“It hurts so badly – I just want it to stop. Please make it stop.”
I was crying on the mattress my son and I were sharing on the floor in my parent’s spare room. My ex had ended things four or five days prior and I was at the end of my rope.
My mom had come in to check on me but she didn’t know how to help. Honestly, I didn’t know how to help. I was at what I thought was rock bottom. I remember her handing me another roll of toilet paper as I had already cried my through the last one.
In that moment, I genuinely wanted to die. And I hated myself for it.
Overnight I had become a single mom, I had a little boy depending on me. Somewhere inside I knew that he was awful to me, so I shouldn’t be so dang upset anyway. But nothing I did or told myself could make the pain stop. I thought that I was broken and because of that, I deserved this.
Little did I know, this was a prime example of a trauma bond at work.
I’ve talked about trauma bonds in the past, but I’m coming back around to it again.
Trauma bonds are the third part of my coaching framework. I address this before I address any of the other big things involved in abuse recovery because it’s dangerous not to know this.
If you don’t understand what a trauma bond is, you run the risk of carrying the guilt of your pain for the rest of your life. It is my mission to make sure that you see you’re not broken. You’re brain is acting in a normal way to a trauma bond.
A trauma bond is a really strong connection that your brain has created with your abuser.
Because of this connection, your brain convinces you that you have to be with them, that you need them to survive.
When you try to leave, you’re going to continually be pulled back because your brain thinks you have to be with that person. It has become an comfortable uncomfortable, a constant that your brain is used to.
When you have that constant, your brain is going to always want to go back there instead of moving forward into the unknown.
A lot of people have come to me and ask, why does it matter anyway? Can’t they just move forward? Won’t they kind of break on their own?
My answer is that I’m not entirely sure. I’m not a psychologist and I don’t I don’t pretend to be. I’m a coach.
But in my opinion, you can’t move forward until you break these bonds.
Now, I realize that is a potentially controversial thing to say. However, these trauma bonds really are that strong.
It is incredibly difficult to move forward and to get your life back if you have not broken those bonds, or at least address them and begin to break those bonds.
Why? Why do I even bother saying that?
The reason that it’s so important to recognize this is because your brain wants to go back to that person so badly.
When you have a trauma bond that you haven’t addressed, your brain is gonna always call you back to that place. When you come up with a reason to move forward and to finally move on with your life, your brain is going to come up with a million and one reasons why you should go back and why it’s dangerous not to.
Your brain does not want to let go of that person.
Our brains are incredibly stubborn and they don’t want to admit that they’re wrong or are craving an unhealthy relationship.
Our brains don’t want to move forward beyond that. Because it’s scary out in the unknown, even though it wasn’t healthy. And even though it’s not safe being with that person that we’re trauma bonded with, it’s comfortable.
It knows what’s going to happen. It can predict what’s going to happen day by day by day. When you don’t have that constant to give your brain, it’s going to get a little upset.
That’s why when it comes to my coaching framework, I spend a lot of time focusing on trauma bonds. We put all of our energy here because we want our brains to realize that it’s time to move forward and let go.
When you don’t break these trauma bonds, the abuser continues to run your life.
What do I mean by that?
We dress the way they want us to dress or we feel stuck because we don’t allow ourselves to move forward.
My abuser when I was 17 told me that I would never make it in cross country. He said that I was too fat, too ugly, too out of shape to whatever. Even though I did successfully run a season of cross country in high school, it was not without its faults. His voice was in my head during that entire cross country season, even though we weren’t even together anymore.
Every single time I would lace up my shoes to go on a run after that, his voice was all I could hear.
“You can’t do this, you’re too fat.”
I would hear his obnoxious a laugh in the back of my head to the point where I couldn’t even get myself to run more than two minutes at a time.
I convinced myself that he was right.
He was important enough to make a decision on my life, ie I’m not able to run.
This continued until I was 26 years old. I’m 27 now.
So it’s only been about a year that I’ve truly focused on breaking that trauma bond.
I finally silenced the voice that was running around in my head. This is why breaking trauma bonds is such an important part to focus on.
If you are not actively working to break your trauma bonds, you are going to continue to be run even by subconscious thoughts created from what they say or did.
Until we get this under control, we are going to be running in circles chasing our own tail, wondering why we’re continually self sabotaging everything we do.
If you’ve experienced an abusive relationship and you find yourself self sabotaging, whether it’s you know fitness efforts, starting a business, writing a book, going after a passion, etc, there is a chance you have a trauma bond.
You’re not broken.
Your brain is acting in a normal, albeit unhealthy, way. That’s why we first have to convince our brains that it is, in fact, a trauma bond.
Once we finally convince our brains, then we can move forward towards breaking that trauma bond.
Awareness is the most important step, in my opinion. Once clients realize, I don’t want to say easier, but things become a lot simpler, they make more sense.
It’s like looking at a jigsaw puzzle and you finally got all the edges together. Once that’s done, it’s so much easier to see the rest of the picture.
And then once you get all the edges together, it’s so much easier to see the rest of the picture. Once you have all of that outline figured out, you can then piece by piece, put the rest of it together.
But it’s not until you’re aware that you’re able to find any sorts of freedom or order in the chaos.
Breaking that bond may take a couple of weeks, it may take a couple of years, everybody is different.
But awareness brings so much relief and understanding. You can step back and see why you reacted that way, why it hurt so bad. You then are able to recognize what your brain is doing and you can take steps forward.
If you relate to this and want to know how to finally break that bond, be sure to check out this post. I share the first steps to making that happen.
A lot of the time, this can be one of the most difficult things that we do and we want to skip over it. But I’m not going to let you do that. When you get me as your coach, you get me holding your hand helping you through the hard stuff.
I don’t skip the hard stuff, because I know you deserve so much more. Now this is all easier said than done. This is a process. You have to give yourself grace. No matter where you are on your journey.
Whether you’re using my coaching framework, or you’re on an independent journey of your own, grace applies.
Once you give yourself that grace, you’re going to find that things aren’t I’ll never see they get easier but they get simpler.
You’ve got this, boo. You deserve freedom from this and so much more.
If you’re ready to tackle this but don’t quite know where to start, be sure to come hang out with me on Instagram. Every day I share awesome information and tips for every step of your recovery journey. Click here to check out my Insta!