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.

What is trauma bonding?

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?

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Whether it’s a romantic relationship or a friendship, breakups distort our vision. It’s not that we don’t know what to do after a breakup, it’s that we can’t see.

Think about it this way…

You know how to drive a car, right? Right. So let’s just say that you’ve been driving in desirable conditions for a while – great weather, no traffic, your favorite music on, and the love of your life by your side, operating the GPS, in the passenger seat. What could be better?

Then, one day out of the blue… he says that he’s feeling sick, is over the drive and wants to get out of the car. NOW. In shock, you watch him get out without any hesitation. And just like that, you’re on your own – with no working GPS and having lost all sense of direction.

You try to drive back home but aren’t sure where home is (or if you even have a home. HE was your home). As the reality of homelessness starts to sink in, what you could swear was perfect weather is now a snowstorm with fog so dense, you can’t see. What was zero traffic has now turned into a makeshift racetrack with cars swerving all around you amidst the snow. What was your favorite music is now nothing but the beat of your stressed and broken heart.

You’ve got no choice but to pull over. Scared out of your mind, you convince yourself that calling him is your only option.

He tells you that there’s no storm, no race cars and that you just don’t know how to drive. He asks you to stop “making up stories” just to get in touch and then “drives off” in a better car with a new girl who’s everything you’re not… while you’re still stuck… on the side of the road… in the snow.

You don’t know what to do or where to go.

You are literally lost without him.

Did you call him because you don’t know how to drive a car? No. You called because you were lost, scared, triggered, and convinced yourself that you couldn’t tap into your own GPS (that you allowed him to operate).

It’s not that you don’t know what to do after a breakup, it’s that you’ve lost access to your GPS and your vision is clouded by scary emotional conditions. These emotional conditions make acceptance, moving on, and being “the one that got away,” seem impossible.

It’s time to regain your 20/20 vision.

Here’s what you need to know and what to do after a breakup…

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In the past, I was very unsure of myself and because of this, was always wondering “does he like me?” in every relationship I was in. I was this way in friendships, school, and in business relationships too. Where I stood with everyone in my life was always changing because was always changing to accommodate and please them at the expense of a life that was officially no longer my own.

I had no idea who I was or what I was capable of. My worth was measured exclusively by validation from outside sources and I had zero power in my relationships and life.

Desperation soon took over. I became hyper-paranoid/insecure/jealous, painfully aware about all of the wrong things, painfully unaware and blind to all of the red flags, and self-obsessed in the sense that everything was always my fault.

Why can’t this be easier?

Why do I have to even have to ask “does he like me?”

Isn’t it supposed to be easier?

Yes, it is.

 I used to make a lot of excuses for:

  • Selfish behavior from toxic, sh*tty people.
  • The anxiety (essentially an allergic reaction) that I felt in their presence.
  • Their mixed signals, cheating, disloyalty, and lies that I would always blame myself for “making them” do.

Throughout the years of writing here on the blog, coaching thousands of clients around the world, and reading all of your comments and emails, I’ve noticed that this is a common theme.

We excuse because it hurts more to fold with the dignity that we don’t know how to resurrect than it does seeing if we can be “good enough” to get the cat to bark. We take online quizzes and become obsessed with trying to figure out their level of interest and how much they like us. The more doom of black and white we sense, the more we try to convince ourselves that it’s just another shade of grey.

And after we’ve wasted even more time, we still continue to wonder “does he like me?”

Allowing ambiguity to be your clarity and allowing ever-changing “degrees” to which your partner can be serious about you to be your compass, is essentially spitting in the face of a universe that is giving you all the signs you need to protect yourself and move accordingly.

It’s just as unintelligent as pulling “does he like me?” petals off a daisy and going with whatever you land on.

We try to complicate something that is very simple. In relationships of any kind, you are either being respected or you’re not. Your partner is either serious about you and your relationship or he/she is not. There are no special levels of interest that are subject to fluctuation. The train is either moving or it’s not and you’re either in it or out.

With that being said, our emotions, triggers, and hearts aren’t that simple. I still get confused and find myself getting caught up in wondering/obsessing over what’s going on. Although it’s not in romantic relationships and friendships anymore, I found myself doing this with a new business relationship last month.

If you’re wondering “does he like me?” here are 30 signs that he’s serious about you & your relationship…

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I wrote a post last year about what to do when you lose “The One.” Now, I wanted to write about how to not self-sabotage your relationship when you find The One. Maybe you will relate, or maybe not.

It seems self-sabotage is not uncommon, but at the same time, there is little research on this self-defeating behavior. It is, however, definitely a thing. How does it apply to relationships? How do we know we are doing it? And most importantly, why do we do it? 

So, when you finally find The One…

Why would you ever self-sabotage your relationship? How does this actually happen?

Self- sabotage is always about getting in your own way. Ruining a good thing. Preventing an opportunity from coming to fruition. Stopping a good thing from growing. Pushing away someone who cares for you because it makes you feel vulnerable. Missed opportunities and getting out of the lane you want to be in because it’s not the usual way you travel.

At the time, it can seem like we are acting from our hearts or a place of common sense. But we act from a place of fear when we self-sabotage. Self-sabotage is about trying to control a situation so we feel we protected. 

So, we have found The One. This person is everything we have ever wanted and yet…

Something is STILL not feeling right.

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When was the last time you had an honest conversation with yourself? What are your actual limits? Do you have any? Do you find yourself explaining what you won’t tolerate to others but then always ending up the doormat with your boundaries negotiated down to nothing? Do you know when to walk away? 

One of my favorite quotes:

“If you can’t walk away from a negotiation, then you aren’t negotiating. You’re just working out the terms of your slavery.” – James Altucher.

Your…

  • Limits
  • Boundaries
  • Standards
  • Happiness.
  • Peace
  • Sense of reality

Are things that should never be up for negotiation. Ever.

The most life-saving, transformative, confidence-instilling, and powerful thing that you can master in this life is the ability to know when to walk away.

Here on the blog, I always write about knowing when to fold. But keep in mind…

Folding without actually getting UP and walking away is like throwing your trash in the trash bin inside your house and refusing to take it out to dispose of properly (and permanently).

It doesn’t matter how many things you’ve thrown away (folded from). If you don’t take out the trash (a.k.a. know when to walk away), you are setting yourself up for even more pain and humiliation than whatever it was that caused you to fold in the first place.

Who cares how many trash bags you have lined up in your home? Who cares how much you’ve thrown out and how well you’ve sealed the bags? No one will be impressed – including yourself because deep down, you know that this is not impressive.

No quality people will ever show up at your door and you will never fully respect yourself if you stay in that kind of self-sabotaging “well, I identified what was trash and put it in bags, but I’m just not fully ready take it out yet” limbo.

If you don’t take the trash out, the smell will eventually detract from and take over all the beauty of your home. And the only people who will ever enter your home are the ones who have no problem disrespecting it as much as the owner already does. 

Contradiction is the root of all misery. You can’t view something as useless enough to throw in the trash bin but also, useful enough to keep in your house. Same with relationships – you can’t view something as hurtful/disrespectful enough that you have to fold but also, not know when to walk away.

If you don’t know when to walk away, you disqualify yourself from EVER being The One That Got Away.

It’s time to put yourself back in charge.

Here are 15 Non-Negotiable Red Flags to look out for and always, fold and walk away from.

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I know – things were bad and now they are worse.  You don’t know how to forgive yourself.

On top of feeling betrayed and abandoned by a toxic person you pledged to let go of, you now have to deal with the disgust of having betrayed and abandoned yourself. And while there is a certain energy that comes with feeling angry at someone else, turning on yourself can, in the words of one of my favorite poems by Emily Dickinson, feel like you are being dropped, “bone by bone.”

But that’s not going to happen, because you have already proven you know how to forgive yourself.

How can I be so sure? No matter how worthless you may feel and no matter how humiliating the fall, if you’ve been dealing with some cocktail of a toxic/emotionally unavailable/narcissistic person, I can absolutely guarantee you that you’ve provided this person with more understanding, empathy, and chances than they deserve.

The prerequisite for how to forgive yourself is to give yourself one fraction of the same empathy you would give to someone else in your life.

You implemented no contact in the first place because you were done with being a powerless victim of the machinations of someone who dishonored or discarded you. And despite your best efforts…

Sh*t hit the fan, you got triggered, and suddenly you felt like you were no longer in charge of yourself. Falling off your white horse doesn’t mean that you now have a new license to become a powerless victim of your own tyranny.

It means that your body is begging to acknowledge what you have already survived.

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