Are You Suffering from Post-Traumatic Love Disorder?

Jodie Rodenbaugh

You May be Suffering from Post-Traumatic Love Disorder

It’s no surprise that most of us are suffering somewhere on a spectrum between mild PTSD to severe PTSD, but did you know you could also be suffering from PTLD, Post Traumatic Love Disorder?

PTLD isn’t something you’ll find in the DSM, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for mental disorders.  It’s a term I made up after studying my family’s life and love experiences as well as now my clients over the past 5 years.

I had been studying PTLD since I was 8 years old by simply observing my family around love, relationships and connection. That was also the same year I decided to do love different than what I was being shown by my leaders.  This was also the year my parents got a divorce, and although they rightfully should have, I knew on an intuitive level that the truth was they never should have even gotten married in the first place.

My whole life from that point on was to prove my parents and grandparents wrong and to create an empowering partnership based on truth, love, and a common mission.  Twenty years later I was marrying a man that would help me prove all of that, that would help be break the cycle of broken relationships, sometimes toxic behaviors, and disconnection.

I thought I had beat the system.  I thought I had won and that I figured it all out because I had checked off the boxes…get good grades, find a purposeful career, marry a good man who worked hard and was responsible, have children, build a dream home…

From the outside, everything looked picture perfect.  We had it all by most standards, but most standards are average at best.  I’m not here for average.  I’ve always known I was here for excellence, for a richness of life beyond all measure, and to break old rules that don’t allow me to grow, but by my second child I began to notice that my history was sneaking up on me.

It was 2006, and my husband said, “I feel like we’re stagnant.  I want to connect with you and love you but you have walls I can’t seem to get around anymore.  If things don’t change and you don’t get help we may be heading for divorce.”

He said it – DIVORCE.  That word I had fought to prove wrong.  Why couldn’t I love the way I wanted to love?  Why over a period of six years was I growing away from my husband instead of toward?

I know there are two sides of every story, and every relationship takes two people…  many times both are at fault, but I can honestly say with 100% certainty it wasn’t him, it was me.  He graceful held me accountable for my lack of connection and held true to his commitment open-hearted vulnerability.  He told me what he would and wouldn’t tolerate, and that my lack of happiness was on me. And, he was right, but why?  I had everything I wanted and more!

PTLD was the culprit.  The behaviors and beliefs of my ancestors was past down to me genetically and I was operating on autopilot until he woke me up that day.  Scientists call this epigenetics, and the good news is we don’t have to stay victim to the disorder.  We have free will and can create whatever we want by our own design.

So, that’s what I did.  I studied book after book and retraced my lineage trying to figure out why love was so hard for my family and seemed so easy for others.  I welcomed my husband with open arms again and once again found our connection.

For two years, I worked diligently to create a partnership I desired and let go of any attachment to, “Love equals pain.”

And, then the unthinkable…the unpredictable…the turning point where life came to an end as I once knew it and nothing made sense anymore when my husband was accidentally injected with anesthesia prior to “routine” rotator cuff surgery and killed.

Why?  What did it all mean?  Why did my whole life lead me to this one point and now it seemed out of my control?

The answers came right away.  I was to use my story to help others recover from their own PTLD.  I knew it in an instant and in a world where nothing made sense everything suddenly made sense.

I felt gratitude that day as I looked for what was right in a mess that looked so wrong.  I saw a clear picture of the two paths I could take, I could look for what was wrong and hold tight to pain or I could look for what’s right and set my sight on the miracles.

I was widowed at 36 with two young children and one on the way.  It was the greatest gift I have ever been given, never wanted, and would never change if it meant not knowing what I know today.