Narcissists and Trauma Bonds -- How A Trauma Bond Is Like a Drug Addiction

Narcissists and Trauma Bonds -- How A Trauma Bond Is Like a Drug Addiction

Narcissus and ‘Recording Videos’ Reading Narcissists and Trauma Bonds -- How A Trauma Bond Is Like a Drug Addiction 5 minutes Next Narcissists and Breadcrumbing

In the weeks following my narcissist's arrest for assaulting me (see: The Second Assault), I would wake up in the middle of the night, drenched in sweat, shaking, scared, uncertain, confused, traumatized but…most of all… missing him. I missed him so much that my whole body ached. I wanted him - bad. 

My narcissist would be the first thing on my mind in the morning, and the last thing I thought about before my eyes shut at night. I would dream about him, sometimes happy dreams and sometimes night terrors. I would think about him when I made dinner, went for a walk, and picked the kids up from school. I would remember the good times we had together – and somehow all of the bad – no, horrific – times seemed to slip my mind or be clouded by the good memories that moved through me like heroin in the veins of an addict. 

Even as I was recovering from a broken collarbone and concussion, watching my bank account dwindle due to increased financial pressures, and witnessing my scale read a pound or so lower each day because my anxiety was so bad that I could not eat, I wanted him back. He was killing me physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially – yet I wanted him. 

"Like a drug or alcohol addict, I craved what was bad for me." ~ Ekho 

It was around this time that I first started to refer to my trauma bond as an addiction. My mind knew that my narcissist was killing me slowly. He physically assaulted me, spiritually crushed me, emotionally tortured me, financially drained me, and publicly smeared me. (see: What are Flying Monkeys) Yet I wanted him back. I remember even reading an article on ‘how to get your narcissistic ex to fall back in love with you.’ There were warnings all over the pages telling the reader to ‘run from the narcissist/ don’t read this article.’ I am a smart girl – and yet there I was, crying my eyes out and reading articles on how to make my narcissist love me, knowing that if this was someone else, I would tell them ‘You don’t need this loser, walk away.’

The addiction was real.

I have always empathized with people addicted to harmful substances, even though I have never struggled with substance abuse myself. Heck, a third of my childhood friends are dead or almost dead due to the Opioid Crisis that swept through my region in the early 2000s. However, after being addicted to my narcissist, I have a whole new level of sympathy and compassion for people with addictive personalities. It did not matter that my head was profoundly aware that this man was harming me on every level possible. Like an addict, I craved him and wanted him, the same sensation that I would imagine a heroin addict feels while injecting themselves for the millionth time.

Here is an article I found useful. The author Lisa Johnson maintains that a “trauma bond is as powerful as heroin addiction” because the same part of the brain is stimulated.

I also asked my online community if they experienced a trauma bond that felt like an addiction.

This post netted 45 replies – one story after the next of victims and survivors sharing how they broke or were trying to break their ‘addictions’ to their narcissists. Some were ‘clean’ a day, five days, a week, six months, thirty years. What struck me is that, for most of them, their addiction was still a struggle even years out.

In the weeks and months that followed my narcissist’s arrest for physically assaulting me, a lot of people asked me if I thought my narcissist and I would ever get back together. My closest friends knew that he was horrible for me, and did everything short of a full-out intervention to convince me to file for divorce. It took almost 7 months from the day of my assault (and his arrest) for me to fill out the divorce paperwork. I held on to every little thread of hope possible, still praying that some miracle would happen and we might live the life I HOPED we could live. Since then, I have come to realize that this is really what I was addicted to – HOPE. I wasn’t addicted to him – I was addicted to the person I HOPED he could be and the life I HOPED we could live. 

It took me another six months to come to terms with the fact that the version of him that I created in my head and became addicted to never existed. It was all an illusion, a fantasy, a dream – no more real than a WoW character or the Tooth Fairy. The future I hoped that we could have built and shared was never a real possibility. It was a fantastical dream that I created but had no basis in reality. 

A year later, my trauma bond has been broken, thank God. My eyes have opened, and my addiction is over. Does my mind every once in a while wander to that fake person I created and maintained in my mind for almost six years– sure.

But I quickly see him for who he is – evil – and I never stay there long. And for that, I am grateful.


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