Why Do I Fight For Relationships That I Know Are Not Healthy For Me?
Hi Love! I'm Morgan and I'm a childhood trauma survivor, certified trauma-informed coach, and the creator of Rising Warrior Collective, a safe community for survivors of childhood trauma to begin healing. If you're ready to take your healing to the next level, let's connect and talk about what it looks like to work 1:1.
Work with me
One of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn (and still learning) as a recovering childhood trauma survivor is how to let go of a relationship that is no longer serving me, without letting the process completely destroy me. I’ve never been one to let go of a relationship with ease. Don’t get me wrong, I realize that letting go of a relationship can be hard for most. However, the act of letting go for someone who has experienced long-term trauma, especially during developmental years, can feel excruciatingly painful for long periods of time. In some cases, never truly letting go to allow space for the healing process to begin.
Letting go of a relationship can leave us with debilitating anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, resentment, shame, and guilt. As a trauma survivor, the idea of letting go of something we know, even if it is unhealthy, is much scarier than facing the unknown. This often causes us to stay in relationships longer than we should, make excuses for the behavior of others, accept abusive and neglectful treatment, and place blame on ourselves instead of bringing awareness to the whole of the relationship and the patterns created.
As trauma survivors, our relationships tend to evolve from wounded parts of us (at least until we start bringing awareness to our trauma) and until those wounds are healed we unintentionally and subconsciously call in partners who can play out old patterns – essentially giving our younger parts opportunities to get what they think they need. Ok hopefully you’re still following… I know this can feel like a complete mind fuck! I know because I spent decades unaware that I was dating and building relationships from the perspective of a wounded child – we don’t know until we know. For years I thought It was just part of my personality, I couldn’t let go. No matter how hard I tried. I was so afraid of letting go and deeply believed if I did, I’d be alone forever. Even in my most toxic relationships I believed that I wouldn’t find anything better. So I fought to stay.
~ Eckhart Tolle
“Awareness is THE greatest agent for change”
Family dysfunction, abuse, and neglect at an early age and over an extended period of time sets the tone for all of our future relationships. Every single one of my relationships (prior to 5 years ago) had been shaped by codependency, jealousy, distrust, fear of abandonment, control, people pleasing and emotional unavailability. These old survival tools from childhood eventually stopped working and instead starting creating toxic adult relationships. While I knew deep down in my gut that the relationships were not good for me, I did anything and everything I could to hold on so I wouldn’t have to face the excruciating pain that comes with loss as well as the fear of the unknown future. I stayed weeks, months, and in some cases even years too long.
Why? Because I was taught from an early age that I had to fight for love, it was never consistent, and it definitely didn’t come easy. I was never a priority to those who were supposed to love me the most and I spent most of my childhood feeling left behind and unimportant. My adult relationships deeply played on my fear of abandonment. While “adult me” can look at my life today from a much different lens (thanks to trauma recovery) and see how deeply wounded my parents were – my inner child can’t so easily. She has run the show for much of my adult life (again unknowingly) desperately seeking to fill the void of what she never received.
~ Stephen Chbosky
“We accept the love we think we deserve.”
When we unknowingly build our relationships from the perspective of our wounded child we continue to play out old patterns. Patterns that keep us stuck in exhausting loops and support our old stories…
I’m not lovable
I’m not worthy
I’m a failure
Nobody else will want me
I’m not worth it
I don’t know what I would do with a healthy relationship
This is what all relationships are like
I’m not attractive enough
I’m not smart enough
I’m not enough…
And from these stories and beliefs, we stay and we continue to accept whatever we can get. We continue to fight so we don’t have to be alone. We hold on to ensure that we’re not abandoned and left behind… again. And without the awareness, we don’t realize that the reality is, we are now the ones abandoning our selves. This is how cycles of trauma continue through generations.
This is a huge shift in mindset and perspective for a trauma survivor. In my experience it has not come easy and is still something I continue to work on. Without a level of awareness around why we react in relationships the way we do, it can be nearly impossible to make changes – especially around our deepest wounds. In order to see the dysfunction and toxicity in our relationship patterns for what they are, we have to bring awareness to our childhood experiences. This does not mean that we have to go wading through the past and trudge up hard and scary stuff but it does mean we have to get honest about the patterns that were passed down to us. We also have to be willing to look at how we’ve unknowingly been living in those patterns as an adult.
While trauma recovery is not linear, AWARENESS is one of the foundational pillars and first steps to beginning the healing process. When we begin to bring awareness to our unhealthy relationship patterns it creates space to heal the most wounded parts of ourself. In that healing space, we learn that we aren’t going to find what we need “out there” and as long as we think we will, we will continue to fight for our unhealthy relationships. In healing, we learn that it’s ok to love someone and still let them go because at the end of the day, we have to love ourselves more.
“Make peace with your broken pieces.”~ R.H. Sin
If you are ready to begin healing please know that you don’t have to do it alone. I would love to support you on your journey. My 1:1 coaching container is designed to create a compassionate, non-judgmental, and safe space that meets you right where you are today. From there we move at a pace that supports your life, goals, and visions for your unique and beautiful future, a future that can look anyway you CHOOSE.
Click here to book your free 1-hour discovery call.
You never know how one conversation could shift the direction of your life.
Lots of love ~ Morgan
May 22, 2022