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Maia's Withdrawal Survival Guide (repost for newbies)

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Maia posted 12/6/2006 10:31 AM

This is a cut/paste from a previous post, a little bit modified for clarity. Hope it helps.

I will add that now i know that my own withdrawal was so intense because of grief over a lot of other things besides AP... but at the beginning it was all focused on the loss of AP and nearly drove me insane. So do not despair if you suffer a lot of pain and think that it "must be true love or it wouldn't hurt like this" That is a lie. You have other issues. But you have to get through this pain for now...and so here are my suggestions, what worked for me.


okay, I'd be one of those who dealt with withdrawal for a year plus. And with obsessive thoughts. So lemme roll up my sleeves and tell you what's helped me.

first three or four months out I was on the floor unable to function. I found a message board and posted there constantly to start sorting out all i felt and thought. Also signed up with a GREAT family therapist for IC. He gave me the Feeling Good Handbook. I read it voraciously. Go get it. He asked me a question I'll never forget.

"what do you lose by losing FOM?"

answering that helped.

I started making a list of lies I had believed about myself and my marriage and FOM.

that helped too. So when a thought popped in I would replace it with the truth. The truth really does set you free. The uncovering of lies is always ongoing.

I'd been a Precept leader at one point. I started an inductive Bible study on love in the the Bible. I hit Song of Solomon pretty hard and enrolled in a class in it with my H at church. also worked through 1 Peter together. (

I prayed a lot. I got prayer from others. there is a Prayer thread on the I Can Relate board for this purpose. Go join if you are so inclined. I honestly do not care if you are Wiccan or Hindu. I will pray for you. Post requests. No bashing will be found there.

I have two friends I can talk to any time. Being honest and open with people helped me be honest with self. I think a lot of the thoughts were a result of bottling it all up, keeping silent for years.

I changed my playlist. Any music that triggered me got zapped.

I changed my route home. I changed grocery stores, avoided places that triggered me.

I turned to my husband, opening up and talking for HOURS. Yes about FOM. That man deserves a medal. Honestly.

I felt a connection. The only way I can describe it is haunted, where I 'd feel like he was in the room with me. When one of those waves hit it was really hard. But I just decided that a connection didn't mean I had to keep being connected. I didn't have to act on it. Maybe it was just my imagination. A big imagination with a strong will acting on it can be a scary thing. But either way I made a conscious decision I was not going to act in those times. A couple of times I broke and emailed but when I did I told my H. It is important that when you fail yourself that you do NOT GIVE UP. You get up and start all over. A relapse is not the end of the world. It is an opportunity to discover the trigger and deactivate it.

I dug and dug and dug for what it was that was the root of it all.

I logged the thoughts. Times, exactly what they were. Reading them helped a lot. I could see how stupid they were. I studied the stages of grief so I could identify when I was bargaining, angry, in denial, etc. A quote from a post someone had helped me see this:

the five stages of grief…
1. DENIAL – the shock of finally realizing that it’s only an A to MM and MM is not leaving his BW or giving up anything (for some of us it’s a D-day and the realization that we were not that important as MM led us to believe in the grand scheme of their lives…just fill in the blank ________
2. ANGER --- you realize that MM is a rat bastard or you realize that MM is a “nice guy” but he dragged you along to keep is life OK…or a host of other angry thoughts…just fill in the blank _______
3. BARGAINING --- if I accept things the way they are I can still be in MM’s life and I’ll feel OK. I might be able to see him at work and keep the conversations light...I might be able to call him from time to time and “just be friends” any contact is better than no contact…just fill in the blank _________
4. DEPRESSION --- I am sh*t, I am nothing…I deserve this treatment…What am I going to do without him…I cannot go on…just fill in the blank _________
5. ACCEPTANCE --- OK…this is wearing me out and getting me no where…MM is staying where he is with BW and I’m sitting home alone and doing nothing but vegetating. I have to make more out of my life than sitting around waiting to be with MM … I’m going to live my life…and, hey! It’s not so bad being stress free of all the bullsh*t!...just fill in the blank ________

you are in the bargaining stage of the stages of grief. Any type of contact with MM is better than nothing. Loving him unconditionally and waiting in the background as long as you can still have him in your life in any way. Making a deal with yourself to ease the pain to avoid what is reality.

Please investigate the stages of grief and you will realize what you are doing at this time during the ending of your A. The Anger, Bargaining and Depression stages can fluctuate and toggle back in forth throughout the whole experience.

Eventually you will reach acceptance regarding your MM and realize that the situation will not improve for you and you will become increasingly unhappy.

I tried to be thankful. I made a thankful list to record all the blessings I have and to dwell on those instead of my envy or lust or anger.

slowly the content of the thoughts changed. slowly I felt better, able to function. Slowly I saw him differently.

I modified the 12 steps and tried to practice them. I listened to a lot of sermons online. Alisdair Begg, Chuck Swindoll (he has several series on marriage that just rock) I read Gandhi. I read Joseph Campbell and thought about the hero quest and how it applied to me.

and I worked hard at identifying the things in my marriage that hurt, that I wanted to escape from. I faced those things...this is ongoing. Instead of stuffing my thoughts and feelings I started to tell my H. We went to MC.

I had to forgive FOM and myself and H. I had to forgive a lot of other people too as old wounds that still affected me were brought to light. still have to some days.

I studied abandonment and worked through the AKERU exercises ( The inner dialogues helped me a lot . I worked through a lot of stuff at I read the Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Read it aloud to my H. We went through the Emotional Needs Questionnaire at I have tried to adhere to the things they teach there.

I learned how to take a wave apart and look at it. What led up to it? why was I upset ? what exactly was I thinking? what need could be met exactly and how could it be met in a healthy way? what was I running from or afraid of? what did I need to confess? or accept? what lie did I need to replace with truth? where did I need to repent? what habits did I need to change? I 'd pick a habit and work on stopping whatever it was. one of my big ones was tarot. I was NOT walking with God throughout those years and got really new age. I did tarot all day sometimes. it got chucked. All the books, all the decks, all my online memberships. I read cards professionally for a while, that had to end too. I'd look at what led up to it. Anatomy of a wave. I'd try to find what triggered it. And usually it was stress or anxiety about something going on right now. A bad phone call, a pressure on me from work. Knowing that helped me to find other ways to handle the stress. It wasn't HIM I missed, it was the support. I needed to find new outlets, new supports, some of them from within. Most of them from within.

you know? the wave of pain? It was normally brought on by "magical thinking" As a good friend told me:
"It is also important to recognize that we feed our addiction with our minds. It is a bitch. An alki has to go buy and drink the booze; a junky has to score and shoot the dope, all we have to do is replay the past or fantasize about the future. "

see in an A you build in little habits to keep connected when you don't see the person. To keep it alive.

so you have to dismantle that whole apparatus. you know what it is... maybe you visit certain places on the web or listen to certain music, replay certain memories. it has to stop. you have to switch gears. Replace those things. do that for your husband, your kids, your family and friends instead.

I covered my computer with sticky notes. Whatever is good, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is excellent or worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things. Any thoughts not meeting the criteria get booted or examined or both.

I read anything and everything I could find.

one thing I really struggled with was competing desires. opposing competing desires. I 'd list the desires, all of them and determine which ones were in conflict and then try to figure out why and where they were coming from. I prayed a lot for my desires to change and be godly. sow a thought reap an action. sow an action reap a habit. sow a habit reap a character. sow a character, reap a destiny.

I discovered that I was an idolater. I worked hard to make my god my God again.

another idea that struck me as powerful and set me on the right path:

">>>Just trying to figure this out...what is it about xMM that makes us so obsessive over him? Why is it that, although its obvious that so many of the women out there attempting to get over him are intelligent, we get sucked into a relationship that is so wrong and so difficult to dismiss? <<<

There is a very simple answer to that: it isn't really anything about xMM. It's us.

Easy enough to turn away from somebody not right for you, once you see them for what/who they are. But once you imbue them with stuff *you* yourself provide - projecting ideals, coloring in the blanks with stuff of your own making - it's a different ballgame. Because it is a hell of a lot more difficult to turn away from yourself.

If you have ever taken a psych 101 class, you know how easy it is to simply reflect a person back at herself. All you do is repeat what they said, only with a question mark at the end.

Somebody tells you: "I hate my mother."
All you do is repeat, with question mark: "You hate your mother?"

You have not added anything to the conversation, much less shown even a tad of yourself. All you have done is play mirror. Yet, by giving this response, the other person will think that:

1) You understand them
2) You sympathize
3) You want to hear more and are genuinely interested

Such a simple technique, yet it works like a charm. Now combine this with a relationship that is highly charged. Both parties anxious and eager/fearful to see certain reactions. Time for communication often severely limited. The communication itself under much stress. The main priority often to establish that yes, we are still interested in each other - which takes precedence over any real, give-and-take, non-stressful communication. Voila: perfect conditions for projection on both sides.

So many blanks to fill in... and being in love, we fill them in with the highest and most beautiful things our minds and hearts can come up with. Try turning away from THAT. Try turning away from the best *you* have come up with.

The only way is to see it was you. Not them. Get it straight, take back yours, see it for what it is. Then, maybe, you can turn away."

some things I learned along the way...

NC=love for all involved.

friends is code for an EA. There is no being friends.

you don't have to WANT to do what is right. Do what is right and the wanting to can come later. You'll be happy you did.

your heart really will follow your head.

take it one hour at a time. Breathe. Deep breaths. That helps.
you know, I used to spend my days talking to him. It killed me to have to restructure my life. Like amputation.

one hour at a time.

When it got bad I would stop, look around the room and name colors, it helped me to be present in the NOW. Posting helped too. Focusing on my kids. Getting up and going for a walk. Calling a friend.

you can do this. Lie number ONE that your junkie mind will tell you is that you cannot do this. It is NOT TRUE. You can do this. It will get easier. You are UNCOMFORTABLE not UNABLE. they are not the same thing. Part of it is brain chemistry and it is physical. Go get antidepressants to help with that part. That will recede. It will get easier.

and on the other side lies self-respect.


About that getting forgiveness from OP...this will crop up and it is a temptation or lure to get you to break NC, it's bargaining. Do not break it.

however, you can imagine him/her forgiving you.

I did that. I get to choose how I view OM now because he is gone. And always will be, it doesnt matter. I know GOD has forgiven me, and I asked Him to let OM forgive me... and then I placed it in His hands. And then I just.. pictured OM forgiving. It doesnt matter if he has or not. I'll never interact with him again. I trust my Lord to take care of it. it isn't something I have to control. So you can imagine it, picture it... pray for him, and then let it go.

thats one thing I do ..still..if he does pop into my head. Because sometimes he does. I pray for him and his W and kids. I probably always will.

[This message edited by Maia at 9:59 AM, April 1st (Wednesday)]

Maia posted 12/6/2006 20:17 PM


14thebooks posted 12/7/2006 05:18 AM

Thanks for digging for this and posting it. It is really good. I will print it out and reread it when I need to (constantly!! LOL)I also changed my playlist, my route home (although my alternate route is a trigger - just less so). I changed my work hours... If I could afford to, I would throw out half my clothes. It's amazing the way I connect(ed) things to him! I almost can't watch t.v. because I hear "Ask your doctor about...." on every commecial. Plus I work in the medical field myself, so the triggers are EVERYWHERE anyway. Removing him physically is one thing -- but getting him out of my mind is a total other. You gave me some new ideas though. But I don't have any "friends" that know - except those on the forums and I could NEVER talk to my H about OM -- he still just wants to kill him. I have tried to gently explain my feelings to him, but it never goes well. Maybe it is too soon for him. But thanks again. It is clear you have done some serious work to invoke some serious change. Thanks for sharing.

[This message edited by 14thebooks at 5:19 AM, December 7th (Thursday)]

comingundone posted 12/7/2006 06:16 AM

Thank-you Maia.

conflicted04 posted 12/7/2006 06:16 AM

I say this is one for the healing library.

Maia posted 12/7/2006 09:17 AM

you're welcome.

buy the new clothes. honestly. It's Christmas. it's worth it. whatever it takes, as long as it takes.

the thing to remember is that you are wounded. You inflicted those wounds yourself but you are still wounded. Healing takes time. Don't think that just because there is pain it will never heal. A person whose leg is broken has pain while it mends. But it does mend. And you will walk again, unfettered.

Deeply Scared posted 12/7/2006 09:23 AM


This would be a wonderful addition for the Healing Library...are you game?

Maia posted 12/7/2006 09:32 AM

sure. (keep me from having to dig it out... lol)

[This message edited by Maia at 9:33 AM, December 7th (Thursday)]

Deeply Scared posted 12/7/2006 09:35 AM

I sent you a PM

vidajeanne posted 12/7/2006 22:20 PM

This is yummy spirit food!

DigDug posted 12/15/2006 08:52 AM


Maia posted 12/17/2006 11:47 AM

bump for JMD

Maia posted 12/30/2006 16:29 PM

bump for alanalan

Maia posted 1/9/2007 13:53 PM

bump for fencesitter :-)

Maia posted 1/25/2007 09:34 AM

bump for disappointedinme and a few others.

firmforever posted 1/27/2007 09:25 AM

bumping for newbie, Maia also I would love for you to add what you said to be about picture OM forgiving you, that was an awesome point that shouldn't be missed.

Maia posted 2/9/2007 13:47 PM

bumpity bumpity

Sandcrab posted 2/9/2007 20:26 PM

And again so this doesn't get lost!

NoClue07 posted 2/10/2007 05:50 AM


Thanks so much - this is printed for constant reference.

Maia posted 2/19/2007 15:25 PM

bumpity bumpity for Sierra

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