Intimacy, Relationships and Trauma

Relationships are one of our deepest issues tapping into the deep-rooted and innermost conditioning of our inner self.   

Relationships are all about intimacy and that can be daunting and risky especially for someone who has never had a model of how to build a healthy, emotional relationship.  It can feel out of reach. 


Forming Relationships

Creating relationships, after experiencing difficult situations in life or hurtful experiences with those who raised us, is not easy and that feeling can escalate if what we experienced taught us to view the world as threatening or ourselves as inferior. 


Trauma occurs when an experience is threatening or overwhelming, and we are unable to integrate it.  If you experienced a difficult childhood:  emotional, sexual and physical abuse or you were neglected or abandoned as a child, this can make trusting another feel frightening and foreign. 

When someone thinks you matter and treats you that way you start to believe that you matter as well. 

How We Learn

Ever wonder why you behave in a particular way in your relationships?  And then somehow continue repeating the same mistakes? 

Most likely it’s related to your attachment dynamic which directly relates back to childhood.  It is something most of us don’t even think about but did you know that your ‘attachment’ can determine how healthy your relationships are?

How We Bond

Do you feel insecure, ignored or overlooked in your relationships?  The ability to form and sustain relationships is essential to our well being.  Just like breathing it’s a fundamental need for emotional connection, physical contact and support. 

Attachment research shows that infants have an inherent, genetically determined system that drives them to attach to their primary caregivers whether or not the caregivers themselves are responsive.

Our history of attachment with those who raised us will be played out and, in all probability, will continue to repeat as we grow and become adults.   Identifying your attachment style helps you recognize patterns and change your behaviour and the dynamics of your relationships.

Generation to Generation

Insecure attachment can be passed from one generation to the next as caregivers who struggle with their own unresolved trauma may have difficulty allowing a range of emotions in their own child.  During periods of stress and tension they might react with anger, fear or other destructive emotions with no awareness of how they are acting.

Research has shown that the better able someone is to resolve trauma and conflict from their early life, the better able they will be to develop a secure attachment with their child.

Attachment Dynamics

There are 4 attachment styles running the gamut from where a child is confident if their caregiver disappears that they will return.  To the opposite end where there is total withdrawal from a caregiver and as the individual grows, they find it difficult to make relationships as they have developed no trust.

Our history can be re-enacted as we’re creating relationships. 

Maybe you’re facing challenging patterns showing up in relationships, low self-esteem, emptiness or lack of trust.  Perhaps life is good but you sense something is missing.  You feel like you can never relax or just be yourself.  Is it time to discover more about yourself and experience more joy, vitality or connection? 

SECURE Attachment

Has a good trust in self and others.  Satisfying relationships with both men and women.  Can be present in life and relationships in an embodied way.  Strong self esteem and respectful of others.

Someone who had primary caretakers who provided a secure base from which they could venture out and explore independently but always return to a safe place.

AVOIDANT Attachment

Could be a loner.  Minimizes importance of relationships.  Difficulty in expressing emotional needs.  Can excel intellectually.  Many friends yet ­­it tends to be superficial.  As relationships move to a deeper level where vulnerability surfaces it may be very triggering for the individual.

Someone who was left alone too much.  Caregiver distant or absent.  Caregiver has never been safe meeting emotional needs.  Eventually the child may deny their need, even though it’s there, and avoid contact and remain isolated.


In relationship may be insecure.  They may be anxious, a little needy, worried about partner going out with friends or having separate interests.  In extreme situation they could be controlling, possessive and jealous. 

This would be someone whose caregivers weren’t always there when needed and didn’t get as much attention as they needed.


Some avoid relationships as they don’t always understand how to trust.  Or make relationships but they never last long and that supports a belief that it would never work out.  They keep proving their distorted belief of not being worthy.  Sense of safety not there and can need to fight or flee.

Parents had addictions or had to look after parents as well as themselves from a very young age.  Could have been in the hospital or experienced some kind of separation where they decided that if you’re not going to be here for me, I don’t need you.  Their experience may be blocked from their consciousness

Who we are Now

We are all born hardwired for secure attachment, although only about half the population will have had a secure attachment experience   


It is important to know no matter where we fall on the spectrum that secure attachment is our innate default and we can return to that as we heal and make new connections in the world. 

For those of us who are stuck, paralyzed, avoiding or not knowing how to make healthy connections, we can start by understanding ourselves a little bit more.  Even appreciating some of our defenses that have kept us safe in the world.

How empowering to be able to identify your attachment profile.  To understand the way you see the world or relationships is not something you adopted but was embedded from the start as a necessary protection to get you through.  Embrace those quirks and insecurities that sometimes get triggered. Instead of fighting, struggling or trying to avoid, take a moment and just acknowledge. 


Conscious Acknowledgement Experiment 
“I acknowledge sometimes when I come face to face with my own vulnerability I might want to run and hide but perhaps if I acknowledge that it’s not easy when I feel vulnerable it will create some space and maybe I will run and maybe I won’t.  What if you can elect to synchronize with the fear and that creates a shift?   If you don’t it can make it impenetrable”.


Inspiring Change through Empowerment… bringing balance to the body, mind and spirit

Karen Johnson, SEP Cht  |  416.732.2661

Metaphysical and Shamanic Healing | Somatic Trauma + PTSD Healing
Energy Medicine | Intuitive Counselling Toronto



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