Relationships can sometimes feel like a puzzle. Pieces are missing but you can’t find them. Issues keep surfacing but you can’t understand why. The possibilities are many but there may be a chance that unresolved trauma is playing a role.
Unresolved trauma is like an open wound. If it is not healed, the wound will continue to cause pain and discomfort. Inevitably, this seeps into your relationships. You wind up trying to navigate a minefield of triggers, reactions, behaviors, and self-doubt. A powerful first step toward resolution is learning how to recognize the relationship patterns that are causing you trouble.
3 Relationship Patterns That Signal Your Unresolved Trauma
1. Feeling Disconnected
If you have endured a traumatic experience, you are likely to shut down emotionally. Of course, this creates a disconnect with your partner. This dynamic may play out in several dysfunctional ways, e.g.
- Your partner feels that their feelings are being ignored or neglected
- It feels impossible or even risky to bring up serious topics for discussion
- Healthy communication comes to a standstill
2. No Emotional Regulation
This is the opposite of #1 above. Rather than shutting down, you lash out. You’re always on the defensive and ready to fight. Your partner may end up being the one who shuts down in order to avoid your anger. In addition, you may experience tangential symptoms like:
- Muscle aches and tension
- Inability to relax
3. Addictive and/or Compulsive Behavior
Sometimes, either of the above signs can result in this outcome. You’re disconnected so you seek ways to feel something, anything. Or you’re always lashing out so you find a way to numb your rage and frustration. In either instance, you are desperately trying to recreate what the body does naturally. You wish to feel the positive energy generated through hormones and other chemicals.
Addictive and/or compulsive behavior may include:
- Substance abuse (drugs, alcohol, etc.)
- Other addictions, e.g. sex, pornography, gambling, gaming, and so on
- Cheating on your partner
- Making dangerous choices like unsafe sex, fast driving, etc.
Resolving the Trauma
It helps — a lot — to understand more about what’s going on and why. Learn about unresolved trauma and its impact. The emotions will feel less surprising this way. As a result, you’re better positioned to manage them.
Keep a Journal
Keep track of your triggers, your reactions, and how you calmed yourself. Identify the patterns — negative and positive — in your life. Also, a journal will be very useful when speaking to a therapist.
Develop Healthy Coping Mechanisms
You don’t have to shut down or scream or do something dangerous. Cultivate a self-care routine. Get into the habit of prioritizing your needs in a productive way.
Talk About Your Triggers
Let your partner know what you are feeling. Give them the chance to make their own adjustments. Rather than going silent or launching into an argument, communicate honestly.
Learn to Be Patient
There is no single healing timetable. Everyone is different. Commit to recovery but don’t create unrealistic expectations. Your therapist can be very helpful in finding this healthy balance.
Reach Out to a Professional
Trauma cannot be resolved solely through lifestyle changes or self-help tips. These choices can be very important. However, you will need the guidance of an experienced mental health professional. Your therapy sessions offer you a safe space in which to explore the patterns that shape your life. There are many pathways we can explore to support you and help get you to a place of balance and recovery.