Relationships can be a valuable and enjoyable part of life. But, when past trauma is unresolved it can impact your current relationships in ways that are not healthy. These are not enjoyable and do not help those relationships to thrive. Often when dealing with trauma, trauma therapists are also likely to look at its impact of it on your relationships.
Trauma therapists know that these three foundational areas in relationships can be affected when unresolved trauma exists. These often surround safety, security, and control.
Some of the questions that may be important to a person who is struggling with unresolved trauma when they are thinking about their relationships are:
- Am I physically safe?
- Can I trust you with my emotions?
- Do I feel heard and understood?
- Can I be myself in this relationship?
- Do I feel like I am the one doing all the work?
- When I feel uncertain about the relationship do I feel a need to try to control it?
Often you may know on an intellectual level or feel yourself pulling back from a relationship. Or pushing harder than you normally would. Sometimes your reactions and emotions are more unconscious. You may even be caught off guard by them. Either way, these thoughts, emotions, and actions can make it hard to establish and thrive in your relationships. That is why some of these themes are issues that trauma therapists talk about in sessions.
Some areas where unresolved trauma can present itself in relationships are:
When you struggle with unresolved trauma, you can have a perception that all or most people are unsafe and untrustworthy. That makes it hard to even want to reach out to new people or work on your current relationships. When you have suffered trauma from another person, it can be very hard to try to see that there could be people who are good and want to have a healthy relationship.
Trust can be hard to extend to others. When your trust has been broken or violated, it is not something that you will be able to give to anyone else easily. It may take a long time to try to determine if a person is trustworthy. Or, sometimes the opposite can happen. You may want so badly to have deeper relationships that you give your trust to someone who is not worthy of it.
If there is unresolved trauma, both physical and emotional intimacy can be a struggle. You may want to move to a deeper level in the relationship. But, something may hold you back. Sometimes our bodies can hold on to unresolved trauma. This can cause us to not be able to move in the direction we want.
To self-protect from any further pain or trauma, you may try to control the relationship. By trying to control everything, you may feel like there is more safety and less chance of getting disappointed and hurt. You may try to control the other person, the relationship boundaries, and also the pace of the relationship.
Often someone who is struggling with unresolved trauma will try to manipulate relationships. Sometimes the manipulations may be to get what they want so that they can feel in control and safe. But, it can also come from a place of trying to have a different outcome or type of relationship than what they had from past experiences. They want to have a healthier relationship. Yet, they do not know how or have the tools to work on that. This manipulation can come more from a place of fear than selfishness.
Living with unresolved trauma will affect all aspects of your life. Trying to resolve past experiences and trauma on your own is very difficult. Caring friends and family can be good listeners. But, they can also add to the pain you are already feeling without intending to do so. If you are ready for support,a trauma therapist can help you.
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