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Trauma Bonding

‘It’s not him you want but the cocktail of cortisol and oxytocin in your brain.’

Trauma Bonds

Today was difficult. In fact, more than difficult. It was traumatising.

My nex (narcissistic ex – who I believe is a covert malignant narc) contacted me on twitter after 6 months of no contact (a stage of moving on from abuse, most victims follow, in order to escape the abuse and break trauma bonds.)

The boy I am currently dating sent me a screenshot of my old twitter and reminded me I hadn’t shut it down; I have recently removed myself from all forms of social media – and I am a lot happier for it.

So, I logged in, to deactivate. I saw his name straight away. And boom, that lethal does of oxytocin and cortisol – some sort of drug-addictive cocktail in my brain (yes, during narcissistic abuse you are literally chemically brainwashed to think you will die without them – these are what trauma bonds are) – hit me right in the chest. And just like that, after 6 months of being nex free, I was craving him again. However – I was strong, I blocked him and then continued to deactivate my account.

I was so tempted to reply, so tempted to get that one hit. It was nothing to do with him, I’m far along enough my healing journey now to know a narcissist is not a person: they gave up their humanity a long time ago. And that, whoever I thought I knew, was just a mask used to manipulate.

I found the most helpful quora page, and it relieved me from of a lot of guilt and shame for reacting the way that I did.

I strongly recommend everyone reads it.

‘One more thing. No contact. None. Block. Don’t even peek. The trauma bonding will get you. It’s not him you want but the cocktail of cortisol and oxytocin in your brain. You’re not crazy. You’re not weak.’

I am sure that this overwhelming want to reconnect with the abuse is because your subconscious is so overwhelmed by your efforts to confront those sinister moments, see them in their true light. I imagine that’s strange for others, who haven’t understood or experienced this type of abuse, to comprehend. But, it is true. Dealing with the cognitive dissonance, the effects the gaslighting has caused, the layers and layers of manipulations, how you now see yourself and your whole past as short of evil because of his delusional projections, the flashbacks of the assaults (that at the time, you even thought were showcases of love, affection, protectiveness), is so much worse, really, than being in that state of numbness, confusion. You have no idea how painful it is to readdress a whole year of abuse. You have no idea how stressful it is to almost go through everything again, alone – which is why therapy is so essential in this healing process – so you can finally see everything for what it is and set yourself free.

Yes, in all honesty, the aftermath of the abuse is so much more worse than the abuse. You had a fantasy to protect you during the abuse, higher thoughts of the ‘person’ you ‘loved’. Your belief in change, in the goodness of them: which, ironically, isn’t true to your beliefs, it is just another product of abuse – and however that manifests itself in your personality. But, it eventually stops. That is why you do it: it eventually stops, and the abuse never would.

— And as well, being with a new partner, has triggered me A LOT. It has been so difficult at times. But, and there always is a but for every bad there is in the healing process, it simultaneously heals me. I think it is so important to acknowledge that when you are being triggered, it is indeed an opportunity to confront yet another thing, readdress it for what it really was and let go, let yourself heal from another moment of time in hell. Seeing him for what he truly was, heals one part of you – and it also hurts another. The hurt that causes is liberating, unlike what the direct hurt he caused for me. And I heal that with self-love AND external love. Love heals – and that is why, I think, being with another person, has sped up the process so much more than the pace it would have otherwise gone at.

(I have also just noticed I still don’t personalise my experience! If you read my other blog, you would know my therapist says I dissociate from this experience and talk about it as if it didn’t happen to me).

And, I am with him, because he is him. Because he is nothing but short of pure and good. Because, for the first time in my 17 years of existence, I have the privilege (whether it should be a privilege, I’m not sure) of experiencing stability with another person. Because, for the first time, ever, I like someone for them. Because I am just me when I am around him – I don’t have to please, or earn love, or make someone else comfortable. And that – that is the scariest thing I have EVER felt.

It is the type of fear they talk about when you need to grow.

And I know myself enough to know that this uncomfortableness I feel, this fear, needs to be pushed through: every time it is, it is okay – and it feels so right.

I have grown so much over the past four years. But, this, this is a different type of growth.

— The next two days were awful. Every part of my body craved for him and his touch and that insane connection. I missed it, dreadfully, guiltily, shamefully. I almost convinced myself it could be the ‘last time’, but the truth is? ‘The last time’ just meant a couple months after the other ‘last time’, once the trauma bonding got to me, and I was an addict trying to kick her habit all over again.

So, I sat down with my mum and told her – yes, it was painful. To tell the one woman who really and truly does understand what an evil, malevolent, and parasitic thing this ‘person’ was, that I wanted to see him, was more than awkward, and more than embarrassing. But I’m glad I did – because she reminded me of all the dreadful things he did to me, straight up said to me that he would use my body for a supply of pleasure and would discard me again, ruining, if not even completely taking away, 6 months of extremely good progress. I saw him for what he was again, really saw him. A deranged and cowardly thing that was a sad excuse for a human, past saving. Who cared about no living thing but himself, and sadistically enjoyed the pain he inflicted upon others.

And it just stopped. I was safe again. I had broken a trauma bond. I was on the next step away from him.

I hope the person reading this knows he/she is strong enough to kick the drug. To use their ability to see their nex for what they truly are, to put the lighter back in their bag – and their cigarette in the drain. You must recognise none of this is yours to have – it is an addiction formed from coping. Your brain and its chemicals has literally been messed with. This is not yours to have, and you must reject it.

I figured that it was good this had happened: at least it had been online and not in real life (I dread the day that will happen – because it will, eventually, and it always happens when you’re not thinking about it).

But, now I wanted to know how to break a trauma bond. I had seen articles that tell you to flick yourself with a rubber band every time you think of him/her; but I figured that was an extremely slippery slope. Another form of self-harm, which is what the lustful urge to reconnect with your abuser is, will do no good. I had seen you just have to cut your thoughts off in the midst of all those emotions, those triggers, and distract yourself like crazy. I had seen others say to just sit with it, practice mindfulness and let it pass. Because it does, it does pass. The fact that it feels like it is not going to, means that it will.

So, my new coping mechanism is distraction. I will either ring up a friend or watch a movie with my sister. I’ll talk about those evil, evil things he did. I’ll practice mindfulness or listen to happy, unrelated songs and NEVER listen to any songs that might remind me of him again. I’ll stop myself from using his name, I’ll cut myself off in my thoughts when I think about him outside of therapy. I will not, most importantly, berate myself for these thoughts – to heal, is to feel, to release and replace with self-love. Your poor mind won’t know what to do when you turn around and say ‘Boy, I get you. I know how you’re feeling. I understand you, I get it, I really do. But let me show you why we’re not going to do this today.’

I also had to message my therapist to see if this meant I didn’t like the current guy I was dating – and she said this was untrue. You need to know that this is just a universally instinctive reaction towards the aftermath of abuse – it is not true, because it came from an untrue place, however real it is. It is not telling of your present. It, at the most, is simply your subconscious feeling safe enough to allow your conscious mind to confront and breakdown what needs to be cleaned out and stitched up, so you can move on. Kind of how the stars we see, could be dead – but we see them, because it takes millions of lightyears for the light to travel to us. To think otherwise, would please your abuser and get him/her what she wants. You need to know that any thoughts that would please your abuser are not yours to have.

Sending my love and healing energies, to you and me – because, quite frankly, we both need them.

AJ

Author:

Writing the truth, as I see it to be.

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