Pecan Street Festival, Austin TX
Photo Credit: Doree Weller
It seems like everyone these days has trust issues, if Facebook is any indication. I see all kinds of posts going around about how people have had their trust broken, about how loved ones are stabbing them in the back, and I think, “Does everyone have trust issues?”
I guess everyone has someone in their lives who have hurt them. You can’t get through life without it. The issue is how it affects you. Do you let those who’ve hurt you color your relationships with everyone, or do you learn the lesson and move on from it?
I’ve had people break my trust, and at the time, it hurt. I thought I would never recover from it. Eventually, time and distance lessen pain, and I did move on from what happened. It didn’t resolve overnight, and when I was able to take a step back from the pain, I found lessons in what happened. I could have chosen to learn that people aren’t trustworthy, but I didn’t learn that. What I learned is that people are human, and sometimes hurt you. Sometimes it’s intentional, and when it is, it’s usually about something going on with them. Sometimes it’s unintentional. They’re hurt. Or depressed. Or in pain. Or scared. And they lash out. There are some genuinely rotten people out there, but that’s not most of the people I meet. Most of the people I meet just have their own stuff going on. But I digress.
So in my case, the person was all of the above: hurt, depressed, in pain, and scared. This person lashed out at me and hurt me. A lot. In order to protect myself, I had to distance myself from this person, which really hurt me because it was someone I was very close to. All of the above is not an excuse to hurt others, and I wasn’t going to stand in the way and be hurt over and over again. I completely cut myself off from this person for about 6 months. I ignored text messages, phone calls, Facebook messages, and emails. I took that time to heal myself, and in that time, I decided that I wanted to continue a relationship with this person. I went back to the relationship, knowing 100% who they were and choosing to accept it. Acceptance doesn’t make it okay when others hurt you, but acceptance does mean that you’ll be okay, no matter what happens.
To my surprise, when I refused to get angry, our relationship actually improved. The person got a little healthier and I was a lot healthier. I didn’t keep opening those old wounds.
My situation isn’t everyone’s situation. But I do think that forgiveness works in every situation. I forgave, and it healed me inside. Sometimes forgiveness has to be done at a distance. Sometimes when you forgive, you can’t resume the relationship. It’s important not to continue a relationship with someone who hurts you over and over. You can’t forgive an ongoing wound; it would be nearly impossible and completely exhausting.
Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. It’s really just a choice to let go of pain and bitterness. Many people say that trust issues are their way of protecting themselves from getting hurt again, but I disagree. Most people with “trust issues” don’t feel good about those issues. Their lack of trust in others doesn’t make them feel safer or more secure. Having trust issues means that the person must constantly be on the defensive, must worry about and analyze the intentions of others. That doesn’t sound like a solution to me; it sounds like a whole new set of problems.
Even though I’ve been hurt in the past (the above is just one example), I don’t assume people are going to hurt me. I assume that they’ll do the best they can with what they’ve got. Sometimes, the best they can do in that moment is awful. Sometimes they’re mean or unpredictable or just not present. But that’s not about me; that’s about them. And I could choose to judge them for it, or I can try to understand that whatever is going on in their heads is why they are that way. And I can understand that nothing I could do or say to them would be worse than them having to live inside their own heads, and I can be grateful that I don’t have to spend time there.
I never give anything I can’t afford to: money, time, love, energy. So when I give it away, if I don’t get paid back, I let it go. Because I didn’t give away something too expensive. That allows me, when someone breaks my trust, to let it go and know that at that moment, the person I gave to felt that they needed whatever it was more than I did. I can wish them well and walk away.