Are you tired of staying in a relationship where there is less love and more torture? Do you feel like the person you got married to is no more the person you knew before? Do you feel your “Happily Ever After” fairytale took a sharp 180 degrees turn?
Often times when you are in a relationship, you find yourself in deep clutches of a bond so full of toxicity. At first, everything about the relationship gives you a soothing, calming and loving affect overall, but as soon as your partner wears off his façade, it all turns dark, gloomy, and ugly. Relationships, as we know are just so full of complexities. One time you want to hold your partner’s hand, and the other moment, you want to pinch his hand so hard that it leaves an imprint. Any such kind of relationship in which you are eager to get your partner’s love, affection, and validation all the time, and you actually receive all that in the beginning of your relationship, But, gradually, it all fades away when your partner makes you feel miserable about yourself. No matter how hard you try to pull yourself together, you fall in his trap again and again. The cycle of love and emotional abuse is called a Trauma Bond. There are a few steps, which will help you break this trauma bonding.
1. Stop Blaming Yourself
The first step of breaking a trauma bond is to stop the “blame game.” It’s easier said than done. No matter how much you want to stop blaming yourself, it creeps back again as soon as you go back into reality. Whatever happens with you is not all your fault, however, you have to accept the responsibility to pull yourself out from this painful downward spiral called trauma bonding and make things better in your life one thing at a time.
So the first thing you need to do is to adopt a healthy routine like waking up on a particular time, having your meals properly and timely, going for a walk on daily basis if possible otherwise walk in your corridor for 25 mins at least, reading a blog or a book or watching a video on youtube related to your problem, watching a TV of your interest (avoid TV dramas please) and establishing a bedtime routine and be particularly about having 8 hours sleep on daily basis.
Establishing and maintaining a healthy routine slowly and gradually will give you a sense of control and certainty over your circumstances, which will help you to believe that there are many things that you still can do to change your life for better one step at a time. So start taking charge of your daily routine!
The reality training is very much important to move on from a situation. If you start writing about daily interactions with your partner like a story assuming yourself another character in it, while including all the positive and negative events in it with the right sequence like a real story; it will help you to detach yourself from it and make you see things from a different perspective. In this way, you will be able to figure out your true feelings and thoughts and eventually, you’ll come up with solutions on how to deal with it.
3. Check-in with Yourself Daily
It is important to spend time with yourself alone to clear your mind every day. You need to check in with yourself daily especially when you are going through something, or you are victim of emotional abuse. When you sit on your favorite spot to relax, you will know how you actually feel. Emotionally abusive relationships are mostly numbing and make you repress your actual feelings. We know that it’s never too late to recognize, and acknowledge your feelings.
One tip to do so, is to set a timer every day to acknowledge your feelings, and try to dig a little deeper into what you are going through, and how you feel about your situation. Try to remember the pleasant, as well as the ugly moments of your relationship. Discovering about the happy and sad moments will give you an insight about where you actually stand in your relationship. While you do so, try to figure out slowly about the time you felt numb, and what exactly was the situation around that time. This exercise is very helpful to start getting in touch with reality and your feelings.
4. Lower Down Your Expectations
This one is the most difficult one for all of us. Every time we’re on cloud nine, reality hits hard when our partner fails to meet our expectations. We often boost our expectations from our partner because we want them to treat us in a special way. We don’t really think much about how keeping our expectations high could hurt us, because there are times when we get disappointed and upset because of that. We can say that expectations kind of lead to disasters and keep you stuck. In order to have some peace of mind, you need to break your expectations because they are just going to hurt you, cause more disappointments, and take an extra space in your mind, which will never help you.
5. Focus on Healthy Bonds
Having healthy relationships with the partner pleases every individual. Couples who have experienced attachment bonds or trauma bonds, always focus more on making their partner happy. They’ll do almost everything in order to satisfy their partners needs, and while doing so, they neglect themselves. When you are trying to break the trauma bond, you need to focus more on your happiness. To do so, it’s highly recommended to join support groups, or join religious community, make healthy friendships, make time for yourself, and do whatever activities that give you peace and make you happy and comfortable. If you feel like you are having a difficult time interacting with others after a trauma bond, you should seek professional help by taking a therapy and start social work to engage in different activities for the sake of creating connection in low pressure environment. Do everything that boosts your energy and cheers you.
6. Challenge Yourself to do New Things
Being in a trauma bond is very stressful for the individual, because you are excessively under pressure and fighting with your thoughts about your abuser. It may seem impossible for you to break the trauma bond, but you can still work it out. By breaking the pattern of love, abuse, and love again, you need to start doing new things. For instance, going on a retreat and challenging yourself to do new things that you haven’t tried before, is always a good start to a healthy life. Try creating new pathways of your interest and detoxify your relationships. You have to tell yourself that, you have all the control on your life and if you want to be loved by someone, you will have to love yourself first.
Author: Arooba Laraib
Clinical & Counseling Psychologist
Family First Institute