Creating Intentional Relationships as Trauma Survivors
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.
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A very common challenge I see as a childhood trauma coach, and in working with childhood trauma survivors, is the difficulty in choosing and navigating our adult relationships, both romantic and platonic. To suffer developmental trauma as a young child, both physical and emotional, can have severe and lasting repercussions for how we see and understand ourselves and the world around us. We have deeply rooted fears, wounds, and beliefs from our abuse which more often than not, manifests in dysfunctional interpersonal relationships in our adult life.
There are a few reasons for this, a primary one being that our childhood shapes us in such significant, formative, and long-lasting ways. If we have suffered abuse and trauma during our youth, we learn early on that the people who are supposed to love, nurture, and care for us the most, actually may be people who aren’t safe, trustworthy, or healthy for us. This causes us to fear relationships as we have suffered attachment disruptions during crucial parts of our childhood. By attachment disruption, I mean that those that you placed your hope and trust into, those that you became bonded with and looked to for guidance, support, and love, actually broke that hope and trust – sometimes multiple times over. This is a heartbreaking consequence of childhood and developmental trauma, as these experiences disrupt our ability for healthy development with ourselves (we can’t trust our choices or decisions), and with others. This type of trauma and abuse deeply compromises the healthy bonds with others that we need to nurture and nourish us throughout our lives.
As I’ve mentioned before, it’s important to recognize that trauma isn’t just physical abuse, it’s emotional abuse as well. Sometimes, emotional abuse is difficult to see or understand because it sneaks into your life in ways that aren’t as obvious as physical abuse. Emotionally when we can’t trust those around us, or ourselves, after years of abuse and neglect, as adults we often find ourselves in toxic, abusive, co-dependent, and narcissistic relationships. We don’t know what healthy, equitable relationships look like, and we don’t know how to call those in. We don’t trust ourselves to do so, because our examples of relationships were those primarily of abuse suffered during our childhood.
One response that I have seen when working with trauma survivors is that we might avoid relationships altogether. This is totally understandable and relatable as relationships can be vulnerable and scary. As survivors, we have a lifetime of proof that relationships bring heartache and grief. However, this is not a solution for us.
In response to my own trauma, I didn’t avoid relationships, but rather, I spent over two decades of my life either chasing emotionally unavailable partners or friendships, and creating codependent relationships, or what is also known as trauma-bonded partnerships. I kept my relationship expectations low, gave too much of myself, and I kept a very tight hold on those who were in a relationship with me. I did this because I actually had a huge fear of being alone.
Like me, you may also feel like you were never told, or shown, how to identify or call in intentional and healthy relationships. Part of my abuse stemmed from the fact that as a child, I was surrounded by toxic adults who were unaware of their own unhealed trauma.This is common in dysfunctional households as more often than not, the trauma that is present is focused on the wounds of previous generations, not that of the child. The child is neglected, only able to witness and experience the trauma that is passed down over and over again in the family line.
When I finally started down the healing journey for myself and my trauma, one of the things I first had to do was look intensely at my relationships. I had to ask myself, of all my relationships, were they equal, loving, giving, kind, intentional, and healthy? Or, was I continually perpetuating the same toxic relationships I was part of, and witnessed, when I was a kid? Once I took a deeper dive, I started to connect the dots about my beliefs. Over the last 8 years, I’ve had to make significant decisions about all of my relationships, where I had to evaluate, and eventually, let go of some that didn’t make me feel healthy or safe.
The solution is not to avoid relationships, as I mentioned earlier. If we choose this pattern as a response, we will quickly find ourselves overwhelmed by isolation, loneliness, and longing. Humans are social creatures and we are meant to thrive in community, holding space for each other, supporting, loving, and nurturing the individual as well as the whole. The solution is also not to pursue relationships that aren’t healthy or intentional, and don’t provide us with a safe and loving partnership. Rather, healing this abandonment wound, and working through our trauma is about gaining the tools, knowledge, and resources to thrive in safe, intentional, and healthy relationships. When we learn how to trust ourselves, we make good decisions about who we allow in our lives. It is our choice. We get to decide who is part of our world, who sees our story unfold, and who participates in our human experience.
As we walk through our journey, we can’t avoid others if we hope to heal our abandonment wounds. We must heal ourselves, our thoughts, and our beliefs about our relationships. It’s time to create a shift in our lives and mindset, and with this new awareness, you will see a whole new side of what it means to be part of a community and having connection with others.
I know how overwhelming it can be to create intentional relationships, so I’ve created a free resource for you, to help you begin. The first place to start is with awareness. When you start to have awareness of your thoughts and beliefs and your relationship patterns, the healing can begin. If you can start to heal the abandonment wound and your trauma, you begin to move forward on the path of your choosing.
Click the button below to download the workbook and I hope this helps you to simply begin:
If you are looking for additional support on how to start and/or navigate your healing journey, I would love to chat with you further. Let’s build a strong mental health community together, raising awareness and support with resources, compassion, and understanding.
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
August 15, 2022