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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Taking a Break From Love

I almost don’t know where to begin. See what had happened was…Lol. But seriously, jokes aside I offer my deepest apologies for my extended absence from the blog. While there are not many excuses I can offer, I assure you that the insight I gained in my time away, which I’ll share in this post, will more than makeup for it. Or at least I hope it will.

I’ll just cut straight to the chase. I had to take a break from love. I’m sure you’re thinking, “what does that even mean?” “How does that even work?” Well, I can assure you, it wasn’t a pleasant journey, at least not at first. I had gotten to such a low point in love. I was for the first time, disgusted and disgruntled with love. I wanted no parts of it. I stopped believing in the possibility of it. After coming up empty handed on my constant quest for love, I was officially over trying to find it. Naturally, I no longer had the desire to write on the topic. For those who don’t know, I am a therapist, who happens to specialize in, you guessed it, couple’s work. Day in and day out, I help couples through some of the toughest times of their relationships, while teaching them skills to better themselves and their partnerships. Literally, my entire world revolved around love. I believe God felt sorry for me because during this time my couple’s clientele dwindled and I received a ton of individuals. I guess God knew as well as I did that I wasn’t in the space to help them.

After taking a year from the blog and six months to myself, I have deemed it almost necessary to write again. I struggled with what would be my comeback post. Instantly, almost obviously, the thought hit me. Why not just start by talking about what drove me into silence in the first place? If I had experienced this, surely others have as well.

We all know that romance has been a goal to achieve for decades. Self-help books are flying off the shelves right now as everyone is in a mad dash to find the answer to obtaining true love. We read about it, watch it in movies and television shows, and have discussions about it with friends and loved ones. There are blogs and YouTube channels dedicated to it. Love is always a hot topic that is difficult to escape from. For a hopeless romantic like myself, the constant talk of love is intoxicating. But what happens when the high wears off and the drug of choice no longer does it for you? What happens when the thing you always believed in doesn’t seem to be manifesting like you always dreamed it would?

I have talked to so many people, whether it be followers, friends, family, or clients and they all have seemed to experience this same feeling. The feeling of hopeless despair. The feeling that maybe the love you hope for, isn’t meant for you. Maybe the phrase “there’s somebody for everybody” is just an empty group of words. This is a dark and sad revelation to come to after waiting for love for so long. It feels like the child waiting for the distant father to come to pick them up as promised, finally accepting the truth that daddy isn’t coming. For many, daddy is the love they always longed for but could never get to show up.

I promise I’m not writing this to sound dark and bleak. I’m writing this to do the opposite. I’m writing this to bring light to what feels like a dark space that the hope of love once filled. After much needed time, I realized that the answer should not be to give up on love but to recondition our minds as to what we thought it meant. I realized that many of us condition ourselves to believe that the sad, heartbreaking situations we experienced were synonymous with the love we sought. So we concluded that searching for love brought pain. This isn’t necessarily wrong, but it’s not in totality the truth. The desire for love is not the problem, it was the methods in which we chose to obtain it that brought issues.

So how does one recondition themselves? Through taking time from love. Yes, this is the entire point of this post. Sometimes, you need to take a break from what you want. Sometimes you need to regroup. Many people who are frustrated with their quest for love have done everything they think is possible to get it. They go out of their way to fix themselves so that their chances of a mate will be better. The issue is, if the goal for what you do is just so you can get a mate, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Taking time from love isn’t about fixing yourself, it’s about fixing your mindset.

The goal is not to change yourself, it’s to accept yourself. I finally realized that me trying to “perfect” or “fix” myself was to try to make me more loveable to the ones who saw something wrong with me and didn’t love the core of who I was. It showed that I had fallen for the lie that I was hard to love. The truth is, you won’t be hard to love for the person who accepts you for who you are. Yes, you will forever be a proponent of working on yourself and bettering yourself. I am not trying to give people an excuse to continue being messed up. What I am saying, is that your motivation of why and the goal of what you are trying to accomplish makes the difference. Are you trying to be better or are you trying to fix the essence of you that you convinced yourself is wrong so you can get someone to love you?

This is why self-love is so important. You really have to love yourself in a way that is accepting of your good and bad. It is easy to excuse people for not loving you wholeheartedly when you agree that there are parts of you not to love. When you don’t love all of you, you relate to when others don’t. If you want someone to love you for the core of your essence, you should first do the same. When you love every part of yourself, you can challenge others to do the equivalent.

It is difficult to do this without taking a break. I never would have been able to come to some ugly truths had I not taken a break from love. I hadn’t realized just how much I had been negatively impacted by the internal messages that were being implanted by every failed attempt of my endeavors. I had not realized that my quest was starting to accumulate some heavy baggage. I’m here to encourage you to take some time and unpack some. You may have been journeying a long time trying to find love. With every failed trip you simply add more stuff to your luggage and went out on the next voyage.

Maybe it’s time to take a break from your quest. Maybe, just maybe, you need a break. It doesn’t mean you are giving up, but sometimes it is good to check your map to see if you’re still going in the right direction. Patiently waiting for love can weigh so heavy on the heart. Getting your hopes up repeatedly can be daunting and can create nasty narratives in your mind. I don’t suggest you allow yourself to get as bitter as I did. That’s what I’m trying to prevent. I’m trying to catch you before you reach emotional fatigue. I’m also here to let you know that there is nothing wrong with wanting to take a break. It’s not that you’re giving up, rather than giving your heart some much-needed maintenance. So, before you decide to take another trip towards love, consider if you may need some time to rest before the next journey. Safe travels😊

The Truth About Moving On

Image result for black couple break up

courtesy of singleblackmale.org

 

Trying to move on from someone is one of the hardest things to do. Even when you know it is best, it doesn’t make the task any easier. Unfortunately, society has given us all these unrealistic expectations and depictions about what that looks like. While it may look and feel different for everyone, here are some things to consider when trying to move on.

You’ll Think About and Miss Them

You must accept it, you’ll think about this person. We too often feel guilty or stupid when they fall on our mind. The truth is, this person was someone you once thought of all the time. When things would happen, you would call them. You shared moments together and ultimately shared life together. That doesn’t disappear overnight. Depending on how long you were connected, it may be harder and take longer to release them. It’s ok for you to miss them even if they hurt you. The truth is you had good times together and those don’t get erased because you didn’t work out. Things will come up that remind you of them. Watching your favorite sports team or passing by that restaurant you always went to or watching the movie you first saw together. You’ll walk pass someone wearing her perfume, or you’ll see someone wearing a similar shirt you bought him. You’re going to think of them!!! The key is not giving in every time you miss them. You don’t have to call or text them every time they cross your mind. You must find balance between accepting you miss them but not using a reason to stay connected. You must have boundaries.

Moving on May Be Temporary

Let me make this clear. This is not an excuse to hold on to an unhealthy expectation of getting back into a toxic relationship. This is for people whose circumstances truly warrant a possibility of a future together. Maybe the timing was off, or one of you weren’t ready for a relationship or maybe the terms of which you got together caused issues. Either way, sometimes moving on doesn’t mean letting them go forever. Sometimes people struggle with letting go because they think it means they will never talk to or see that person ever again. You two may get your circumstances together and potentially make it work one day. You may even be great friends down the line. The key is moving on in the moment. Who knows what the future may bring. As of right now though, moving on is what you know is best, so you focus on that.

It Can Hurt Even If You Weren’t Together

When we think of moving on we normally think of breakups from committed relationships. People sometimes feel embarrassed or unworthy to feel pain when disconnecting from a non-committed relationship. Yes, during your healing process you should evaluate why you allowed yourself to become that entangled emotionally to someone who you weren’t committed to, but it hurts nonetheless. When you spend time with someone, create memories and share intimate moments with them, it hurts to disconnect, whether you were together or not. Truth is sometimes it hurts worse because you probably convinced yourself you would get the commitment and you didn’t.

Moving on Takes Time

I know this seems obvious to some, but with the microwave generation mentality, this concept seems foreign to most. We too often try to rush the process of moving on from someone. We tell people, “you still thinking about her? Just find someone else,” or “he’s not thinking about you so why should you still be moping around.” You cannot rush getting over someone. Yes, there are healthy and unhealthy timelines, but not necessarily right or wrong. Plus, you need to make sure you have truly moved on before dragging someone else into your web of hurt. If you know you are not fully over that person, there is no need to be entertaining or pursuing other people. Fully close the door before opening another.

Being Busy Won’t Make the Pain Go Away

I know there are all these creative suggestions in magazines and blogs on how to move on. They tell you to pick up a hobby or focus on your goals and ambitions. The truth is, no matter how much jogging, writing, working, or volunteering you do, it will not trump the biggest healer which is time. We must be careful not to confuse being busy with healing and moving on. No matter how busy you get, there will come a time in which you have to sit down with yourself. In that moment everything your busy schedule kept you from thinking about will surface. Accept the fact moving on will not happen overnight. Plus, doing things you love should not be about forgetting them, it should be about remembering you.

No, I don’t have any special tips or great ideas on how to get over someone. I just want you to know that some of what you are feeling is expected. It’s easy to look around and feel like you’re doing or feeling something wrong. Truth is many people feel how you do but no one wants to admit it. Plus, healing is different for us all. Your healing and moving on doesn’t have to look like the next person. It may not be easy, and you may want a magic answer to make it all better. Just take your time, reflect, and focus on you. It’s not a fancy answer but the results indeed are magical.

The Broken Woman

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Courtesy of campustyle.com.ng

 

First off let me apologize for my absence. I promise to try to never go this long without posting again!!! My last post was on the Broken Man. Read it here. At the time I wrote it I didn’t think I would write a female version of the post. I felt it would be too obvious. I then realized regardless of how obvious it is that there are broken women, the reason behind the brokenness runs deeper than the surface level thoughts people may attribute it to. Obvious or not, it still needs to be addressed. So, here it is.

Just like with the broken man, society creates the broken woman. If you haven’t figured it out already, societal pressures can break people. See, society has been putting into the heads of women since they were young girls that their value is placed in their desirability of a mate. We teach women that single means defected. Therefore, women find themselves going above and beyond to obtain the holy grail which is companionship and love. This becomes detrimental because they go to any lengths to obtain it. So much so, they spend years of their lives in unhealthy situations because they would rather be broken in a bad relationship then be whole or even broken alone.

Unlike the broken man, the broken woman does not hop from relationship to relationship to run from herself, but instead to try to find herself. She thinks her identity is formed in her connection to a significant other. Unfortunately, she doesn’t realize that she loses more of herself each time she places HER identity into another human being.

While women are allowed to feel and heal from past hurts, they are only allowed to do so within the parameters society gives them.  If they take too long to heal they are pathetic. If they heal too fast they are thirsty and a serial monogamist. Even in this jaded healing, she is never really allowed to admit just how hurt she was. She also is expected to heal over and over again without ever becoming impacted or jaded by what she’s been through. Because remember, she needs to keep her eyes on the prize and get that perfect relationship that doesn’t exist. The relationship she is starting to lose faith in because she has been hurt so much.

Ladies, let me reassure you that your worth is not attached or impacted by your relationship status. Not having a significant other does not make you some broken toy that no one wants to play with. What breaks you is your constant pursuit of love despite of not healing from the unsuccessful attempts previously. As for the ladies who are on the other end of the spectrum, it’s ok to love again. Not every man is out to hurt you. Not every romance ends in heart break. You don’t have to keep a guard up forever.

We must address this because so many women are allowing their brokenness to keep them not only from healing, but from getting the love and companionship they actually deserve and desire. How long are you going to let what happened in the past keep dictating your present? How long are you going to hide behind your brokenness? You end up pushing away the very thing you want. You want to be the princess rescued by prince charming, instead you’ve become the fire breathing dragon that guards the castle. I’m not trying to blame you for what happened to you or be insensitive to your past hurt. I do though as your sister have the right to push you to take control of your healing and stop letting your hurt control you.

Fellas, I must be honest with you. You have to be patient with this woman. I beg of you, do not try to guilt a woman because she has been hurt before. Just be understanding and allow her the time and space she needs to feel comfortable enough to be vulnerable again. I’m not saying she gets to take her time and abuse your patience, but she does indeed need time. As for the woman who seems desperate to make something happen between you and her, I beg you, please don’t take advantage of her. She unfortunately has let societal pressures get the best of her. Don’t write her off as crazy. Just exhibit patience to her through your interactions with her. Lastly, I ask gentlemen, please don’t hurt this woman. I know sometimes it happens even when you aren’t trying, but just be intentional with her heart. She’s been through a lot and you hurting her is just going to make it harder for the man who actually wants to do right by her. If you won’t do it for her, do it for your fellow brethren who will encounter her. Also, be sure to hold each other as men accountable for the handling of women’s hearts.

The truth is, if you live long enough, at some point you will experience brokenness. The key is to identify it and put in the work to put yourself back together again. Ladies stop letting society force you into brokenness. Stop letting the pressure of thinking you need a significant other cloud your judgement. On the other side, do not let your past hurt keep you from enjoying and receiving the love you want. At some point you must take authority over your healing. No more brokenness. The time to heal, is now…

The Broken Man

Image result for hurt black man

Courtesy of malecodependence.com

I’ve been wanting to talk about this topic for some time now. This subject became dear to me roughly about a year ago. During that time I was becoming more and more aware of the brokenness of numerous men I knew. It was at this time that I realized how broken some men really are.

I know we don’t talk about it much in society but let me just say this plainly, men hurt too. We don’t like to attribute feelings to the male species, but we must stop denying their human nature. We think if we turn our heads to male emotion it will somehow disappear. What happens though when that pent up emotion begins to manifest into maladaptive behaviors? When men start hurting every woman who crosses their path even when they don’t want to. When commitment becomes a paralyzing phobia. When bed hopping becomes a remedy to pain. Then we are ready to call men dogs. We are ready to write books, articles and dissertations about how men “aint sh*t” and how they need to get it together. We give them terms like “f^*# boys” and defame their characters. But what we fail to realize is those behaviors stem from emotions we stifled. We create monsters and then get frustrated for them acting as such.

What we fail to do is allow men to hurt and furthermore to heal. We tell men that when their heart is broken they should just get over it. We assume they don’t feel it. We encourage them to go hang out with the boys and find a pair of legs to get between. Through ignoring their pain we create men with high body counts and low emotional tolerance. We teach them that a good sexual performance can cover their emotional scars. So with every stroke they bury themselves further under their pain.

I’m here to encourage my kings and say IT’S OK TO HURT!!! Do NOT let people make you think you are less of a man because you need time to heal. You are not weak for feeling pain. You can admit you are sad about the break up. You can be honest and say she hurt you. You can be honest and say you are disappointed things didn’t work out. You can admit you wish your mother was more loving. You can say you wish your dad spent more time with you. IT’S OK!!!

Ladies let me come down your street for a moment. We cannot keep assuming men are fine. We cannot keep perpetuating the exact behavior that ends up hurting us too. If that man says he’s not ready for a relationship, leave him alone. Don’t make him feel bad for being honest about what he knows he can’t handle right now. Let me take it a step further. Stop playing games with men because you think they don’t care. When you play with a man you not only continue to scar him, but you make it harder for every woman who will come after you. Because he won’t be allowed to deal with his feelings, he will continue to bleed all over every woman because his wounds never get time to heal. I can hear some of y’all now “don’t make excuses for them.” Trust me I’m not. I’m all for people taking responsibility. Believe me, I’m coming for them too. “Well I’m a good woman and the ‘hurt men’ don’t appreciate it.” We have to stop acting like men aren’t out here going through it with women too. NEWSFLASH: “NO GOOD” WOMEN EXIST!!! Just like women start closing themselves off to men because they fear they’ll be hurt again, is the same way men start to close themselves off. Now just imagine not being allowed to feel or heal. Wouldn’t you be afraid to open up too? Knowing if you get hurt you won’t be granted the permission to express it and deal with it without having to defend your masculinity and manhood.

Now fella’s let me be all the way clear, I am by no means giving you all a free pass to be screwing people over. I just want to speak on something y’all aren’t readily allowed to express. I must say though, at some point, you all must be willing to step up and get the healing you need. You all have to stop allowing society to make you out to be these heartless creatures. You have to open your mouths and tell people that you hurt too. Even that homeboy who will try to make you seem less of a man, even though he has the same struggles but won’t admit it. How long will you keep hopping from person to person before you accept that the healing you long for comes only through acceptance of your own feelings? You deserve to get healing but it comes only by taking responsibility to do so. Stop letting society bully you into putting your masculinity into lack of commitment and sexual performance. Stop letting society demean your humanity by reducing your masculinity every time you admit your feelings got hurt. You are human and you need emotional healing just like women. You may heal differently but you need to heal nonetheless. You can only stay broken for so long before you fall completely apart. Make sure to prioritize your healing.

All I want is for men to be allowed to be human. I’m tired of men being painted out and expected to be emotional robots. It causes deep wounds that wind up hurting everyone that comes in their paths. We must start to normalize having feelings. Having feelings or hurt feelings is not the issue, lack of emotional regulation is. So, fellas just know I understand. I know it’s not easy dealing with feelings that you aren’t supposed to acknowledge you have. But no more brokenness. No more hiding behind physicality. It’s ok to heal and the time to do so, is now.