They’re deeply rooted and not necessarily my fault.
We love to criticize people because of their experiences. We act as though everybody should be made of iron and nothing should affect them. We should be super humans that come out of every experience we have totally unscathed. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen.
I’ve done a lot of work on myself over the last few years. I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on therapy co-pays. I’ve read a myriad of personal development books. I’ve meditated. I’ve made lists of things I want to work on and taken action to get items off that list. I still have issues. It’s because I’m human.
Our reality is that no matter how hard we work on ourselves there will always be situations that cause us to take one step forward and two steps back. There are some things that no matter how hard we try to shake them, they linger. For me, I’ve whittled this down to one problem: I have trust issues.
I’ve been lied to. I’ve had people disguise intentions in order to manipulate me. I’ve had people omit details in order to gain my trust and then break it. I had have more promises made to me and never kept than I care to count.
This is not a reflection of my character. I didn’t ask for these things to happen. For a long time, I’ve felt like my trust issues were a flaw. There’s a certain amount of shame that comes along with understanding that they exist and still not being able to move past them because it requires you to do something well outside your comfort zone: trust people.
Trust issues are valid and we come by them honestly. People who intentionally manipulate you will go to great lengths to hide their intentions so that you don’t catch on. To get from us what they want, they absolutely rely on their ability to earn our trust and then shatter it.
People who are willing to violate any sort of personal contract with you don’t care about trust issues. They don’t care if they create them or perpetuate them.
I was recruited for a job a few years ago. The man who hired me sold me a really pretty bill of goods. I vetted it as best I can. I talked to others he had hired. I made sure all the deals of the job offer were documented.
It turns out that he had snowed just about everyone over. That big bonus that would make up 10% of our income? Yes, it was an option. No, we were never going to get it. He knew this at the time. There was nothing I could have done that would have alerted me to the bait and switch.
These are the moments that make me question everything.
People with trust issues often have a hard time seeing beyond back and white. Either we don’t trust people at all or we give trust riddled with massive anxiety. This anxiety can often make us look like crazy people.
There are walls that work as defense mechanisms and being distrusting is one of them. It may sound bitter and jaded and perhaps there is truth to that. People who distrust tend to be guarded. We’ve been conditioned to be skeptics.
When we’re hesitant or skeptical, getting to a place of trust requires vulnerability. We fear that vulnerability will be used against us. It’s a lot easier to expect everyone has ill intentions than it is to be wide open.
Recently, I’ve met a nice guy and he really, truly seems like a solidly decent person. He has done nothing to make my hair bristle up. No trust issues have been triggered. Yet, that big “what if” hangs out there.
If anything were to progress with this nice guy and we start dating, there will have to be a serious conversation. It’s will require me disclosing my past hurt, my desire to not have my trust issues triggered and to ask for help so I don’t look like a certifiable crazy person. This is terrifying. So terrifying that the idea of just running away from the situation seems like a perfectly suitable option. It’s not.
I’m continuing to work on trust because I hate the idea of feeling like just another broken woman with issues because of things that happened to her that were beyond her control.
You have to remember that there’s a stigma attached to negative, jaded, guarded people, as well. We’re told no one wants us. We’re led to believe that unless we’re footloose and fancy free, we’re undesirable. That doesn’t help.
I’m learning to be cautiously optimistic. I keep my cards a little closer to my chest until trust is earned. I no longer give it freely. The balance is not always easy to find but it’s a sweet spot when you do.
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