The following gives an accurate description of the highly ‘addictive’ quality of traumatic relationships with the disordered. The following is by Dr. Patrick Carnes and from his book, “The Betrayal Bond”. This is an excellent resource for your recovery:
Trauma Bonds by Patrick J. Carnes, Ph.D., CAS
Abandonment and trauma are at the core of addictions. Abandonment causes deep shame. Abandonment by betrayal is worse than mindless neglect. Betrayal is purposeful and self-serving. If severe enough, it is traumatic. What moves betrayal into the realm of trauma is fear and terror. If the wound is deep enough and the terror big enough, the body alters. The system elevates into an alarm state, never safe. Waiting for the hurt again. In that state of readiness the client doesn’t notice that part of them has died. The client is grieving.
What we see is highly addictive attachment to the persons who have hurt the clients. The clients may even blame themselves, their defects, their failed efforts. The clients strive to do better as their lives slip away amongst all the intensity. These attachments cause the clients to distrust their own judgment, to distort their own realities so much, the clients can place themselves at more risk. The clients are bracing themselves against further hurt. Taking precautions which almost guarantee more pain. These attachments have a name. They are called trauma bonds.
Exploitive relationships create trauma bonds. These occur when a victim bonds
with someone who is destructive to them. Similarly, adult survivors of abusive
and dysfunctional families struggle with bonds that are rooted in their own
trauma experiences. To be loyal to that which does not work – or worse, to a
person who is toxic, exploitive, or destructive to the client, is a form of insanity.
There is a universal stumbling block that I have noticed with survivors, as well as from time to time within myself, that I’ve given much thought too. A survivor was in distress about this the other day because her mind kept gravitating toward her ex. She has been out of the relationship about two years, just as I have been.
She explained her circumstances and I shared that I would ponder…then I had an “aha!” moment!
The more I think about these relationships, along with similar but not always exact patterns I see with survivors, it is becoming crystal clear to me how the ‘addictive’ component plays out and how compelling it truly is.
WE MUST TREAT IT LIKE AN ADDICTION.
The psychopath was our drug. We had chemical changes in the brain when due to the intense cognitive dissonance in the relationship. This means moving goal posts in our realities with him. He’s nice one minute, but utterly cruel the next. He can go a week and it is peaceful, but then we find out he’s cheating. Many scenarios can play out…so is he good, or is he bad? This cycle sets up the trauma bond, or rather the addictive element due to the severity of the insidiousness of the abuse.
So, let me ask you this: Have you had another addiction you’ve struggled with? There are many, addictions to substances is only one area of addiction. We have addictions to food, to sex, to spending, to hoarding…anything can be addictive.
When we give it up we are in pain from withdrawal. Our brains were wired through trauma and so we are literally re-wiring it to do something else.
When you are recovering from addiction, when do you think it is most likely that you will have cravings? During times of stress maybe? When you’re lonely? Another trigger?
This is why you think of him. This is why.
It’s not ‘missing’ of him in the sense that you miss an abusive and dangerous predator, it’s that you miss the addiction to the cycles he created. When we remove any addiction, we must stay away from any sources or individuals that are likely to trigger a craving that leads to cognitive dissonance, that could lead us to contact. The craving is what causes a relapse. WE WANT A HIT OF OUR DRUG. The idea is to get enough TIME away from it to heal our brains, and to fill the huge void he left behind.
So what do we do when we are addicted to something and are in recovery or trying to do something different?
Note: This article also applies to men who are survivors of psychopathic and narcissistic women.