Even under the best of circumstances, breakups can be horrible. But if you are dealing with high emotional sensitivity, low self-confidence, and unhealed trauma as is common in early addiction recovery, getting dumped can be life threatening, especially if it triggers the urge to relapse.
The good news is that this does not have to break you or your recovery. In fact, with the right perspective and coping skills, you can come through it stronger and better prepared to move forward in recovery.
Dealing with a Breakup
If you are going through a breakup and having a hard time bouncing back, here are a few things you can do to help yourself get through the tough times and get back to building your life in recovery.
1. Let yourself grieve. Give yourself permission to fully experience the pain you are feeling associated with the breakup. During active addiction, you may have immediately sought to numb your pain with drugs and alcohol, meaningless sex, or other reckless behavior, but in recovery, it is important to do the hard work of feeling your feelings and giving yourself the time necessary to heal.
2. Know that your current state is not the new status quo. It is important to remember that even though you may feel completely devastated and like your heart has been shattered, the fact is that this too shall pass. Though the emotions can feel overwhelming, especially in early recovery when you feel fragile and/or vulnerable, each day will move you a little bit closer to feeling more balanced and better prepared to handle whatever comes your way in recovery – and a little bit stronger for having gone through the experience.
3. Disconnect from your ex. No need to engage in drama, ghosting or orbiting of any kind, or stalking, either online in real life. Disconnect completely. This means unfriending them or blocking them on all your social media, avoiding places where you know they spend a lot of time, and bringing a supportive friend with you if you both attend the same meetings or run in the same circles. No good can come from “trying to be friends” at this point. If your heart is broken, you need time to repair on your own and get to a place where you can be friendly if not exactly friends with your ex.
4. Reconnect with people who support you in recovery. If you spent a lot of time with your ex when you were together, it is especially important to find your friends and spend time with your family again. You may need to apologize if you truly made no time for them while you were with your ex, but it is important to do what you have to do to ground yourself in recovery and surround yourself with people who love you and want the best for you.
5. Ask for help if you need it. If you find that you are struggling with feelings of suicide or low self-worth, do not hesitate to reach out and talk to a professional who can help you. Suicide hotlines are available around the clock, and your therapeutic team in recovery can assist you in managing the issue if you are enrolled in a substance abuse treatment program.
If You Just Can’t Move On
It is not always easy to move forward after a breakup. If you are ending a long-term relationship, a marriage, or your first serious relationship in recovery, the heartbreak can be brutal and completely stop the show. If weeks pass and you still feel like you cannot function and are on the verge of relapse or you have relapsed, immediately connect with treatment services that can help you get back on track. Therapeutic intervention and perhaps a return to intensive outpatient or residential treatment may be needed to connect with the mental health treatment services and recovery support services you need to get back on track and refocus on your own health and wellbeing.
Is it time for you to reach out and connect with the people and services that can help you heal in recovery?