Trauma is a taker.
It takes your sense of calm, connection, and security. Your sense of well-being can feel very far away. The struggle to make sense of whatever comes next can challenge even the strongest relationships. After all, trauma is so hurtful because it manipulates or strangles the faith you had in someone, something, or the way life was supposed to be.
Even those you loved and trusted implicitly may now seem somehow risky or unpredictable to you.
So what now?
Now, you may find yourself looking for ways to preserve love and rebuild the trust you once had in your partner, loved ones, or people in general before trauma takes more of your life and darkens your future.
This no easy feat. You’ll likely need help. First on the list of “6 Ways To Preserve Love And Rebuild Trust When Trauma Changes Everything” is to seek professional help.
1. The First Way to Make a Change: A Therapeutic Relationship
This may be tough to do right now. You don’t trust well, but you need to trust someone to help you. Despite your reservations, it’s important to take this step.
Reorganizing your thinking about your trauma and clarifying your relationship with the world is vital. A compassionate, objective therapist trained in trauma therapy can help make the steps you take towards the people in your life much more productive and practical.
Your therapist can provide guidance and tools that give you back some of the power and perspective trauma has taken. With professional support, these next 5 ways to preserve love and rebuild trust will feel less isolating and more like a plan for inviting your loved ones back into your life.
2. Reaffirm your commitment to your relationship(s).
To preserve and rebuild anything, you must decide to see it through. At first, it might seem easier to withdraw from your partner, family members, or community. It may even seem better for them that you take your trauma and stay out of their way. However, you know that neither you nor they are happier that way.
Decide to deal with feelings of rejection or vulnerability in your relationships. To feel better and enjoy the connection you are wired for, commitment and reassurance on a basic level are key. You don’t have to have it all figured out… just decide to stick it out together.
3. Involve your partner and loved ones in your recovery.
Trauma survivors are often hesitant to share their pain. Perhaps you feel that you should be over it or you worry about being a burden. Stuffing or hiding your feelings can create anxiety and distance that exacerbates the isolation you may already be experiencing.
To save your relationships, find ways to improve communication, even if you must write a letter or share a page from your journal. Even better, bring your partner in on couples sessions with a counselor. Let your partner know what you’re thinking and feeling. Share the kind of support you need or hope for. Tell them if you just want them to listen or hold your hand. Love and trust will grow through shared perspective on the trauma.
4. Demonstrate a desire to learn about the effects of trauma (and share what you know)
The more you know about your trauma, the more self-compassionate and in control you’ll feel. Powerlessness will be diminished by increased awareness and less avoidance. Efforts to know more about your own situation will help ease irrational anxiety and allow you to see yourself as capable of recovery. This encourages loved one to believe that life will get easier. As you see yourselves less as victims of trauma, you feel more like a loving, informed unit, prepared to face life after trauma together.
5. Accept the pace of progress.
Sometimes the most damage to relationships comes by way of impatience and unrealistic expectations of ourselves and others. If trauma really has upended everything there is a lot to address mentally emotionally and physically.
Finding ways to show each other more grace and less judgment during tough moments can grow goodwill between you and encourage forward movement. Slow and steady is the pace of growing trust. It gives your relationships opportunity to develop realistically and intentionally.
Most of all, it’s important to remember that trauma doesn’t define you and it needn’t define your
relationships. Instead, focus your energy on reclaiming and strengthening connections with therapeutic guidance and proactive action. The goal is to come through your difficult past with trusted loved ones who will share your brighter, healthier future.
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