Posted by: jedwardswright | January 31, 2011

Trust Issues

Do you have a lot of trouble letting anyone get close?

Depressed people are often like those plants that curl up if they are touched. Because of our past traumas, we are very sensitive to anything that might be interpreted as abandonment or betrayal. It is as if we had been badly burned emotionally. Almost any interaction is liable to end up hurting us.

The thing is that a burn victim has to endure their bandages being changed, and plastic surgery, and any number of painful procedures to recover. In order to make progress, we may have to face some pain as well.

In human relationships, even the healthiest ones, there are bound to be some misunderstandings, miscommunication and unmet expectations. People will not always do or say exactly the right thing, and sometimes, they may just plain blow it. However, if most of the time they are considerate and helpful, than the occasional bump or bruise is worth it.

The problem is that we do not have confidence that we can survive these smaller hurts, so we may be tempted to leave at any sign of conflict or rejection, big or small. Every time we run, we confirm in our minds the message that everyone is going to be mean to us and we can’t possibly face disappointment again.

It is not our fault that life has burned us so badly, or that we are easily hurt. Life and biology are responsible. Still, at some point, in order to move forward with our lives and our inner healing we are going to have to make a decision — a mental choice, not a feeling — to trust someone, and then choose to believe that that person means to help us, not hurt us.

There is a small child in each of us who is hurt and frightened. More than anything else, that child wants to run and hide and be safe from anyone who could potentially injure her again. We think solation is the cost of security, and we are willing to pay any price. 

Eventually, inevitably, our loneliness drives us out from our cozy cocoons into the world again. As God said of Adam, “It is not good that man [or woman!] should be alone.” Our need for relationship is built into our DNA. Our survival depends on community.

Where should we begin the risk of being vulnerable?  First, try to trust someone who is in the business of healing. Doctors and therapists help to bind up our wounds and treat the underlying causes. Even professional healers can hurt us sometimes, but usually it is in order to help us get better. With their help, we can gain strength and courage to face the world again, a bit at a time.

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Responses

  1. This is an interesting post in relation to me and Sir. I have never really been able to open up in a romantic relationship. I’ve always kept all my walls up…and therefore, I never really had anything important with anyone. In the first couple of months with Sir I was constantly terrified of him leaving me…(my worst fear was that he’d leave without saying anything…just disappear). After awhile…I started to see that he wasn’t going anywhere…and everytime he said he’d call or that he’d see me…he DID.

    He was going through plenty of his own stuff (our second month together…he went to rehab for 5 weeks)…and was very vulnerable with me.

    These things combined…allowed me to start to drop my defenses. Little by little I started to trust him…and I started to open up to him. He got through to my heart.

    And then…BAM…it all went to hell. Literally, just a few weeks after I let the last of my walls down.

    That is the biggest reason I’ve had such a hard time letting this all go. I can’t believe after an ENTIRE lifetime of keeping myself “safe” from this kind of thing…the first man I fall in love with, does the very thing I’ve feared forever. I can’t help but want to hold on until he comes back…so I can be justified in letting myself be vulnerable to him.

    If I fail…If he fails…If this all fails…then I’m afraid I will never, never, ever be willing to love again.

    That is the BIGGEST reason I’ve held on so tightly.

  2. It is strange when someone in our lives reinforces our original beliefs about relationships. For example, often a person who believes that others will reject him/her will instinctively, unknowingly, choose to be with someone who will reject, or keep testing the relationship, pushing that someone until he/she finally is driven away.
    In your case, you let someone into your life because you thought that he was trustworthy, but when he proves not to be, you hang on that much more tightly.

    Could you be reenacting something from your childhood, trying to gain the love and attention of a parent (or other important figure) who kept letting you down? Sometimes we will keep playing a scenario over and over again hoping that this time we can fix it. We are attracted to a partner because he seems familiar, but part of the reason it seems comfortable at first is that he IS familiar.
    Until our issues from our original family are sorted out and healed, we have a tendancy to do this.

    You knew from the start that Sir had some serious issues, yet if anything that made him more attractive to you. Maybe it made him seem vulnerable, and so less likely to hurt you, or maybe you felt needed. (Vulnerablity and neediness are not the same thing.) It seems to me that right from the beginning you were taking the role of a fixer. Is that possible? It is a common thing to do.

    Just some more things to consider.
    Jodi

  3. Actually, the initial reason I was attracted to dating him was because I thought I was “safe” from falling for him. I thought…”He’s got this laundry list of issues I can’t/won’t deal with, so I can hang out with him for fun and attention, but I won’t worry about falling for him”…

    LOLOLOLOL! Stupid girl.

    • Sorry for not replying sooner, but I was out of the country without a computer.

      Apparently you can see in retrospect the fatal flaw in your initial logic! LOL
      Just the fact that you are that concerned about NOT falling in love sends up red flags for me. That it would lead you to deliberately choose to date someone because he was an inappropriate candidate as a partner is a bit scary. This is definitely something that you need to think through and sort out.


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