Bond vs. Bondage: Escaping the Hell of Trauma Bond

Also known as Stockholm Syndrome, trauma bond is a sensation of being so tied to someone or something that you are unable to leave, despite the hurt this person or thing causes you.

It’s like squirming in pain. It’s like trudging through the mud. And it’s so damn confusing!

As you know, narcissists, psychopaths and other Cluster Bs are best recognized by putting their targets through the kind-cruel cycle. This creates a disorientation, cuts you off from your center of balance and makes you doubt yourself. It is precisely the point — a manipulation tactic they use to control you.

Such bond is like nicotine, highly addictive. On one hand it adrenalizes you and on the other hand it calms you down. The part that keeps us hooked in is the ever elusive promise in the back of our mind, that the comfort they used to give via their attention and ‘love’ will return.

But it won’t.

The narcissist or psychopath uses the interview in the early stages of a relationship to get to zoom in on your vulnerabilities and weaknesses. They make you open up by showering you with kindness and unusual amount of attention. To get you to mirror them, they open up to you telling you highly embellished stories of their own past hurt.

That’s how they find out that you have issues with self-esteem and tend to seek validation outside yourself. It’s how we grow up after being raised in a dysfunctional family, where we were repetitively trained to dislike ourselves in some way.

Toxic Trust

Once you trust the narcissist enough, you begin to ask them what they think about this and that. It’s a sign for them that you’ve outsourced your sense of worth to them. It gives them a sense of power and control over you. And generally is the pivotal moment in the relationship where the devaluation part of the abuse cycle starts.

They begin to relax, not work so hard to keep up their good image and care less. They start to criticize you and give you less positive attention. This really hurts.

You begin to notice that the only time they become sweet and kind again is when you give them something they want, be it sex, money, labor, attention, etc. The moment you say something critical, they turn on you.

The Morning After…

If you have managed to get out of a toxic relationship with a narcissist — CONGRATULATIONS!

Nothing good can come out of staying with a person who takes pleasure in making others feel shitty. However, you are likely reeling in pain now, confused how you can miss someone who has done so many terrible things to you. It is the result of the sweet and mean cycle repeating ad nauseam, making you doubt yourself while trusting the abuser. You were also likely willing to take the blame for what happened.

Prolonged exposure to a dysfunctioned person can really mess up our brain. This is why after a breakup, it is so diffucult to find ourselves again. We feel like a mere shadow of who we once were. On top of it, we miss them and can’t stop thinking about the good times.

Your brain, whose primary task is to keep you safe, tries to protect you. Typically, that’s a good thing. But in this case, it does you a great disservice, as it wants to forget the bad times and only remember the good times.

In the early stages of our recovery, you will have to fight that natural instinct.The good news: once you come out on the other side, you will be stronger, more mindful and self-aware. You’ll be a jedi master of your own mind.

Below are six ways to getting your sanity back and grow a new set of neurons in your brain that will serve instead of harm you.

6 Strategies to Overcoming Trauma Bond

1. Truth. Realize what’s been done to you is fucked up! That person doesn’t deserve to be in your life. Remember the horrid things they did to you. Write them down and read them often. Record yourself crying, if that helps.

2. Mindfulness. Keep returning to the present moment. Focus on what you are doing. Skilled trance inducer, the narcissist excelled at making you fall into a trance when you were with them. It is your task now to break that trance by being here and now.

3. Move towards the good. Trust your inner GPS to discern what it is that you need in the moment. Maybe you feel like taking a bath or watching a movie? Maybe you need more sleep. Maybe you need to talk to a friend. Trust it and do it. Side benefit: you are building your intuition muscle.

4. Pattern interrupt. This is counter-intuitive, but it works. Here, we let our thinking mind, rather than the emotions take the lead. This is fantastic cognitive training that works to rewire your brain and sets you up for success in life. One micro step at a time. The key is that you something you know is good for you when you don’t feel like it.

So! See a comedy when you feel like crying. Go for a walk when you feel like sleeping. Take a shower when you don’t feel like getting out of bed. Breathe deeply: Dr. Evian Gordon of the Brain Revolution recommends 6 breaths per minute to turn off the fight or flight stress switch. After only 60 seconds of that, your brain will start to secrete dopamine and oxytocin making flooding you with feel good chemicals. You can try aromatherapy. Essential oils can transport us into a different mind state within seconds. Try lavender for calm, citrus for an uplift. Experiment with what works for you.

If during our day you manage to catch yourself feeling good, stop for a few seconds and really feel and breathe into it, to anchor the experience. It will help you build positive brain synapses faster.

5. Be easy on yourself. It is hard to be gentle initially because the abuser got into our heads. Now you might be berating yourself still, the leftover of the abuse, even though they are no longer present. Remind yourself how wonderful you are, even if you don’t believe it. Write down your best qualities. You can even send a request to your closest friends to let you know what they most like about you. No matter how often you fall into the pit of self-loathing, forgive yourself. Change takes time. It will get easier the next hour and then the next…

6. Externalize your experience: share your thoughts with others: a friend, a coach, a support community. There are lots of them! If you don’t feel like interacting, just journal your thoughts and put them on paper. They are much scarier when they dwell inside you.

And most importantly, do not respond to the narcissist’s efforts to get back with you. It always ends badly and you end up suffering doubly when they betray you once again.

This is time for YOU! I know it is a crisis but it is typically in such moments that we find what’s most meaningful and valubale to us. This is your opportunity, an opening to become your best friend and upgrade your life on all levels. I ‘m here, cheering you on! You CAN do it.

If you have been a victim of narcissistic abuse, please know you are not alone and there is a way out. If you know someone who currently suffers from it, please pass this article along.

If you’d like to work with me, I now offer email support. Details are in the description below the YT video.

If this article spoke to you in any way, please click the heart ❤ I means the world to me and is the rocket fuel that motivates me even more to get this information into the hands of those who need it.

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Thank you for your support and much love on your healing journey deeper within YOURSELF!

Click below for the video companion to this article.

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Self-development tools for self-healing and authentic relating. #coach #writer mysoulgps.org

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