We all have, or have had, people in our lives we think we know. People that we trust, that we put our faith in. People we’ve invested time and emotion into, who make us feel safe and comforted and cared for. These people are our lifelines and connections in a vast world of disinterest.
I think when people say they have ‘trust issues’ they’re really speaking less about their trust in other’s and more about the ways in which they have placed their trust in others. When someone close to you manifests into something you never thought possible, it makes you question everyone and everything. You question the things you once believed with conviction, you question the nature of human interaction and affection. You question whether trust is really even possible in this life because you’ve proven you can tragically misplace it. Perhaps you are the one who can’t be trusted.
Everything seems so obvious in hindsight: the little signs, the bigger red flags that you ignored, whether they are real or perceived. In romantic relationships you realize that your heart is not a trustworthy companion and that it will give itself away without consulting reality or prudence first. You have lost trust in yourself just as completely as you have lost trust in that person or those people who have betrayed it.
The battle to let someone new in, to open ourselves to the possibility of other relationships and connections, has far less to do with who they are and more to do with who we have become. We are not the pillar of character judgement we once thought we were, and we begin to understand that you can never honestly and completely understand another person.
Oh, we all have those friends or relatives who appear completely predictable. Who we believe can never change, and it is always those people who surprise, and often hurt us the most. People who show us that human beings are capable of just about anything, whether it be good or bad.
And that is where the true pain comes from, where the lasting effects ripple out into the rest of our lives.
As we grow we have to come to terms with the vast complications that life can present us with; the gray areas we once thought were utterly black and white that leak into our connections with others. It can make us bitter. It can make us blinded. We use our confusion and our pain to lash out at others, to perpetuate what we believe they have hidden beneath the shiny veneer of the face they present to us. It makes us jump to conclusions about people’s intentions or motivations based on the actions of the people in our past. We hold people at a distance because we now understand that they are capable of great deceit, without understanding that the bridges we need to cross are contained within ourselves.
Some of the greatest pitfalls in this life, and how we interact with others, stem from our expectations. Expectations of what we either believe we deserve, or how we believe others should behave toward us. We perpetuate our understanding and personal perception of how love and affection is meant to be displayed, sometimes to the detriment of our relationships and personal fulfillment. An understanding of what we want in our lives is vastly different than our expectations of how people should fulfill these wants. A clear example of this would be in the very distinct and well researched ways in which different types of people express love; whether it be physically, verbally, with gifts or big romantic gestures, or small consistent examples of their attention and dedication.
These distinctions come into play with how we place our trust as we attempt to project what has been done to us in the past on each individual we encounter in the future. We make few allowances and offer even less understanding. Why should we? We’ve been hurt before and we refuse to be hurt again, when in reality we are creating a cycle, a self-fulfilling prophecy.
All this to say, that when someone has hurt you, has broken something that you thought was solid and invariable, it forces you to either blame the world, or to look internally. It forces you to accept that trust and love are always, always blind leaps of faith with the understanding that people will let us down, they will hurt us, and we will likely do the same. When someone has broken your trust, don’t focus on adjusting the measure of how your place your attachments ,necessarily, don’t assume that you now have the secret code to what types of people are just out to hurt you and which aren’t.
Focus instead on learning how to trust yourself again. On collecting the debris of who you are and forgiving yourself for placing your heart somewhere unsafe, accept that maybe there were no signs, that you had no way of knowing because maybe that person didn’t know either. Let go of the notion that there are perfect people in this world who will never hurt you or disappoint you. Accept that everything in life is a gamble and that the stakes may be high but the profit might be worth it.
Learn who you are, learn what you are capable of, and you’ll find that trusting yourself is far more valuable than placing unwavering trust in someone else.