This article is a continuation of the previous article. If you haven’t yet read my initial post on trauma bonding, please click here to view Do you have a trauma bond in your life?
All battles are first won or lost, in the mindSaint Joan of arc
You are sitting in your living room with all of the lights turned off while holding tightly onto a pillow. You have been sitting on your couch for hours and it seems nothing has changed. The same thoughts keep coursing through your mind. You are hurting, you are confused, and you feel like no one else in the world understands what is happening to you.
Three days ago, you went no contact with your boyfriend, for the second time in three months!
Three months ago, you blocked him every which way electronically, you switched churches, and you changed other habits such as when you go to the gym and where you walk your dog. Initially, you felt euphoric and in control as you made these decisions. You felt like you were taking your life back. You were ready to move on and break this trauma bond. Some close friends and family members applauded you when you informed them you were finally taking this important step. They wished you had gone no contact with him a long time ago.
Within hours of cutting him off, however, you were a complete mess. You couldn’t stop thinking about him. You were questioning your decision. Maybe he wasn’t so bad, you tell yourself. Maybe you made a rash decision. Maybe you should have had more patience. And you miss him. Terribly.
In the fleeting moments when you are able to look at what you just did rationally, you know you made the right decision. He was bad for you and you’re sure there wasn’t really a future for the two of you. He didn’t treat you well and everyone around you knew it. So why do you feel so horrible? Why are you aching for him inside? Why are you wondering what he is doing at this very moment?
A few weeks go by and you are still thinking about him incessantly. Everywhere you go reminds you of him. You are always on the lookout for his car and even when you see a car which is similar to his, your mind starts obsessing about him. You are always sure you are about to run into him somewhere. You expect to see him even though in reality, you don’t see him at all.
He reaches out to you one day via a mutual friend, and you both meet for coffee. He even offers up a half-hearted apology for the way he has acted in the past. He tells you he is working on himself. The relationship will be much better now. He begs you to come back as he hands over the most beautiful bouquet of flowers you have ever seen. Before you know it, you are in his arms crying tears of joy and relief. You have never been so happy in your life! The happy hormones in your body are firing on all cylinders! But it only takes a few days before the criticism starts all over again and you watch sadly as he begins to fall back into the same patterns. You realize he hasn’t changed one bit and your feelings of joy quickly turn to despair.
You block him again and this time you promise your family you will really go no contact with him.
Another month goes by and you hear through the grapevine that he is already with someone else. Your initial reaction is positive. That’s great, you tell yourself. This means he has moved on and he won’t try to mess with me anymore. But then you start thinking about when you are going to run into him and his new girlfriend. You begin dreading this encounter which you feel is inevitable. You also start wondering if he is happier with her and you again begin questioning whether you could have done more to save the relationship.
The thoughts keeping coming and they do not go away. There are days when you feel you cannot live without him. All of the negative memories seemed to have vanished and all you can remember are the good times. You want him back in your life. You just want to hear his voice and have his arm around your shoulder. He did so much for you, you tell yourself. He wasn’t perfect but I’m sure he loved me. And now I’ve lost him forever! Sometimes you feel physically sick when you think about him. Your head hurts, your mouth is dry, and all you want to do is cry. There is some invisible hand trying to pull you back to him. The full force of the trauma bond is working on you.
You remember when you quit smoking cold turkey a few years ago. Quitting your boyfriend has been far more difficult!
Another month goes by and you hear that he has broken up with his new fling. Your heart leaps to your throat as you reach for your phone. You want to unblock him, you want to ask him how he is doing. You feel a rush of joy as you imagine hearing his voice again and maybe even meeting up with him.
But as you start to unblock him, you stop yourself for a moment. What are you doing? Didn’t you block him for good reasons? Didn’t he treat you badly? If you talk to him again what will happen to the trauma bond? Will it strengthen again? And what will your family say?
Unfortunately, statistics show that you will probably return to him again. It can take multiple times for victims to break free from their abusers, if they are able to do it at all. But the only way you are going to be able to break the trauma bond is to go no contact with him for a very long time. You have to be strong. You have to keep him blocked and find a way to start pushing him out of your mind.
Does this all sound way too familiar? Are you struggling with intense feelings of doubt, low self esteem, and jealousy? Please, take courage! These feelings are normal within the context of a trauma bond and there is help available! Do not blame yourself, even if you made a mistake and went back to your abuser. You need outside help and the best course of action to take right now is to talk with a licensed counselor or therapist. This cycle can be broken!
In my next post, I’ll talk about ways to deal with the aftermath of breaking up and how to move on…for good!
Also, sharing your experience and reading about other people’s experiences can help you break this bond. Click here to participate in our online forum and learn what others are going through as well! Thank you for stopping by!