Through the years, I’ve received many emails and messages asking me to write about trauma bonding and how to release a trauma bond.
This is NOT a subject that can be explained in a paragraph or two. Irena has been working hard on this post for weeks (I am so thankful for her and Lorelle taking care of PMS in between my posts for a few weeks while I work on my book). There is a lot of information out there on trauma bonds but I wanted to provide a one-stop post for you that makes sense of and gets to the root of it all – especially how to break free. I lived in that prison for many years and this post is everything I wish I had when I was in the grip of it.
Irena, take it away my friend…
You may feel pretty crazy over there in your trauma bonded trance for someone who mistreated you, but know there are people actually eating dirt out there and making more sense than some of the well-meaning advice I heard while I was getting over various forms of heartbreak.
We are told to stop fixating, face the fear of moving on, focus on yourself, and that time heals all wounds. When in fact, the symptoms of a traumatic reaction to a trauma bond make these very things feel nearly impossible.
What’s more, when taken in the context of trauma bonding, prolonged grief over the loss of a relationship is far from irrational, even when that relationship was a toxic one. If you feel more stunned and immobilized as time wears on, this is the reaction of your organism actually working to protect you from a perceived, ongoing threat.
You are not crazy. Your body’s physiological state is just trying to communicate with you in a way that you may not quite understand yet.
There are people all over the world who experience cravings for dirt or clay. This is called geophagy and clearly sounds so insane that people feel ashamed to admit their cravings. Yet research has found that these cravings may indicate a lack in bodily mineral content or may function as the body’s protective response to pathogens in pregnant women or children. The content of dirt or clay may serve as a protective barrier in the stomach.
What may FEEL mentally and physiologically irrational, actually makes sense. This does not mean that anemic people should make themselves a nice dirt snack with their coffee this afternoon. It does mean that feeling estranged, ashamed, and ignoring the REALITY of the craving, without looking further into what it indicates, will never resolve their organism’s unmet need.
I only started to understand trauma bonding when I stopped feeling ashamed and started trusting my body’s own physiological messengers.
Breaking a trauma bond can feel agonizing. What’s the point of trying to accept the reality of a toxic relationship, go no contact, and try to move on with your life when you only feel worse as time wears on?