Loving a Survivor: How Prolonged Trauma Impacts Relationships

Women, generally speaking, are empathic creatures by nature. Some deem empathy a curse, others a powerful gift. Nevertheless, we feel every sentiment as deeply as we feel every chastising word…down to our very core. And with each blow endured, we slowly forged the piecemeal armor that now adorns our delicate skin. Yet a kind word and gentle touch from a kindred soul has the power throw all inhibition out the window. We are but living, breathing paradoxes, one of the greatest mysteries of the universe.

But sometimes, we guard ourselves so relentlessly that we block the greatest gift of all: LOVE. We build walls so high that even the most skilled climbers come crashing down before reaching the summit. Sometimes, we even become so bitter that we conclude an opinion about men in general, forming the very stereotypes that we, ourselves, oppose.

However, there are also those of us who are brave enough to give love another chance. The ones who never turn their backs on love because we know in our hearts that there are still good people in this world. Though we are not without flaws either. Because sometimes when we enter relationships while we are still trying to heal, we unconsciously project our pain and emotions onto our partners.

Many women can conceal emotions as if they have never known heartache at all.  But often things occur that trigger the pain we’ve buried within our bones. Those suppressed emotions then float up to the surface where we relive them all over again causing us to compare, to remember things we would rather forget, and to feel the very things we have avoided. We may then unconsciously hold the person we love accountable for someone else’s mistakes. This is extremely unjust and unfair, to us and those we hold dear to our hearts.  It is also why healing is vital to our growth!

I once made the mistake of committing myself to a relationship with a man at a time when I barely knew or even liked myself, much less loved myself. I was just beginning my healing process and having the veil ripped from eyes at the same time. I was miserable in almost every life situation and circumstance around me. My heart was full of anger, resentment, confusion and bitterness, but when he came in things seemed to get a little brighter in my world. Yet no matter how hard he tried, he still wasn’t able to stop the darkness from consuming me when it came to feast. No matter what he did to try to please me, it was never enough. I blamed him for my suffering and misery. I know that it wasn’t really his fault, nor was it his responsibility to save me from myself. But that wisdom didn’t come until now.

Here we are years later and I am finding myself full circle once again, spiraling back to the lessons I failed to learn then. The same pattern is emerging in my current relationship and I am finding myself conflicted by my own afflictions. Is this my own inner turmoil surfacing and I just fail to recognize it? Are these red flags I am seeing figments of my imagination designed by my own unhealed trauma and insecurities? Am I making things worse in my head than they actually are to subconsciously continue a pain cycle? Or am I really seeing and feeling these things as they are? These are the thoughts that plague my sanity. These are the parasites that feast on the soul of a warrior who has spent an entire lifetime mastering survival mode. These are my ugliest of truths, the demons I have come to know by name.

You see, no matter how happy I am when we are together, or how much joy he brings to my life, I must also be completely accepting of myself and content with my solitude. Otherwise, I am not whole on my own and healthy, which means I will seek wholeness from another. And if that is the case, then I am certainly not the proper vessel for the embodiment of my higher-self and I cannot truly live an authentic life aligned with my soul.  I know that now. I deeply want to be all of those things.

I am working hard at healing my scars to ensure that they no longer bleed on those I love. I want to be healthy, happy, full of life and vibrant energy, smiling, laughing, joking, light-hearted and free to genuinely be myself. But I have let my pain become my hindrance for so long that I forgot how to enjoy these things, and I feel myself longing desperately to remember.

I am learning. I am growing. I am healing. But this process is absolutely fucking brutal! It’s the destruction and reconstruction of my heart. It’s the dearmoring of false protection and delayering of programming from my body. It is painstaking and unnerving at times, leaving me wandering aimlessly through the catacombs of my mind on a search and rescue mission to find my inner child. And I have come to realize that the man who loves me likely feels this confusion and pain as well, especially when I cannot explain what I’m experiencing and I instead project my emotions onto him.

Women tend to forget sometimes that men too can be emotional and vulnerable. They carry pain and sorrow around like heavy baggage, much the same as we do, although they are often better at keeping their feelings hidden. We need to remind ourselves that they too have experienced heartbreak, betrayal and loss.

Learning who I am carries a great responsibility to take ownership of my life, my choices, my feelings, my faults, my needs, etc. It dawned on me today that I likely make the man I love feel the same way I have felt most of my life – like nothing he does is ever good enough for me – but that simply isn’t true. I have pointed out his “flaws” and the things he does wrong, and even things he doesn’t do to meet my often-impossible standards, yet I seldom take into account all that he does right. When I am on an emotional warpath, he becomes my target simply because he is the closest person to me. That is completely unfair and is actually borderline gaslighting. It is a narcissistic means of shifting blame to another instead of taking responsibility for myself. That learned behavior ends here. I know better, therefore I must do better.

Self-reflection has shown me some profound revelations. I know I am often an overly sensitive mess of emotions, but my heart is in the right place. I know I sometimes expect too much and give too little in return. I also know I am not always the person I should be, but I am trying to be the best ME that I can be. Although our lives have been extremely traumatic and tumultuous since childhood, we are both healing, learning and growing and I pray every day that we have the strength to survive these trying times together.

As a society, we must remember to show compassion to one another when words fail, and to have patience with each other when insecurities prevail. You see, we have all been devastated at some point. So it is imperative to heal and to love ourselves so that we may lead and teach others how to love us by example. Unchain your heart from the shackles of past trauma. Elevate one another and give your love a chance to bloom into something beautiful.

Love always,

D. Luna

👑🌛🌝🌜👑

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