Posts Tagged ‘Trust’

PhotobucketI recently rode on an airplane when I took my kid to visit Hogsmeade (Harry Potter’s city) in Orlando, FL. I thoroughly enjoyed the flight.

The reason this is significant is because I used to have a phobia of flying – I mean a really serious fear of flying. I would obsess over any plane crash in the news. I would watch specials explaining why planes go down and what to do if you are in a plane crash. I would wear jeans and shoes that tie so I would be protected from fire, and I would count the number of seat backs between myself and the nearest exits so I could locate them even in heavy smoke.

The list goes on … I would pray and pray and pray in my head from the time I walked into the plane until it landed. I would jump at every sound, such as when the wheels were pulled up or rolled back down. I was a complete basket case in turbulence, certain that I was about to die.

How I moved past the phobia is another story for another time, but I am now completely free of this phobia. A couple of years ago, I endured very heavy turbulence as the plane landed during a heavy storm after circling for hours because the airport had been closed for severe weather. I didn’t break a sweat. At no point did I worry about what might happen.

Here’s the healing metaphor – Every plane I have ever ridden in has gotten me from Point A to Point B. Most flights were uneventful, and some had quite a bit of turbulence. Regardless, I arrived at my destination all in one piece.

Outwardly, nothing has changed. I still board a plane, leave Point A, and arrive at Point B. The difference is what is going on in the inside. I have gotten from Point A to Point B feeling like a crazy person, and I have made the trip completely relaxed. My reaction to the flight did not change the outcome.

I am trying to apply this metaphor to my reaction to healing from child abuse. The healing process is going to get me from Point A to Point B. I can go there kicking and screaming, or I can sit back and let the healing process do its thing with no interference from me, but I am going to get there either way. It’s up to me whether the “trip” is miserable or uneventful.

Some parts are out of my control, such as the “turbulence” I experienced in dealing with the heavy memories I processed during the holidays. However, just as in a plane, choosing to ride out the “turbulence” without adding my own freak out to the mix made the “flight” less unpleasant.

The bottom line is that healing, like flying, is about trust. I used to have trouble trusting that a plane would take me to my destination. Once I chose to accept that I could trust the airplane to get me there, I became able to let go of the need to be in control and trust that the pilot would get me there.

The healing process is the same way. I am learning to trust that when I experience heavy emotions, I don’t need to react. Instead, I need to trust that the healing process is taking me where I need to go, and I’ll ride out whatever turbulence comes with the trip.

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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