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

I Learned the Greatest Lesson of All…from MY Clients


If you have ever known me, or have been connected to me, you know how much I love my work.  There is nothing more amazing to me than to be trusted enough to be allowed into another person’s heart and life. I count it an honor to be held in confidence. At times it has been to such a level, I have been told things that my clients have never revealed to another single soul.

There is nothing quite as satisfying to me than to know I have left a conversation and my client has had an “aha” moment, or has felt a great load being lifted from their shoulders. Yet, there have been those from time to time who have either come right out and told me I had not helped them at all. Or there have been those who have just quietly distanced themselves from me. In those cases I would get off the phone or go home feeling tied up in knots wondering what I could have done better.  I took it hard and usually put all of the load on myself.

Comforting myself, I would reason that I am not perfect, and don’t know all of the answers. While this is true, there had been one piece of the puzzle I had not considered, “I can not assist anyone who does not love themselves enough to realize they need to make their own changes”. I can facilitate, but I can’t change anyone. Change comes from the inside out. One element that has to always be there is self love.

The amazing thing, is the most difficult clients revealed to me my own lack of self confidence and self love. Everyone is a mirror to us no matter what the role we play in one another’s lives. Literally, my rejecting clients expected me to fix them and I strained within myself thinking that it was my job.

Learning the lesson about fixing my own self, loving myself, and being confident within myself, has been a hard one. I’ve had to weed through all of the junk that led me to “people please” and allow others to judge me, or compromise my sense of self worth. Bottom line, we are all a work in progress. With my progression, I discovered it has been alright to walk away from those who dishonored me, because I could honor myself. It’s easier said than done.

This is the reality; no one changes without having to do the work and without finding self love first. Without self love we only live in the reflection of those who want us to conform to their image. I take a deep breath and relax when I remember that the only image I need to conform to is God’s. Even then, it is not God outside of me but God who is a part of my being. The power of love is in our own DNA. I had to get a grasp of this completely, or I would always feel like I would fall short.

It’s work, but when done right everything shifts in the right direction. People leave because they become insulted, irritated, or offended. I’ve learned to let them go. The payoff is others will appear. It’s like a miracle of life. Those that appear are the ones who are ready for what I have to offer and always give me the gift of appreciation in return.

This is the pleasure of life. Walking in the Light of love is always the greatest feeling in the world. Sometimes I forget, like I suddenly have some sort of amnesia. Spirit always draws me back to where I need to be. Sometimes this happens with a struggle but when I turn to the greatest love ever, I always remember.

So, with all of this said; the greatest work I have ever achieved was to love myself the way God does. When this happens everything falls into place. Resistance never allows miracles to happen. Self doubt and struggle will never bring balance or miracles. Yes, my clients have taught me the road to least resistance. The responsibility has always been their own. Mine is to be there, to listen, to interject wisdom when wisdom comes, and to smile at the end of the day.

A job well done always comes with a life well loved.

Loving you from here,

Dr Jenine Marie Howry, Phd

Today I am Grateful for My Husband. What Are YOU Grateful For?


This is not a blog post I expected to write, but, I do believe with all of my heart that gratitude is one of the more powerful healers on this planet, aside from love. I also believe gratitude is a part of love. It’s a part of loving others, having compassion, and loving ourselves. No matter what is happening in our lives, there is always something we can find to be grateful for. There is almost a magical power that goes along with being grateful. It means we have appreciation for the blessings we have been given. Having gratitude also shifts focus from the tough things to the things that are greater and more important.

Today, I am sharing some things I am grateful for concerning my husband of almost 4 years now. We don’t always see things eye to eye. Who does? When two people come together to create unity with each other they take two separate lives and attempt to meld them into one. This is not easy and it is not meant to be. There is no growth in the easy things, only in the hard ones. I often have said that “Hard places are Holy ground.”

My focus for this moment comes after a lot of reflection. Of course, I can say all of these things personally, and privately, but making things public has a power all of its own. Most of the time I only open certain areas of my life when they have a message attached to them. It’s how I have been created and part of my purpose on earth. It’s not easy either, just like relationships of any kind are not easy.

I want to get back to what I am grateful for though. Are you ready for my launch? Good! I was hoping so! Today, I am grateful for my husband; all he does, and all he cares about. I am especially grateful for whom he cares about, because he would give the shirt off his back for someone who needed it. My late son was like that as well. They have many things in common, like determination, intensity, extreme passion for things they care about, headstrong, and yet giving.

I have not had the privilege of being married to my husband all of  our lives, so I can’t speak into everything. We both came with baggage as we all do. We came back into one another’s life after 40 years of not being connected. We lost one another when we were 13. Such an impressionable age. A lot of baggage can be packed together over many years of just living life. Sometimes I often don’t know what the heck we are doing; and I say that with some humor right now.

There is one thing I have witnessed about him though. He gives his work and those he works for, and with, more than 150% of himself. Sometimes that is a hard thing for me because we are supposed to be married to each other. When I separate myself from our marriage for a moment, I see a man who cares so deeply for those who work for him and with him. I kid you not, the moment he gets home his phone is already ringing, dinging and making email noises. He does not work 8am-5pm. He works 24/7, and I am not kidding about that. He does this with his current employer and he has done it with his previous employment prior. The man’s heart cares for the people around him enough to give his off time to support their efforts and the efforts of the company that is so lucky to have him. Yes, he can be very intense, but that intensity is what makes him good at what he does.

When I watch him. I see a man who carries a lot with him aside from his computer, his phone, and sometimes his pride. I see a man who carries the hearts and lives of other people. I have watched a man who has hurt deeply when his intentions are misunderstood and someone who works hard to make the right decisions. He knows when he falls short of those right decisions and he admits them when he does.

We have had breakfasts on the weekends with his phone and sometimes lunch. We have pulled over to the side of the road on the way to do something together so he can take a call to help straighten out an issue. We have both been awakened at all hours of the night so he can address something that is going on with the night shift. I have heard his voice having a conversation upstairs in his office in the middle of the night talking to those who are working at night. I have seen him come home and sleep so he can work a night shift because someone else could not be there. I can imagine how much of the load he takes off of those who have hired him. It must be a lot, because I see so much of what he does when he is not at the office at work. At home, he is still at work.

So, with all of that said. I want to just put out my gratitude. Yes, it can be done privately. I know this. But maybe this is not something that should be private? He does not do the things he does for “kudos”, and honestly, I am not sure he gets many of those. He should though! Today, I am giving him some “kudos” because he deserves them. Today, I am grateful for a man who cares enough about what he does that he will not sleep if an issue has caused anyone grief. Oh, I appreciate what he provides for me as his wife as far as a home goes, and opportunities to find my business again. But this goes deeper and more broad than that. I appreciate the heart and hard work that I see in him.

Yep, he is intense, but what employer would want less passion than what he gives? I’m deeply proud of him and grateful to watch him as his phone rings, dings, pings, and whooshes emails! What does Tony Robbins always say? “Do things with PASSION!”

What are you grateful for today?

Dr Rev Jenine Marie Howry