Recovery from Rejection and Breakups | Darlene Lancer

In her post today, frequent guest author, Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT, helps readers understand why we feel so much pain from rejection and breakups and what we can do to heal. Darlene is the author of Codependency for Dummies and Conquering Shame and Codependency: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You, and her latest eBook is titled, Dealing with a Narcissist, 8 Steps to Raise Self-Esteem and Set Boundaries with Difficult People. She can be reached at info@darlenelancer.com or you may wish to follow her on Facebook or visit her website www.whatiscodependency.com.

Darlene Lancer, author of "Codependency for Dummies," shares her post on living with a passive-aggressive partner.

Darlene Lancer, author of “Codependency for Dummies,” helps readers understand why we feel so much pain from rejection and breakups and what we can do to heal.

Recovery from Rejection and Breakups by Darlene Lancer

Romantic rejection hurts. Feeling lonely and missing connection share the evolutionary purpose of survival and reproduction. Our reaction to pain is influenced by genetics. If we have increased sensitivity to physical pain, we’re more vulnerable to feelings of rejection. Moreover, love stimulates such strong feel-good neuro-chemicals that rejection can feel like withdrawal from a drug, says anthropologist Helen Fisher. It can compel us to engage in obsessive thinking and compulsive behavior. This proved true even for tsetse flies in lab experiments. (See “Obsessions and Love Addiction.”)

Most people start to feel better 11 weeks following rejection and report a sense of personal growth; similarly after divorce, partners start to feel better after months, not years. However, up to 15 percent of people suffer longer than three months. (“It’s Over,” Psychology Today, May-June, 2015) Rejection can feed depression, especially if we’re already even mildly depressed or have suffered depression and other losses in the past. (See “Chronic Depression and Codependency.”)

Codependency and Break-ups

Many codependents have an anxious attachment style, feeding obsessions, negative feelings, and attempts to restore the relationship. If we have a secure, healthy attachment style (unusual for codependents), we’re more resilient and able to self-soothe. (See “How to Change Your Attachment Style.”)

Rejection can devastate us if our self-worth is low. Our self-esteem affects how personally we interpret our partner’s behavior and how dependent we are upon the relationship for our sense of self and self-esteem. Codependents are more prone to being reactive to signs of disfavor by their partner, and tend to take their words and actions as a comment on themselves and their value. Additionally, many codependents give up personal interests, aspirations, and friends once they’re romantically involved. They adapt to their partner and their life revolves around the relationship. Losing it can make their world crumble if they’re left without hobbies, goals, and a support system. Often the lack self-definition and autonomy beforehand prompted them to seek someone to fill their inner emptiness, which not only can lead to relationship problems, but it resurfaces once they’re alone. (See “Why Break-ups a Hard for Codependents.”)

Internalized shame causes us to blame ourselves and/or blame our partner. (See “What is Toxic Shame.”) It can foster feelings of failure and unlovability that are hard to shake. We might feel guilty and responsible not only for our own shortcomings and actions, but also the feelings and actions of our partner; i.e., blaming ourselves for our partner’s affair. Toxic shame usually starts in childhood.

Break-ups can also trigger grief that more appropriately pertains to early parental abandonment. Many people enter relationships looking for unconditional love, hoping to salve unmet needs and wounds from childhood. We can get caught in a negative “Cycle of Abandonment” that breeds shame, fear, and abandoning relationships. If we feel unworthy and expect rejection, we’re even liable to provoke it. Healing our past allows us to live in present time and respond appropriately to others. (Read how shame can kill relationships and how to heal in Conquering Shame and Codependency: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You.)

Healing Tips

For optimal results, start making changes in your relationship with yourself and with others; first, with your ex. Experts agree that although it’s difficult and may be more painful in the short-run, no contact with your former partner will help you recover sooner. Avoid calling, texting, asking others about or checking up on your ex in social media. Doing so might give momentary relief, but reinforces obsessive-compulsive behavior and ties to the relationship. (If you’re engaged in divorce proceedings, necessary messages can be written or conveyed through attorneys. They should not be delivered by your children.)

Read about “Growing Through Divorce” and “After Divorce – Letting Go and Moving On.” Here are more suggestions:

  1. Meditate with the healing exercises for self-love, self-soothing, and confidence in my Youtube.
  2. Practice the “14 Tips for Letting Go,” available free on my website.
  3. Prolonged feelings of guilt can limit your enjoyment of life and your ability to find love again. Forgive yourself for mistakes you made in the relationship with the e-workbook Freedom from Guilt and Blame – Finding Self-Forgiveness.
  4. Challenge false beliefs and assumptions, such as “I’m a failure (loser),” “I’ll never meet anyone else,” or “I’m damaged goods (or unlovable).” For a 10-step plan to overcome negative self-talk, read 10 Steps to Self-Esteem.
  5. Set boundaries with your ex and others. This is especially important if you continue to co-parent. Establish these rules for co-parenting with your ex. If you tend toward accommodation, defensiveness, or aggression, learn to be assertive and set boundaries using the techniques provided in How To Speak Your Mind – Become Assertive and Set Limits.
  6. If you think you may be codependent or have trouble letting go, attend a few Codependents Anonymous meetings, where you can get information and support for free. Visit coda.org. There are also online forums and chats, as well as telephone meetings nationwide, but in-person meetings are preferable. Do the exercises in Codependency for Dummies.
  7. Although mourning is normal, continued depression is unhealthy for the health of your body and brain. If depression is hindering your work or daily activities, get a medical evaluation for a course of anti-depressants lasting at least six months.

You will recover, but your actions play a considerable role in how long it takes, as well as whether you grow and better yourself from your experience. For a free PDF with 16 additional strategies to deal with rejection and break-ups, email me at info@darlenelancer.com.

©Darlene Lancer 2016

Cultivating Gratitude – Guest Author Fran Simone

Cultivating Gratitude – a powerful topic and the subject of today’s guest post by Fran Simone.

Fran (Frances) Simone, Ph.D., is the author of Dark Wine Waters, My Husband of a Thousand Joys and Sorrows, a memoir that illuminates the heartbreaking story of a marriage compromised by the husband’s alcoholism. She wrote it to help the millions of other family members whose lives are upended by a loved one’s addiction and to help untold numbers of people understand what it’s like to love someone with this brain disease. Fran is a professor emeritus from Marshall University, South Charleston Campus where she directed the West Virginia Writing Project, a statewide affiliate of the National Writing Project, University of California at Berkeley. Most recently she is a regular blogger for Psychology Today (online), Hazelden/Betty Ford (Recovery Matters), and Addiction Blog. To learn more about her work, visit her website, DarkWineWaters.com. She can be reached via email at darkwinewaters@gmail.com.

Cultivating Gratitude by Fran Simone

January. A new year. A fresh start.   A time to shape up. Sadly our well-intentioned resolutions too often fall by the wayside. According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, 62 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions at some point in their lives. But only 8 percent are successful. In fact, January 17th has been designated “Ditch New Year’s Resolution Day” because most of us cave in by then. . .

Fran Simone, Ph.D., Author of "Dark Wine Waters," a memoir that offers help to family members.

Fran Simone, Ph.D., Author of “Dark Wine Waters,” a memoir offering hope and help for family members of persons with addiction. Today she writes on cultivating gratitude.

I’ve pretty much given up on my annual lose ten pounds resolution, but I did resolve to keep a daily gratitude journal in 2016. In fact, one of my Christmas gifts was a spanking new journal with blank pages waiting to be filled. I believe that a daily dose of gratitude will help alleviate some of the fear and negativity I’m experiencing because my son relapsed again during the holiday season.

Fear

When my thoughts rush into projecting tragic events in the future, I can be grateful for my twelve-step program that encourages me to take one day at a time. Today I’m grateful for the first snow of winter. No accumulation, just a light dusting covering bare tree limbs with a pale sun peeking through clouds. This evening I anticipate reading in front of a cozy fire. Stopping to write helps decelerate my racing thoughts about future smashups.

Self-pity

Yesterday I ran into a former co-worker. My friend, Don, wiped out his I-Phone to show pictures of his lovely grandchildren. Three girls and two boys who range in age from newborn to nine years old.   He was so proud of family: his grown three children with solid marriages and successful careers and those adorable grandkids. If I compare myself to my friend with his happy family I can sink into a hole of envy and resentment. Focusing on gratitude helps me dig my way out of that hollow space in my heart.

During this past holiday season, I fell into another pity trap when I received those annual brag letters from family and friends cataloging their grandchildren’s artistic and academic accomplishments, their sons and daughters’ job promotions, and their extended family vacations to exotic locales. I’ve never written one of these letters.

What would I say?

That my adult son has been in and out of rehab, has not been able to keep a job, and has stolen money from me when he relapsed during the holiday season. On the flip side I could have written that I’m grateful for my generous daughter and son-in-law who sent me lovely Christmas gifts and kept in close touch, for the support of my friends in my twelve-step fellowship who rallied when I needed them, for the wisdom of my sponsor, for the guidance of a gifted therapist, and for the love of my extended family and friends. Listing all of the above helps to tone down those “poor me” blues.

I don’t pretend that a gratitude journal is a panacea for all of the turmoil that family and friends experience because of their loved one’s addition. It’s one of many tools that help counterbalance bitterness, envy and resentment. . .

As the end of January approaches, I’m still at it. I plan to be among the 8% who follow through on their New Year’s resolution. Who knows I might even lose those extra ten pounds.

As the end of January approaches, I’m still at it. I plan to be among the 8% who follow through on their New Year’s resolution. Who knows I might even lose those extra ten pounds.

Stopped Drinking But Now Crave Sugar

“I’m an alcoholic in recovery, so I’ve stopped drinking but now crave sugar and am having a really hard time not bingeing on sweets. Why and what can I do?,” a woman asked at a recent community workshop at which I was the presenter. It was hosted by a chemical dependency alumni association and open to the public. My talk was titled, “Secondhand Drinking – the Phenomenon that Affects 90 Million Americans.” This particular powerpoint presentation helps attendees understand alcohol misuse, addiction, secondhand drinking (SHD)-related stress, codependency, and recovery for the family system from the brain’s perspective. The topics relevant to her question, included:

  • the basics of neuroscience (including fMRI and SPECT scans) and how a person’s brain develops and wires unhealthy habits, such as alcohol misuse or secondhand drinking-related coping skills;
  • alcohol misuse (and the distinctions between binge drinking, heavy social drinking and alcoholism), which is the cause of drinking behaviors and thus SHD; and
  • what a person who misuses alcohol or is experiencing SHD-related stress can do to heal/re- wire their brains.

And it was the connection between alcohol and sugar and the dopamine pathways that best answered this woman’s question, which is a common question for person’s in recovery from alcoholism.

Stopped Drinking But Now Crave Sugar – the Alcohol | Sugar | Dopamine Connection

As I stated, the common connection is the brain’s pleasure/reward pathways, aka neural networks (which are the way brain cells [neurons] “talk” to one another), aka electro-chemical signaling process. These neural networks rely on dopamine neurotransmitters. These are the chemical portion of the brain’s electro-chemical signaling process. This prior post of mine helps explain this concept, “Here’s to Neural Networks and Neurotransmitters – Keys to Brian Health,” and this 1:48 minute video by NIDA is excellent, “The Reward Circuit: How the Brain Responds to Natural Rewards and Drugs.”

So to answer this woman’s question more fully for BreakingTheCycles.com readers, I’ve pulled two pieces. One is an article by Kris Gunnars, BSc, “10 Similarities Between Sugar, Junk Food, and Abusive Drugs,” and the other is Nichole Avena, Ph.D.‘s TedEd Video, “How Sugar Affects the Brain,” linked below.

To understand how alcohol changes brain function and taps the brain’s dopamine-reliant pleasure/reward pathways, check out NIDA’s Brief Description and NIDA, NIAAA, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, HBO’s The Addiction Project > “Addiction and the Brain’s Pleasure Pathway: Beyond Willpower.”

Dealing with Opiate Withdrawal – Guest Author George Catlin

Dealing with opiate withdrawal is huge and often the basis for the calls I receive from those struggling and the family members who love them. George Catlin, founder of Withdrawal Ease – an outcome of his own struggle with opiate dependency following a surgical procedure in 2007 – shares his top 8 tips. George has written The Opiate Withdrawal Survival Guide (available as a free download PDF by clicking on the title link) and created a nutritional supplement system specifically formulated to reduce the acuity of opiate withdrawal. Check out his about page on his blog for the whole story. He can be reached by email at george@withdrawal-ease.com.

Top Tips on Dealing With Opiate Withdrawal by George Catlin

Opiates are powerful drugs prescribed to treat severe pain. These drugs include Vicodin, Oxycontin, Dilaudid, heroin, morphine, codeine, and methadone among others.

While these drugs are extremely helpful in treating acute and chronic pain, their continuous and indiscriminate use can cause patients to become physically dependent and even addicted. According to NIH (National Institute on Drug Abuse), “between 26.4 million and 36 million people abuse opioids worldwide.”

Opiate withdrawal refers to an array of symptoms that manifest themselves after a person dependent on opiates either stops or radically reduces its consumption after substantial and persistent use. These symptoms can be highly distressing and difficult to endure.

George Catlin shares his top tips for opiote withdrawl.

George Catlin shares his top tips for dealing with opiate withdrawal.

I speak from personal experience when I say that the experience of enduring opiate withdrawal symptoms is a nightmarish one. What started off as a part of a medical treatment plan for severe cervical spinal stenosis, went on to become something that made me wonder if I’ll ever get back to living a normal life. The good news is that I did, eventually.

If you’re addicted to opiates and looking to break out of its clutches, then read on as mentioned ahead are a few tips that can help you deal with the withdrawal symptoms.

1. Get Off the Drug Gradually
If you’ve made up your mind to deal with the withdrawal symptoms on your own, then you need to take it easy and try to reduce your dose of opiates gradually. In other words, taper off the drug(s) slowly and steadily. As per the Department of Veterans Affairs, the tapering for methadone, morphine and oxycodone should start with a decrease of 20-50 percent of the dose per week, and then consistently lower it thereafter.

2. Get Ample Rest
It is extremely important that you get sufficient rest during the recovery period, irrespective of how strong or mild your symptoms are. Make it a point to get at least eight hours of sleep every day. Be prepared to endure pains, cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and other issues, and get ample sleep whenever you can.
When you’re not sleeping, you should be resting as your body will be dealing with a lot and it is best not to test its stamina further. If you wish to exercise, you can do so provided your workout isn’t strenuous in nature.

3. Manage Pain and Discomfort with Over-the-Counter Painkillers
The road to recovery from opiate withdrawal is a tough one and involves withstanding frequent muscle pains due to the absence of drugs in the body.

Opiates bring about relief from pains, and when they’re no longer present in a person’s system, he/she may experience discomfort in the muscles, bones and joints. Taking OTC (over-the-counter) pain-killers such as aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen can help mitigate the pain.

Diarrhea, constipation, nausea and vomiting are other prominent symptoms linked to opiate withdrawal. However, OTC medicines can help deal with them as well.

4. Cut Down Your Workload
When on the road to recovery, focus on your physical and mental well-being. Workload (and any other source of stress) will need to be cut down. That’s because the recovery, itself, will be extremely taxing on you, and putting yourself through further stress will only make the symptoms more difficult to deal with.

5. Detoxify Your Body
Detoxification can prove to be extremely beneficial in managing severe withdrawal symptoms. In fact, it may a necessity. You should definitely give undergoing a formal detoxification treatment a serious consideration, particularly if you have been addicted to opiates in the past.

6. Drink Plenty of Fluids
Make sure to consume plenty of water and other liquids to keep yourself hydrated and replenished, especially after experiencing vomiting and diarrhea.

Apart from that, sweating profusely during the withdrawal process can leave you dehydrated. In such a scenario, you will do well to constantly sip on juices, health drinks, and water.

7. Do What Pleases You
It is important that you do things that bring you joy. Whether this means watching your favorite TV show, playing a game, reading a book, or spending time with your loved ones, do the things that make you happy. If you choose to participate in physical activities, be careful and take it easy. Do not consume alcohol as it can make you feel upset and even cause you to relapse. Instead, aim to achieve a state of serenity and comfort.

8. Ask for Help
Whatever you’re going through, know that you need not endure it all by yourself. Ask for help and you will receive care from friends, family members, your doctor, or a self-help support group.

One of the earliest symptoms of withdrawal is anxiety, which can make you want to start using opiates again. But, talking about your painful journey with a close confidant will help you get through it better and avoid a relapse.

Conclusion
Irrespective of what leads you to become dependent on opiates, there is always a way out. With a little determination, discipline and self-confidence, you can fight this battle and come out victorious. Be diligent in your efforts and keep yourself surrounded with loved ones at all times. These are critical to your success. The above-mentioned tips should help you get through the withdrawal phase in an informed and safe manner.

Bringing the Family Voice to Addiction and Recovery – Kathy Frasier

It’s not uncommon to learn of the ravages of the addiction from the perspective of the person struggling with this chronic, often relapsing brain disease. But hearing if from the family side – the moms, dads, sisters, brothers, cousins – is a less common occurrence. So when I read Kathy Fraiser’s FB share following the Christmas holiday, I asked if I could share it here.  I think she captures the complexities and depths of this family disease and its affects of nephews, siblings, children, moms and each of their connections within a family. 

Kathy Frasier is the Acting Interim Executive Director for Change Addiction Now, United We Can – a national, grassroots organization working to bring the family voice to addiction and recovery. She can be reached at 360.701.0964 or by email at Kathy@ChangeAddictionNow.org. And check out their website and FB pages, as well.

 

Bringing the Family Voice to Addiction and Recovery by Kathy Frasier

KathyFrasier

Kathy Frasier, Acting Interim Director for Change Addiction Now, the national grassroots organization whose mission is about “Bringing the Family Voice to Addiction and Recovery.”

It’s been a melancholy day after processing our family Christmas Day gathering at my sister’s house with the maternal side of the family. Very hard due to my son’s addiction and my two nephews – his cousins he grew up with and their law enforcement careers in our county. Unfortunately, they’ve met outside of family gatherings and vacations, like they did in days of old … an arresting officer, a corrections officer and criminal activity do not make for good relationships. Not believing addiction is a disease is another issue – in their eyes it’s a choice and incarceration is THE answer. Or, as indicated on their FB pages, and I’m paraphrasing, “Too bad if they die. They deserve it if they make the choice to use. They need to grow up and become men….” You get the drift…dregs of society. It’s painful to read this and it makes my heart ache. These boys grew up together yet they couldn’t be further apart due to substance use disorder. This was our first Christmas together after two years following a lifetime of spending holidays together, and I don’t know when or how our family will heal. What I do know is that I’m growing into a new space with every experience that happens in my life.

When I heard from my son today, it was the first time we have spoken since he was moved to prison. He isn’t in treatment. He’s in prison and it’s not his first rodeo, or mine. I never imagined I would be seeing my son go to prison for the third time. His behaviors sometimes catch me off guard, as do his words, because we live in two separate worlds now, and have for a long time. Our relationship is NOTHING like it was when he was a child. That is a memory I will treasure, but it will never be the way it was back then. I always want to meet him where he’s at, but there are certainly times when I ask myself, “Where the hell IS he at?” and the even more important question is, “Where the hell am I at???” It is time to develop a new relationship with not just my son, but with others who affect my life. I have to ask myself what I want to draw to my life and who are the people I want to share it with. If I choose to remove those from my personal space who affect me negatively, my life will be enhanced. And you know what? We don’t have all that much time left in this world, right?

So, this has been a crazy week, and to make matters worse, my Seattle Seahawks lost. My point of this post, I think, is that I am planning on making some changes in my life in 2016. I haven’t defined them all because I am a work in progress, and one of my commitments is spending more time with my grandkids. To do this, I have to practice “balance” in my life, so this is another goal of mine.

1934778_10208110524219130_8606200165706804646_nNow, the last thing I want to share is this picture of my grandson. I spoke with his adoptive mom today, and she sent this picture. His one year (November) birthday. He looks like his daddy. I pray talking that about this and sharing our stories helps break the cycle with him.

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to spending more time with him and my other grandchildren and more time on the things that feed my soul, for one thing I’m learning, this is a family disease and we all need help.