“When mistrust comes in, love goes out.” ~Irish saying
An old friend of mine felt betrayed by her boyfriend, but chose not to leave him. Instead, she made him pay for it over and over again.
Through subtle digs and less subtle slights, she repeatedly expressed that she felt contempt for him. But instead of forgiving or walking away, she stayed behind a wall of resentment.
Soon he started responding in kind, until their relationship became a container for mutual silent bitterness. It was two people sharing a suffocating space, overwhelmed by the weight of everything they didn’t say.
I suspect many of us can relate to that feeling of clinging to a grievance. In at least one of our relationships, we’ve felt angry and indignant, and despite wanting to forgive, we just couldn’t.
I know I’ve been there before.
It’s not easy to forget when someone breaks your trust, especially if you fear it might be broken again, but holding onto doubt is a surefire way to suffer.
Little hurts worse than the suspicion that someone else might hurt you.
This isn’t the kind of thing you can just brush off through positive thinking. You can’t make yourself feel trusting by telling yourself you should be, or rationalizing away your feelings.
The reality is it takes time and effort to trust again. It takes the courage to acknowledge how you feel and willingness from the other person to hear and honor it. It takes a mutual commitment to move beyond what happened instead of reliving and rehashing.
But most importantly, it requires you to believe in the goodness and positive intentions of the person who hurt you.
You have to believe someone can treat you with respect and consideration—even if it takes you a while to get there—or else you’ll never let your guard down. That’s a painful place to be.
The thing about being defensive is that everything becomes a battle, and no one ever wins.
Of course this doesn’t mean we can ever know for certain that someone won’t hurt us again. The only way we can know if we’re able to trust someone is by first giving them trust.
That means we need to ask ourselves: Is this relationship worth that risk?
Is it worth feeling vulnerable?
Is it worth forgiving?
Is it worth letting go of the story?
And if it’s worth it, what would it look like to give trust, starting right now?
Photo by Carlos Varela