I’ve learned that while those who speak about one’s miseries usually hurt, those who keep silence hurt more. – C.S. Lewis
It’s a necessary part of the human experience we use every day. We drive through green lights, trusting others will stop at their red. We eat at restaurants trusting the unseen hands that prepared our meal.
But what happens when trust is broken, in deeply personal ways?
That word suddenly grows heavy with weighted meaning and is tied to our identities.
Give people a second chance?
Proceed with caution?
Avoid any opportunities to trust?
Suffering is a common lot of humanity, and everyone who suffers learns something from it. Most of us only put our hand on a hot stove once.
Once my heart was broken, trusting people became my hot stove. I learned early on that people weren’t to be trusted with my heart. And being the quick learner I am, I took my heart off the proverbial hot stove.
In the 3rd grade, I had a teacher who showed inappropriate attention to two other girls and was never held accountable. That year, my awareness of and shame of my body grew, as did my mistrust in people.
Looking back, I see that as the years went by, the more standoffish I became, the more judgment I received. The more I feared being hurt, the more I attracted people into my life who were incapable of loving me as I was.
I became a cautious protector of my heart, reserving it for a carefully selected few people, never allowing wiggle room for humanness. My heart had been severely broken, and I believed the intact part needed military-style protection, or I risked immense suffering.
Self-preservation became key.
Living behind self-imposed walls got tiring because there’s no escaping the need for trust in other people and in life itself.
After exhausting every short-term fix I could think of, I was forced to move towards healing.
My Journey Toward Healing
First, I had to heal emotional wounds.
This was no small feat because my wounds were deep and infected. I wasn’t prepared for the overwhelming pain, and numerous times I wanted to give up. The healing process was like peeling an onion; I processed one layer simultaneously, and each one involved many tears.
Each layer had to be acknowledged, with its pain felt and moved through before the next layer appeared. I survived through meditation, hypnosis, and Rapid Resolution Therapy, prayer, and learning to recognize and listen to my intuition.
Next, I had to “really” get to know myself.
This meant facing my personal false beliefs and finding my true self. The beliefs came from digesting other people’s comments and the judgments I’d made about myself. The comments and bullying came from peers who didn’t understand my need for defense mechanisms, and my self-judgment came from not feeling accepted, as I was, defense mechanisms and all.
This took time. It felt like I was trying to convince myself to feel differently. I began noticing my thought process and paying attention to how I felt. My thoughts were overrun with negative self-talk and self-cruelty. I began to use affirmations, mantras, and prayer, but in the end, I feel that God stepped in to help change my perception of myself.
Then, I accepted that I couldn’t escape my feelings.
I believed bad feelings were to be wiped out. When I experienced one, I needed to find the cause and address it immediately, whatever that entailed. As I healed, I began to understand that logically my feelings needed to be felt and accepted if I was to move past them, but I got hung-up. I had expectations of how quickly the feeling should move on, and sometimes they lingered, which caused me to question whether I’d ever feel love and joy.
All of my resistance moved from not wanting to put expectations on the feeling’s departure date. When bad feelings come, I acknowledge and allow them by sitting in silence with them, feeling them in my body, visualizing them move through me, and letting go of all expectations.
Next, I had to discover what made me unique.
We can’t see what makes us special if we’re looking at ourselves through painful experiences and judgment. I had so many “AHA” moments in this step. I saw the correlation between my false and painful beliefs and my tendency to listen to other people. So I stopped, cold turkey, all together.
I’m aware that some advice or guidance may be genuine and beneficial, but my personal process included no longer taking anyone’s advice or opinion. I would hear what they had to say, but I was only listening to intuition. This cleared me to see the times I received unsolicited “guidance” in the past and allowed me to question it and find my truth.
I’ve discovered that many of the things I believed were weaknesses were just strengths undiscovered.
Questioning past judgment and listening to inner my guidance allowed me to recognize the long list of amazing unique strengths that are all mine.
Last, I had to accept that it’s about trusting myself, not others.
Each step was essential, but this one was the game-changer.
I knew my past damaged my ability to trust others and left me with a belief of not being enough, so I felt that I couldn’t handle or protect myself in the presence of judgment, rejection, or pain.
I was a child when I began to believe that I was fundamentally broken, but I’m an adult now and can protect myself if need be.
Part of reclaiming my ability to trust was the acceptance that suffering isn’t always avoidable. Still, I can make a note of repeat offenders and trust myself to defend and set boundaries when necessary.
I began trusting that I was brave enough, strong enough, and good enough to withstand pain while allowing others to be human and speaking up for my own emotional needs.
Fundamentally, trusting myself is about stepping out of the child who experienced trauma and stepping into the adult who can protect that child who’s an adult now.
It’s about accepting the child’s accumulated defense mechanisms—rightly gained—and now asking for them be handed over to the adult because SHE’S got this.
At that point, my focus could switch from “what if I’m hurt” to “if I’m hurt, I’m enough to handle it.”
Trusting others would no longer be that I wish I were better; it could be something I could access now by taking the steps and believing I’m enough.
Trusting my greatness, my uniqueness, and my intuition was enough to heal trust.