Got Relationship PTSD?
By Adiasha Richards, LMHC
Valentine’s day just passed,—the day of love. We are bombarded with the commercialism that it represents, the lovers sharing their love and the singles working to get through the day. I work a lot with women healing from trauma and lately it has caused me to think a lot about the trauma of relationships. At a couples’ therapy workshop the speaker Ester Perel said “when we pick a partner we pick a story”, sometimes we end up a character in a story that we just want to end. I listen to the stories of women recovering from breakups, I see the impact it has on them. The fear of starting over, the uncertainty of what’s next, the grieving of the relationship lost, the longing and desire for the relationship that will last. There oftentimes are some serious scars that remain from failed relationships, some of that impact can feel traumatic.
When we encounter traumatic events, the aftermath can leave us fighting triggers from the memories that linger, difficulty living in the present, sad about the past and anxious about the future. So many of these emotions are the same after a relationship. We all know relationships are hard but we don’t always acknowledge how traumatizing and debilitating they can be. Anything we face deserves a voice, a space to be acknowledged. Relationship baggage is real and as beautiful as love is, it also hurts leaving devastation and destruction as well. As with all traumas, healing is necessary, and healing from relationship trauma is the same.
Treat yourself with compassion
Traumas leave us vulnerable and the periods after ending impactful relationships leave us raw. Treat yourself the way you would any friend or loved one in their time of need, gentle and with understanding. Practice healthy self-talk, “I am going through a hard time and it’s ok”, “Today I feel sad and I will allow myself to be”.
Be patient with yourself, we all want to fast forward past the getting over them period, but we all know it doesn’t work that way. As you sift through the roller coaster of emotions, process how you feel, journal about it. Writing gives our feelings and experience a voice it needs.
Let your friends love on you
Turn to and accept the support of the people around you. Reliable and stable supports fill us up when we’re struggling with doing it ourselves.
Learn from it
Appreciate the lessons that came from the relationship. Romantic relationships are mirrors that are held in front of us, be open to seeing the things in you that need to be recognized. The truths about yourself, your needs and what’s important to you. Those lessons are guides to the future you want.
Find a dope therapist
Yes, working through your relationship trauma is a reason to go to therapy, especially if you want help healing and preparing for love again. When you’re ready, seeking new love can be scary. Dating is hard enough, but it’s worse when you are projecting your old wounds or being triggered by the remnants of the ex you moved on from. Remember we can get over the person but getting over the situation is harder.
I wish you well on your growth journey. Wanting to love again is brave; you are courageous and deserving!
Adiasha Richards, LMHC is a proud West Indian American, owner of Growth and Transitions Counseling located out of two offices in Queens NY (Ridgewood and Howard Beach). She has a team of licensed therapists which serve a wide demographic of people in the areas focused on Mental Health Services. Her practice offers Individual Counseling, Couples and Martial Counseling, Pre Martial Counseling, Family Counseling, and Children and Teens. There is certainly something for almost everybody. Adiasha states " Everyone is talking about do your work, find inner peace, posting positive quotes, but What the Hell is that, how do you do the work?" She works individually with women to help them work through their trauma, heal from the past, and grow the skills needed to move out of surviving and into a life of full living.