I see both in codependency forums as well as self-help articles and books, in strategies to dealing with narcissists and others. No contact is considered one very valid, sometimes necessary strategy to healing from codependency and bettering your life. But is it?
Codependent relationships at their heart are addictive relationships. The other person in the relationship is utilized to fill up a vast amount of holes in our own person, holes were self-respect should be, holes where self-love should be, holes where self-worth and self-esteem should be. Like any addictive behavior, it creates a very strong emotional, mental and physical attachment, no different in its nature to that to a drug.
When we want to heal an addiction of any sort, abstinence from the substance is often advised, and so the no-contact strategy makes sense. But is this the complete story?
As codependents we learned not to ask for what we need, want and desire directly, for we grew with the belief system that we do not deserve, we are not worth. Survival however entails respecting those needs, wants, desires. So what does our subconscious do? As we do not allow ourselves to meet them consciously, our sub-consciuus finds back-door ways to get those needs met, Or at least to get the illusion of meeting them. Thus we will subtly manipulate - often without realizing it - we will play the victim, we will play needy, as to get what we really need, and we will use other people who themselves are unhealthy, indirectly, to fill those needs. Sometimes we will use drugs, food, distractions to self-medicate the pain of not having those needs met.
In a way our mind is simply trying to ensure our survival, in a situation that is otherwise impossible to live in. During this process, our body, mind and emotional body adapts in this new unhealthy balance to survive.
Going no-contact or practicing abstinence therefore can be a traumatic experience for our body, mind and soul. It takes completely off the new found balance in our system. Although it is true that the current balance is unhealthy, the reason why we found it is because we are not capable of any other way. Thus, depriving ourselves of our methods of survival is a bit like throwing someone in the water expecting them to learn to swim.
Sure, we can learn to swim this way also. We will be forced to. Or, as often happens, the shock will be too strong, and we will simply replace our current addictions with otherwise, or go back to the previous addiction.
I propose a more self-loving way to heal. Actually start addressing those needs. Actually start addressing those wants. Instead of depriving yourself of your self-medication directly, make sure that you won't actually need it by taking away the reasons you looked for it on the first place.
Self healing and self loving is a long, difficult process. But starting off with an act of self-hate is certainly not the way to go.