It’s a new year and time to shove 2020 out the window, welcoming a fresh start. The following handful of posts are a series, written a lifetime ago, that track my journey from a painful breakup with a man I adored, to the shock of discovering the truth behind his mask, to glimpsing the depths of his depravity, and finally acknowledging my own error in blindly trusting him. This tale ended long ago, but only now am I ready to disclose it – and perhaps help others who find themselves in a similar situation. Thank you to those who shared evidence and convinced me to tell my story.
I learned a new term today, although I’d rather I hadn’t a need for it – trauma bonding. At its essence, trauma bonding is a form of Stockholm syndrome. It occurs as the result of ongoing cycles of love/reward and anger/withdrawal/punishment. This roller coaster of emotion, this give and take, creates a powerful brain cocktail that contributes to a person’s “addiction” to a toxic partner – the reason we stick around when any “sane” person would run for the hills. These chemicals include oxytocin (for bonding) endogenous opioids (creating pleasure and dependency), corticotrophin-releasing factor (creating feelings of withdrawal) and dopamine (creating feelings of craving and wanting). The intermittent reward and punishment of a relationship with a toxic partner, such as a covert narcissist, amplifies the doses of these brain chemicals until the victim is powerfully bonded to the emotional abuser though the push-pull of fear, affection, sex, excitement, and withdrawal. It’s a drug addiction. This traumatic bond is even stronger for people who have grown up in emotionally abusive households, because it feels to them like a normal part of any relationship (yup). Initially, a covert narcissist is inconsistent in their approach, with long stretches of love/reward, a Pavlovian technique, which slowly develops into an intense sturm und drang perhaps not matched by any of the victim’s previous relationships (yup!). The abused partner may even rationalize or defend the emotionally abusive actions, feeling a sense of loyalty to the abuser (yup again!), a result of the trauma bond. They may blame themselves for the toxic relationship or hide the emotional abuse from others, hoping the abusive behavior will abate and things will go back to the idyllic “normal” of the first few months. It doesn’t. Get out.
This recipe calls for preserved lemons. You can find them at well-stocked grocery stores or make your own.
Slow Cooker Moroccan Lamb Tagine
Slow cooking the lamb results in meltingly tender meat.
- 2 lbs. lamb shoulder, cut into 1” pieces
- 8 Medjool dates, pitted and cut in half
- ¼ cup preserved lemons, thinly sliced plus more for garnish
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 Tablespoon coriander
- 1 ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 2 cups cooked couscous
- ½ cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
- ½ cup packed cilantro leaves
- ¼ cup toasted sliced almonds
- In a slow cooker, combine lamb, dates, preserved lemons, garlic, coriander, smoked paprika, cinnamon, salt, pepper and ¼ cup water. Cook on high for 4 hours until lamb easily shreds with a fork. Add kalamata olives and heat through.
- Cook couscous according to package directions. Serve the lamb over the couscous, sprinkled with cilantro, toasted sliced almonds, and a few slivers of preserved lemons.