My previous relationship was very hard on me and I don’t know why I chose it and continued to choose it. I guess I was lucky to get out of it in the end when I did, as many stay in toxic relationships for many years or decades, for a lifetime or even lifetimes. There is an expanding number of break-ups, separations and endings at these times. Trauma is becoming more-widely recognised as a core condition of the human psyche in this fragmented world. This shows up in our relationships, which often include “trauma bonding.”
Trauma can often go hand in hand with narcissistic traits or even “borderline personality disorder” as well as being the core underlying condition of addictions as people seek to escape their suffering, seek an outlet for their core wounds.
Firstly, as spiritual souls, it’s important we honour the duality, confusion, paradoxical agendas, mixed messages and general confusion we sit in. Inhabiting and making sense of this morass is not an easy task. A good starting point is not needing to know – let your brain have a rest. Go outside, get some sunshine, enjoy walking around. You didn’t come here to know all the answers.
How do we treat our planet as a species? As a human race, we selfishly commoditise every resource and abuse mother gaia relentlessly. These things are not happening out of context. Our wounding is deep.
Many have had lifetimes of patterns built up including being disrespected and dishonesty has reigned supreme as a standard practice of our hierarchy and dominance of leadership. Whilst forgiveness is essential, we also have to honour our soul wisdom and have the strength to go on, even if alone. Always, our task as autonomous beings is to love and honour ourselves, whatever relationships we are connected to and disconnected from.
Signs of trauma bonding include:
- You feel miserable and may not like your partner, but you feel unable to end your relationship. When you try to break up, you feel distressed.
- You try to cover up for the abusive partner’s behaviour.
- You agree with why the abuse is happening, i.e. it’s my fault it’s happening.
- You separate or distance yourself from those trying to help you, like family or friends.
- You feel that you indebted to your abuser.
- You make excuses for your abuser.
- You do everything you can to gain affection and love from your abuser.
Because of the mental and emotional disturbances of your partner, you may feel that they need your protection or compassion because of their usually dysfunctional upbringing. The abuser is generally the victim of abuse themselves, which often includes physical violence and rape, and almost always includes some form of emotional abuse.
You feel shame for not fighting back.
How do we break a trauma bond?
Firstly, we acknowledge there is a problem. It’s helpful to get professional help so you may gain an objective perspective of how functional or dysfunctional your relationship is.
Despite your best intentions, abuse is a corrosive and lingering element that doesn’t just go away. The abuser tends to create a cycle of hurt and threatening behaviour which always costs your inner peace. No matter how much you want to wish or pray away or hope for the best, the abuser doesn’t love you more than they love themselves, and they can only change if they sincerely want to change. No amount of wishful thinking will transform the trauma bond.
There is hope for victims of trauma bonding and perpetrators. Seeking to become aware when they are hurting you and becoming mindful of their triggers, an abuser may seek therapy to save or salvage the relationship, but this doesn’t guarantee they will really want to change.
An abuser may not genuinely care when they are hurting you.
Narcissists will tend to be both highly insecure and ultra-sensitive. These qualities mean that they are easily triggered and can take offence over minutiae.
How can we heal from trauma?
It’s essential to restore the balance between the relational and emotional brains. Stressful events can trigger us outside our window of tolerance, pushing us towards hypo- or hyper-arousal (fight or flight or freeze). These states cause us to become reactive/ disorganised/ numb/ shut down/ can’t think straight/ inflexible/ stubborn/ unable to learn new things / closed off to experiencing life, etc.
The foremost expert on trauma and author of ‘The Body Keeps the Score’, Bessel van der Kolk found that the only way we can consciously access the emotional brain is through self-awareness via interception, i.e. looking inside. The conscious brain focuses on the external world (making plans for the future and getting along with our work and relationships), but not helping us to manage ourselves. The only way we can change the way we feel is by becoming aware of our inner experience and learning to befriend what is going on inside of ourselves.
When you hold on, you are trying to control reality. Let go a little bit at first, and then step by step you will gain momentum.
Affirmation: “Thank you Higher Spirit for revealing to me learning what I needed to learn what I need to know and – it’s time to let go.”
The Buddha taught – “to understand everything is to forgive everything.”
Never allow your wounds to turn you into a person you’re not. You are always enough as you are, and throughout your life, you’re a work in progress, not a finished product. Life is here for us to keep learning and growing.
Leo Tolstoy wrote – “when you understand everything – you can forgive everything.”
Affirmation: “I will not carry the pain of hating you in my heart. To the extent I’m ready, I forgive you.”
If you don’t feel ready to forgive, acknowledge where you at in your journey (without judgment). Simply accept it is a path to forgiveness which may take some time and dedication. Be patient with yourself.Let your heart feel lighter in the knowledge that the work is ahead of you.
You are not alone. Together we can expand collective healing and find meaning from our trauma.
David Starlyte, is a spiritual coach, writer and teacher. A health-science degree graduate, David’s background includes over 16 years in the wellness industry with the last 12 of those being based in Australia. He has trained with Qi Gong masters in China and Buddhist monks in Thailand. He has even studied with kabbalists as a monastic in the Middle-East. As a channel for Divine wisdom, his intuitive coaching, speaking and healing sessions invoke purposeful shifts into deeper connection, inner peace and awakening. To find out more, visit his website and follow him on Facebook and Instagram.
Image courtesy of Alex Green.