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So I stopped contact, except when my obligations required contact, which wasn't much - once a month communication. Six months. I kept this up for six months. Didn't really help. For one thing, mutual acquaintances, colleagues and close friends continue contact with LO; LO is in their lives and I'm in their lives. Wasn't doing me any good to avoid direct contact when I'd see LO going to lunch with my peeps and I can't go because of NC. It just made me isolated and worse, it made me feel left out, excluded. And its not like I ever had to tell LO "no, I can't go with you," I just wasn't invited anyway. It was just extra rejection.
Six months of very limited contact and I finally decided it wasn't working. I told LO I wanted to be friends again. LO said "I thought we were friends." LO hadn't even noticed that I'd disappeared for six months. That hurt. Hadn't even noticed.
Now I'm back to the roller coaster, not that it ever really stopped. Once, (post-NC, a couple months after I'd asked to be friends), LO noticed me and was friendly to me, and so then I felt positive and hopeful, and I went on about my business. Then I tried to talk to him once the following week and it went badly, and so then I was a mess again and I wasn't able to focus on anything productive for days.
I've been going to a therapist, the third one I tried. He's okay. He misses the mark a lot but there's occasionally something useful.
One tool my therapist gave me that helped me distract my brain to break away from obsessive thoughts is memorizing an ordered list. I like movies, so I memorized all of the Oscar winners for best picture, in chronological order. When I find myself thinking about LO, I mentally recite the movie titles by year. At first, I would go through the list, and then it would only be a few seconds or a few minutes before I'd have to do it again. The first few days I did this, I had to recite movie titles for nearly the entire waking day. I had to do a second list (best director) to keep my brain from getting stuck on the first list. But it worked; after a while I only had to do the list every few hours. Then it was time for stage 2: do the list when I start obsessive thinking, but not when I have passing thought about LO. This was working really well, and it was good for other things too, like when I was upset about work or whatever. I had a couple of good months post-NC with this as my main coping mechanism.
But the other day things went bad and the sense of rejection and lack of empathy or acknowledgement from LO was too much and I was very angry. By the time I got to the therapist I was so exhausted from feeling anger that I had crashed into sadness. But it was a good sadness. I wasn't depressed, just sad for my lost friendship with LO and my lost fantasy. It felt like a healthy mourning, and my therapist and I agreed that this was promising. But it didn't last. I didn't progress to the next stage of healing, I regressed to anger.
I have a good life. I have a good career, good friends, good family. When I started typing this, I was very frustrated by my lack of progress, that despite everything good in my life I can still be laid low by LE and melt down internally. STILL, a full year after disclosure, including 6 months of nearly-NC. I have found things that help, but they have all been temporary. But now that I've typed this out, I'm remembering that progress is temporary by its nature. Every building decays. I can mow the lawn this week and I'll still have to mow it next week. Tools that work temporarily are tools that work; I just have to keep on using them, maybe forever, if that's what it takes.
The last time I regressed to anger, I did not use my tools. I felt like I'd tried everything before and "nothing had worked" to break me of LE. And that is true; I am limerent. I have been limerent for a very, very long time. This LE has lasted many years, and it is not my first LE. Maybe I will always be limerent. But I don't have to be angry. I don't have to be non-functional. I don't have to obsess, even if I will always be PRONE to obsess. I was at work when I triggered so many of my tools were unavailable, but I had one tool I should have used; my ordered lists.
Next time I trigger, I need to remember that my tools are worthwhile even if they don't cure me. A cure would be great, but there is coping even without healing, and there is healing even without a cure. If I stop wishing to be cured, I can accept that I may always need to use my tools to cope and function and be happy.
So, here's what has helped me.
First, disclose to LO. I disclosed feelings, not limerence. I asked how LO felt, then politely insisted on a straight answer when LO balked at answering. Filter out any platitudes or insults and repeat the answer back to LO... ask "Is this interpretation correct?" The response will NEVER answer all of the questions. Uncertainties will remain; what did LO mean by this or that statement? I did my best, tugged all of the threads. It was barely enough, but it was enough: the answer was no, LO doesn't feel it for me. Awful, soul crushing, and absolutely necessary for me to hear.
It didn't work for me in this case because our lives overlap too much. I had a previous LE, though, many years ago, and NC worked in that case. But there's a lesson about NC in there; I had to drop my entire life in order to disentangle my life from my previous LO in order to go permanent NC, and what did it get me? Yes, my LE broke... just to be replaced by another one a few years later. (Yes, I'm old.) NC is the most powerful tool, but it can't be the only tool. My LO isn't the problem, I'm the problem. There is always another potential LO out there, because I am prone to limerence. I can't go NC with every human, I have to learn how to interact and have strong feelings without becoming obsessive.
In my previous LE, I hid from life. I didn't have friends and I had trouble making friends (I guess I'm just weird and unlikable), so I just stayed in and watched television or internet as much as possible. This time, I did MUCH better on this front. I didn't have any friends, so I had fun by myself; I went to coffee shops and concerts and museums and long walks and rollerblading in the park and reading on the beach. Turns out I like myself, and I like spending time doing things by myself. And eventually, I did make friends. Lots of them, actually (I guess I'm just unique and interesting).
This is part of "life" but its important enough to stress on its own, because the exercise high is so powerful against depression. Despite limerence, I have not had a real bout of depression since I started exercising regularly several years ago. For me, I can't really do the gym; I need to be outside, or at least in front of a window, or the dreariness of a gym counteracts the benefit of exercise. Casual sports has the double benefit of being social and being exercise. My friends don't play sports so I joined a local recreational team. Sports was never my thing as a youth, because the athletic students were not very nice to play with, but adult rec sport is different - everyone's just there to have a little fun and no one takes it too seriously or looks down on other players, once I found the right group of people.
Therapy, but not psychoanalysis. The problem is not my parents, my childhood, my other relationships. My LO is not a narcissist and my LO is not the problem. (My previous LO was a narcissist and that definitely exacerbated the problem, but take away the narcissism and it doesn't change the fact that I'm prone to obsessive thought and limerence and I need tools to deal with it.) Talking about my past was a nice release and was important for that reason, but there's no insight or enlightenment there. It is good to have a therapist I can talk to about my tools and my progress and regress. I don't know if my therapist recognizes limerence; I've never used that word with him because I don't want to get stuck on some pointless tangent about whether limerence is real or not. We just talk in terms of coping with relationship disappointments and letting go of grievances and controlling the focus of my own thoughts, and that has been helpful.
Also, I recognized that, for me, sadness is a more tolerable form of experiencing limerent rejection than anger, but I have not yet figured out how to use this conclusion as a tool.
But there is also always the danger that talking about limerence triggers obsessive thinking and ultimately worsens the LE, which has happened to me, so I'm trying to be careful and find a balance.
When I'm on my own time, I can read or watch television to help break obsessive thinking when it starts. It is important for me to have something INTERESTING that will actually get and keep my attention and NOT just turn on the TV and start watching. I used to choose fluff like comedies to try to cheer myself up or calm myself down, and it took a long time to realize it wasn't working, that I need to be mentally stimulated, so now I pick biographies and pop science and stuff like that. I keep a list of books, movies, and TV series and I always have something from the library ready in case I need it. Audio podcasts and audio books have been essential for keeping my thoughts in line while driving and doing chores, which used to be prime times for downward spirals and roundie-roundies. I also listen while I run or walk or rollerblade, for double benefits (one earbud only, for safety and courtesy to others on the road or trail). I'm pretty well-read and well-informed now:)
When I'm at work or with people and I can't use these distractions, I always have my ordered lists. The listing forces me to think about the thing I've chosen to think about (the list), rather than the thing I'm obsessing about... so it follows that the list has to be something I can't do mindlessly. My therapist's first recommendation was "counting backward from 100 by 7's" but I found that too easy to serve the purpose, and besides it was so boring so I wouldn't do it. It has to be a list that is interesting to me, and it has to be long enough and complex enough that I have to stop and think about it and pay attention to what I'm doing. (With the Best Picture list, I get through the 20's by rote without really thinking about it, but by the time I get to the 40's I have to really focus on it.)
So, that's my 1 year post-disclosure report. Writing this was helpful to me and I hope it can also be helpful to someone who reads this. I don't intend to post again for a while because I do find that thinking about my limerence often is counterproductive, but I'll continue to lurking and post again occasionally.
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Terry, I can relate to a lot of what you wrote. I was getting better before I moved, about getting out and about but now between my working so much, and the family issues, and work issues and everything else of the past year, plus living on the seventh floor of a building with the slowest elevator in the world, I've gotten bad about getting out and exercising, going and doing things. It's contrary to what I need, which is the outdoors. I love hiking, walking, being in the sun. I need to get back on all of this but just don't know where to start. I also used to love reading and always want to start again.
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This is what I continue to think about regarding disclosure to my LO. Not now, not when he is still teaching at our school. But at whatever point in the future that we part for good and won't see each other anymore. I wouldn't be doing it hoping for reciprocation - we both have partners and kids and in fact, as lovely as reciprocation sounds, it would be so much harder to deal with - but just to let him know that someone thinks the world of him, someone he may not expect.
LO is M 36, my son’s former teacher
LC beyond my control
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I know right. They have to know, or have some idea of what they did to us. Not that they did it per se, but you know set things in motion just by being themselves.Pudding wrote: ↑Fri Sep 22, 2017 2:00 pmThis is what I continue to think about regarding disclosure to my LO. Not now, not when he is still teaching at our school. But at whatever point in the future that we part for good and won't see each other anymore. I wouldn't be doing it hoping for reciprocation - we both have partners and kids and in fact, as lovely as reciprocation sounds, it would be so much harder to deal with - but just to let him know that someone thinks the world of him, someone he may not expect.
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It is so good to be alive and healthy and to know that today is a new beginning of the rest of our lives. Enjoy your life. It is great to be young, free and single! Don't get stuck on someone who does not want you. It is a waste of time. LET GO AND MOVE ON! It is hard but we need to find the strength from inside us to break out of the bond. Prayer helps too. Good luck Idiotic.
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