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  • Writer's pictureLauren Walsh

Relationship PTSD is real

You may have joked to your girlfriends once or twice that you're never dating again because you have PTSD from your last relationship. I know I have.

Although you said this kinda sorta jokingly, you probably really do. Domestic violence and physical abuse aside here, because those are the obvious kinds of relationships one would associate with PTSD.

I'm talking things like emotional abuse. Gaslighting, mind games, lying, being made to feel crazy, being made to feel too needy and sensitive, manipulation, cheating, hot and cold behavior, love bombing, ghosting, getting sucked into patterns of super high highs and super low lows. Even excessive jealousy, controlling behavior, yelling, insulting or intimidating. This is all abuse that leaves marks you can't see.

If you've been involved with someone that behaved that way and you stayed, you were likely in a place of low self worth. Or perhaps that's the only kind of love you know because growing up that's what was modeled for you. No matter the reason, you not only chose to just stay, but you also formed a trauma bond.

Trauma bonding is so incredibly hard to break because the person that hurts you the most is also the person that heals you. You've developed deep feelings of love and attachment to someone that causes you pain. The longer the bond goes on for, the harder it is to detach.

Relationships and bonds like this cause trauma and real symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, such as:

-Distressing flashbacks

-Anxiety, depression, fear

-Brain fog

-Difficulty sleeping

-Difficulty concentrating

-Mood swings

-Constantly feeling unsettled + on edge

-Obsessive thoughts

-Physical symptoms like increased heart rate, hot flashes, shaky

Relationship trauma causes psychological damage that worsens over time if left untreated. This impacts almost everything about us. Our future relationships, the way we give and receive love, our communication skills, our ability to trust, our ability to be mindful and enjoy a present moment, even the way we function at home or at work.

I know I just covered a whole lot of negativity, but there's good news I promise!

You absolutely can work though relationship trauma and heal. You aren't doomed forever, unless you opt out of doing the work. The work is very hard to do on your own because you're not thinking clearly and you're not emotionally strong when in the midst of this.

I highly recommend leaning on natural supports (family or friends) while also working with a therapist. A therapist is helpful because it's a confidential environment and someone you can say anything to that also has no biases or preconceived notions about your life. Family and friends have an emotional attachment to you, as they should, but that prevents them from truly being able to give objective responses.

A therapist doesn't have that so they're learning about you through a clear lens. Because of this, therapists can help make connections about your life so you can understand where certain patterns and behaviors came from. Essentially, getting to the root of the problem.

Getting to the root of the problem is what I help my clients do because that's how you end up getting clarity and things finally start making sense. You have awareness and that is powerful. From there, the healing process really begins.

If you skip this part and just start winging it and doing a bunch of mood boosting coping skills, it's like putting a bandaid on bullet wound. You're kinda sorta doing something to help it in the moment but it's a temporary remedy that won't be effective long term.

Doing the emotional work in therapy will help you break free from your trauma, get your power back and strengthen the most important relationship of all... the one with YOU.

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