Archive for the ‘Trust’ Category

I have been reading the book The Shack by William Paul Young. This is a New York Times bestseller that is quite popular among the church crowd. The tag line is “Where tragedy confronts eternity.” The basic gist is to try to make sense of where faith comes in when tragedy strikes.

The premise of the book is that the main character, Mack, lost his six-year-old daughter to a serial killer. Obviously, his pain has affected his ability to connect with his faith. He receives a mysterious note from G*d, inviting him to return to the shack where evidence of the child’s murder was found. The rest of the book is an allegory of wrestling with making sense of faith amidst tragedy.

I have found that this book contains a lot of wisdom in it. This week, I would like to explore some of the pearls of wisdom that I have found, specifically those relating to those of us who are healing from child abuse. I am trying to write this in a way that does not leave out those of you who are triggered by religion. If religion is unavoidable in a topic, then I will post a trigger warning for you.

My first topic does not have any religious triggers. Here is the quote I would like to explore from the book:

You cannot produce trust, just as you cannot “do” humility. It either is or is not. Trust is the fruit of a relationship in which you know you are loved. Because you do not know that I love you, you cannot trust me. ~ The Shack, page 128

I found this pearl of wisdom to be quite insightful. I always think of trust as something that I “fail” to do. I have a very hard time trusting people, and I have seen this as a shortcoming that I need to work on. However, I think there is a lot of wisdom in the thought that trust is a natural byproduct of feeling loved.

I have a new best friend. We have known each other for a few years but just started getting closer about a year ago. She is very guarded, but once she lets you into her heart, she does it wholeheartedly.

I am finding myself trusting her more and more, and it has been a natural byproduct of knowing that she loves me. I have not had to “work on” trusting her. I also did not have to “work on” caring about her. The intermixing of love and trust happened naturally as we become more emotionally intimate in talking about the things that matter.

On the flip side, I have other relationships in which I do not trust much, and I am growing to see it is because I do not know that I am loved. In some cases, I am probably not. In other cases, I do not feel the love. It might be because of how the other person expresses the love, or it might be because I resist the expression. Regardless, I do not feel loved, so I do not trust.

What do you think about this correlation?

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Statue (c) Lynda BernhardtI frequently hear child abuse survivors say that they cannot trust another person. As with other areas of life, child abuse survivors tend to see the ability to trust as an “all or nothing” thing. However, the truth is that most people, whether child abuse survivors or not, rarely trust another person with 100% of themselves.

I used to say that I could not trust another person. My therapist would counter by pointing out that I trusted my husband to provide for our family financially. Before I got to the “yeah, but…,” my therapist would stop me and point out that this is trust. He said that I do not have to trust one person with all of my needs in order to trust. As long as all of my needs to trust were getting met, why did it matter whether they were met by one person or by twenty different people in twenty different ways?

A fellow child abuse survivor explained trust in a different way. She said that she trusted the waitress to bring her food after ordering a meal at a restaurant. She trusted the mailman to deliver mail to her mailbox. Therefore, it was incorrect to say that she did not trust anybody because she did trust certain people with certain tasks.

I reached a deeper level of healing when I recognized that the person I most needed to trust was myself. I needed to trust that I would be okay even when other people let me down. The more I have grown to trust my ability to handle the actions or inactions of others, the more I have felt comfortable in trusting others. So, ultimately it was my trust in myself that led me to the ability to trust others with different parts of myself.

I doubt I will ever fully trust another person with every part of myself, but that is okay because I do not need to do this in order to meet my needs. When it comes down to it, meeting my needs should be the goal, not finding that one person who I can fully trust with all of myself.

Related Topic:

Aftereffects of Childhood Abuse: Trust Issues

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Girl Behind Bars (c) Lynda Bernhardt

Having issues with trusting others is a hallmark aftereffect of childhood abuse. I have yet to meet an abuse survivor who did not suffer from issues with trusting others. Many report the inability to trust anyone for anything, which is not entirely true, but as I mentioned in my previous post, Aftereffects of Childhood Abuse, extremism is the trademark of an abuse survivor.

There are some things in which most people are able to trust. For example, I trust that a waitress will bring me my food after I order it. I might not trust that the order will be correct or delivered in a timely manner, but I really do trust that the waitress who took my order will eventually bring me food. I trust that the mailman will deliver my mail each day. I trust that a policeman will give me a speeding ticket if he catches me speeding. Of course, these are not the relationships that abuse survivors are talking about when they say that they cannot trust.

My therapist helped me to move past the “all or nothing” mindset in my relationships and realize that there were aspects of each relationship in which I did trust. For example, I have always trusted my husband to provide for our family financially even though I did not trust him to provide me the emotional support I needed when I was in therapy. Just because I could not count on him in one area of my life did not make him completely untrustworthy in all areas.

Learning to trust in part was empowering because I could get all of my needs met by trusting different people with different areas of my life. I might not be able to count on my husband for emotional support, but I could trust a friend to do this. I could trust my child to give me safe hugs even when I could not trust an adult to do this. By learning how to trust several people in part, I was able to meet my needs.

Another big part of learning to trust was learning how to trust myself. I have come to realize that the more I trust myself, the less I fear trusting others. Many of my trust issues centered around not trusting myself to recover when another person let me down. As I became more confident in my own ability to be okay even when another person betrayed my trust, I found it much easier to risk trusting in the first place.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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