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“If I leave now, our baby will never know the difference,” I thought to myself as I sat on our living room couch, two months pregnant with our first child, imagining if I could survive as a single mom.
My husband sat across from me, but we barely looked at each other. I asked him to stay home with me, but he needed a reason why. He desperately wanted to get out of the house and see his friends.
I told him there wasn’t a specific reason why. I just wanted him to stay, and isn’t that enough?
This triggered him.
See, when we started dating seven years ago, I was controlling and jealous. I got mad and sent angry texts whenever he went out without me. I used to ask him to come home, not even an hour after he left.
I knew that my behavior wasn’t healthy. I knew that I wanted to stop, but I didn’t know how. No matter how much I told myself to not send those angry texts, I somehow found my finger pushing the send button anyway.
I knew that my childhood trauma caused me to act this way. My husband is the most patient, gentle, and loving partner I had literally dreamed about since my preteen years, and he did not deserve this.
Yet, I couldn’t help but push him away.
I didn’t realize at the time that my trauma was deeply lodged in my nervous system, which triggered any faint reminder of my past to hijack my body’s responses.
This caused an intense battle between my mind and body.
I would hear the voice in my mind say, “Stop flippin’ out, girl! You finally have the healthy love you’ve been looking for,” but my body said to my partner, “Leave! I don’t want you anyway.”
The threat of him abandoning and hurting me was so intense that I flip-flopped between controlling him and making him want to leave before he could think to reject me first.
I succeeded. He broke up with me just about a year after we met.
Our inevitable breakup and my discovery that the old trauma needed to be released from my body led me to enroll in a dance/movement therapy program as a client.
In short, I experienced the most magical transformation healing the trauma from my body and rekindled the relationship with my partner.
I still wasn’t perfect, and I still had more work to do, but I was physically and emotionally liberated from my past trauma. I was suddenly in command of my behaviors instead of reacting without control.
I was so proud of myself for stopping my habit of threatening to break up and push him away. In fact, I had never felt more secure and worthy of love in any relationship before.
That’s why, in February 2020, when our baby was just the size of a raspberry, I freaked out about how I could possibly have thoughts about our relationship falling apart again.
I wondered if my parents would adopt me into their home if I left my husband. I was confident that they’d help take care of my son. I even pictured a scenario where I was walking on the street and something tragic happened—“Wait, stop!” I told myself.
None of this was even close to the reality of what was going on in that moment between my husband and me.
The situation in which he wanted to leave the house for a few hours triggered my old abandonment trauma and set off a fight-or-flight response, the survival mechanism in our nervous systems that make us impulsively attack or run away from a dangerous situation.
Yes, I thought about leaving at that moment, but because of the whole-body healing I did a few years ago, I didn’t blurt it out. I didn’t send angry texts about getting a divorce. Or tell him that I was going to live with my parents if he didn’t come home.
Because the truth is, I want to be with my husband forever. I’ve never been happier than I am today, writing this blog from my bed, watching him feed our son on the rocking chair across the room.
Healing my old trauma from my body didn’t eliminate my fight-or-flight response. I still need it just in case I ever come across a bear on a hike or have to act quickly to avoid a car accident.
Physically releasing my childhood trauma from my body gave me the gift to witness my nervous system’s reactions so that I can now decide how I want to respond.
Having thoughts or fears of our relationships falling apart does not mean it will happen, especially if we’re wearing trauma-tinted glasses. If we give ourselves a chance to heal from deep within our bodies, we can then have the neural intelligence to know that our fears don’t equal truth.
The most fascinating part of this all? I was able to experience this life-changing shift because I’m a human being with the neurophysiological capacity to rewire my nervous system.
The human nervous system does not put labels on our trauma. It does not have the ability to decide that we are too “broken” to be “fixed.” It can create new and healthier neural pathways, allowing each of us to be whole again after healing from the past.
Even if we fight with our partners and think about leaving sometimes, we can still have a constant experience of healthy, lasting love like never before.
Next time you wonder about leaving your partner—ask yourself, “Is this the old trauma taking over or is it an opportunity to deepen our love?”
Once you take off the trauma-tinted glasses, you may see clearly that you’re already in the most beautiful, healthy relationship you always dreamed of having.
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