This episode talks about what a trauma bond is and how to break it.
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Hello, my friends. Today we're going to talk about the trauma bond. And if you've been in an abusive relationship you are probably familiar with the term trauma bond. You've probably googled it and if you've been in an emotionally abusive relationship you have 100% experienced it whether you knew what it was called or not. A trauma bond is what keeps you emotionally stuck in the abusive relationship. It is like the combination of the addiction to the emotional roller coaster of abuse as well as a growing dependency on the abuser. Because abuse is always cyclical, right. There is the good time followed by the bad time followed by another good time and so on it goes. And the good time tends to be really good. And so you have this emotional roller coaster that you are on as you are yo yoing between the good and the bad phases and that emotional roller coaster can produce hormones that you can become addicted to. And these aren't super weird hormones. They're the same hormones that we get from doing things like scrolling social media, right? That's why it's so hard to go without scrolling on your phone. You like start to want that dopamine hit and you can develop a similar craving in abusive relationships. At the time that I experienced my own trauma bond, I didn't have a word for it. I didn't know it was a thing at that point. but I did have that sense of helplessness and dependency that is one of the attributes of the trauma bond. Like I literally did not think I could survive on my own and that is not an exaggeration. I really did think I was incapable of being on my own. And I think a lot of that was because my ex acted like nothing I ever did was right. Like I was completely incompetent. And I wasn't capable of handling the smallest thing. And so he would do things for me, but like begrudgingly like oh, here let me take over. And so I think there was this sense of like I need him. And I did not even realize that I was addicted to the highs and lows cycle until well after I was out of the relationship. I realized it when I started to create that cycle in a new relationship. I would like pick a fight out of nowhere, just because I was bored. Like normal relationships were boring to me. They didn't have any of the intensity that I was used to. So I would pick an arbitrary fight so we could fight and make up and kind of have like this good bad thing going on. And that was the point that I realized that I was actually addicted to highs and lows. I kind of don't like using the word addicted here. I don't even like the word or like the term trauma bond because, while I think there is usefulness in identifying harmful behavior and having a way to like realize that oh yeah I am having that and it's normal for people in my situation, I think the danger is making it to be this big thing. Like oh my god I'm trauma bonded and it's this huge dramatic thing. I think that is not helpful. Right? We don't look at our smartphones and think oh my god I'm bonded to this inanimate object. I'm doomed. I just don't think is helpful to over identify with this behavior in the sense that it becomes this huge thing in your mind. Like the more you dramatize it in your mind, the harder it is to let go of it. So if you do, like feel that you have a trauma bond, maybe like release some of the bigness or the heaviness of the term of it would be like a way to start releasing it. Because of the way you start to let go of it is first awareness. I think everything always starts there. But it is recognizing that you are experiencing a trauma bond. And then anytime you think you want to go back to them or text them, you can remind yourself that the only reason you are wanting to do that is because of the trauma bond and doing it won't help. And at the end of the day, the trauma bond is really just a feeling. It is a feeling you're having; it might have a craving aspect to it-- mine certainly did. But I think it is helpful to remember and keep reminding yourself that this is just a feeling. Right? It's normal to feel this feeling after leaving an abusive relationship. And the more I don't give into it, the weaker it is gonna get I think the truth is a powerful antidote to the trauma bond. If you find yourself having periods of time where you are considering going back or reaching out to them, I would write down every bad thing they ever did you. Write it all. Tell the truth of it. Like write about how miserable it was. Write about all the times they promised to change and then didn't. Write what actually happened and make yourself look at this every time you feel that pull backwards. And also, you need to let go of self blame. The abuse wasn't your fault. The trauma bond isn't your fault. The trauma bond is just what happens to the brain when it has been in an abuse cycle. Nothing is wrong with you. You are behaving and feeling as is expected for an abuse survivor. You are normal. This is normal. The feelings you have are normal and you can get through it. It might not be sunshine and daisies but it is doable. You can do it. I think something tangible that abuse survivors can do in their recovery is take up a new hobby. Find something that genuinely gives you enjoyment and pleasure and use that to support you in finding new ways to feel positive feelings in your life. Dopamine is not the enemy. It is a natural feel good hormone and it is possible to get it from other sources, healthy sources. And a good healthy source to get it from is enjoyable hobbies. And I think the more you can get dopamine from healthy sources, it kind of breaks down the hold of the trauma bond as the only source of your dopamine. When you can get it from other places it feels less necessary to get it from there. Alright my friends, as always if you want specific support or help with a trauma bond, make sure to book a session with me. The link is in the show notes. Until next time, be well