Experiencing trauma in a relationship can impact your life for years to come. Maybe you had to deal with physical or emotional abuse. Maybe your attachment styles were so different that your partner took advantage of it. Or, perhaps your relationship ended because of infidelity or other breaches of trust.
Whatever the case, to say it’s difficult to heal from past relationship trauma is an understatement.
As with any type of trauma, you might experience flashbacks about what happened, and you might have a hard time moving on—especially when it comes to investing yourself in new relationships.
But it’s not impossible to heal and start a new chapter. Let’s cover a few practical tips you can use to begin healing from past relationship trauma.
Make the Commitment
The first step in healing from past relationship trauma is making a commitment to let go. It’s impossible to let go of trauma when you’re hanging on to certain aspects of your relationship.
You can’t be forced to let go. It’s something you’ll need to do on your own time. If you’re not ready for it, you won’t fully be able to move on. It’s important to realize that it’s a necessary part of the process.
You’re worth more than your trauma. Once you come to terms with that, you’ll be able to let go of the hurt from your relationship and take the next steps to move forward.
Acknowledge and Accept Your Feelings
Once you’ve made the commitment to let go and move on, acknowledge your feelings. Don’t let anyone convince you that whatever you’re feeling is “wrong,” or you should be passed a certain point with your emotions.
It’s okay to feel your feelings. Emotions will always demand to be felt. The more you try to ignore them or shove them down, the more intense they’ll become. So, even if it’s hard to relive aspects of your relationship by letting your feelings come to the surface, acknowledging and accepting them will give them less control.
When you feel like you’re back in the driver’s seat of your own life, those emotions won’t seem as scary, and you can start on a fresh path.
Be Mindful in the Moment
One of the effects of trauma is that it will always try to pull you back into negative memories. They can manifest through flashbacks, dreams, or seemingly “random” thoughts when you least expect them.
Unfortunately, those moments can make you feel anxious, distracted, and even fearful.
If they happen regularly, you might even start to experience symptoms of depression.
Holding onto the past can also make it feel impossible to give yourself to a new relationship. Certain things might trigger you, or you might have predispositions to think or act a certain way that isn’t necessarily fair to your new partner or date.
One way to combat those painful memories is to practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a wonderful tool that helps with anxiety, and you can make it part of your daily routine or use it as needed.
When you’re starting to feel anxious about your past relationship trauma, pause in whatever you’re doing. Close your eyes and focus on the present. Be aware of your breathing, how your body feels, and your surroundings. Thoughts will continue to come, but you can let them pass you by rather than hold onto them.
Be Kind to Yourself
If someone you cared about was trying to heal from relationship trauma, think about how you would treat them. It’s likely you would be kind and compassionate. There’s no reason you shouldn’t treat yourself the same way.
It’s not uncommon for those who have been through relationship trauma to feel guilty or try to place blame on themselves. But, by being self-compassionate and caring for yourself, you’re more likely to recognize that you deserve freedom from your trauma. Self-compassion can even make it easier for you to seek out professional help.
No matter what your relationship trauma stems from, it’s never too late to start the healing process. Put these ideas into practice and remember you’re not alone. Feel free to contact me if you’re struggling, and together we’ll start taking the right steps toward the next chapter of your life.
About the Author
Roma Williams is a Houston-based licensed marriage and family therapist, who is also licensed in the states of Georgia, Florida, and California. Her specialties and clinical interests are systems and relationships. Roma enjoys working with couples, including LGBTQ+ and those who live in polyamorous relationships. As an African American woman, Roma has donated time and efforts to causes championing black women and mental health. Roma also enjoys working with individuals on their relationships with themselves and others. Being a California native, and moving to the south in her adult years, Roma has had plenty of experiences that have shaped her cultural development both professionally and personally. In her spare time, Roma enjoys fashion, all things wine, and traveling.
If you are in Houston or in any part of Texas, Georgia, Florida, or California and are ready to work with Roma click here.