Dear Mr. SponsorPants,
I need some ideas about how to stop obsessing over a relationship that just ended. I don't worry about drinking behind it, just want to clear my head. Thoughts?
There are any number of excellent tools available, both via the 12 Step world and from other helpful sources, to deal with obsession. And believe me, I feel your pain, as I myself have had some serious mental looping over people I've been involved with when they became "ex." (And sometimes "why?") There is a particular flavor of obsession around this, whether you're the ender or the endee.
I think this time out I'll defer to the best source when it comes to helping an alcoholic deal with mental obsessions: AA literature.
From "Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions," Step 11 pg. 102-103:
As the day goes on, we can pause where situations must be met and decisions made and renew the simple request: "Thy will, not mine, be done." If at these points our emotional disturbance happens to be great, we will more surely keep our balance, provided we remember, and repeat to ourselves, a particular prayer or phrase that has appealed to us in our reading or meditation. Just saying it over and over will often enable us to clear a channel choked up with anger, fear, frustration or misunderstanding, and permit us to return to the surest help of all -- our search for God's will, not our own, in the moment of stress.
Simply put, I've never had much success when it came to not thinking about something.
The trick for me has been not to focus on the not, but rather to choose an instead.
Whenever I find myself obsessing about something, if I choose a mantra to plug in -- sometimes even shouting it in my head rather than just saying it sub-vocally -- I'm usually (eventually) able to switch mental channels. Or at least move on a little more quickly from the mental looping.
I'm extremely happy for you that this doesn't read as a slippery issue -- congrats on having done the work to get to that place!
The other curative of course is the passage of time, but I know that's cold comfort and something more active as a solution is often warranted. The above suggestion from the 12&12 was the clue for me as to what to do in this type of situation: Find a prayer or phrase that resonates and use it as a mantra to move my thoughts from what I've been obsessing about to something else -- hopefully something more uplifting, but certainly at least more distracting.
Hope that was of some help to you.