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Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Trauma and the Spiritual Life (TSL) Pt.2 - Trust

We may as well just jump into the deep water. If we have experienced trauma, and in Part 1 of this series we established that nearly everyone has, we will have problems with trust. If we sit with the question for a while, we will even come to see that we don't trust ourselves. We don't trust our judgment about nearly everything. We have been burned so many times that we may even wonder if we can choose which pair of shoes to wear today! We have trouble deciding what to order for lunch, which movie we want to see, it seems our lives are ruled by ambivalence. It is a self-protective attitude that eventually turns on us. We say we don't care because we are trying to protect ourselves from disappointment, but our ambivalence leads to some pretty crappy lunches - and much worse - which further erodes our trust.

For years I walked around with one foot in my relationships and the other outside of them, waiting for the least sign of betrayal. When that sign popped up, or even a hint of a betrayal that might come a decade down the road, I was out the door. This was only compounded by the fact that I was so sure I was unlovable that I wasn't very discerning in who I let into my life. In my professional life I chose to work alone, either in the field away from the main office or in self-employment. My trust had been pretty thoroughly demolished by some very professional trust hit men and hit women, and I wasn't going to let it happen again. The problem is that very attitude almost guarantees it will happen again. We set up a kind of feedback loop that doesn't serve us very well at all.

The solution? The solution is NOT to trust indiscriminately. We need to trust ourselves first, and that means we have to make some choices. We have to care what is for lunch, we have to dive in and choose a pair of shoes, and we have to decide what we want to do this weekend. A year from now we might be able to defer decisions, but right now we need to learn to make them. We also need to learn to establish boundaries. If we can't say, "that's not okay, stop that" then people will continue to walk over us and our trust will be further eroded. All of this takes practice, and it much more complicated than can be addressed in a short blog post. That's why this topic will come up repeatedly in this series!

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