For every narcissist abuse victim who initiates No Contact, there will inevitably be times where a relapse back to the N feels like the path of least resistance. This is the time that we have to really concentrate on standing our ground and it takes a bit of mental work to do it. During consults, I am always asked about this issue and while I certainly sympathize with the feeling of FINALLY kicking these douche bags to the curb and now just wanting to feel better instantly, the truth is that there’s no easy fix. The good news, however, is that there are ways to maintain the NC mission that really work. It’s all about changing our perspective and, of course, being patient.
So, without further ado, here are my TOP SEVEN TIPS for maintaining mental control during the No Contact Break-up:
Be wary of feeling TOO good TOO soon. When no contact is our decision, there’s usually an initial rush of empowerment that makes us feel light as a feather. In fact, the feeling can be so good that we forget to prepare for any down time as if it will never come – but of course it will! Understanding that a hangover-style crash after the high is a normal part of the process can prevent slip-ups and sometimes even extend the high. The trick is to WORK THROUGH IT. No one said recovery was going to be easy. In fact, it’s going to get worse again before it gets better than it was before it got worse. [Read that sentence again slowly to grasp the meaning]. The good news, though, is that if you stay with the program, that initial high will eventually return and it will be as powerful – if not more so – than we remembered. It’s okay to enjoy the rush as long as you are prepared for the down time. Don’t allow yourself to get discouraged. Patience, grasshopper.
Realize that suffering changes nothing – and do it differently. Understand that we can suffer and cry until we pass out but life for the narcissist continues on as usual. Absolutely NOTHING changes on his end which means that all of our (post-break) suffering is for naught all the time. Whether we suffer or not, he’s still going to do all those things that we worry he’ll do. In fact, while we’re worrying, he’s already done it! Think about it. How many times have you cried for days – maybe even months – during a break-up/silent treatment only to have the narcissist hoover and return as if nothing even happened? Why suffer if it changes not a fucking thing? We might as well appreciate the silence and be happy! No one will be the wiser!
Whatever you do, never quit on a down day. During NC, there will always be days when the urge to contact the narc feels so overwhelming that we fear losing control of the situation. When this happens, take five minutes to consciously POSTPONE the action of contact until a day when you’re feeling better. As crazy as it sounds, I discovered that postponing the actual action of contact instead of forcing myself to completely resist it gave me instant control over the urge. Resisting the urge to break contact only seemed to make it more likely to happen! If we postpone the urge for as long as it takes to get to a day when we feel better, by the time that day finally occurs, I guarantee that contacting the narc will NOT be at the top of your to-do list. Suddenly, the act itself and all of the anxiety involved won’t feel like such a good idea. Instead, you’ll breathe a gigantic sigh of relief that you didn’t give in on that down day and the stretch of good days will begin to last longer.
Postpone & Pretend. To expedite the recovery process, I created a little mental trick that always worked and I call it The Game of Postpone & Pretend. Similar to postponing the action of contact, this game helps to postpone those waves of sudden sadness. Whenever tears are triggered, take five minutes to consciously postpone the feeling for 24 hours. In other words, promise yourself that you can cry all day tomorrow if you want to and then continue PRETENDING that all is okay. Fake it ‘till you make it! The next day, do it all over again. Eventually, in a short period of time, you’ll realize that days have passed without you ever having to postpone a thing.
Find something to do. Since suffering changes nothing, it’s time to get busy. What do you like to do? After never drawing so much as a stick figure my whole life, I turned to YouTube to teach me how to paint. Now I have paintings of seascapes all over my house and I love it. For anything you ever wanted to do or dreamed about doing, there’s a YouTube video that will show you how to do it – and it’s all free. Paint a picture. Learn an instrument. WRITE A BOOK. Go on vacation with a friend. I don’t care what you do but you MUST pass the time because time must pass.
Call me. I can’t express the importance of speaking with someone who has been there, rocked that. Back when I was going through it, there was NOBODY and it drained my soul. Most of us have friends and family that are sick and tired of living the drama with us day in and day out. They simply don’t “get it” and never will and who can blame them? The key is to create a strategy for re-training your brain back to normal. It’s all about changing your perspective of the experience and helping people to get to that point is what I do best.
Do not blame yourselves. Those of you who are familiar with my work know that I don’t subscribe to any style of therapy that pushes a “victim-blame” philosophy. The way I see it, after spending umpteen years being blamed by the narcissist for EVERYTHING that happened throughout the course of the relationship, why on earth should we continue the tradition into recovery? To do this would be completely non-productive. As far as I’m concerned, you are perfect just the way that you are.
Don’t give up and don’t give in, brothers and sisters! Loving the narcissist is NOT your destiny. When we decide to silence the chaos ourselves, there is always a natural tendency to want to run backwards…to panic…to want to return to the rabbit hole to that which is familiar. Understand that this is a false feeling – and this too shall pass. Make every day of no contact Silence Appreciation Day.
The easiest fix of all is simply the passing of time. Allow it to happen.