How to Take Care of Yourself When Ending Your Affair
Updated: Jul 25, 2022
You're trying to end your affair and you don't know what to DO with all the PAIN. You're trying to remind yourself that being in the affair was painful. But damn, so is this!
It can feel hard to breathe, you may feel in a fog, you may be battling the constant impulse to reach out and reconnect. In my article on how to end your affair, I explain how it requires detox, and a commitment to recovery work. Step one in recovery is admitting you've lost control of your life and that you've become powerless.
Once you've waved the white flag, only then can you begin to step forward onto a path of healing the wounds and rebuilding a more healthy, connected, and full life. Here's a short list of some ways to deal with the pain of living without the affair relationship and your affair partner. You're walking through the fire, so you've got to wear all your gear.
Treat yourself like you're in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit): When you're in the ICU, you're there because you're in bad shape. Basic medical care isn't going to cut it. In the ICU, they do ALL THE THINGS to take care of you and get you back to a level where you can function on your own. So your job is to do ALL THE THINGS to take care of your mind, body, spirit, heart, and soul.
Go on a retreat: If you can, look up the offerings at a retreat center where you can re-connect with yourself and begin to heal. Places like The Kripalu Center and Canyon Ranch provide amazing respite via yoga, clean eating, meditation, spa and healing arts practices, serene environments, and professionally led workshops that can jump start your recovery.
Identify who can support you and who can't: You need to know who your audience is. Not everyone is an audience to support you when you're in or getting out of an affair. Our culture has more fear and judgment than compassion and encouragement. So identify those one or two soul friends who feel absolutely safe. Ask if you can lean on them when you're feeling weak, uncertain, and when you need redirecting or to stay strong. If you feel comfortable, ask them to help keep you honest and accountable.
Get a therapist: If you don't already have one, find a therapist who feels (again) nonjudgmental and who understands the nature and difficulties of an affair. Begin to explore and work through your own areas of growth that will help you emerge from this stronger and wiser.
Take a damn walk: Or three. Or train for a marathon. Or punch a punching bag. Or do jumping jacks. Or get on your bike and crank around the block. You need to have a short list of ways to physically expel your energy and work your body through your feelings. They're called feelings for a reason -- you feel them in your body. They need to be moved through! When you're in your head, its time to get into your body.
Write: Start a note in your phone that's called "Texts I'm Not Sending to Jon/Jill" and write every text down that you wish you could send to your affair partner. You can title it "Things I Want to Say to You." Keep a journal by your bed and use it to write down all your thoughts and feelings. You can write as if you're specifically talking to your affair partner, or you can write to yourself to talk yourself through and find release. It's amazing how helpful this is.
Scream into a void: I'm serious. Sit in your car with all the windows up, do it in your house, do it in a field. Let it out! Expletives are encouraged.
Get a massage: Finding safe physical touch can be important while healing. Book yourself a massage at a reputable spa, or go get a mani/pedi. You can even get inexpensive chair massages at most nail salons.
Make plans! Start to live your life! At first you might not feel able. But connection is essential. Reach out to people in your life and get social. Go grab a drink. Get dinner. Take a walk and talk. Show up at trivia night at your local pub. Find laughter, life, and go be in it. You need to remember through firsthand experience that there's real life that exists -- and feels good! -- outside of your affair.
Self-Help Books and Podcasts: Oh I'm such a fan of all the self-help that calls to you and resonates for you. Drown yourself in it! Brainwash yourself in it! Listen while you clean, listen while you drive, listen while you walk, curl up at night with your books and workbooks. This is YOUR time to use what's painful as motivation to learn, push past your barriers, and grow. Here are a few of my favorites:
Books: Codependent No More Beyond Codependency The Language of Letting Go
Getting Back Out There Not Just Friends The Way of Integrity
Programs: In Sync with the Opposite Sex Podcasts: We Can Do Hard Things
10. Make promises to yourself and keep them: Make a list of truths and commitments and put it on your fridge, on your mirrors, in your car... "I am worthy of being with someone who can be with me," or "Secrets make us sick" or "You can walk the walk." Whatever encouragement, whatever you need to remember when you forget why you're doing what you're doing, keep it handy. Don't rely on yourself to work hard to remember in times of weakness.
11. Start a new hobby: Creative and athletic hobbies can be great outlets to transmute the pain and void of ending your affair. A client of mine in Charleston, South Carolina finally joined her local pickle ball league. She's having a blast and feels like she got a second chance at a new life. Another client of mine in Darien, Connecticut enrolled in a local art class and is finally pursuing her interest of painting. And, she notes, the creative work has been so good for her mental and emotional health. Now's the time to join that local dodgeball league, check out the gardening club, or start learning the drums.
12. Explore Buddhism: Buddhism is a school of thought, not a religion, which makes it a great complement to those with or without an existing faith base. Buddhism reminds us that suffering is our teacher, nothing is permanent, and all we have is this very moment (not the past, nor the future), among many other helpful truths. Exploring and practicing Buddhist philosophies can increase your ability to cope and decrease anxiety. Check out the book Radical Acceptance, and the free app Insight Timer for courses, meditations, and more..
Since I recommend doing all the things, I encourage you to at least consider everything on this list. And of those that feel helpful, I encourage you to practice them as often as possible. This is far from an exhaustive list. So I hope you also find your own healthy ways to self-soothe. It may be two steps forward and one step back, but with intensive care, you'll learn to show up for yourself in your greatest times of need, tend to your own suffering, and step firmly forward on the path to healing.
Lauren provides boots-on-the-ground lived experience combined with invaluable professional expertise working with infidelity. She is committed to helping individuals and couples deal with and heal from marital affairs in a highly effective, yet warm and judgment-free style.
Lauren's articles help share much-needed information, and reduce the stigma and shame around the common experience of infidelity. Contact Lauren at email@example.com to learn more about working together.
Lauren, Affair Specialist