Trauma Bonded

I remember the feeling of falling in love with you. Obsessive. Secret. Sex. Amazing, life changing, soul freeing sex. Conversations with depth, common interests, and curiosity. Respectfully challenging each other’s assumptions. Laughter, intimacy, just intimacy… physical contact, kissing, cuddling, whispering our dark things in the dark night. Heady. Consuming. 

Trauma bonded. 

I didn’t know what that meant then, I wouldn’t for many years. We trauma bonded and we did it exquisitely. 

When people looked at us I knew they didn’t get us. And the people that knew me best really didn’t get us. No one could see how beautifully our broken pieces fit seamlessly together, as if we’d been cut precisely for each other, from years of living triggered… from years of living in survival mode. Your broken fit my broken to a T and together we made one exquisitely fucked up person.

Ours was maybe the most important and pivotal relationship of my life to that point. I had come from a decades long marriage that for all its beauty and living, crushed my sense of self before I even had a chance to develop it. I picked him at sixteen and for twenty two years I allowed his view of me to dictate who I was which, incidentally, reinforced much of who my mother told me I was. 

For twenty two years I believed every lie he told me about me.

You saw someone different when you looked at me. You saw a woman who was, in many ways, the opposite of who I had been trained to believe I was. You saw a brilliant, independent, sexy, sexual, powerful, intellectual. A great mother and friend. You loved my strong, voluptuous body. You respected me for the successful entrepreneur that I was. You held a spotlight on my life, on me, calling out all in me that I had been taught to devalue, hide, and feel shamed for because others felt threatened by it.

In our relationship you showed me, for years, what it feels like to be worshiped in every way. Which is not to say that we didn’t disagree, there was just no fighting and shaming in our disagreeing. With you I discovered what it feels like to have another person gather up the scattered pieces of me, even, especially, the ones I didn’t know belonged to me, pull them back into place so that I could begin to mend.

You showed me how loveable, loved, and loving I am. 

You showed me what it is to be physically worshiped. In my life I had never know sex and sensuality, connection, experimentation, and acceptance. You loved my squishy, soft body and taught me to love her too. No shame.

  1. Had. No. Idea.

When I told you I had always been attracted to women you didn’t make it about you and try to talk me into a threesome with some random stranger. You recognized that my developing identity and curiosity were about me, not you. You were not threatened by it and encouraged me to figure me out for myself. You welcomed my emerging queerdo self openly and our relationship allowed me to explore myself in a safe, supported way.

With you I could cry, racking soul crushing emotions because I felt them. I didn’t dumb me down or hide my feels. I didn’t scare you with my storms of grief and rage. You made me tea, brought me tissues, silently put your hand on my back, and sat beside me while purged until I was a shell. My storms of anger and sorrow never shook you because your storms were truly terrifying.

You told me what you were like, how you raged. How coffee cups in your house didn’t last long. That the holes in the walls and doors were from your fists or your head. That when you rage you often beat your own head with your fists. I had seen the scars, I placed kisses on them, traced them with my fingertips. The patchwork history of your lifetime in pain. That pain etched onto your forearms… a telling canvas of a man trying desperately to feel and grasping for control.

Your storms were truly terrifying.

The first storm I witnessed was brought on by something totally benign and of your own making. To the wall went the coffee cup. The cats ran for cover, they knew this routine. I sat on the sofa watching you transform. Fists slammed the solid oak desk with appalling force. I thought you would break the bones in your hands. Papers flew, you knotted your hands in your hair, rocking and moaning. You beat your head ferociously. You growl when you rage, like a terrified animal. You were totally lost in your tumult, unreachable, utterly disconnected.

I watched and it was painful to see. I went outside and waited, processing. I knew eventually I’d be witness to your self inflicted terror and I trusted that you would not harm me or put me in harm’s way. I knew you raged against only yourself. The inherent sensitivity, the lion protector you have for all other living beings, was not something you gave yourself. Against yourself you perpetrated horrific violence and hate. I wondered… How could someone who loved so deeply, so fiercely, who would lay down in traffic for a stranger or give you his last dollar, have no love for self?

Afterward you asked if you’d scared me then instantly apologized for scaring me before I had a chance to say that I had not felt frightened; I felt profoundly sad. I had seen a grown man, a brilliant, talented, kind, dear man tear himself to shreds in a temper tantrum exactly like a toddler only with the ferocity and strength of an adult. I saw the boy inside who never had the chance to develop the love for himself that he had for every animal he ever encountered and some humans.  I saw a terrified boy trapped in so much pain and fear, addiction, and self loathing that I didn’t see how this man before me could ever heal the little boy inside.

In the years since I ended us I have focused on my own healing journey. It’s been six years as I write this. I am a different person now. Ever evolving, no longer that shattered woman. No longer attracting people more broken than me so I can fix them or feel less broken by comparison. I no longer expect or hunger for someone else to put me back together. 

I am whole, healed, safe, sacred, sovereign.

I wish our relationship could have been the springboard for healing for you, that it was for me. I don’t know that you will ever find healing but I always, always pray that you do. 

Thank you. Thank you for all your love and acceptance. For seeing me and for introducing me to myself as you saw me. Beneath decades of scars inflicted by others who ‘loved’ me, beyond my emotionally fractured state. With you I found the real me, yes buried within the complexities of our damage, but me nonetheless.

In us I began the journey of finding myself. It’s been six years since our break up and three since we’ve had any contact and every day, I am and will always be forever grateful. 


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