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