Sunday, March 4, 2012

Trust Is Earned, Not Freely Given

Trust and forgiveness are two of the hardest issues for survivors of childhood abuse whether it is sexual, physical or emotional abuse. I have written a number of articles about forgiveness and probably will write a few more in the future. Trust is what I want to talk about today.

Another blogger got me to thinking about the issue of trust. Darlene Ouimet of the blog Emerging From Broken recently posted an article - Is Trust a Necessary Key to Emotional Healing? I will share the link to this post at the end of my article for those who would like to read it.

Trust is not one of the very first issues that I dealt with in my healing journey.  I didn't even realize that trust was an issue that I needed to work on. At that point in my journey, I just didn't trust much at all. My husband and a few close friends had my trust and that was it.  Many survivors know what I mean when I say that I didn't trust.

Looking back at my childhood, I remember being in the first grade and learning that promises were not to be made because they were going to be broken. I am sure that my parents were the ones to teach me that one. When you live with lies, secrets and broken promises, you don't learn to trust, not even yourself.

Trust has two extremes. Neither one is healthy.
1. You don't trust anyone.
2. You trust everyone until they prove that you shouldn't trust them.

Even if you aren't an abuse survivor, trust needs to be earned rather than freely given. I have been blessed with many close friends over the years that I have made the decision to trust after they proved that they could be trusted. Most have not hurt me. A few have.

Two of those friends that come to mind were also my teachers. I won't share the details of the betrayals here. The important thing is what I learned from those teachers.
1. I learned to value who I am.
2. I learned that sometimes teachers are only with you for a short time.
3. I learned that sometimes we grow and our teachers don't.
4. I learned that sometimes trust of a person doesn't have to be forever.
5. I learned that even if you forgive that person, it doesn't mean that they automatically get your trust back if they come back into your life.
6. Sometimes people come back into your life just so that you can see that whatever business you had with them has been finished.

I learned that I have grown considerably since those teachers were in my life the first time. I don't need their guidance like I once did. I do love them for what they taught me.  I am just not the same person who took them at face value before. I have learned caution when it comes to trusting others. I don't trust as easily the second time and I don't trust completely. I learned my lessons and have moved on. I don't think that either of these teachers see the changes but I do. I am not angry with either of them and I don't feel hurt by their past actions so I guess you could say that I have forgiven them. I just don't need what they have to offer right now. The first time, I walked away in anger and hurt. This time, I walked away with peace and comfort in my own abilities and in making my own decisions. I listen to my inner teacher rather than needing an outer teacher. That was a big lesson for me.

Is Trust a Necessary Key to Emotional Healing? @


Colleen said...

A great article on trust. That has always been an issue for me,too, of course. And not one I recognized at first either.
Thanks for your comment on my blog.

Patricia Singleton said...

Colleen, thank you. I wasn't sure that my comment on your blog had gone through. Was having some difficulties with the internet the night that I left it. You are very welcome for the comment.

Alene said...


Thank you for another great post.

Speaking from my own experience, getting to the point where we trust ourselves, that we will be okay, even with untrustworthy people is a big step. I think I had to get to a point where I was strong, centered, and confident enough- not to lose myself and feel like I was not going to be in control. That took a lot of work for me, and I still struggle with that.

darlene ouimet said...

Hi Patricia!
Thank you for sharing this link on my blog and for mentioning the artilce that I wrote on it too!

Trust was not the first thing I learned or even wanted to learn when I began my journey either! I actually was relieved to give myself permission NOT to trust! (I had been told for so long that I had to trust "someone" in order to make progress. That just simply was not the truth. I found that my trust grew as I learned to trust myself not to let myself down. The more I trusted myself, the more I knew that I could stand up to people that made me feel unsafe. I began to trust myself that I could stand up for myself and decide who deserved my trust. (I know that sounds complicated! LOL)
Hugs, Darlene

Patricia Singleton said...

Alene, you are very welcome. Losing myself was a big fear of mine as well. It took so long for me to figure out who I was. I didn't want to go back to being invisible.

I also had to learn to let go of the controlling that I thought made me safe. It didn't. It made me more unhappy instead. Even today, but for shorter periods of time, I will find myself trying to control things and people when I am frighttened. Today, I know when I see myself doing things to control others then I need to look at what fear has triggered the controlling efforts.

Patricia Singleton said...

Darlene, you are very welcome. Trust is a complicated thing and I believe it has to start with learning to trust ourselves before we can trust others. The same is true for love. We have to love ourselves before we can truly love others.

My trust issues were more with women than with men, even though it was men who sexually abused me. The reason for that is that the women in my childhood were almost all harsely judgmental of those around them and I saw it. I just knew that if they knew about the incest, then they would judge me as responsible for it. I couldn't trust them not to judge me.

I was blessed that in 12-Step programs, I found women who taught me to take a chance with trust. They also taught me to trust myself first.

Thank you for writing your own blog article that got me to thinking about trust again. You often inspire me to rethink things from a new view. We all need to do that rethinking occasionally just to see the growth we have made.

Farfalla Dreams ~ Lisa Marie Farfalla said...

"I listen to my inner teacher, rather than needing an outer teacher." AMEN! Powerful words! Yes, I agree... trust needs to be earned!

Patricia Singleton said...

Farfalla Dreams, thank you. Trust that isn't earned has no real value.

Pam said...

Hi Pat, I don't give any human being my complete trust. That I give to God. There are lots of people who I trust in some areas but not in others. I may like a person who has a gossip problem but I don't trust them with anything personal. However, they may be someone I can trust when I need help with something less personal. I'm likely to trust them as a neighbor but not as a close confidant.--I had a very hard time with trust because I had such horrible moral values. Especially, when it came to sex. I know now that I was a victim of emotional incest in the way my parents "taught" me about sex. Also, in my house the only right and wrong was what pleased my dad or didn't please him and that often changed from day to day. If I loved my dad, I was to try to do whatever pleased him, even if it was deemed as wrong the day before. He told me he loved me all the time and I wanted to keep that love and I worked hard trying to keep it.When I was a teenager and older men told me they loved me and asked me to do things that were morally wrong, I complied because I'd been taught that "right" was what pleased a man who claimed to love me. I trusted them because mistrust wasn't really connected to being wronged. If they were mad at me, I had failed to comply and that was my wrong. If they broke my trust, I viewed that as my fault too. A mess huh? I had to learn good moral values before I could even begin to know when to trust and when not to.


Patricia Singleton said...

Pam, I hear what you are saying. In many ways you have described my home life as well. It is a miracle to me that any of us learned to trust at all after being abused by our parents and others in authority over us. Trusting isn't easy and maybe it shouldn't be.

Just Be Real said...

Perfect timing that I am looking at your blog on trust. Thank you for posting this. Blessings to you Pat.

Patricia Singleton said...

JBR, you are very welcome. I love how God works out the details so that we receive blessings of information just when we need it. (((Hugs))).

Anne H said...

Great information! I find myself reading your blog quite often! Keep up the good work.

Patricia Singleton said...

Anne, thank you. If you haven't already done so, you can subscribe by email and get my posts delivered every time that I post a new article. Have a glorious day.