Breaking No Contact: 7 Tips to Avoid a Relapse

narcissist-abuse-recoveryFor 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.

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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.

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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.

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17 Comments

  • Diana Wyatt

    November 24, 2016 at 11:42 am Reply

    Thank you,for reminding me that I am not to blame. I’ve beaten myself up over and over . If only I had done this or had not done that. The signs were there and I chose to ignore them . I do know the role that I played but I also know that I did not deserve to be treated like garbage . I will never forget him talking about his exwife and how she was his puppet. That’s when I knew that I was his puppet , also. It’s been the most painful thing that I have ever been through. I feel bad for anyone that has ever gone through this , it is just like they say , a drug, you know it’s bad for you and fighting the urge for more of it , is extremely hard . I know that I am stronger than this . Today is not a good day, tomorrow will be better .

    • Zari Ballard

      November 24, 2016 at 8:42 pm Reply

      Hi Diane,

      No, you are not to blame and that’s a fact. They will always make us feel the exact opposite and this is intentional. A narcissist wants to always keep us in a heightened state of guilt and anxiety all the time and they do a very good job. Unfortunately, as a result, we become addicted to the very drama that we hate. I agree, it is awful. If you ever get a chance, read my book When Love Is a Lie. In it, I talk about all of it…the whole dynamic of being with a narc…and how I finally broke myself free.

      Yes, sister, today may not be a good day but tomorrow will definitely be better. One day at a time is all that we can do:)

      Zari xo

  • RV

    April 22, 2016 at 8:09 pm Reply

    I absolutely love your writing and explanations of these creatures and the exact effect they have on every cell in our bodies. You know them well Zari. They are all made of the same cloth. After umpteen times of trying to get rid of this leech I think he’s finally gone. The final text I told him to stay out of my life. And he came back with “you too”. He’s the one that could never take no for an answer and wouldn’t leave me alone even though he didn’t ever really want me in his life. So I texted him back and said how fucking weird are you cuz YOU wouldn’t ever leave ME alone. That got him and he said he was deleting me from his contacts. I should have left it at that but I had more to say. I told him I what an incredible loser he is and that I wished our paths had never crossed and that he’s the most evil THING I’ve ever known. Almost 5 years playing mind games with this guy. He hurt and lied and confused me more than any other. He even lied when he didn’t have to!! I finally found out some truth to his other life. Not only was he stilled married when we met (of course he said he was divorced) but I just found out he has 26 legal issues on record since 2010. Going as high as the superior courts. He’s a loser and although my heart and soul are still mending from this illusion of love, I am so relieved I never gave up my life completely for him. My gut kept telling me things just weren’t adding up and I was always half sick when I was getting ready to see him again. Now I’m so glad my doubts saved me from this gnat. I have never had an experience as ugly as this in my life. Even brain surgery was easier than this. These guys are not human. They are evil multiplied!

  • Kristie

    April 22, 2016 at 7:01 pm Reply

    I stumbled upon your page and have spent the past few hours reading through nearly everything you’ve posted. I only recently was able to identify and label what I went through after five years of spinning in confusion. Since being able to identify the dynamic I’ve found an unbelievable amount of validation, however reading your articles opened up a dozen other doors of identical situations that I’ve encountered and felt alone in navigating. The trauma bonding, the hoovering, the future faking, the codependency to hope, all of these new terms that I never knew of have given me a way of identifying and making sense of all that I went through. Currently the no contact has been the biggest hurdle to recovery as I’ve been working to move on for over a year and he uninvitedly finds a way to come into my life, push all of my buttons, and then vanish, leaving me as mad and frustrated as when we fought when we were together.

    Thank you so much for all of your writing. It has provided me with a significant amount of validation that no one else has been able to understand.
    Lots and lots of love.

    • Zari Ballard

      April 30, 2016 at 1:22 am Reply

      Hi Kristie,

      I’m grateful that you found your way to my blog. If you can, download my book When Love Is a Lie from Amazon. It’s a cheap and easy read and you will see yourself all over it. The more validation and confirmation, the better.

      Recovery is a team effort…come back often and thank you for sharing:)

      Zari xo

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