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Why am I still suffering? Healing from the long-term pain of trauma bonding

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

Hello my friends. In today's blog post, I'm going to be delving into the profound topic of healing from the long-term pain of trauma bonding. Many of us have experienced the agonizing aftermath of a toxic connection that seems to linger in our minds and souls, even long after the relationship has ended. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind this enduring pain and discover effective ways to move forward and find healing.

Understanding the Layers of Pain:

The pain of trauma bonding can stem from two primary sources:

1) It may arise from the emotional wounds inflicted during the trauma bonded relationship, which continue to fester unresolved. This includes all the criticisms, attacks, negative judgements, abusive comments, threats, neglects, gaslighting and manipulation you would have experienced. These can be so cutting and can leave scars on you, that if unattended, the wound never heals - you easily get triggered by situations that may tap into that pain or wound.

2) The loss of the relationship itself can lead to a grieving process, causing us to question our identity and self-worth. You may be devastated over the loss of what you would have hoped it would be (given the promises of a future and the narratives that your love was "so special"). You also may be experiencing the loss of your self and identity as you fell further into this relationship and lost sight of who you are and what you wanted. You may also be grieving yourself for having accepted and tolerating abuse when you were in the relationship.

Unraveling the Subconscious Impact:

The first step in healing from trauma is to recognize that healing occurs through the pain, rather than avoiding or resisting the pain. And the pain often lies within our subconscious minds - affecting what we believe about ourselves, the voice you hear inside your mind, and how it is that you perceive future relationships.

The Impact on Your Internal Voice: The toxic person's presence in our lives leaves an indelible mark on our internal voice. The hurtful comments and harsh criticisms you received during the relationship can become part of your self-talk. Remarkably, your brain processes these negative narratives as facts, regardless of their validity. Your subconscious mind, which affects 95% of your behaviours, would then take on these harmful messages to heart, perpetuating self-doubt, unworthiness, and a sense of inadequacy. Unfortunately this can lead to self-sabotaging behaviour and further relationship problems (whether it be the current or next relationship you look at).

How You Engage in Future Interactions: The toxic person's influence doesn't end with the relationship's termination. The way you speak to yourself based on their toxic voice impacts your future interactions. For example, if you believe you are unworthy or unlovable, you may unconsciously engage in self-sabotaging behaviour, preventing yourself from forming healthy connections with others.

Resisting the Pain: Paradoxically, resisting the pain caused by the trauma-bonded relationship can extend its duration. By suppressing our emotions and refusing to confront the underlying wounds, we inadvertently give the pain more power over us. However, embracing and acknowledging our suffering in its entirety allows us to begin the healing process.

Embracing Compassion and Love:

Compassion and love play a vital role in the healing process. Compassion goes beyond "love" and acknowledges suffering, meeting suffering with kindness and tenderness. It involves diving deep into your emotions and vulnerabilities with love and understanding. It is how you would show compassion to a friend or a young child who is suffering - and embodying this approach to yourself. If your friend deserves love and compassion, so do you. It is only through care that the wounds can begin to heal; while continued self-attack and self-criticism would keep the wounds open for further injury.

The Two Parts of Self:

Within each of us exist two essential parts of self. The first part is the vulnerable inner child, the innocent and tender aspect that longed for love and affection during the trauma-bonded relationship. The second part is the wiser adult self, capable of lovingly embracing and understanding vulnerability and innocence. As we navigate healing, we must connect with our inner child and offer it the compassion and love it deserves, while also drawing strength and guidance from the wiser adult self.

Connecting with Our Vulnerable Inner Child:

Looking back at our childhood photos can help us reconnect with our innocent and deserving younger selves. Recognizing that we deserved love and compassion as children can reinforce our self-worth in the present. Embracing self-compassion as we would for a younger version of ourselves can be transformational.

Breaking Free from Adopted Narratives:

The toxic messages we internalize from the trauma-bonded relationship often become part of our self-talk. However, it is essential to understand that these narratives do not define us. We can choose to let go of them and embrace new, compassionate mantras. By actively reminding ourselves of our worth and lovability, we can break free from these harmful beliefs.

The Power of the Mantra: Developing personalized, positive mantras and repeating them regularly can create a profound shift in our mindset. These mantras should affirm our worthiness, lovability, and deservingness of happiness and healing.

Healing from the long-term pain of a trauma bond is a process that requires self-compassion, love, and self-reflection. By acknowledging and embracing our vulnerabilities, expressing our emotions, and rewriting the toxic narratives with positive mantras, we can take significant steps towards finding peace and moving forward from the pain. Remember, your relationship with yourself is the most important one; nurture it with compassion, and your healing journey will become a path of self-discovery and growth.

If you found this useful, please do me 2 favours. Please have a look at my free e-book here which can help you improve your relationship and heal trauma bonding. Second, please share with other people who you feel would benefit from this - because the more people supported, the better our community can survive and heal.

As always, if you ever want to connect and gain support - I'm here.

All my love, Dr Sarah

trauma bonding

self-sabotaging behaviour

improving your relationships

relationship problems

surviving infidelity

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