My Dad had a tendency to trust everyone he met and ended up hurt or disappointed many times because of it. With my mom, on the other hand, trust had to be earned. When I worked with addicts in hospitals, I always stressed that they had to earn trust. All their friends and family had to go on was their past behavior, so we worked on following through with what they said they were going to do, by doing it.
In relationships, when one has been so badly hurt and the relationship has ended, it is very hard for the one who was hurt, to trust again. We all have psychological triggers that go off when certain words are spoken, words that trigger old emotions and bring back the pain. The problem is that you can’t have intimacy without vulnerability and it’s very hard to be vulnerable after you’ve been hurt. Vulnerability is opening your heart. If you have been hurt, and few of us have not, please consider the following thoughts:
I have come to realize that every time I have trusted someone and that trust was broken, I was not only angry with them, but I was angry with myself for allowing it to happen. Looking back there were a lot of signs that I chose to ignore. To hold on to this anger only harms us… physically, emotionally and spiritually. To forgive is not to forget, it’s letting go of the past and I believe forgiveness comes from the highest form of love. Once we forgive ourselves and the other person, it frees us to move on with our life and live in the now.
We must remind ourselves that we have grown from everything we’ve experienced and that this is a different time in our life, a different place and a different person. Is it fair to judge this person because of the pain someone else caused us?
If we hear a familiar phrase that we may have heard from the previous relationship, we should learn to ask, what do you mean by that? It’s amazing the difference in each interpretation. Assume nothing … ask questions!
When we learn to communicate better with each other and start sharing some of the pain we’ve been through, we can work though these problems and build a much stronger relationship. But, we must also respect the time it takes the other person to heal. Be patient, become a good listener and let them know that you will not repeat what is being told to you or ever throw it up to them later. The trust will build as the relationship progresses.
As I’ve stated before, relationships are special gifts. They need to be nurtured and nourished with love and attention. Be good to each other, there is a reason you are together and it can be beautiful.
Toni True-Wills, Ph.D.