(a classic post from 2013)
“How Can I learn to trust again?”
At the end of the SOULMATE teleconference call we took a few questions (sorry that I couldn’t get to all of them. There was just so much to say!) and one was from a lady whose voice was choked with emotion.
She had been hurt, betrayed, and was in a totally understandable position: preferring to be alone than with the wrong person.
First of all, that is a perfect place to begin! It is VERY important to withdraw from the dating scene and marshall your energies for introspection.
Here’s the simple truth: you can trust other people to the precise degree that you can trust your own judgement.
The reason is that most relationships are based on “you don’t call me on my b.s. And I won’t call you on yours.” In other words, because of guilt, blame, shame and a battered self-image, we build fantasies about ourselves, false ego shells to protect us from the fear that, if people really knew us, they would dislike us.
And what happens? You naturally attract others who also wear masks. And there are two basic outcomes of that. We’ll use the gigantic over-simplification of “good and bad people” to illustrate:
1) “Good” people. Basically good, decent people, who have a damaged self image or feel that they cannot present their “real” selves. So…you fall in love with their mask. The trouble is that, under pressure, masks collapse and then you’re dealing with the real person, with very different flaws and failings than those you bargained for. Sometimes, this revelation can be the beginning of something new and healthy. But sometimes it can be an utter tragedy, destroying families. If only they’d been honest from the start, they might have found someone complementary to their issues, and a healthy bond could have formed.
2) “Bad” people. There are predators in the world, people who prey on the weak and overly-trusting. These people thrive on slight-of-mouth and various crazy-making, “gaslighting” patterns. They want you to pay attention to what they say, rather than what they do. Don’t pay attention to the track-record of human wreckage they leave behind them: “I’ve changed” or “I won’t treat YOU that way…”
Right. Yes, people deserve a second chance. But there’s no reason it has to be with YOU. These people, unaware that they have souls, seek to devour those belonging to anyone foolish enough to trust them.
In truth, both “good” and “bad” people are just running from their own fears and pain, with the exception of a very small percentage, who are basically addicted to the animal hunger for the hunt and the kill. And sometimes…the pain and terror attending thereto. Oh, yes, there are demons with glass eyes who drink tears. Yours.
You have to learn to know who they are. To sniff them out, and know whether those masks conceal a wounded heart or a werewolf’s gleaming teeth.
1) you have to take responsibility for your relationship history. YOU CHOSE ALL OF THEM. Remember that “respons-ibility” is not guilt, blame, or shame. It is “the ability to respond.” In other words, you commit to never making those mistakes again. And the only way to do that is to admit them, inspect them, come to useful conclusions about why and how you made them, devise tactics and strategies to prevent those mis-steps in the future.
2) You must love yourself, deeply and without reservation. That doesn’t mean accepting your b.s., any more than you’d take it from your kids. It means that you believe you are a precious soul. Only with that kind of conviction can you look at your flaws without flinching, without fearing what they might “mean” about your worth. And you will have to look deeply.
3) You must commit to truth. “Do not Think Dishonestly”. When you look deeply enough at your relationship history, your body, and your career…and ask yourself what strengths and weaknesses, fears and loves, talents and faults, habits and aversions created the effects you see, it can be painful. But…you also develop a deep instinct about the gap between what people say and what they show. The hair on the back of your neck will stand up when people tell stories about “why they did X or Y.” When they smile with crocodile teeth.
4) You must treat your heart as if you are your own most beloved child. We will do things for our children (or children we love) that we will not do for ourselves. SOMEONE must stand as guardian at the gates of your heart, and say “you shall not pass!” or at the very least, “your credentials, please!”
If your own parents were not protective of you, you have to find a way to become this protective of yourself. Your heart and sexuality might be considered playgrounds, where it is good to drop masks and intentions and just play and be yourself. Children on playgrounds are so open and friendly, making connection instantly, sharing everything.
And this is why parents and monitors need to be there: both to keep the games friendly, and to keep predators at bay. IF and only IF the adults are on guard are the children safe to do what children are supposed to do: dream and play, love and frolic, grow and learn.
Our hearts yearn to give everything, to believe that THIS one is “the One”, someone with whom we can share our dreams and lives and hearts and passions.
But if you don’t learn to distinguish truth from falsehood, don’t learn to value yourself enough to lock the gate, don’t believe you are worth fighting for, you will be fanged and clawed into the worst kind of cynical rejection of love and faith. NO ONE is as cynical as the wounded romantic.
So…before you gain so much emotional scar tissue that you can no longer open your heart, love yourself ruthlessly. Tell the truth. Look deeply.
And…if necessary..withdraw from the dating game until you’ve developed these attributes. How can you tell if you need to withdraw?
If the thought of withdrawing makes you feel lonely…then yes, I’m talking to you. Being alone is one thing, and it is a lost art form for many. But if you cannot feel the love and joy in your heart without hallucinating it originates in someone else, you cannot form a healthy adult relationship.
Your relationships will either be co-dependent…or you will attract predators. And if you’d wish neither on your own beloved child, you should damned well reject it for yourself.