Trauma Bonding and Toxic Relationships: Personal, Groups and Business

Since life is about “relationship,” most likely, we have all had
at least one relationship where we merely did not have much in common. The relationship imbalance can occur during any type of relationship, from
romantic, to friendships to work relationships. Sometimes relationships are so out of balance it is hard to get along with one another, therefore there is
continual friction. Usually, the lack of cohesiveness is recognized eventually, and people part ways. There is no difficulty in parting, and both parties will feel relieved to be finally apart.

This is not the case when there is trauma bonding involved. Trauma bonding occurs when one person or group in the relationship is toxic. I include groups here for the sake of employment and even religious groups. Toxic relationships are easy to spot, usually from the outside of one. There is a massive degree of control, manipulation, sabotage, jealousy, and a ton of friction. Why would someone want to be in a type of relationship like this? No one really would want that type of person (or group) in their life. None of us are happy when we feel controlled to the point where we are told what we can do and what we can’t. No one wants a relationship where they are controlled to the point of who they can connect with or not. We see this in religious groups, unfortunately.

People get locked into trauma bonding with someone because the other person or group always seems the best thing that ever happened to them. They are swept off their feet with charm, love, acceptance, and a feeling of bliss begins to create the release of powerful neurotransmitters in the brain that make us feel good. These can be a release of norepinephrine, oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin. To a drug addict, this is the addictive high they get while using and then dropped when the drug is no longer present and providing it for them.


It is the same with a trauma bond. The same neurotransmitters are released in the body when someone feels they are in love or have reached what is referred to as a “natural high.” In romantic relationships, the trauma bond can cause a person to continue to go back for more even when they are being treated poorly. This occurs after the “honeymoon” phase of toxic relationships is over. The relationship moves from the charming demeanor of a toxic person into manipulation and a whole lot of pain. Yet the bond from the initial high of the relationship keeps the other person trapped into wanting more of the high. So they keep going back for the fix even though they know it is not suitable for them and even after the world comes crashing down on them once again.

This type of relationship is not the same as the romantic kind, where there
is such a strong sense of compatibility that the couple will both shine and sparkle from the inside out just being together. Even after things have settled, the love grows, matures, and deepens. This is not true with a toxic relationship. One person in toxic connections will suffer greatly at the hand and actions of the toxic person.

In many cases, the toxic person is considered to be a narcissist, and they
might be just that. Sometimes, a person can have a narcissistic part of their
personality, but they are not narcissists. It is up to a skilled professional
to determine if someone has a full-blown personality disorder or not. Being
involved with a toxic person is very painful and will rip your life into
pieces. You will feel crazy, but you are not. People might think you are crazy
because of what the toxic person has done or said behind you. Yet, you are not the crazy one.

The addiction to a toxic person (or group) is similar to that of a drug
addict. It’s hard to kick the high, and it’s hard to see the damage being done
while in its midst. All that is known is that you need more of the person or
group to feel that high again and feel a sense of wholeness. We can get locked into a situation like this and feel very isolated because that is the idea of the toxic person or group. You are isolated and played with, so they will have a sense of power and control.

Remember, the trauma bond is an addiction, so don’t be hard on yourself if
this is in your life. Love yourself enough to get help, just as a drug addict
must reach out for help in their situation. You have to come to the point of
hitting bottom. No one can make you get to that point. It all has to be done
for yourself. Working on self-love, fostering good relationships privately, and finding a good counselor to help you out of your misery are essential to your health and well-being. Even after you are not under the influence of a toxic situation, there still might be a recovery time. Allow yourself that time!
Remember your worth. You are gold in anyone’s life. Let your most significant relationship be with God and with yourself first. Work on your self-esteem and consider the reasons you lock into toxic people or groups, to begin with.

Come to recognize the trauma bond high and don’t allow relationships to
happen too quickly. Any good relationship is nurtured over time. Be honest with those you leave behind and tell them from a place of safety that you feel they are not suitable for you. Be straightforward. It is essential to speak your truth at a safe distance as toxic people can also be dangerous. Make it crystal clear you want no more contact and why. Tell the other person or people why you feel your connection is not good for you or them. Even in situations where there is little in common, communication is important. In healthy people, breakups are easy like that. Healthy people communicate, “I don’t want to see you again” in a healthy way and is accepted healthily. If this is not expressed, don’t think you are in a trauma relationship if the other person does not understand and pursues you. You have to be clear for your sake and theirs!

It all sounds so complicated, and this could quickly turn into a book, but
it is not that complicated. Let your happy indicator let you know if you are in a good relationship fit or not. Even with groups, it is the same thing. It
might not be a good fit for you if one person in a place of power calls all the shots. Recognize power-hungry people and keep your distance. Your life will thank you with blessings you never dreamt of if you protect and guide yourself by the gut instincts God has given you.

Loving you from here, 

Dr. Rev. Jenine Marie Howry 

JenineMarie.com

Addictions Are Not for the Weak

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Yesterday I was going through some photos of those I have known of who have struggled with addictions of many kinds. Most of them are no longer here on earth. Some still are and struggling. Then there are those who feel they have it “under control” only choosing a new addiction to supply their needs.

After watching so many over a lot of years struggle with one addiction or another the truth of its power over people has become overwhelming. I have no doubt that addiction is an illness of the soul. Yes, there is also a family genetic component we can’t ignore, but either way, it all becomes facilitated by a deeper soul scar. The deeper the scars the harder it is to break the cycle.

Since addictions are an illness, I also feel they should be treated as an illness. Soul scars are nothing to take lightly. They cause many issues in life. They guide our behavior, can cause physical and emotional illness, and facilitate addictive behavior. The harder part is what another person’s addiction can do to others they love. It’s so hard to struggle alongside an addict and even harder to watch the destruction it has on people’s lives. Addicted people make decisions based on their addictions. The disease begins to control them until they are no longer in charge of their decisions. It takes over their lives like some monster entered in that refuses to be beaten back.

I heard a saying once that “aging is not for the weak”. I thought about that statement at the time because it is so true. Becoming older causes us all to struggle harder with one thing or another. The difficult part is the more we struggle the harder things become. What we focus on becomes bigger. I feel the addict struggles harder and harder. The disease is not for the weak, it is for someone who has a lot of strength. When I think of how much of their day an addicted person will put in just to feed it it’s overwhelming to me. When I studied opioid addictions during a class with Harvard Medical School, I learned that most individuals who are addicted to opioids will spend the bulk of their day just finding ways to feed their addiction. It’s a struggle and not one for the weak at heart. It is inconceivable to think that any one person would wake up one morning and say to themselves, ” I think I will become an addict for my life’s goal.” Just could not happen.

Before we focus just on drugs or illegal drugs, I have to mention that addictions come in all forms. There are drugs, yes, and alcohol, internet, food, comfort zones, sex, religion, reinforced habits of all kinds. Whatever the case may be, additions are substitutes for pain and suffering that is below the surface and not being dealt with. I have seen addictions rip the rails right out from under people’s lives and before they know it, life has changed forever. Sometimes we lose our lives and sometimes we lose our loved ones.

Brutality never heals addictive behavior. I don’t care how we want to look at it. Maybe we just don’t want to look. It’s so much easier to blame. Yet, before we blame, we have to look at ourselves, don’t we? Since what we see is always a reflection of a part of who and what we are. Remember, we all have ways of covering either what we don’t want to look at or what we don’t want others to see. Some will lie, commit crimes, make excuses, cause upheaval in life, or even worse, die. Pretty serious, isn’t it? If we look at every addict as “dirty scum” that just needs to be taken out of society, then maybe look again. What things inside of ourselves need to be looked at as well? Illness is illness and we are all a part of it.

Somewhere along the line the law decided that addiction is a crime. Yes, it causes people to commit crime sometimes and that has its consequences. Yet, there is a way to deal with it that goes beyond locking someone up and throwing away the key. Think of your morning cup of coffee, your piece of chocolate cake, the series you love on TV, the main focus you put on religion instead of God, the material items you have in your home, the social media you cling to when life is less than enjoyable. We are a society that replaces dealing with things with looking at other things. The sadness is that we never seem to learn, never heal, and never want to understand.

I wonder today, as I think of those who have died for their addictions; were they too weak or were they really strong? Folks the struggle is real and it’s not just someone else’s struggle. It belongs to us all. Think about anger as an addiction, or even giving financially to others can be if it drains our resources. What about the alcoholic who hides their addiction because of embarrassment or ego purposes? Doesn’t this take a lot of strength? An addict who uses illegal drugs can get caught and go to jail any time. Doesn’t it take a lot of strength to live that life? Maybe, just maybe, we all need to be taught another way to be strong. Maybe we need intervention, hospitalization, treatment centers, and others who care and understand? Maybe we need God to help us find wholeness and someone to help show the way to that wholeness? Maybe we need to see our own illness and be compassionate about someone else’s? Maybe we need to treat addiction like the illness it is and stop filling our prisons, jails, and law enforcement time with people who are simply broken from the inside out. Yes, evil happens from that brokenness. Can we even imagine the evil that happened TO them that caused it? How overwhelming is that?

Possibly you might ponder this today. I hope so. Go deep and figure out what addictions you have that hide below the surface, or maybe on the top? Gossip is a huge addiction. Can you think of someone who does this? You can always pick someone out who gets a high out of hearing someone else’s misery. That, my friends, is addiction as well. For some, falling in love is addiction. Once the euphoric feeling of new love has settled down the addict moves on to someone else not even realizing that their brain chemical addiction has cost them a relationship that could have been. Some never discover this in a lifetime, moving from one love encounter to another.

So, with all of this said, and all of this read, what is it that we need? Should we lock ourselves all up and throw away the key or should we heal one another? Should we punch one another in the places that hurt the most or heal the original blow that caused it all to begin with. The choice is ours, you know. It really is. Think about how much of an impact loving someone else whole could have on them? A life could be changed or even saved, and it can start with YOU.

Loving you from here,

Dr Rev Jenine Marie Howry

Addictions and the Co-Dependent

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I think co-dependency is something most of us have heard about at one time or another, especially when it comes to being around those who are addicted to a substance , action, or drama. There are so many things an individual can be addicted to, but those who are also dependent with the addict are the one’s who generally hurt the most from what is happening around them. In fact, the drama addict can cause more pain than can even be imagined to someone who is connected to that person. More on the drama addict in another post.

The co-dependent is the one who lives in the shadows of the addicted person. Although, not addicted to the substance of choice themselves, they are addicted to being with the person who is. I know this sounds strange but it is true. The co-dependent will enable the addict to get their fix of whatever it might be just to try to maintain balance in a relationship. They will also allow the addiction to continue right in front of them, keep the secrets that are held about it, and become the scapegoat or reason the addict decides they have a problem so they will not look at themselves.

It’s very hard for an addicted person to admit they have caused their own chaos, so the co-dependent gets to be the target. Unfortunately it is also the co-dependent who ends up with most of the emotional and physical problems in the beginning. As an addicted person continues within their addiction they will be the one who will suffer the most from the addiction. No one who is out of balance as much as an addicted individual will be healthy forever.

I remember listening to those who smoked cigarettes all of their lives, coming to a place where they wished to God they never touched them. They made all the excuses possible to use them at the time, being in denial that any damage will ever be done. It’s a very sneaky thing. Damage lies deep within the recesses of the emotions and the body and eventually it will surface, guaranteed.

For the co-dependent getting balance and maintaining their own life is the key to keeping sane. Self care, and focus on what is important to maintain good health and sanity is a life saver for those who are connected to an addicted person. It takes a lot of faith and healing for the co-dependent to break the chains that an addict has upon them. They might not see them but they are there. They are held captive emotionally, physically, and financially to just name a few things.

Breaking a pattern is not easy but it can be done. God’s ways are not the ways of the world. He created a universe that acts according to positive belief and faith. There is a power that is greater than what any addict can enforce upon a co-dependent. It is the power of God’s love and grace within the individual and the commanded forces that God gives in support of the one who calls upon Him for action and guidance.

If you are connected to someone who has an addiction problem of any kind. Take heart, because there is healing and freedom midst the storm. You can be released from the power hold addictions have had on you. You can escape them and when you do you will feel the freedom that soars like an eagle just as God has spoken. You might be broken, but not for long. You might be consumed but not forever. All you need to begin a new phase of living and healing is the desire to have it and to spiritually ask. “Ask and it shall be given unto you.”

Loving you from here,

Dr. Jenine Marie Howry, PhD

832-484-8306

Addictions: The Lying Trap

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Remember that old saying back as a child, “Liar, liar, pants on fire?” Sometimes I wondered what our pants had to do with the lying part. I know its a very strange thing to meditate upon but I did that today. This is what came to me. When someone’s pants are on fire it is very obvious. They are being burned, hopping around, and part of them is being destroyed in front of anyone who might be looking.

Since I am on an addictions role lately, I thought I would address the lying that comes with addicted personalities and why an addicts “pants are on fire”, (so to speak). First and foremost I want to say that no one is ever kidding themselves or others when it comes to addictions to drugs, alcohol, gambling, people, drama, food, or any other addiction. The very first lie an addict creates is to themselves. They lie, believing that:

  1. Some day I will stop
  2. No one knows I am addicted
  3. No one sees that I lie to get by
  4. There is no hope accept to keep on keeping on
  5. Addiction can not be counteracted with first accepting the truth
  6. I’m not really harming my body
  7. I’m not harming anyone else
  8. I have a long life ahead of me, this is not going to affect me, things will change
  9. I need this addiction to make it through life
  10. People will believe my lies if I make them believable for me too

There are also lies that addicts tell those they are around and their loved ones. They might be things like this: (Remember lying to others is abusing them)

  1. I’m going to stop now and do it on my own
  2. I have to work late
  3. No one cares about me
  4. You are the cause of my addiction
  5. I locked the keys in my car
  6. I lost all of my money
  7. I never took your stuff
  8. I did not drink, use, function in my addiction today
  9. She/he is only a friend
  10. I never spoke of you as the cause of my addictions while speaking to others
  11. My addictions are my business and they don’t harm you
  12. You misunderstood

These are only a few. I am sure if you are struggling with addiction you can think of some more or maybe a loved one can think of some for you. This is the deal: Your loved ones KNOW you are lying. Even as much as you might try to convince them otherwise they still know. You can argue, kick, scream, and rant, and it does not make them know less. The people you work with KNOW you are lying. You can not hide an addiction from everyone no matter how hard you try. Even distance can not do it. The ONLY one you are kidding is yourself. You are hurting everyone around you, there is no doubt about that, but more than that, you are hurting yourself.

Eventually people will distance themselves from you. If they don’t they are co-dependent to your addiction. Don’t kid yourself. You might wake up and find yourself very alone. A dear friend of mine used to say, “You can’t kid a kidder“. Everyone who has or is experiencing addiction with you or around you know that you lie as well. Is THIS the life you want to lead?

No, I am not trying to be mean here. I am being honest. If you think you won’t lose everything in life no matter how successful you might look on the outside, you are lying to yourself. You might even lose your life. Then those around you will grieve. Is this the legacy you want to leave behind?

I am challenging you with no judgement to make a new decision in life. First be honest with yourself. Admit your problem is out of control. Then admit to those around you that you have been liar liar, pants on fire. It’s been obvious all along. So what is the harm in just being honest? Everyone knows, so what is the harm in coming clean with the dirt? It is your first step to freedom. I remember reading in the bible for the first time that God hates liars. Please don’t take this that God hates YOU. God hates the actions created. He wants better for you and I think you do too!

Loving you from here,

Dr. Jenine Marie Howry

832-484-8306

Addictions: Is There a Way Out?

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Before I begin with this blog post I want to say that addictions in our country is one of the hardest issues we deal with. The complications an addiction can bring to one life are so saddening. It often goes from wasting precious time to the loss of life. Regardless, addiction is not only a personal illness or disease. Addictions to substances or actions affect everyone the addict is in connection with. The worry, the concern, and the stress caused by being in connection with an addicted person can wear away at the life of those who love them.

Let’s Take a Look at the Bottom Line of Addiction and the “Whys” 

I’m going to just put this out there. It’s pretty simple actually. Every addicted person feels that they lack pleasure in life and need a substance, action, or even person, to bring comfort from the difficult feelings one has. For some reason every addict seems to believe that life is supposed to be blissful, joyful, and problem free all of the time. NOT TRUE! Life is a learning journey and there is no way any life will ever have complete peace all of the time. This world is filled with problems from relational to humanitarian. It might seem simplistic but one of the greatest battles to fighting addiction is for an addict to first come to the understanding that life will have challenges and will not always “feel” good all of the time. Going by feelings instead of faith or practical knowledge is probably the first mistake any addicted person makes. We all feel and all can be sensitive to one thing or another. Yet, being driven by feelings alone can create a multitude of issues.

Bottom line, we are not meant to be comfortable all of the time. Masking the hard issues in life by using a substance or situation only stops a person from receiving the life lesson they need to grow up as a human being. What is the result? Stunted growth; especially spiritual growth.

So what about the pleasure centers of the brain? 

Our brains are an amazing part of our creation. The brain is meant to control our bodily functions, guide our lives and record them. We also have pleasure neurotransmitters that are like carriers to the rest of the body. They tell us we are having a good experience or not. Sometimes they can control how we look at life if we allow them to. For instance, someone who has depression usually does not maintain adequate serotonin in the brain and therefore “feels” depressed. An anti-depressant can be given to help the brain maintain serotonin in order to correct the problem. Depending on the person, the same can be accomplished by helping the brain maintain the right level of dopamine. Both of these neurotransmitters are like “feel good” connectors. Those who have issues with neurotransmitter imbalances struggle with every day life and being able to enjoy life’s simple pleasures.

Much to our misunderstanding there is a way out of addictions and what they do to the brain chemistry. The neuro-pathways of the mind can be rewired by meditation, affirmation, and also hypnosis. Spiritual practices can also be just as uplifting as an anti-depressant given that the practice is created as a good habit in life. There is a way out! If you struggle with addictions of any kind you can correct the imbalances in your brain that life has created and actually overcome the addictions that plague you. Also, learning how to deal and cope with life’s setbacks is a real important part of the process. Dedication and desire come into play because without these nothing else will work out. If you really want out of the addiction trap the good news is there is one! The decision that you must make is if your dedication and desire are strong enough to really work on making the necessary changes. Often if a person experiences enough pain created by their addiction it can be enough to create a strong desire to change and heal.

Your life is waiting ahead of you! Why not consider making the change from being trapped in a nowhere life to really living the life you have been given! If you need help in this area, please call and find out how you can overcome your addictions!

++IMPORTANT Note: Detox from any substance such as a drug or alcohol is a very serious process and should not be attempted alone. Please seek medical attention before beginning any other process or along side a new process. Your overall health must be assessed. Remember, if you have been altered for a long period of time your entire body has been altered down to a cellular level as well. 

Loving you from here,

Dr. Jenine Marie Howry, PhD.  832-484-8306

Life Lessons by Jenine Marie