Intermittent Positive Reward Withdrawal

Congratulations! You’ve left the abusive relationship! Now, you are starting to have post acute withdrawal symptoms just like when someone stops using drugs or alcohol. Our brains have been conditioned by the intermittent positive rewards that the abuser would bestow upon us to live for those emotional highs when the abuser was actually kind or nice. It was a roller coaster of ups and downs. The highs were amazing and the lows were awful. When we leave that kind of relationship, we go through withdrawals. Our brain is wanting to know where those endorphins, norepinephrine, serotonin, dopamine, adrenaline went. In the immediate aftermath of leaving the relationship we will think constantly of the abuser, we will have dreams of the abuser. No, that is NOT a sign to go back to the abuser. Your brain is trying to recreate the highs from when the abuser was “nice”. What can you do to overcome the effects of trauma bonding? Yes, intermittent positive rewards IS trauma bonding. So, what to do? You get with a damn good trauma therapist. You write down every rotten thing your abuser ever did and you read that list anytime your brain tries to take you for a trip down “memory lane”. You work on self esteem, boundaries, deal breakers, positive affirmations, meditation, you educate yourself on abuse and abusers. You gird your loins for the inevitable hoover. Eventually, your brain will adjust to the healthy self esteem and self worth and stop bringing the abuser up. As you heal from the intermittent positive rewards/trauma bonding, you must practice self care like a boss! Eat healthy food! Rest! Exercise! Start doing the things you used to love doing before you were in the abusive relationship. You must be gentle with you!