I’m currently soothing myself by a mix of laziness and avoidance- Heroes marathon on Netflix in my spare time rather than paying attention to, well, pretty much anything. I recognized I was getting a bit overwhelmed and so, I thought, “Ok, time to pull it back.”
Of course, this isn’t a great example of what I am illustrating, either, because of the full plotline- but, the image works. Jessica, the personality shown in front of the mirror has super human strength and, well, almost no sense of morality because she’s been twisted by childhood abuse. Niki, the personality IN the mirror is a caring, self sacrificing woman who has no idea that she has been gifted with super human strength.
You see what I did there?
Throughout season one- Niki’s the dominant personality with Jessica trapped in the mirror. Only…well, like most multiple personality cases: Jessica gets out from time to time. Of course, we aren’t all multiple personality cases, and we certainly don’t literally have super human strength: but the fact remains- our shadow lurks in all of us. That side of us that we fear. That side of us that will on occasion come out and generally, in some twisted way: stands up for us. Of course in psychology we learn that the integration of all personalities usually brings together all the coping mechanisms each personality was created by the patient to represent. Thing is: the coping mechanisms were there, but trauma causes the patient to disassociate. One some small level, though MPD is incredibly rare: we all do this.
That which we try to repress has got an awful way of eeking out and when it does, we very frequently feel we cannot control what it does. Harsh words screamed in anger. Cheating because we feel neglected. Lying because we feel we must hide. Neglecting because we feel insecure of other things, but not insecure of our position with others. The list goes on and on and ultimately the answer to all of those things: be present in yourself, be present in your life, be present in your relationships.
All of you, not just the perception you wish for others to see. Not just their perception of you. But who and what you really are, in its fullness.
How Your Day To Day Interactions Build Your Trust In Others and Yourself
When I ask you: what is betrayal?
Your likely answer will involve infidelity or lies. Some big event you tie to betrayal.
What if I told you that those events are only the apex of already existing long term betrayals? You’d probably imagine the lies the person doing the betraying told all along.
And you’d only be half correct.
When you consider that example: how hard is it, really, to keep from stabbing a friend in the back? How hard is it, really, to not cheat?
Why are these things seen as the ultimate expressions of betrayal, when truthfully: it takes years of steady conditioning and a wealth of self understanding to actually build trust, or, actually destroy it?
In the first place, when we deny the existence of the more base, selfish urges within ourselves: we deny ourselves the ability to work on them and with them. We pretend they simply don’t exist, when in fact: they are there.
You can deny they are there until you are blue in the face until insecurity comes along and starts picking what is an unhealed wound within yourself. Have you ever been with someone that seemed so perfect, so good- and yet, you could not trust them?
In the first place, you cannot trust anyone immediately and you shouldn’t expect to, nor should you expect them to do the same. I’m not saying we should all run around in a constant state of paranoia- that’s not even close. However, trust must be earned- but it isn’t earned by simply keeping it in your pants or refusing to turn on someone. Those things should be easy. Of course, not all of us are wired for monogamy- but, as a society we are told we should be: which is detrimental, but, another thing entirely. (Laaaater)
However, even in polyamorous relationships, there can be cheating. There can be a lack of trust. There can also be wonderful trust. But you won’t find it in physical fidelity. That’s not how it works. What people refuse to see all too often is, that’s also not how it works in monogamous relationships.
Our own inability to trust in ourselves- our goodness, our value, our abilities often leads us to see our demons in others, rather than confront them in ourselves. Rather than embrace them as a part of us, and work with them.
Building Real Trust In Relationships
If you feel you cannot trust your partner, first, look at yourself. How do you feel about yourself, your abilities, your value, your own contributions to the relationship?
Do you often find yourself apologizing because you “forgot” to do things you said you would?
Do you often feel it’s “no big deal” when you disappoint your partner, and you cannot understand why they’re so upset over “something so unimportant”?
The flip side of this being, of course- that you have a partner who undervalues your contributions to the relationship. Of course, I am not talking about staying faithful- though, that’s usually the big one. No. What lead to the infidelity? Barring that some people are just genuinely unfaithful, barring that others are non-monogamous yet cannot admit it- look at the whole situation, not the apex.
Over the years I have counseled so many couples that have dealt with infidelity and there has always been a common statement on the part of the person who was cheated on. That in retrospect, they cannot believe they never saw the signs.
As I said, some people are just shitty, others have deeply embedded reasons why it happens they make a hurtful choice- these things are still their choices and the onus of responsibility lies with them: but, you’re not trying to fix them. You can’t. You’re trying to work with you, see your part in the whole: because these situations are rarely ever a stand alone incident. Of course, sometimes, there is nothing that could have been done. However, how do you heal? How do you move on and trust yourself again?
You examine your role in the whole of the situation.
As a survivor of rape and domestic violence, I know first hand the difference between examining your role and blaming yourself. You have to put away the desire to blame. There is no blame. Blame on this level is not conducive to healing, anyway. Recognizing that a person made a horrible choice, and that choice was theirs and theirs alone is the first step. But no matter how solid you are in that recognition: you will think about your role in this, anyway. You may as well look at it in constructive and healing ways so that you don’t lock yourself in a pattern that only continues to hurt you.
But say you’re looking at your current relationship and you’re wondering why, then, if you do not lie, if you do not cheat- your partner doesn’t trust you. There are two very likely reasons:
1. Your partner may have some serious issues they have yet to address with their own insecurity.
2. You may not even be building trust, though you imagine you are.
If you take someone for granted- you are not building trust. You are not showing them that you value them. If you’re not someone who can be relied upon for those day to day things- again, you are not building trust. You are, in fact, over time, doing exactly the opposite. (Also, FULL STOP; sometimes these expressions of jealousy are red flags for abuse
. Do not ignore them. Do not understand them. LEAVE. They are not your fault, they cannot be understood away, and no amount of you being present will turn an abuser into the person they want you to think they are. Just leave. YOU DO NOT DESERVE IT.)
Does this mean if your partner is a totally jealous asshole it’s your fault? No.
If you’re a totally jealous asshole- it’s also probably not your partner’s fault and guess what, it’s also not any of your former partner’s faults, either.
Because blame will not help you, if you do not use it as a starting point to heal those perceptions of yourself those situations helped you to form.
And here’s another example of memes that are ultimately, not doing you any damn good. Just as we seem to celebrate insecurity: we are also celebrating continuing to allow our abusers to control us, how we respond to things, how we react. Guess what? No one ever will apologize for “making you” this way. Because the person who made you that way, is you.
Our reactions to trauma are all very understandable. The first thing to understand is that we do have to be patient with ourselves, as we heal them. If you’ve “become a monster”, the odds are pretty good, however, that you are unhappy. The only person you can actually ever expect an apology from for this, however: is you. And you should. This isn’t to say I don’t think we should apologize to those we’ve hurt: but, if you spend all your time expecting apologies from people for hurting you and not undoing the damage done: you’re continuing to allow the person or people who hurt you to continue to control you. The situation, continues to control you. Allowing yourself to feel, to heal and work it through is the greatest apology you can ever give- especially if in becoming a monster, you’ve hurt others. What the hell good is an apology if you continue to do the thing you apologize for? It’s not. It’s a lie.
We dig deeper to understand these things, the motivations behind our own trauma response not just so we can put a name on it. Not just so we know why it happened. When I was young, I got ran over by a truck. The man who did it, stood by my bed with two dozen roses, bawling and explaining.
That didn’t heal me. It didn’t stop the throbbing in my head. It didn’t get me through physical therapy. For a long time, I was in fact, terrified to cross the street. Understanding that he’d simply not been paying attention, well, that did help me to be more self aware, to understand that maybe even being in the cross walk, if a driver wasn’t paying attention- I could get hit if I wasn’t.
Years later, he and I happened to bump into one another, oddly enough in the very gas station across the street I’d been hit on. As we stood there, he told me how he is vigilant now, he never takes for granted that the street is clear. I told him, yeah, you know, I never take for granted that others are paying attention, either. We laughed about how now there were all sorts of lights and crossing guards, but today- there was no crossing guard. We were just talking about how odd it was when a young boy pedaled his bike to the middle and was hit by a car.
Our journeys often converge with others’ in their own journeys. Never take that for granted and you’ve got a start towards trusting yourself. Once you can trust yourself, you are better equipped to trust your own instincts and perceptions or to better understand that they are in fact, simply perceptions and as such: they are assumptions. They may be assumptions based on things that render greater probability: but they’re still assumptions and with understanding may still yet be clarified. We have to trust ourselves enough to seek out that clarification.
And you go from there.
Also, don’t fall in love with telepathic mutants, don’t imagine you don’t have super powers and it’s just your other personality that does, and, for god’s sake: look both ways before crossing the damn street.