Trauma bonding happens when a child grows up in a home where abuse is present whether physical, emotional, financial, you name it and internalizes that the abuse is love too. This is what most people call tough love, but in the real sense it’s abuse.
So as a result of the abuse, as the children grow up in that home, they develop feelings of inadequacy because they are constantly trying to seek love from the parents. This is because the parent sometimes shows them love but other times love is withdrawn especially when they make a mistake and are punished or when the parent is going through a hard time. This is why I discussed in this article about how punishment of any kind has negative outcomes in the long run.
Due to this kind of an environment, the children grow up with a subconscious need to work for or earn their parents love since it is not freely given. When they grow up they become attracted to romantic partners and friends who treat them poorly as these people remind them of their primary caregivers and how they treated them. The reason why these are the kind of people they are attracted to is because of the subconscious need to show their primary caregivers that they are worthy of love. Therefore, they bond with these people due to a subconscious attempt to fix their relationship with their primary caregivers.
However, this never happens as the abusive partner or friend has subconscious needs of their own based on their childhood. So they become stuck in a cycle of abuse then love, abuse then love until a time comes when they do some digging about this pattern and they realise what’s happening so they decide to embark on a healing journey. A journey to help them let go of the hurt they experienced as children, to help them learn that they are worthy of love whether it is being given to them or not.
So as part of this journey, forgiveness needs to happen. They need to forgive their caregivers or parents and acknowledge that it wasn’t their fault they treated them that way. They acknowledge that it was because of their own unresolved childhood trauma.
How do healthy relationships look like?
As they heal they begin to form healthy bonds and relationships. This happens because they are now able to individuate or become self-aware. Individuation is when one is able to form healthy boundaries with those around them such that they don’t loose themselves in a relationship. This means that they know where they begin and end, they know their strengths and weaknesses. They know what is acceptable to them and what isn’t. They know what they can do for others and what they can not do and they know when to ask for help.
Healthy bonding takes two individuated or self-aware individuals. It can not happen between an individual who is individuated and one who is not individuated. This is because an individual who is not individuated is only attracted to an individual who is also not individuated
These two individuated individuals both know how to respect each others boundaries meaning they respect the other person’s nos and yeses. They express themselves in a healthy way. They don’t take it personally when the other can’t do what they asked because they trust that if they would have been able to do it they would have done it. They know when to walk away if their relationship isn’t at per with their vision of their life and where they are heading.
They know how to express their emotions and concerns in a healthy manner and with respect because they were taught from a young age how to. They know the emotions they are experiencing in each moment and why. They understand their behaviours and what is causing them. They understand and respect it when others are not able to offer them help.
How does one know where to draw the line in relationships?
We are socialized from a very young age to conform to our cultural expectations. So knowing when to say no also is influenced by our socialization or what we were taught to be acceptable or not. However this does not mean that everything we were taught is healthy for us. This is because some unhealthy behaviours can also be passed down from one generation to another generation find out more about this here.
So to know where to draw the line can be made possible by our emotions mostly. Our emotions are like alarms that help us to identify when we are being violated or when the line has been crossed. Remember I explained that an individuated person is aware of their emotions and is able to tell what is causing them and why.
However, there are things like experiencing adverse childhood experiences that make us suppress these emotions that arise to notify us something is not right.. and sometimes the adverse experiences even make us feel afraid of acting on this emotions because what they are notifying us of is something we have grown up knowing is right.
This is why I always encourage people not to go about this process of healing by themselves. we need someone to walk with us so that we can identify what is making us afraid of facing these emotions and how we can face them and move forward.
If there are negative emotions don’t push them down instead flow with them and ask what was happening when I felt this way? Who was I talking to? What were we talking about? What was I doing? What were they doing to me? The answer to these questions is where your line is and is what you should be saying no to.
However, if you are not healed your emotions will arise out things that do not warrant a reaction from you. Therefore first step should be to heal from any or every traumatic experience you have gone through it takes work but it is possible.
Are you in need of someone to walk with you and help you heal from the childhood trauma you experienced? Do you need someone to help you become more individuated? Do you want to learn how to form healthy relationships with your friends and partners? You are in the right place.
We have a trained and licensed psychologist to help you walk through this healing journey. Contact us via 0708146415 or email email@example.com to book a free thirty minutes session so you can evaluate and see if we are a good match. Do something today that your future self will thank you for.