough what good advice I think this is. I have had a few narcississtic (I loathe typing that word. Spell check mocks me every time.) people in my life and had I done this on a consistent basis it would have been such a help to me. Thanks so much for sharing!

Reply
Matt May 8, 2017 - 12:09 pm

Thank you so much! Going Gray Rock has been so a huge part of my life as an adult survivor, and also looking back at when I was younger.
You are doing amazing things on The Worry Games, keep up the great work. I’m a big fan of your blog and your message.

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