When happiness in so unfamiliar in relationships

You eventually meet someone who makes you feel happy, the rapport is easy, drama free... hooray! It's relaxed and natural, and you have the feeling that you ”fit” together - how wonderful! You are initially bathed in the glow of “at last” but this gorgeous feeling doesn’t last. Gradually, the unfamiliar glow and hope turn into something that is far less than either glowing or flowing, and reads more like, 'Is this going to last?' or maybe 'When they really get to know me, will they leave me?'


These seem like little passing clouds of thought you are having privately. However, little by little, this creeping uneasiness starts flooding your thoughts and takes over. Not because anything went wrong but because it didn’t, and then the doubts start to become visceral and, before you know it, you feel yourself feeling anxious and triggered, and this is what is familiar.

It’s surely not possible to consider that happiness is so unfamiliar to you. You just don’t trust it. But feeling anxious around happiness? It doesn’t seem to make sense and contradicts your longed-for outcome.

Herein, might be an explanation of the why. When things go amazingly well, you can only enjoy it in a fleeting kind of way, but the happiness makes you feel uneasy. A sense of doom descends and a fear of abandonment takes over, and your reactions are so extreme. You’ve been triggered by the very thing you are longing for.

What a paradox, coupled with deep doubts about your own worthiness. Not a great feeling or a great place to find yourself emotionally when potentially Mr or Mrs Right rocks up.

If he or she really knew you then why would they want you? These are your ghastly inner thoughts, as within this invisible and lonely silent provocation, the thought of actually being happy only reminds you of how you are sure that you probably won’t be. You think you will lose it because you believe you are someone so flawed and unloveable and sure to sabotage this wonderful opportunity.

Why do I feel like this?

In early years or within an important long relationship, happiness might have been experienced as something fleeting.

Or if your parent/s were narcissistic, your mood had to match theirs. You could only be happy if they were happy. It, therefore, might feel safer to stay on the fence about happiness or a place of helplessness. Feeling too good feels dangerous. It feels safer to be prepared for another disappointment because we have known experience of how to navigate through fear and loss and disappointment. It’s familiar.

What we have learned are very unhealthy ways to deal with and interpret our feelings because this was learnt from wounded people who couldn’t deal with their feelings - and yours (unless they fit in) were basically an inconvenience.

This is the legacy of being 'cared for' by a person who wasn’t up to the job or didn’t know any better, or was suffering themselves.

How to heal

The most important first step to healing and real change is consciousness. This is how you show up for yourself by the acknowledgement of what comes up and robs you of your peace. With this awareness, you can stand back and see how the robbery behaves and the way you behave around it.

Name it, call it out, and give it language. This is achieved through therapy, and is invaluable.

When we are afraid, we can’t see clearly. Examining the fear is where we begin to unpick this once more with recognition and language.

These are old wounds and what has been termed as 'emotional flashbacks' by Pete Walker who has written acclaimed books about complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD). They trigger the fight/flight response in our sympathetic brain where our past trauma lives. Without language or recognised vocabulary, like those who 'know' how to behave and/or can identify their own feelings, recognise you can’t because in your early developmental stages, you had no mirroring.

You can’t bake a cake without ingredients! So you panic because you genuinely don’t know how to behave in relationships.

You are neither defective nor foolish. You simply do not have the ingredients to “bake this cake”. Relationships can be complex for those of us who have CPTSD.

And the good news is, that you can learn them. Emotional coaching gives this to you.

For those who might be unfamiliar with this term and may be more familiar with the term post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), you understandably might be wondering, 'What do relationships and PTSD have to do with each other?' Let alone happiness.

I certainly would have found that confusing many years ago, before l discovered what CPTSD was, and thereafter made understanding it and learning about it the core of all my work and healing people who suffer from it.

PTSD is a condition associated with trauma and its after-effects from an event. CPTSD is a condition associated with trauma and its effects through relationships experienced from childhood trauma.

Here are some of the symptoms of CPTSD:

  • shame
  • a vicious inner critic
  • social anxiety 
  • overwhelming feeling states
  • terror of abandonment 
  • experiencing contempt as a child 
  • experiencing constant disapproval as a child 
  • being alienated from your feelings 
  • which is gaslighting 
  • self-abandonment 
  • abject feelings of inner loneliness 
  • fragile self-esteem
  • developmental arrest
  • constant relationship difficulties
  • attachment disorder
  • hair-triggered flight/flight response
  • oversensitivity and overwhelm due to stressful situations 

Many of us have this when navigating our own emotions and, although the peace of true love and real belonging are what is longed for and what heals, for the CPTSD sufferer, this belonging seems to elude them within the foundations of their natural response.

In summary, what is happiness? Is it a psychological state of being? Or life going well for the person leading it?

What l have found is that it is very connected to values and what is valuable to us as individuals. And that is so variable as indeed it should be, allowing us all our individuality, and being in touch with the truth of our essential self.

It is not our entitlement, but more so our right to be and to shine freely without the hindrance of fear that comes from our past to mark our future. I believe that if we re-address and examine our whys and wherefores, we can allow in the change that sets us free and allows us to be happy without fear.

As Rumi wisely said - “The wound is the place where the light enters you.”

And so it is. So claim your right to be and feel happy when it comes your way. It can become yours once more. This lightness of heart with the absence of fear.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London, N8
Written by Gail Berry, Emotional and Relationship Coach
London, N8

Written by Gail Berry Emotional Coach - both a therapist and an alternative medical practitioner who works with healing people’s core wounds and uses Bach Flower Remedies alongside talking and behavioural therapy to make real change and transformation possible.

07771 715072
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