Trauma bonding is a complex subject.
During our formative years, usually from womb to around the age of seven when our neurons are creating networks and we are forming a sense of who we are in the world, we are susceptible to deep emotional wounding. We haven’t gained the resilience to see the bigger picture and we personalise everything from our inner child eyes.
Usually, the emotional wounds hang on not being seen, heard, loved or valued. When those are perceived as not present for us, our inner child is traumatised and it’s as though the moment is forever frozen within us. A belief is formed, such as “I’m not lovable” or “I’m not worthy” and from that moment, our inner child is triggered whenever that belief is activated by any situation.
We don’t have one inner child, we have as many as there were wounds or traumas created. And each inner child is inside us and aware of everything that happens, on the alert for anything that feeds that belief or can fix it. Except it can’t be fixed from outside us, that ship has sailed but our inner child doesn’t realise that. They are constantly searching for what is missing.
Sometimes, we may meet someone who resonates with us because our inner child interlocks with their inner child and they bond. This takes place on a deep subconscious level so we don’t realise it happened. We believe we are consciously deciding and that events are fully within our control, but that’s not the case.
When two inner children bond, it’s the most wonderful experience, like we’ve found somebody who resonates with us so deeply, except the resonance is with the trauma we carry. We feel drawn to them and may fall in love. We may feel like soul mates or twin flames.
Bonded inner children feel seen and understood and that’s a big deal because we may often find that nobody gets us, certainly not as deeply as our new special friend, so we feel especially drawn to them. That’s what trauma bonding is.
Now it gets a bit complicated because there are different types of wounds and we may respond differently, depending on the wounds and beliefs we carry. For instance, a co-dependent may carry the need to be loved and appreciated, so when someone resonates with them, someone who really gets them, someone who is just so open and showing such loving affection, then the inner child is going to soak all that in. The inner child feels so loved, cared for, seen and valued. And the other inner child responds in kind, basically, it’s a love-fest.
All this is sounding lovely. Until the day when one or both of the subconscious inner children begin to realise that the deep wound from early childhood isn’t being fixed. At that point, a new dynamic is created as the child-self continually tries to elicit what it perceives as missing, which is the original trauma. And a cycle begins where everything is going wonderfully and then it all blows up and falls apart. A reconciliation is reached and a cycle of love, blame and reconciliation repeats over and over again. This cycle becomes more demanding and destructive of the relationship over time.
Trauma bonding is, deep down, all about unresolved need. And that need is never going to be resolved through the relationship because it cannot be resolved outside of us. This isn’t the basis for a healthy relationship.
Two needy, wounded and unhealed inner children have connected and sooner or later, as children do, they will push the boundaries. They may test this new love, is it real? They may push away to ensure the other comes back. It’s the need of a wounded part of two unhealed beings. Both are trying to get those needs met but with somebody who has their own needs and can’t help. Neither can yet fully love themselves, so how on earth are they going to truly love anybody else? They can’t, their path needs to be one of self-healing and as long as they’re together, that can never happen because they’re caught up in a dynamic that keeps them tied to need, feeding the need. The dark side of this relationship will always crop up from time to time.
When trauma bonding takes place, there are red flags. We let things slide that should raise our red flags because we’re bonded. We are in denial of the fact that something isn’t right. We keep quiet to keep the peace when the dissonance emerges. It may feel like we see each other so clearly, that we see the others’ faults, we may call them out in the hope they’ll fix things, but they can’t whilst trauma bonded. As we come up against the trauma expressing in each other, we feel like we’re walking on eggshells. At its worst, it can feel like everything’s falling apart, like we’re going crazy, like we don’t know what’s real anymore.
All the time, two beautiful souls are stuck in the dynamic. And their souls brought them together in the first place to address what is ready to be healed. Life is like that, if we don’t see it, life will kick our butt and knock our heads together until we work it out. However hard this journey is, even if two people end up hating each other, this can be seen as an opportunity and a gift to fast-track healing.
Nevertheless, we won’t easily let go of the dream of being with that perfect person we first perceived, the fantasy of who we wanted them to be, thought they were. Sometimes, people are stuck in this dynamic for a long time.
Trauma bonding is often mistaken for a twin flame relationship. Twin flames can go through difficulties with each other because they see the best and worst in each other, like looking in a mirror. They sometimes heal together through the drama. So, trauma bonding and twin flame relationships are easily confused. Even so, with both, quite often the answer is to walk away and do the healing away from each other. All those needs can be met, they can be healed but it’s never going to come from someone else. We heal from within. Sometimes, walking away is the biggest act of love we can give to another, even if they’re never going to appreciate it. And more importantly, it’s the biggest act of love we can give to ourselves.