Trauma Bonding: The Ties That Bind
In The Body Keeps the Score, Bessel van der Kolk writes: the moment we feel trapped, enraged, or rejected, we are vulnerable to activating old maps and to follow their direction
This month is about understanding those old maps, the compass headings we unseeingly follow to our detriment. Healthy relationships don’t keep us stuck, we find it easier to set boundaries, make our needs known, be ourselves, and step away when both people aren’t growing. Narcissistic and other antagonistic relationships are the opposite, we feel drawn, and then stuck. They activate and remind us of past wounds, they work on the basis of conditional love, of subjugating ourselves to the needs, wants and whims of another, and leave us on a roller coaster of confusion, self-doubt and self-blame. Trauma bonds are familiar, they are seductive, and they are something we feel deeper than just in our mind. And trauma bonds are observed in every narcissistic relationship. The deals we make with ourselves to stay, the dashed hopes, the complex justifications. Breaking through this is a personal process, and I hope this month allows you to build on the work you are already doing or giving you a more expanded understanding of what trauma bonds are.