Natural disasters, armed conflicts, terrorist attacks, mass shootings, life-threatening illnesses, automobile accidents, occupational accidents, rape, abuse and other incidents that negatively impact our sense of well-being, are examples of traumatic experiences. When there is unresolved trauma, it can affect every aspect of your life. In a relationship, you might even have emotional distance or communication issue. On World Trauma Day, which falls on October 17, let us discuss how unresolved trauma can ruin a relationship.
Traumatic experiences are frightening, dangerous or disturbing occurrences that impact our physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, or social well-being, explains psychotherapist, life and business coach Dr Chandni Tugnait. Trauma can also cause the body to experience stress, which manifests physically as symptoms like a racing heartbeat, headaches, nausea, digestive issues and poor sleep.
Ways unresolved trauma can affect relationship
When traumatic events that people have faced are not adequately processed, integrated or healed, there is unresolved trauma. The most frequent cause of unresolved trauma is trying to ignore or repress the painful incidents by shoving them into an internal “black box” that only gets bigger with time, says the expert. This process occurs both consciously and unconsciously at times. Here are some ways an unresolved trauma can affect relationships:
1. Communication breakdown
A person dealing with an unresolved trauma may start to withdraw inside of themselves and stop communicating effectively with those around them.
2. Emotional distance
Trauma survivors frequently struggle with emotions, feelings, and sensitivity; as a defense mechanism, they typically develop emotional distance from others.
3. Trust problems
A traumatised person could have problems trusting others, making it difficult to open up and trust anyone, says Dr Tugnait.
4. Anger issues
Unresolved problems and trauma can occasionally manifest as anger and impatience. Relationship difficulties could result from this since the person may struggle to regulate emotions.
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5. Attachment issues
Trauma victims frequently experience attachment problems, which can emerge as a person’s inability to create any relationship or as an excessively possessive attachment to one person that upsets the dynamics of a relationship.
6. Re-enactment of trauma
Unresolved issues may compel a person to create traumatic patterns in their relationships that constantly remind them of the trauma they have experienced. They can encounter people who resemble their abusers or keep running into the same predicaments.
7. Low self-esteem
Trauma victims frequently struggle with their self-worth and self-esteem. This encourages people to look for recognition in the wrong places.
8. Lack of emotional support
Trauma survivors could find it challenging to provide their spouses the emotional support they require, which adds to the challenges in a relationship that might never end.
Due to their poor mental health and all the other problems that the trauma has brought, many trauma survivors shy away from social situations. They could withdraw within themselves to deal with their emotional distress, which could eventually result in loneliness and further mental distress.
Trauma survivors frequently disassociate from reality to cope with their distress, making it challenging for them to be in a committed relationship and fully interact with their partner.
Tips to resolve unresolved trauma
To start addressing the trauma, to heal from it and to lessen its impact on your life and relationships consider the following –
1. Recognise the consequences of trauma
Browse through books about trauma recovery. Whether or not you recall the facts of the event, discuss your actions with a therapist to see whether they could be linked to an early traumatic event.
2. Share your story
Keep a journal (how to journal) where you can write about your recent and old experiences. Alternatively, request that a close friend or therapist sit beside you as you describe what transpired. You might make connections between what’s happening in your life right now and what you’ve carried around with you from the past by sharing your experience.
3. Emotional mastery
Experience your emotions rather than ignoring them; be aware of them and give them a name. That means feel the sorrow and sense the rage. Consider where in your body the sensation is coming from. Then your feelings might act as informational guides that help you to move toward healing.
4. Take as much time as you need
We are not all created equal, and everyone heals in their own time and in their way. Slow down the process if it gets too intense. Go on a break and take your own time.
You can also take help of a professional, as they know how it affects a person and what needs to be done to resolve trauma.