After continued affairs, my sex addict husband would come back every time with remorse, regret, and even confidence that “this was the last time”. Every time I wanted to trust he was telling the truth. Every time I was disappointed to learn that it wasn’t the last time. And it hurt to believe there may never be a “last time”.
The person I wanted and needed to trust more than anyone else had betrayed my trust time, after time, after time. He had put my emotional, physical, and financial safety at risk repeatedly. Deep down inside I knew I could not trust him. It was not safe to trust him. Every year a new STD. Every month a new “disclosure”. Every apology forgiven.
I did my best to trust him. I needed him to be trustworthy. So I tried to convince myself that he was trustworthy- he was just making bad decisions. It was a disease. It took time. Things would be okay…eventually…
Looking back, I realize that the problem was never about trusting him. It was about violating the trust I had in myself, my ability to connect with my intuition, and listen to my gut. Yes, I knew he was not trustworthy. I knew that the first, second, and 12th time he acted out, and each and every time he hid things and lied about it.
With the facts staring me in the face, the problem was no longer about him. It was me. I was the one not acting on the messages my heart and soul were trying to send me. I was ignoring myself. It was not safe to trust him, for sure. But it was no longer safe to trust myself. I failed to trust my own judgment of when it is not safe to trust another.
I mistook “trust” with “obligation”. I thought that if I forgave him, it meant I had to forget about what happened. I had to continue on as if nothing had happened and just “trust” that things would be okay. I was mistaken. A hard lesson learned:
IT’S OK NOT TO TRUST SOMEONE.
Even when trust is broken, it’s ok to have boundaries. It is ok not to fully trust them right away (or ever). It doesn’t mean you don’t love them. It doesn’t mean the relationship is over. It doesn’t mean that you have to sit back and allow this relationship to continue as an untrustworthy relationship. You don’t have to be naive. You don’t have to pretend things are ok. If you’ve been hurt, traumatized, and betrayed once (or even several times), know it’s ok to be a little cautious moving forward.
Granted, you don’t have to be rude, condescending, or remind the person that you don’t trust him/her. You don’t have to keep living in the past and holding them accountable for the pain you are feeling.
You have to own your own healing and recovery,
regardless of who did what to who.
What you do have to do is start being honest with yourself. What do YOU want? What do YOU need? Really dig and do an internal inventory of yourself, your emotions, your role in all of this. Once you realize that although this person may not be trustworthy, you have (and always had) options. Allow yourself to trust your instincts. You can then make a decision to either leave, or finally make some healthy boundaries (and stick to them!) If you cannot start making and maintaining healthy boundaries with people whom we know we cannot trust, how can we ever begin experiencing real trust – the trust we have in ourselves: the trust that we will protect ourselves and take care of ourselves when we sense that we are not safe.
You can’t make the other person change to become more trustworthy (say that to yourself a hundred times if you must), but YOU have what it takes to deal with it and move forward. You have the resources inside you to make good decisions for YOU. So start being rigorously honest with yourself. Make decisions that keep you safe and healthy. Stop putting yourself in situations that are not good for you.
Dig deep because the roots are long, thick, and covered in mud.
But through this practice, eventually, you will regain your own trust back. You will learn to trust yourself again. It will be very clear what you need to do, how you need to do it, and when.