I am the first to admit, when I was told I was going to have to "do the work" and "I had a lot of healing to do" I really didnt understand what this meant. I think I do now. And I finally understand that I DO have to do it alone. I think it's been a life long trait to focus on what was going on with others, instead of focusing on me. Everything was well he did this, what does that mean etc. Or he is a .... I never really stopped and looked at myself and the emotions that were compelling me to behave in certain ways. And some of that behaviour is straight up humiliating to remember, there were times I acted like a complete lunatic.
Not being able to walk away from people and situation that were not only bad for me, but that I didn't really want. At that time I did not have control of it. I started to take a good hard look at why I was doing this. A few months back I started looking into trauma bonds, how they form and what they are. I realized I have been in multiple trauma bonds through-out my life. Clinging to people thinking they held the answer to healing the hole inside of me. I stayed with my husband much longer than I should have due to trauma bonding. It was only when I no longer saw him as my hero I was finally able to get free. I saw him as the only one that could take care of me and the world was a big scary place. If I was alone I would be eaten alive and end up starving on the streets. This sounds dramatic, but its true, I had a massive fear of poverty. Of course, as part of keeping control he fostered these beliefs.
After my marriage ended, I noticed that the men I tended to be attracted to tended to be men that spoke with a lot of confidence, who seemed to be caretakers. I was looking for someone to take over. I was completely ready just to hand the reins over to someone else. Let yet another man tell me what to do, and how I should do it.
The irony is, often these men were far less successful than I have been in these areas. If I was looking for someone to look after me, and who I could trust to be in control. These were not the men. I started to look at why I am so willing to hand over my power and submit. I allowed myself to be treated with less than respective behaviour. And I would fawn and make sure to stick around for more. This is something that happened more than once. The worse I was treated, the more compliant and submissive I became. In my head, intellectually I knew what was happening was completely wrong. I was allowing these men to control my emotions and dictate to me what I should feel about myself. My friends were telling me repeatedly, you HAVE to let him go. This is no good for you. And I 100 percent knew they were right. But it was like I was a robot. I couldn't control it. I would still reach out no matter what the situation. And the men would react accordingly, treating me with the disrespect as I treated myself. I was totally trauma bonded.
Breaking a trauma bond is no easy task, there are a lot of books out there. You have to cut off all contact, delete all the pictures and messages and try not to obsess. And man, do I ever obsess. Once I get started I absolutely cannot stop until I have all the answers. It has often been my down fall. I cannot look at the initial red flag and say to myself "nope", I have to investigate and dig up every possible shred of evidence. Even then, I wont believe it. I will believe whatever I am told by who ever is that I have attached myself to at that time.
These attractions were like addictions for me. I have heard breaking a trauma bond is like getting off heroine. I believe it. What I have done over the years when I formed these attachments, would be just replace one with another and move on. Same shit, different face.
Last year, I decided I had done that for the last time. I went cold turkey. It was not fun for a while because I was not replacing an old drug with a new one. But it worked. I just let it play out, and after a couple months I found that the compulsion dissipated. I have learned that the tendency to have repetitive and compulsive thoughts is a symptom of a traumatized mind. No, you are not crazy, no you are not mental ill, you are traumatized.
Those tendencies distract from actually dealing with the pain and the empty void you feel inside. Once I had gone cold turkey, I was able to start focusing on other more constructive pursuits. I was watching a YouTube video about a man that had left the Mormon church. I was surprised at the similarities to my experience. He talked about how he started to discover what HE enjoyed as an individual. I find the same thing is happening for me. Slowly as time goes on, I am building MY life, on MY terms, and it feels completely different. I hate admitting it, but for many years I was not really living all my energy was directed at pleasing outside sources, or taking care of others needs. I place all my importance and got my validation from others instead of myself.
I think this is part of what makes trauma bonds so powerful. You feel like if you let go of that person, that you are losing yourself. At the time I was completely unaware that I had that feeling, but in retrospect, it is clear. Unfortunately, the only way through is to walk through the void. You have to allow yourself to walk through that empty space and hurt for a bit and only then are you able to develop a sense of your own self-identity. You cannot build yourself while you are enmeshed with someone else.
It's been a while for me, and I can offer hope. It really does suck at first, but the rewards are well worth it.