How do I trust again? Moving beyond betrayal and heartbreak.

broken heart.jpeg

Last week, I had an exquisite ‘Breakthrough to Love’ call with an amazing woman, where we spent about 45 minutes chatting about her search for love.  What was working, and what wasn’t; and what started out as a long list of ‘I don’t know’ responses, quickly uncovered a very long trail of cheating and abandonment, by past loves. 

When I thumb through the many pages I have of emails, call notes and questionnaires from women all over the world, this topic of betrayal and heartbreak, is a common red thread weaving itself throughout so many of their stories. 

Most of us have at least one story of betrayal, abandonment and heartbreak in our lives.  Some of us, have more of these stories than seems bearable.  

Betrayal comes in many forms, lying, cheating, broken promises; but at the very root, is dishonesty and loss of security.  The effects of dishonesty (of any kind) in our relationships is detrimental, even the smallest of lies.  The ripples of betrayals, like going outside the relationship sexually and emotionally, are devastating and find long term footholds in our hearts.

Those ripples, or tsunami like waves, ravage our self-esteem, our confidence, our ability to trust again, and become cement blocks in our path to moving on, even years after the relationship has ended.

I need to come out from the gates, directly as possible, with 3 hard truths. 

(Which, my inherent Americaness allows for quite readily. Lucky me! )

 

Trusting again means, being open to the possibility of being hurt, like that, again. 

 

Being open to the possibilities, both good and bad, is imperative for us to find and attract love. 

 

There is only one road to recovering our ability to love and be loved, and that is right through the very thick of it.

 

Today, I’m going to address the first hurdle that MUST be traversed, if you are ever going to be truly able to love and be loved again. 

"I can’t and won’t survive that again! "

Strong statement, right? 

And it’s one your brain is well skilled at throwing up, at a moment’s notice.  When that betrayal happened… when your heart broke into a million shards, the very rational side of your brain, who serves to educate & protect, said… “Right, we’re not doing that again anytime soon!”  Rational brain had a very calm collected list of reasons that, if it could be avoided, it should.  Rational brain ran the numbers on optimum healing times, took a hard look at the statistics, the theory of relativity, and promptly placed your heart in a safe place to mend.

The emotional side of your brain, stepped out further and said, “Right, we are NEVER, EVER doing that again!” +  a tirade of “ I almost died!”.   “The pain was so unbearable, it was like someone carved out my still beating heart!”, “It was THE WORSE thing that ever happened to us!” and,  “LOCK THE HEART UP SOMEWHERE SAFE AND THROW AWAY THE KEY!!!”   Emotional brain, panicked… AND has quite the theatric flair for the dramatic.

When these two sides of the brain get together, fiction and fact can get a bit blurry.

You start to use the statistics, and numbers rational brain has on hand to fund emotional brain’s war chest.  First things first, build a fortress where the heart shall remain protected from all wrongdoers. (And subsequently right doers, but we’ll come back to that) 

Your brain dug some trenches, set traps 100 meters out, placed sharp shooters on the roof… so anyone that comes close… gets sent packing!

 

But, the heart?  She needs love. 

She is a wanton, dancing, goddess who twirls in her cell of protection, rattling the cage, desperate to get out into the sun again, TO LOVE!  The heart also has the most incredible ability to mend, to become whole again.  She knows she’s scarred but considers those healed raised pink ridges to be adornments.

And so the push pull, the come closer siren screams of the heart and the defensive maneuvers of the brain, begin to twist us, and those who want to care for us, into knots. The signals we send out are so garbled, no one (even yourself) can understand what you want and need.

Researchers tell us that the number one behavioral response abused children have, to new people and environments is ‘you can come close, but not too close’.  You can almost see their proverbial arm being held out, keeping others at a distance.  All their detachment, anger, their acting up and out is tied to the protective response, to not get hurt again. Children thrive in consistency, security, human touch and care yet their lack of emotional maturity does not allow for considered multi-tasking of feelings.

Our behavioral response to cheating & abandonment, is the same.  Because, it is abuse.  Mental and emotional abuse. It is a similar loss of security, consistency, human touch and care.   Protecting ourselves, makes absolute sense.  Until we think about that abused child above.

How that fortress of protection, becomes a prison they can’t get out of to love and be loved.  When we see them start to sabotage their own relationships, and self-destruct in the space between the fight for human connection and keeping themselves safe; we want to hug them tightly, assure them it’s okay, encourage them to let down their guard and allow healing love in.   

Healing and love, requires us to drop our fortress walls. Because true love is about being 100% safe with someone. Other people’s actions and words play a huge part in creating a safe environment, but both parties must fully participate to create 100% safety and security.

I use the example of the child above for good reason.  Many of you may have experience with children who have been abused. I am sure all of you felt empathy for the anonymous child I described. Most of you even saw clearly the counterproductive effect on healing and happiness, that child’s defense mechanisms were having. 

It’s always much easier to see clearly when we look at others lives, and so much harder to see and do so for ourselves.  We are ALSO always so quick to offer empathy, encouragement, kindness and motivation to that child. To reason with that child, that the road forward is filled with safety and love, that the alternative of keeping everyone at an arm’s length, is damaging their ability to live a happy, full life.

It’s time to make that same, sacred, compassionate, reasonably minded, offering to yourself, my dear. 

To embrace yourself with assurances that it will be okay and that the guard can now be let down.  It’s time, to free your heart from its fortress come prison!  It will take time and consistent daily effort to make yourself foster that sense of bravery and trust. 

The scared traumatized child, in you, is worthy of that work.

 

Stay tuned; Next week, I will be walking you through the second step to overcoming betrayal and heartbreak.

 

 

Giving photo credit, were credit’s due: in order of appearance…

Photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/shezamm/8590540421/">Suzanne Schroeter</a> via <a href="https://visualhunt.com">VisualHunt.com</a> / <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/"> CC BY-SA</a>

Photo via <a href="https://visualhunt.com/">Visualhunt.com</a>

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Photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/zbellink/4673931374/">Alex Bellink</a> via <a href="https://visualhunt.com">Visual Hunt</a> / <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/"> CC BY</a>

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