How to Break The Trauma Bond?

Have you ever heard of a trauma bond?

Imagine being stuck in a toxic relationship but staying because you are totally and utterly in love with them.

People stuck in trauma bonds don’t see the narcissist in their life as someone capable of causing harm or pain.

They love them; they’re fully attached and bonded to them – and it doesn’t matter what anybody says.

The cycle of a narcissistic relationship only strengthens the trauma bond:

Idealization

Devaluation

Discard

Hoovering

It’s a cycle alright, but can you break it and break free?

YES YOU CAN!

I’m here to tell you how.

What is the Narcissistic Relationship Cycle?

I want to break this part down initially to help you understand these stages better.

You’ll recognize them well when you apply them to your situation – past or present – and it will give you a solid platform of knowledge.

Idealization—Everything’s perfect. The narcissist isn’t a narcissist at all; they’re just a person with a keen interest in swooping in and making you feel like a million dollars. They project the ‘perfect person’ to you, and you eat it all up because, well, who doesn’t love charm, right? 

The narcissist will love the bomb; they will fake, making promises to you that you cling to. They will even mirror you, so you feel as though you’ve truly met your match – your soulmate. 

Devaluation – Soon enough comes the turmoil. That realization that what you thought was perfect is actually filled with the opposite.

Devaluation can look like criticism. They can belittle you, making you feel small and unimportant. Your confidence is crushed, your mood changes the more they chip away at you. 

The narcissist will take away all the wonderful things they did or said in the idealization stage. 

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Anxiety hits. 

They gaslight.

They isolate you.

They give you the silent treatment.

They triangulate.

Discard – 

All emotional investment the narcissist has previously put into your relationship, is cruelly taken away, sometimes even by ending it.

The narcissist is capable of acting entirely in their own best interests by:

Creating smear campaigns to ruin your reputation.

Betray you.

Act the victim in it all.

It is a highly painful part of the cycle, where it can feel as though your world is crumbling before you.

Hoovering – 

With no remorse, the narcissist comes crawling back with an empty apology laying in their destructive hands. By now, the victim has learned to depend on the narcissist, and the attachment is real.

As a result, the narcissist will be taken back, sometimes time and time again.

Hoovering is a way of bringing the person the narcissist discarded into their lives, for the cycle to start up once more.

The love bombing, the future faking – the empty promises and the love the victim by now is so desperately needed. 

From The Cycle Comes the Trauma Bond

It’s not hard to see how traumatic this entire cycle is (not for the narcissist – who has full control).

For you – you just want to be happy. You just want to be loved. When the narcissist comes to you with their golden apology and promises, it’s exactly what you want to hear. 

No matter how the narcissist treats you, you forgive and let them back in because it becomes familiar.

Most people would think of familiarity as a good thing. In cases where trauma bonds are concerned, familiarity means to lose all sense of emotional regulation because you are simply ‘used to it.’

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Familiarity doesn’t automatically mean ‘good.’

Normal vs. Narcissistic

Where normal relationships end, there can be a time for peaceful reflection. Even if you feel disappointed that something came to an end, you can look forward with hope, and look back with fondness.

Narcissistic relationships come and go in these toxic cycles because the narcissist rarely knows how to let go of somebody they’ve used as supply. 

Narcissistic relationships thrive on intermittent reinforcement;

The idea that you don’t know when the good times are coming and you don’t know the size of the reward. 

It keeps you hooked, and no matter what little breadcrumb comes your way, you’ll take it.

Even if it’s well below the minimum expected to keep a relationship alive and thriving. 

Breaking the Trauma Bond

Breaking trauma bonds is hard (nothing worth doing is ever easy) – but far from impossible. 

There are six main ways to crush trauma bonds:-

Understanding That it is Abusive

It’s hard, I know. 

It’s devastating to look at your relationship as one of abuse, but it’s a crucial first step in breaking the trauma bond.

I get it. All that time and energy you spent. All those tears. All that emotion.

You’ll likely feel exhausted from what you’ve been through, but that is a huge red flag.

Relationships aren’t supposed to drain you, they’re meant to lift and nourish you.

Look at Your Own Early Attachments

Knowing why you become so easily, quickly or deeply attached to narcissistic personalities can help you remove yourself from their aura.

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Sometimes, looking into your past and seeing where you once began falling into trauma bonds will build your self-awareness, cultivating room for real personal growth. 

Stop Giving Your Energy to Emptiness

What would you tell your best friend if you found out she was being abused and still giving all her energy to trying to make it work?

I know you wouldn’t want to see her going through it.

So why are you going through it? Your energy is finite, and you could be using it for yourself instead.

Get into the Present – See it For What it is

Being mindful can give you real insight into what is going on with you, and what you’re tolerating. 

Cycles of abuse are the only thing that allows the abuser to keep doing what they’re doing. 

Aside from the usual, healthy disagreements, life would be great if everything were good. If it were all bad, there would be nothing to stay for.

Look at what’s really going on.

List Time – What Makes You Uncomfortable?

Sometimes we have to see things in front of us to really get an idea of how unbalanced your relationship is.

Writing a list can help your mind release what it needs to so you can refer to it when you need to.

Therapy Time

Never underestimate a good therapist. Taking the time to pull everything apart and hand it to a professional so they can help you make sense of it will open your eyes to everything unjust you’ve been through and made to feel and experience. 

Therapist is a great catalyst for any new chapter – one you truly deserve. 

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