My Post-It Note Strategy

If you are like me, you are browsing this forum looking for strategies to help you in your recovery. I am by no means an expert. I have just made 55 hours No Contact with my husband after breaking the No Contact rule the first time. I left him 27 days ago but moved back in for 3 days. I have only been out of the house for 48 hours now and it has been excruciating and painful.

Like you may be experiencing, I have had obsessive thoughts and have been tempted to contact him. I just can't seem to pull myself together these days but I know I need to. So here is a description of the system I put in place, which actually seems to be working.

I am staying at a girlfriend's house until I go through the judicial process of getting the house back. When I get to her house in the evening, I give her my car keys and cell phone. She will let me know if my mother calls or someone else important, but otherwise she is the keeper of these items. Since my house is only a 3-mile drive, I don't want to be tempted to jump in my car and go see him. I find my most difficult periods are in the evening/night and first thing in the morning.

But how do you make it through the day? I am fortunate enough to work in an office where I have my own space. So I created a montage with post-it notes. Using a Sharpie, I wrote down one or two words on each post-it note of either a negative memory, the requirements/rules I was made to live under and things like that. For example, I simply have "Bank Accounts" on one note to remind me that although I had to put him on all my bank accounts, he didn't do the same. In fact, he hid accounts from me while telling me he had no money to help pay the bills. I have 20 post-it notes and only I know what they mean. I stuck them to the back of my office door so that in moments of weakness, I can close the door to my office and be reminded of all the bad things that were part of my marriage. So if the urge to contact him hits, I look at this montage and ask myself "Why? For more of that?" and although the sadness sets in again (if it ever left), the urge to contact him disappears.

Under this post-it note montage, I have a vertical line of numerical notes in 12-hour increments. 12, 24, 36, 48 ... all the way to 120. These denote the hours since the last contact. On another post-it note, I wrote down the exact date and time of the last contact I had with my husband. Every 12 hours, I celebrate the win by moving the date/time note to the next 12-hour increment. Once I hit the 5-day No Contact mark (120 hours), I will then go to 24-hour periods. I will continue to do this for as long as it takes and, since I have a competitive spirit, this seems to be working well for me thus far.

At my girlfriend's house, I wrote down a series of inspirational quotes on post-it notes and have them stuck to the back of the guest bedroom door where I am staying. These have proven helpful during those nights that I can't sleep and need strength. I have the same numerical vertical note-timing system described in the preceding paragraph on the back of the bedroom door. Since they are 12-hour intervals, I will either be at the office or at her house when I can celebrate the next win.

Going through the post-it note exercise really made me examine all the bad elements of my marriage and tuck them neatly in 1-2 words. I am constantly rearranging the 20 post-it notes on the back of my office door that contain these elements to process the pain in my chest. There is a physical ache to being separated from him but if I start to focus on the good elements of our marriage (and there were some!), I lose sight of the reasons I am suffering.

While my reward is the simple act of moving the date/time sticky to the next interval, perhaps you might take yourself for a manicure or treat yourself to a new outfit at various milestones.

The reality is, there is no "formula" tailor-made for you. Lisa's 6-steps provide a great path (hence, the "Path Forward") but I hungered for a daily, routine strategy. And now you know mine. You have to create your own formula by experimenting. And while I have surrounded myself with post-it notes, this might not be the right strategy for you. But, it sure beats sitting around, moping and obsessively thinking about him wondering if you should reconcile.

I have faith in you to pull yourself through this. Nobody can do it for you.

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