The “Trust Problem”
Well, nothing new if I say that one of the aftermaths of child sexual abuse is the constant lack of trust and difficulty to open up to others. It’s a long battle with yourself how to learn to let people close to you, how to be honest and how to share. Yes, you are a grown up, but the abused child still lives inside you. And this child still remembers.
The trust issue persists because that child’s been betrayed by those, whom it believed and trusted and they were the ones who hurt that child the most. Abusers are usually people who the children know and trust. Once betrayed this way in an early age, the abused person learns a lesson: “Don’t trust, don’t open up because nothing good comes from it. Protect yourself by not letting others close. ” And this belief stays in the adult’s mind. You may be 30 or 40 years old but deep within you are that child, and you don’t feel that self-worth that others feel. And you don’t feel so confident when you depend on someone, or when you open up to someone. You always have this little voice telling you: “Be careful you might get hurt. ”
How can we change that? How can we learn to trust?
Yes, trusting and letting someone get close to our psyche can bring us disappointment. This happens also to people who have never been abused. And compared to the childhood trauma of betrayal we have once experienced, nothing seems to be so difficult to manage. Weird but what happened to us, as abused kids, can really make us in a way stronger than other people. Some issues and problems that others classify as a big dramas, to us are just much easier to get over with. Because we’ve already been through much more, and more difficult times. And we survived. And we are still here. And we function.
So trusting others is not such a great challenge when you think about it. You just have to try. You just have to give it a chance. Meeting another disappointment may be unpleasant, but not risking and staying hidden in your shell won’t bring you happiness either. If you don’t risk, you cannot lose anything, but you cannot win too. And by risking to come out of your shell, you may win a lot. You may find great friends, you may find love, you may find understanding and companionship, unknown to you till this moment. You may find what was missing in your life. A shoulder to lean on, a hand to hold, a smile to brighten your day, eyes to see your future in, knowing that everything will be all right. Sometimes this is all we need. Being survivors we are far from being victorious. We might pretend we won the battle with the memories, but human’s psyche is a funny thing. Sometimes the things we want to forget the most, are the hardest to be forgotten. Sometimes when we are on our own, we feel not just lonely, but so alone, like we are alone in the world. And sometimes, never mind how successful and convincing we look to others, at the end of the day we are still weak and afraid, we are still in our own little despair-world, and this is a real dark place. Because the memory of the abuse is always there. Alone, by choice, because we are just afraid to open up our world to others, well this is a though way to fight demons.
Let’s face it-living the life of a sexual abuse survivor is not easy. The loneliness is a constant part of our life. And the reason for it is our own choice to be alone in a world that we think no one understands. Loneliness is our personal choice, a decision made by our protective instincts. Rather be alone than be hurt, right? Well, this never brings any good. The road to recovery is the road of learning to live with the painful past and walking it alone it’s just too much weight for one’s shoulders. When we open up and let others be there with us, they will be there For us as well. Walking that road together with someone else, will make that trip less painful and less lonely. Finding understanding, friendship and love will help us to feel stronger, will help us to believe we are worth, will help us to feel empowered.
Imagine if you have to walk a miles long mountain path til you get to the top of the mountain. Imagine all the curves, hills and heights you need to walk to get there. And imagine the long time you need to face all the challenges alone. And imagine how dangerous and frightening is the Unknown. Now imagine if you have someone who you trust, love and respect there with you. The hours won’t feel so long, the hills won’t feel so difficult to climb, and when you reach the goal-the top of the mountain, you’ll have someone to share how proud and happy you are with yourself. And now imagine again that you walk alone and at last you get up there, there will be no one to hug and jump with, full of joy, when you have finally reached your destination. So which way would you choose if you knew you have to walk this difficult road to the top of the mountain? Alone or with someone who loves you?
I’ve heard this somewhere: “If you want to be loved, be lovable”. . . Well, when you don’t trust anyone and when you hide in your own world, you are not lovable at all. . . To trust and open up to others. You just need to give it a try.
Once I was on a business trip to another town, sent by the English company I worked for. So they gave me a fancy company car to get there with, they booked me a luxury hotel to stay in for the night and they gave me “business trip money” . All of this because I was sent on a very important “mission”, worth thousands of pounds. So I got there, I was supposed to go to a factory and check the quality of the very expensive garments, which were going to be sent to stores if my report approved them. So I was a big deal, everyone wanted to please me in that factory and they made me feel really important. So everything was ok, the garments were really good quality, so I filled my report till noon and was ready with my work. Now I could have a nice afternoon and enjoy the lovely small town’s beauty where my business trip was. It was spring time. I went to the center, had a coffee and some cake and walked around. The town was really beautiful. The park in the middle was all green, trees were shining with blossom, flowers were sparkling from the lovely gardens like if they were smiling to me, happy people were walking their joyful dogs, old couples were just sitting and chatting peacefully on the benches. And seeing this all I felt this weird sadness, though didn’t know why.
At the evening I went back to my hotel, had a bath, and then headed to the hotel’s fancy restaurant. Ordered myself a glass of wine and dinner, and then just sat there quiet waiting for my meal with the wine in my hand. Looked around. Guess what I saw? A couple holding hands. A group of people laughing. A group of friends celebrating a party. On the other hand-I was alone. Alone in this awesome restaurant, where a glass of wine costs a day’s pocket money, in a great hotel, in a lovely small romantic town. And I was there alone.
Then it hit me. Good things in life are to be shared. And though times too.
When you have someone to share the beauty in life, you can really experience this beauty, otherwise it is just empty, beauty with no meaning. When you have someone you trust and love, life seems to be just a better place to be. And then the surroundings wouldn’t matter. Then you can be just happy in the smallest room, at the end of the world, having nothing at all, nothing but that one person who holds your hand and tells you: “You can do it. We can do it. I’ll walk the way with you. It won’t be easy. But I’ll be there. And you can fall on the way. And every time you fall, I’ll be there to catch you”
When you have a though time, when you have a problem that you need to fight with, there cannot be anything better than to have someone you really care about to walk this long road with, to fight with the challenges together.
I still remember the night afterwards. In my room. I thought a lot about that lonely feeling which came to me in the park and stayed there in the restaurant and later in my hotel room. I felt so alone because I was in fact alone. And I was in such a nice place, which I couldn’t share with someone.
This was about 10 years ago and I still remember it like yesterday. It was a good lesson, though I still have difficulties to open up to others. I met a wonderful man last summer. He was loving, caring, gentle and understanding. Always ready to listen. Always ready to help me. He was someone who was willing to be with me, to be there for me. I never let him. And he is perhaps still waiting for my affection, still willing to wait till I ‘m ready to be there for him too. He told me once that til I don’t open up and don’t let others to come through my door, I’ll never be able to love truly and to be happy. And I’ve been dreaming about love and happiness all my life. And I always wonder why it never happened to me. Seems like the reason that I never found it was in me. Happiness cannot happen to us if we don’t let it happen.
Why is this? Why it cannot be just simple to take the hand, which is given to me, to welcome the friendship and welcome the love, which comes to my life, and just to be thankful for it?
The truth is I am afraid to be hurt, the feeling I hate the most is that overwhelming despair when you are broken, when you are left behind, when you are betrayed, when all promises become empty lies, when you realize you are alone again. ”Thanks” the person who abused me when I was a little girl, I never really learned how to trust others, how to let them love me and love them back without being afraid and how to win over my sadness. And every situation which lets me at risk to get hurt is something that I don’t want to experience. So I am safe in my shell, thinking that one day the prince on the white horse will just pop up like from a fairy tale and that will be at last my “happily ever after”. Well, if the prince finds my door closed and locked, while I am hiding in the cellar, there will be no entrance for him, he’ll go away to look for his “sleeping beauty” elsewhere and I’ll keep hiding in my own mind.
So if you never buy lottery tickets, you cannot expect to win because you even didn’t risk the dollar to try and see what happens. Right?