As I’m sure I’ve mentioned in posts before, I’ve been in a season of rapid growth for about a year and a half but especially the last 9 or so months. Digging and dealing and healing and learning. And what’s been so interesting about this endeavour is how my patterns of handling anxiety are often so warped.
Have you ever had one of those “Aha!” moments but about yourself or some basic life thing that really you should have understood long before this point? I had that the other day.
I was talking to my counsellor about trust – something I really do struggle with.
In an effort to protect myself, I was trying to control situations so that the amount of trust I had to give was as small as possible. It was like a box: I’m going to put you in this box where I can see and control and not actually have to trust you.
And that realization was like a light bulb went off, a very scary, illuminating light bulb.
If I am going to trust people, then I have to actually risk something. I’ve never been good at trust falls because my body has this instinctual need to protect itself. I don’t (or can’t) free fall because I can’t be certain they’ll be there to catch me. But the risk in this case is much more than a drop to the floor – it’s my heart.
To love with any level of intensity or honesty is to become vulnerable. To love is to know the loss of love.brene brown, “Rising strong: how the ability to reset transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead”
I can’t just trust in the box of what I can control. In order to really trust someone, I have to allow situations that require my trust.
And that’s hard. And scary.
Brene Brown is so incredibly on point when she talks about heartbreak and vulnerability in her book Rising Strong:
My heart can be broken only by someone or something to whom I have given my heart.Brene brown
And that’s the problem, isn’t it? Those who aren’t close to you, who don’t have your heart, can’t cause the same wreckage as those who do have your heart. You don’t cry over your enemies. You cry over your loved ones.
I don’t want to have my heart broken. I think I’ve had enough of that. I’ve had enough of tears and rejection and gasping breaths, and so I withhold my trust. I only give enough to get by, enough to be somewhat functional. But when someone actually cashes in on that trust, when they call on me to actually trust them, I freeze.
I go back to building walls, brick by brick, as if I can protect myself if I anticipate the worse. I’ll be ready this time, I tell myself.
But you can’t prep for heartbreak ahead of time, at least not well. All of my thinking, steeling myself against the possibility of another heartbreak, does nothing but suck the joy from the other moments of my life. I take all the misery and throw away all the joy.
How do you know you can trust someone? That’s the thing: you don’t. If you could say with actual certainty “this person will never hurt me,” then you never have to trust them because you don’t have to risk anything. You have certainty of that.
I used to think trust was automatic: you either had it or you didn’t. I thought trust came from certainty: “I am certain you won’t hurt me.” But you can say very few things with certainty. I can’t say with certainty that the people I hold the most dear won’t hurt me. They’re human. They could, maybe they won’t even mean to.
Trust is knowing they could, maybe even accepting that eventually they will, but trusting them not to. Trusting that if they do, they will try to fix it when things are broken. Trusting that they will not try to destroy me. It’s a choice. I’m choosing to trust you even though my mind is dragging out all the reminders of the times I trusted the wrong ones.
It’s like… it’s like I’ve strapped myself to the train tracks. The train of heartbreak is bearing down on me and I’m terrified, but I’m trusting you will pull the lever and make the train go another direction.
And I do it every day.
I face the all-consuming, mind-spiralling, breath-stealing possibility of heartbreak and choose to trust.
Maybe if you’re not scared, you’re not trusting enough. But it’s about finding the ones who are worth that fear.