Post Traumatic Love Syndrome

 

Hey everyone!!! Can we just take a moment to celebrate that I’m being somewhat consistent with blogging again? Lol. Anywho, this topic has been on my heart for some time. Probably for almost a year. I think we all can agree that love can be a beautiful thing. The idea of having someone to love you unconditionally seems like a dream for most. The sad truth remains that the idea of love is not exciting for everyone. I wrote on this once, check it out HERE.

While some are excitedly dating and enjoying the anticipation of love, others are scared to death due to their previous experiences with the concept. There are people are petrified at the thought of trying to love again. For some people, getting to know someone almost feels traumatic. It triggers off feelings of being hurt and unsafe. This sounds eerily similar to a well-known yet misunderstood mental health diagnosis called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

When someone has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), they have a combination of symptoms that were triggered by a traumatic experience. These experiences can be but are not limited to war, car accidents, natural disasters, sexual assault, the sudden death of a loved one, etc. After working with many clients, talking with friends and looking at my own love life, I am realizing there may be an event we have left off the list. That event is heartbreak. If you’ve ever been heartbroken, I mean hurt to your soul heartbroken, then you know how traumatic that feels. It is something you hate to even remember. I describe it to clients as the kind of pain that you feel in your mind, body, spirit, and soul simultaneously.  It’s something that once you experience it, you never want to experience it again.

With that said, we can see how this starts to look similar to PTSD. There’s a traumatic event that then triggers off a series of symptoms. The symptoms often associated with PTSD are re-experiencing of the trauma, nightmares, avoiding thoughts or feelings about the trauma, hypervigilance, anger outbursts, etc. When I really started looking at the symptomology, I came to the startling realization that heartbreak was traumatizing people. Not in some overdramatic way, but truly to the point their lives are being disrupted. Their trust for love is buried under the fear from the trauma of heartbreak.

Think about it. We know people who are easily triggered by the thought of heartbreak. Let me make a point to highlight that I said heartbreak, not love. It is not love that scares people, it is heartbreak. The fear is in the failure of love, not the presence of it. The truth is, they want love, but they fear they will not be able to keep it.

Many people think that people fear they will never get someone. I disagree. I think many people know they have the capability to get someone. I think most people fear they will get love and mess it up. Which in turn creates heartbreak, which creates trauma. One of the symptoms of PTSD is distorted feelings of blame and guilt. How many people have blamed themselves for the heartbreak they endured? Since they carry that blame, they also carry the fear that they will bring the heartbreak on themselves again.

Another symptom of PTSD is avoiding thoughts or feelings about the trauma. How many people have we seen avoid thinking about their time of heartache like it was the plague? They don’t do it in an “I have healed and closed that chapter,” kind of way. They do it in an “I cannot mentally handle assessing those feelings,” kind of way. Feeling tense and on edge is another symptom. We see people who have been heartbroken like this all the time. They can barely enjoy a conversation with someone because they are so on edge. You constantly have to tell them, “just relax and enjoy getting to know them.” But that’s easier said than done for them. They become hypervigilant; constantly looking for a reason to be on the defense and jump ship for safety and security.

Why am I writing about this? Because I want us to be more patient with these people. We often get frustrated with people because they seem so guarded. They self-sabotage and they get in their own way. Yes, it is frustrating when you are the one on the other end who they keep pushing away. It’s frustrating when they seem to get cold for no reason. It’s annoying when they shut down out of nowhere. The truth is, there are people who have been hurt to a point of crippling fear. They want to get out of their head, but their fear keeps them locked inside of the mental prison created from their trauma. People like this need as much love, patience, and support as possible.

Now, let me come to the other end of this. Dear people suffering from Post Traumatic Love Syndrome, you DO NOT get to use your trauma as a get out of commitment-free card. *taps mic* Can you hear me? I hope you didn’t think I was just going to let you slip by because you’re hurting. Look, I get it. You have been hurt so bad that it shook you to your core. You vowed that you would never let yourself feel that low again. Good!!! But that should not be at the expense of the people who are trying to love you. At some point, you have to work through your trauma. Get in counseling, journal, pray, fast, process, HEAL. You can work through this trauma. You can get what you want which is love without experiencing what you fear which is heartache. You can’t though if you continue to look at love through the eyes of your past pain.

I just wanted to shed more light on this situation. I know there are frustrated people on both sides. People are tired of being bound by their previous heartache. People are also tired of having to pay for the trauma inflicted by someone else. I think the key is to be patient with others and be patient with ourselves. We have to be willing to acknowledge that this form of trauma exists and be patient as we all try to maneuver through it. I just want us all to get the love we desire. The key to that is healing and patience. I hope this helps. Happy healing!!!

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