In order to help yourself when you can’t stop thinking about the affair, it is important to understand the different functions obsessing can serve in your healing process.
My first and most important piece of advice is to try to stop beating yourself up for those times when you can’t stop going over the details, questions, lies, or things that just don’t add up, over and over again. (For more about lying click here.) It is important to understand that this is a completely natural and normal response to trauma, something that almost everyone in your situation experiences and that it is also normal for it to go on for some time. (For more information about the different kinds of questions that occur in the healing process click here.)
However, there are some things you can do to facilitate the healing process and lessen your distress.
First of all, think about the questions that are stuck in your mind, that you can’t get past. Ask yourself if you already know the answer because you’ve discussed the particular issue with your partner, or if it you really need more information.
If you are genuinely struggling to put the pieces together and rebuild your relationship history, write out your confusion and questions. Keep a list. When you and your partner have time to devote to talking about what has happened, bring out your list. Decide what is most important and take one question at a time together.
If you already know the answer, and realize that your partner has no more information than they have already given you, then there may be something that you are trying to work out inside yourself.
Your thoughts may be an attempt to protect you from strong feelings. Ask yourself what you are feeling underneath the question. Then ask yourself what you need to help you with this feeling. Decide if you would like to share what you have discovered with your partner.
Another technique is freestyle writing. When you have some quiet time to yourself, write out your question on the top of the page and then just let yourself write without any preconceived ideas about what should go down on the page. Don’t worry about grammar, or complete sentences. You might even find that you want to include drawings. You may experience very strong and unexpected feelings while writing. Again, you can decide what you would like to share with your partner.
(If you find yourself unable to allow yourself to experience and process these feelings, it is important to consider psychotherapy. Unprocessed trauma can have a long lasting and far reaching impact on you and those you are close to. It can effect your emotional and physical health as well as your ability to function in the world and establish and maintain close relationships with others)
If you cannot discover anything underneath, it could be that you are retraumatizing yourself in an attempt to gain emotional mastery over what has happened. If this is the case here are several options:
Designate a certain period of time, say, thirty minutes for your obsessing. Begin to train yourself to only go over everything during this time. It works best to make it the same time every day, if possible.
Keep an appreciation journal. Practice recording what has gone well, what you are grateful for, each day. You may want to make this journal about your life in general, or about your relationship. In this way you can create a sense of emotional balance, a context in which to experience the more traumatic times.
Bring your attention to the present moment. Breathe deeply. See, hear and smell where you are and what is around you. If possible, make contact, if even just eye contact, with someone. Remind yourself that in this very moment you can be okay.
You may also like to read, “Why Can’t I Get Over My Partner’s Affair” for further assistance.