Idealization, and trauma bonding

I’m a thinker. I’m analytical. I look at all aspects of any given topic before forming my own conclusion. Some might say I think WAY TOO MUCH! But, be that as it may, it’s my own curse and its been invaluable to me. Sometimes, as in the case of my relationship with a Psychopath 2 1/2 years ago, I can think myself into being entirely stupid. The sad thing is, I’m not alone, here..

I can’t think of a relationship where, in the beginning, there weren’t over-the-top butterflies, “I-love-you’s” being thrown around, and “I can’t stop thinking about you”. These are the words we say when in a new, seemingly perfect relationship. We want to spend every waking moment with that person and sometimes, every sleeping moment. We are in a state of euphoria. Cloud 9. Everything is perfect. We have an ‘idea’ of who that person is, and some of us feel safe for the first time in our lives. We’ve never known love like “this” before. This is the early part of any relationship, good or bad… Idealization. This is mutual. Otherwise we don’t have the emotional fortitude to actually fall “in love”. It’s what happens when the attraction is mutual. The attraction is both physical and emotional. We believe in who we have met. We believe they are the sweet, caring, self-effacing individual we have always dreamed of. Our proverbial “knight in shining armor”, who has come to sweep us off our feet, out of our own personal hell, and onto that beautiful white horse waiting in the distance. There are ferries, castles, over-the-top chivalrous escapades to drool over…. We believe what we experience from that person, early on. We are caught up in the faerie tale, with hearts beating and eyes a swooning… Really, people? Isn’t that just the way it is, early on? Especially for the insecure, needy woman who has read too many childhood “happily ever after” stories. Don’t worry. I’m not pointing any fingers that aren’t already pointing at myself…

Once we believe the story line, it’s hard to think that it just might be a FALSE perception of the object of our desires. False, because we all put our best foot forward in order to impress and capture the heart of another. We fail to show our faults, or our idiosyncrasies to the new love interest. If we did, we would have a tougher time enjoying a relationship in the early days. This is every bit as true, if not more so, when dealing with someone who is abusive.

The abuse doesn’t usually show, right away. Much of the time, there will be little snippits of the partner’s abusive personality. It starts slow, normally. Of course there are still the sweet times, which keep us enthralled with the other. It’s just THAT which will keep us hanging on. The next thing you will notice in time, is less and less love being shown, and more controlling behavior, or angry outbursts. If you are lucky, you will notice the abusive tenancies early on, being able to walk away before any real abuse takes control. Many of us weren’t so lucky.

We’re stuck in faerie-tale land, where we still believe our partner is the chivalrous knight, who, when he comes to his senses, will still whisk us away to our dream-come-true. “It’ll be ok. He’s just had a bad day…(week, life, etc)” as you wipe the drainage from your freshly blackened eye, arm, open wounds… “I just need to be patient, loving, caring, bandaging his perceived emotional wounds…” If you view the abuse with a clouded, blind eye, it doesn’t make it go away or stop. No matter how much you believe in him, or your relationship.

Lets imagine a real scenario. One that many of us know all too well, already. The abuse has started, a little at a time, coupled with loving gestures and words. He’ll draw you a beautiful personal bath, with scented candles all around. “you work so hard, and I don’t show you enough how much I appreciate you”. As he walks away, while you are swooning again, yet still being careful not to bump the arm that he hurt the last time he threw you. You forget the abuse for a moment, and begin to cry alone. You remember how upset you were at the monster you saw just the previous day. This “monster” has become the Knight in shining armor, once again. “He really DOES love me! How could I have doubted him?” You swell with guilt, mixed with pain inside your heart, and in your body. You begin to trust again.

What you are witnessing here, is a blatant attempt to break your spirit. To cause you to second-guess yourself and to do whatever you can to gain his love, again. You are in pain, and he thinks it’s fun to control you in such a malicious manner. You are desensitized to what it means to be in a healthy relationship. This type of scenario becomes common-place, and you find yourself doing anything in your power to survive. “To Protect and to Serve isn’t just the motto of our nation’s police. It’s the motto of the abused partner.

When we are finally used up, psyche’s destroyed and our hearts are seemingly non-existent, our previous knight finds another damsel and discards us for her. We, in our emotional and mental chaos, are left reeling. Our world that we fought so hard to preserve with hope, love, sweat, tears and yes, our own blood at times, has been pulled out from under us. We scramble to hang onto whatever sliver we can, in order to cling to what has become “accepted” and “protected”. We love them. We put so much heart into the relationship and felt such repetitive euphoria over this man, that it becomes almost impossible to let go. Regardless of the abuse we suffered at the same time.

This is what becomes a Trauma bond. (http://www.counsellingwestonsupermare.co.uk/featured/trauma-bonding/) Many of us have gone through exactly this. The trauma bond is what makes it so hard for us to find our confidence again, outside of the relationship. We call, relentlessly, trying to get him to see the error of his ways. “We were meant to be together!!” or “What did I do wrong? I’ll fix it! I’ll prove to you I’m good enough for you…” and so-on. We text, call or show up at his place of employment, only to be met with either silence, or outright cruelty. He doesn’t care, and is happy to tell you. We then go into unrelenting depression, blaming ourselves, our lives, our children… whatever we think the cause might be, for being thrown away. Some victims resort to suicide, to quiet the pain within. Others become stuck in the unrelenting emotional and mental tail-spins, which are a direct result of being discarded so callously.

What so many don’t understand, is, IT WAS NEVER YOUR FAULT TO BEGIN WITH!

Even if you were the one to walk away from the abusive relationship, recognizing how dangerous it was for you and/or your family, you might still find yourself missing the abuser. After a time, the bond still hooks you to the trauma. It becomes familiar to you and just life as you are used to, regardless of anything else. You have been subjected to constant anxiety and fear, with the occasional honey-moon stage, where everything seems “ok” again. You can’t walk away without being affected by it. You are used to the dramatic mood-swings and even the abuse. To try to walk into normal life again, is difficult at best. PTSD becomes a huge factor in our healing process. It takes time to become centered again.

Remember to be kind to yourself. You may find yourself clinging to memories of the good times, with only shadows remaining of the bad. Force yourself to remember what you endured. Create an exercise to center your heart, mind and psyche. He’s had such a strong hold on you, that you will have a tough time differentiating between your voice and his, for a while. Especially when you hear his taunts, demeaning statements telling you that you are “stupid” or “ugly” or “slut” or, or, or… the possibilities of what you heard for so long, are endless. Would you say those things to yourself? Absolutely NOT! You are hearing his voice still. When you learn to recognize this, then take steps to silence it, replacing those intrusive thoughts with what ever is good or uplifting. No matter what it might be.

The trauma bond will become less of an issue, over time. Believe me when I say this; it takes nothing short of fighting for your very life, to get over this type of abuse. Start to take steps, even small ones, to challenge yourself, your talents and your confidence level. When you are in a position where saying “yes” could be the life-changing wonderful happening you have always wanted, but in the past you would second-guess your ‘qualifications’ or abilities, and say “no” due to a fear of failure… Definitely say YES! The first step out of the familiar is very hard, but when you begin to try in spite of the fear, you will discover a whole new world at your feet. A whole new YOU!

Be patient with yourself, during this time. We all become impatient when wanting to move on and be “over” things. The fact remains that you absolutely can NOT rush through. Concentrate on keeping your feet moving forward, and refrain as best as you can, from becoming fixated on what lies BEHIND you.

My favorite line, which I took from a movie, is “Father, how will I find you?” the father replies, “Don’t be silly, William. you follow your feet..” In other words, keep moving. Don’t stop moving. Even during those hard days that just walking out your front door to go to work, is almost impossible.. move your feet. Even baby steps are steps moving forward. You might go back to the abuser, before being able to let go. If this happens, don’t beat yourself up. Even leaving can be a process. If one approach doesn’t work, try another until you find one that works for you. It will still be painful, but you will become stronger by the day. Keep your friends close to you. They are invaluable.

It has taken every bit of the last two and a half years, for me to get to where I am today. Will I ever be the same again? No, but honestly, why would I want to be that person again? The person who was an easy target, simply because I didn’t trust my own intuition or what I was witnessing, is the whole cause of being targeted in the first place. I had to learn hard things about myself because of the abuse I endured. It’s because of these lessons that I am stronger than I have ever been in my life. I’m 47.

It’s time to finally live.

(Thank you to Deliberate Donkey for inviting me to be a guest writer on her wonderful blog. 🙂 )

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22 comments

  1. Great article. I hope it helps others. You are brave and strong women!

    1. Patti, thank you for commenting 🙂 I don’t know if I can be considered brave. Tenacious, maybe.. lol! I have a strong will to survive. When I left my Psychopath, I wanted to shake him off like an arachnophobe, who has walked into a mess of webs. That didn’t change the damage done. I am better for the experience, but have in no way, “arrived”. I’ll be ever growing and changing. There are some areas that I may not ever get over. I accept that. My biggest wish for others is that they know they aren’t facing this alone.

      1. I made it through my own webs many years ago and recently found that he was dead, and now I no longer look over my shoulder. What a relief.
        But, yes, that is why I applaud you telling your story; so others may know that they are not alone and that they can recognize the path by your well-written words.

  2. excellent, well thought out post. You capture the thought process perfectly.

    1. Thank you, Kimberly 🙂 In saying that, it shows you know the thought process all too well. Isn’t that why we have all found eachother? ALL of us, I would say, have been through this. It’s sad, but wonderful to have found one another.

      1. Yes, I so agree with you. We recognize the spiraling patterns of such abuse and we lift one another out of them 🙂

  3. It is time to live!
    I’m still working through the affects of the abuse, and it’s something I know is going to take time. Keep moving forward – that’s such a great message.

    1. Melanie, I believe the process of healing is going to be life-long. Just like someone battling an addiction, we will tend to fall into the same old thought-processes from time to time. The difference is, we won’t be defeated because of it, anymore. You are one of the strongest women I know! The fact that you are sharing your experiences is not only helping you to cope, but helping others at the same time. We carry eachother. It’s beautiful, isn’t it?

      1. It is beautiful. All of us together, working to help each other and change how society views and accepts abuse. Thank you for sharing your voice here.

  4. Wonderful post. You spoke my heart. It is so true, tiny steps, very tiny, sometimes not moving at all; just trying to not go backwards. I started my blog with the same purpose; to let others know they aren’t alone, nor crazy and raised awareness, and remove the shame.
    I often see victims frustrated because they feel they aren’t healing fast enough. It has been 3 yrs since I left, not by choice. But it wasn’t until the 2 yr mark that I waded out of the quagmire and into the light and got excited about the future again.
    Now I like me better than I ever have, know myself better, feel stronger, more appreciative; everything is more. I will never be the same, no one can be once you have slept with the devil, but I am a survivor and will never be there again.
    Once you make it to the other side; the view is so worth the journey.

    1. Wow, Carrie… just in what you commented, you have expressed so very much! I see the same thing from survivors. Becoming frustrated because they feel they aren’t healing fast enough. I was there, too, feeling that I would stay “that” way for the rest of my life. It is wonderful once we make it to the other side. I agree, the view is so worth the journey. We haven’t made it to the end of our journeys, but we are seeing the light at the end. We are survivors. Entirely.

  5. Reblogged this on Ladywithatruck's Blog and commented:
    there is light and life at the end of the tunnel just take tiny steps and you will get there.

  6. MissLindor · · Reply

    Thank you so much for this post. What I am struggling with so very, very badly is that I could send you 20 pages of the most dreadful things that my narc has done to me over the last 4 years, interspersed with about 2 lines of the nice things he’s done for me….. and now we’ve parted…..and I’m distraught. I miss him – in fact it feels like I can’t live without him! My head absolutely knows what a b******d he is, but my heart is in torment. Every part of me wants to call him and beg him to come back, but I know he won’t answer my calls and then I’ll be hysterical. It is like I’m looking at myself from outside…..I know absolutely what he is and yet I miss him; it is nothing short of madness. In fact, maybe I AM going mad 😦 .

    1. When I left my ex I stayed in a DV shelter and they had a strict no-contact rule. That is what kept me from talking to my abuser after I left him. I knew if I did I would lose the only shelter I had, and I stayed strong. Stay strong yourself. It will get easier with time (though that doesn’t much help while you are waiting for time to work its magic).

  7. Thank you for this wonderfully insightful and well put together post. It is spot on, especially about the process of leaving and the power of the trauma bond. Leaving is a process even once you have physically escaped the abusive relationship – and one we have to work hard at, each and every day. One of the most important things which is working for me, is reminding myself that the Prince Charming (same as your white knight) never really existed – it was all just an elaborate illusion.

    1. StrongerSoulSurvivor, thank you for reading and for your comment 🙂 I agree with you, wholeheartedly! Leaving the abusive relationship is one thing that takes hard work and determination to succeed. Once the relationship is over, the ongoing healing in the end, is one that we need to continue to work on. it’s not something we can rush or strong-arm our way through. It has its own natural process, and it demands it’s time. All we can seem to do is hold on tightly during the spirals that come, and continue to build and rebuild, one step at a time. Reminding ourselves that the man we fell “in love” was nothing more than an elaborate facade, is a great way to keep our perceptions clear. Initially, however, I found this hard to accept at first. It meant that I was wasted, and my heart was wasted for nothing. It wasn’t pleasant. But for some reason, in the end of the past 2 1/2 years, I truly have found so much peace regarding the abuse. It came from the most unbelievable of circumstances… the ending of a relationship with a Narcissist. When I was able to settle the second relationship in my heart, the rest of everything seemed to fall into place. I recognize the threat in each of them. One I view as a vampire and an absolute threat, should he choose to try and come around again. Grandma’s cast-iron frying pan, “old faithful” will come in handy, then. The Narcissist? He’s nothing but pond scum. Not worth my aggravation or stress.

  8. Great post, you have a comrade in me. Even after 22 years the abuse still lingers, its raw and ever present. I don’t think the fear ever leaves, we just learn how to cope and get through each day.

    1. Becki, thank you for your encouragement!

      I know how the affects of the abuse can seem to take a relentless hold on us, in every area of our lives. Fear eventually leaves. For me, it was how I approached the fear, that helped me to drain it of it’s power. Does that make any sense? Fear is a type of entity that craves attention in order to thrive. We want it GONE and away from us. It’s not an easy process to get rid of, or mold it into a submissive form. In the mean-time, all we CAN do is cope and try each day to make it. It doesn’t have to be all-encompassing for the rest of our lives. It is conquerable, though to conquer it, takes quite a lot of time. Peace to your heart, Becki :D…

      1. Yes, it makes perfect sense to me. Peace to you as well. I look forward to following your blog.
        Becki

  9. Great article. Will reblog on my blog about personality disorders – the more we share and talk the more the information is spread and one day others who haven’t experienced what we have experienced will understand. The day we don’t have to explain ourselves because people ‘get it’ will be a day to celebrate.

  10. Reblogged this on The Frog's Tale and commented:
    Abuse is insidious. Those who haven’t been abused always ask the same questions. Why did you stay? What did you see in him? Couldn’t you see he was abusing you? The implication always being that it is something WE DID WRONG. We didn’t do anything wrong – we fell in love with a mask, a falsehood, a Dr Jeckyll. It is only when the mask slipped ocassionally that we got glimpses of the real person – but we didn’t know what was real and what was false until too late.

    1. I, too, have heard the comments and questions from well-meaning individuals. WE did NOTHING wrong! The fact that we are thrust into a journey that we neither asked for, nor wanted, is nothing short of being and feeling cheated. We were cheated of time that we cannot get back. However, now we CAN help others going through the same things as us, regardless of how we struggle through, ourselves. It’s difficult to look back, even though to look closely at ourselves becomes our own challenge. as difficult as it can be to look forward. stares back at us when we become aware of everything our ex’s did as well as how we responded, good, bad, predictable, or painful.

speak loudly, donkeys are sleeping

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