Trauma and Addiction

Childhood Trauma and its link to addiction….

I have to say I find it shocking that in the last decade these two disorders are just being connected! The two have very tied links as most trauma survivors have a predilection to addiction to say the least. I am not a counselor, but as someone with a family tree full of addicts who can attest to the fact that most of their addictions began after a major trauma, I can say they are linked. But seeing as how my personal journey has involved childhood trauma I would like to focus there.

Early traumas affect the ways adults process and deal with stress. Abuse affects the same areas in the prefrontal cortex that provide the want for addicts to use. This part of the brain is greatly developed by your environment. The negative disruptions from continuous stress on a child, over time, can cause disruption in the development of the brain instead of growing properly. These misgrowths leave us vulnerable to a substance use disorder. It’s important to remember that children are limited in their ability to make contextual inferences that would likely allow them to process these experiences more effectively.

From personal experience, I can tell you, as a child I could not process or understand what was happening to me or why. I could not process it so I medicated myself with drugs and alcohol to just be ok with the things that had taken place. As of now, I am almost 40 and just beginning to understand after nearly 7 years of sobriety, how the 2 were intertwined. I should have sought help long ago for both issues. Not that it sincerely matters when you decide to make these changes, to reopen Pandora’s box and allow all these dark images, memories, and feelings to surge through you finally, it just matters that you do. And please don’t feel as if it’s too much. There are so many more of us out there who have done this, who are doing these things to rid themselves of the demons left behind.



Dear Daddy,


Dear Daddy,


     So many times I have wanted to revisit the time when life was juvenile and all the stress in life was what cereal was gonna be with Saturday morning cartoons. A time when Dad was home after service and Mom was at home with me every day. This was the brief moment that I stood in sheer light compared to the rest of my childhood. After their separation, things were twisted and Dad did what he could but I made it so hard for him. I was coached through court and constantly made to seem totally reckless so my words were unbelievable. It’s true I acted like a fool after the abuse began. I wish so many years ago I could have found the words to tell him what was happening, but if I ever see you again….


Dear Daddy,


     I know it’s been so long since we talked. 15 years. Dad, I have 2 boys now. Alex is just like you with his cars. RC, NASCAR, whatever moves! He has begged me to do RCs with him like you used to with me, gotta be honest, I didn’t pay enough attention to know what I’m doing. Those are the times I miss you most. Alex man has never met you a day and is just like you. Michael is amazingly brave even though he’s smaller than most which have given him a small ego. I got your amazing hair qualities in my older age. 

     You would be proud, I am an entrepreneur just like Grandpa. Dad, I can never change the decisions I made then. I am so sorry for what happened in court with them and I now wish it was so different. The decision to have my court representative, she should have never interviewed me only at the house. There was no way to tell her without them knowing. They listened to every word Dad. Back then they did a lot to me, they made me just like them as much as they could. I’m sorry I took Great Grandpa’s inheritance and ran. (And your liquor)

     Dad, I’m seven years sober. I stopped. I finally got married, and we just celebrated our 10-year anniversary and yes I know how you feel, I always have. But Dad he’s a good man and if you really knew him you would respect him. He’s raised my boys and given me safety and love that hasn’t hurt. He made me believe love could be forever. 

     Daddy, I have been raped more times than I can count. There are things that I will never be able to explain. Because I won’t go there again or plain and simply I can’t remember all the way. I have been beaten and humiliated. They treated the dog better than me. They hated me. Dad, they meant to hurt me. I couldn’t understand what was happening then. Something happened to Mom, she changed. 

      I couldn’t see it then, not as a child, I was too busy trying to make her love me again. I told, Dad, but they gave me back the next day. I even rented a camera and made her watch. She couldn’t tell me “she didn’t see that.”But nothing changed. I get there was a point where you had to let me go. That wasn’t your fault, they made it impossible. 

     Dad, I hope you’re happy now, I hope you have family and love. I hope you have found God. Daddy, he saved me. One day maybe we will meet again. Maybe you found a way to forgive me. I love you, Daddy I’m so sorry. Goodbye. 


This is the goodbye I never had……. I get it, this is a lot. But this is healing. Write your letters, and let there be evidence of how you feel even if you can’t do it directly. Process, cry, scream, pray, do whatever you must, without judgment, to let these feelings come. This too shall pass.

dear-dad dear-daddy.jpg

Nicole Banner

Trauma Bonds

Trauma Bonding is the connection someone builds with an abuser. The relationship is typically unpredictable. They will consistently betray and you will consistently forgive. You will give anything to try to satisfy that person’s particular needs, even to the point of forgetting about yourself just to have “good times” with that person. These relationships are always complex and tend to have a lot of false promises. You know what to expect and you defend the relationship due to the bond.

These relationships typically have some pretty clear signs/stages. These are not just romantic relationships. You can trauma bond with virtually anyone. The best way to truly analyze a particular relationship is by journaling. Write down how your relationship goes on a regular basis. This may help if you see consistent patterns or what particular stage you may be in.

To break these cycles here are some tips. First, stop blaming yourself and try to begin to let that person go. I understand this sounds impossible but I promise the more you try the easier it will become. Check-in with yourself daily. See where you and your emotions are and make sure you are ok first. Stop having expectations as much as possible. We will never be able to predict or justify another’s actions therefore stop trying. Do not wish ill on anyone else! I know tough one, but it will do no good for you. In fact, the bad karma you are wishing on them may just turn on you.

Lean into your spirituality. This is a big one that I do not think nearly enough people spend time talking about. You will be going through the healing process, and see miracles you never thought possible. Take those in. Trust in God and what he has shown you he is capable of don’t run from them out of fear. They will carry you into parts of life you never dreamed of. If it’s not God explore but personally, it’s God and I am here to say what he can do is far greater than you can fathom.

Practice gratitude daily! This is not for your abuser, this is for you. Be thankful for your breath and the fact you are awake! Living in gratitude helps switch our minds from the negative things we are dealing with to a more positive outlet. It will also curb some depression. It’s hard to be super sad while talking/thinking about all the good things in your life.




     “Just be careful they could walk all over you.” One quick simple phrase and poof, I 360 to an angry monster that hides beneath the surface and pretty facade. I flip out in defense then flee not to hear the response of my overreaction. I sit alone for 30 minutes or so. Then I see the trigger. Around 30 minutes later comes the apology and explanation. 

      It sucks because you have to be bare and explain what (in my case) my husband, had just witnessed. Then comes the explanation, there were so many times in my life when people walked all over me, touched me, and took advantage of me and I could not stop it. More than anything in life (to me) I will never be there again. 

      Clearly, my husband was not talking about this but my over-extending myself. Not that I didn’t know this but those words sent such a wave of strong anger through me that by the time I had realized it, it was too late.  Then he tries so hard and apologizes for his use of words. I get it but to me why should he need to? These are my triggers, my issues. 

     Then an overwhelming amount of guilt comes because once again my triggers have affected us. Why’s begin, why is it like this? Why can’t you stop it? You were doing so well. Then comes the what if’s, like, what if this never ends? What if I embarrass myself or us due to this? What if he gets tired of it? 

     Then he pulls me close and again a wave of emotion takes me over but this time it’s grief. I sob uncontrollably as I shake in his arms. I begin to slowly breathe in hopes of backing this down. He holds me tighter to secure me. And the panic attack stops slowly as the waves become slower and further apart. 

     In all of that, no words were exchanged. He gave me security and allowed me to process what was happening. I am blessed to have a superhero as a husband. The next day for the first time, I knew I was wrong I knew there were things that God and I need to discuss. But no guilt and no shame. Just correction. 

      This morning I kept thinking of all the people that have triggers and can not understand them or someone who doesn’t have the support I do. Please reach out, to anyone who makes you feel safe. And if there is no one then here I am. You are not alone. 


Nicole Banner