I believe that a very important part of getting over a relationship is in what you do AFTER it’s over. Many, myself included, have gone through (or are going through) severe withdrawal. But whether you’re the one who did the breaking up or it was imposed upon you, it’s essential that you don’t try to run back and make contact again. You’re only hurting yourself and sabotaging your dignity. So, it’s time, instead, to cleanse your system of the toxicity and prepare for a new life. But how?
Many of us institute what’s called “NC” or “No Contact,” and it’s exactly what it says: NO CONTACT with your person of addiction. In harsher terms NC simply means quitting your drug of choice and going through the unpleasant consequences of withdrawal.
This is extremely hard to do. The pain of going through withdrawal is often so severe that we sometimes run back to the PoA just to avoid this new pain. The pain of the relationship almost seems bearable compared to that of withdrawal.
But trust me, it’s only temporary!
And to take the edge off, you should PLAN before you leap out of the relationship, or soon after the relationship has ended.
Think about good ‘ol Chris Columbus. Do you think he just hopped on the Santa Maria to set sail for the new world with just his hat and compass? Heck no. He never would have made it. He knew his voyage was to last many months so he PREPARED, had a crew and loads of food to back him up.
Heading into NC is much the same. You need to plan. The better you are at taking care of yourself during this time, the more you have to fall back on, the less chance your attempt at NC will fail. Here are a few tips:
1. Exercise! I know, I know. You’re in pain and can’t get out of bed. But exercise is a proven mood enhancer. You need to force yourself to stay busy, and cardio is by far, at the top of the list for survival tactics. Find a gym, or get into a weekly exercise routine. Not only will you feel better and be distracted, but after withdrawal…you’ll be much healthier and maybe even have a killer body.
2. Have a hobby available to keep you busy, or two or three. A lot of addictive people claim that “working with your hands” is the best as it forces you to keep your mind on the task at hand.
3. Get ready to eat your favorite stuff. Addiction is Oral. Even love addiction. Stock up on “feel good” foods at least until you get through the initial withdrawal phase (if you are concerned about weight, make healthier choices, chew gum, sugarless lollipops etc.!) But right now is not the time to worry about putting on a *few* (and I mean few!) extra pounds. Your NC takes priority. You can lose the weight when you are feeling better.
4. Have friends and family ready to talk and listen. Make sure they know what you’re attempting so that you have extra support. If family members aren’t supportive, seek out friends or support groups; people who will understand what you might be going through.
5. Make plans, goals and activities that would NOT have included PoA (go to the movies by yourself, attend a concert, visit the bookstore, sit at a cafe and people-watch etc.)
6. If you can, go out and shop. Buy yourself something NICE. Remember to pamper yourself through withdrawal. The nicer you are to yourself and the more resources you have to get through withdrawal, the more SUCCESSFUL YOU WILL BE!
7. Go get a massage, a manicure, a pedicure…WHATEVER. My all time favorite: changing the color of my hair. Nothing too drastic. But enough to make me feel revived. A box of hair color at the grocery store is not expensive if you’re on a budget.
8. Get involved in a TV or HBO series, or a sitcom. Comedy is your best choice. It serves to distract AND lighten your mood.
9. MAKE SURE YOU DO NOT TURN YOUR NC INTO A BAD THING. You have a choice: you can think positively about what you are doing for yourself, or negatively. THINK POSITIVE. It’s a happy time. Not a sad time. You are NOT…I REPEAT NOT losing anything worthwhile. YOU ARE GAINING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GAINING YOUR LIFE BACK.
10. Remember the Ten Minute Rule. It’s a SAFETY NET for those moments of intense craving. For example, whenever you feel the intense URGE to call or make contact, say to yourself, “first let me post this message on the LAA board” or “let me take a brisk walk for Ten Minutes.” Meditate, breathe, whatever you can do…do it for ten minutes. Cravings tend to pass within minutes and you will be OK again.
11. Post here or on the recovery boards often. The LAA Recovery Boards are a support group. Someone WILL respond to you. Perhaps you could make that your safety net when you have a crave. Post first and say,I will wait until someone responds to my post before entertaining the idea of contact. By then, the craving will most likely have passed.
12. Practice the art of positive Self Talk. You MUST reaffirm, daily, your reasons and motivations for wanting to keep NC. The more you “brainwash” yourself into believing and understanding that NC is the ONLY WAY to go, you will be convinced. Tell yourself things like, “hang in there,” “I can do this,” “Keeping NC and staying away is an ACT OF SELF LOVE,” and “I am Worth it…”
13. Keep a journal. It’s one of the healthiest ways to cleanse your soul. To get to know who you are. To see, on paper, what you are feeling. Besides, it busts a crave! In your journal, keep a LIST of things you can do to keep busy. Fall back on this list if you find yourself fantasizing about your PoA, or bored or feeling “empty.” Make it a long list. You’re going to need the choices!
14. SOme other distractions you can keep in your arsenal if craves/withdrawal gets bad:
- Take a shower (you can’t use the phone from the there),
- take a nap,
- clean the house,
- leave your cell phone at home,
- go swimming,
- take a bath,
- call a FRIEND,
- make an appointment somewhere (salon, doc office, dentist, etc.),
- do crossword puzzles,
- play solitaire,
- go to the gym,
- ride your bike,
- bake a cake,
- paint something,
- write a novel,
- find a new job
- research your ancestors
- learn an instrument
- take a class
- get your degree
- if you already have a degree, get a second one
- invent something
- learn how to budget your money
- watch all Suze Orman’s videos
- volunteer at a zoo or animal shelter
- join a political campaign
Bottom line: STAY BUSY and KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE PRIZE. You are doing a good thing for yourself. Getting through withdrawal is hard, but it’s a matter of determination and self conditioning. We’ve been through much worse pain than this. We can definitely handle a few months of withdrawal. IT DOES GET BETTER. YOU WILL FEEL BETTER. But you must see NC as a priority; something worth your time and effort.
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