Trusting You With My Pain
Wednesday, July 18th, 2012 • PTSD Guest Post: Survivors Speak •
Guest Post by Jaime Ingunn
I think we all want to be able to trust the people in our lives, especially our family and friends. We are born having trust in our protectors (usually our parents), but sometimes things happen to us that tramples on our ability to trust. Sometimes it’s being lied to, stolen from, mistreated, neglected, or abused that dissolves our trust in others. When our trust in others is damaged, we often began to lose faith or trust in ourselves to let the right people into our lives. I guess we assume that if we made the mistake of trusting someone who hurt us, we worry that we’re doomed to make the same mistakes again.
Like most people, I didn’t wake up one morning wondering if today was going to be the day I make a mistake in trusting a guy just to then have him take advantage of my trust and rape me. I never thought it would happen to me. It was far from my mind. I honestly trusted my own intuition that I could be able to know when someone had those dangerous thoughts about me. I was wrong.
Since I was raped I seem to view things differently. I often read between the lines and think more is being said then what was intended. For example: Recently I was on a support forum and another poster complemented me by saying to me, “…You are really advanced in my psychological state”. When I first read it my initial impression was that this person viewed me as weird. I sort of snapped at them and asked them (verbatim), “What psychological state am I suppose to be in? If I hide my pain, I need to open up more. If I’m really open, I’m an attention seeker. What psychological state am I suppose to be in”? Later I found out that they meant that I had a good understanding of myself and what I was going through. I then apologized to them.
Before I was raped I never would have snapped at someone like that. I always assumed someone was being nice and often misunderstood meanness for playful sarcasm. Now it’s different. I first assume the worse and have to convince myself that they are being nice or that what they are saying is a compliment. I’m beginning to wonder why my perception of those around me have changed. On the surface it’s obvious that I trust less because I was raped, but I think it goes deeper than that.
One of the most common emotions expressed by victims of abuse rather it be physical, sexual, emotional, or any combination thereof is guilt. We are told over and over until our ears bleed that the guilt we are feeling is irrational. Sure it’s irrational; we all know how irrational it is. As a loved one of a victim we know it’s irrational, and as victims we also know guilt is irrational.
I feel guilty for what happened to me. I can look back on it now and see several things that I could have done differently that might have prevented what happened. I can see all these mistakes, all these things I did wrong, and I am angry with myself for allowing it to happen. I irrationally ask myself questions like. Why did I let myself be tricked by a guy? Why did I let myself be played like a fool by someone who was a D student and has failed a grade before? Why did I get into his van? Why did I trust him when I didn’t really know him?
Being so easily tricked and fooled makes me question my own ability to judge and reason. Now I have a burdening guilt that tells me I’m unable to trust myself. I’m constantly questioning my own decisions and I’m afraid I’m going to continue to make bad choices that lead to me getting hurt, and further pain for my friends and family. I again know how irrational this is.
We are told that being open about our pain, emotions, and abuse is what will lead to peace and healing. We want that to be true and we want to be able to open up to people. The problem is, opening up to others requires trust, and when opening up requires a very personal sharing of pain, we feel so vulnerable to judgment. We feel naked and exposed, unable to protect ourselves.
Trust is such a valuable thing that many take for granted. Not only can we take trust in others for granted, but we can also take trust in ourselves for granted. I took my trust in myself for granted by assuming that I was too smart to be taken advantage of. Now my trust in myself resides in the opposite spectrum. I’m no longer over trusting, but under trusting. I need to get back to a point where I trust myself and then I think trusting others will be easier. The question is how do we learn to trust ourselves more so that we can give ourselves the opportunity to trust others again?
I imagine there’s a plethora of ideas, writings, and theories on how this is accomplished. I TRUST that my theory will be simply another opinionated idea. First, I think we need to make a promise to ourselves that we want to feel better and are willing to dance in the fire of our own emotional pain to get it done. Second, we need to be willing to at least try and trust others by letting them in a little at a time. We don’t have to lower the drawbridge to our emotions hidden inside the protection of our castle, but we do need to open the window shutters up so people can peek in.
As we become more comfortable with people peeking in through the windows of this proverbial castle, we can then let the drawbridge down a little more. Each time we let another in just a little bit and our trust isn’t taken advantage of, we gain the strength to trust more. More than that we gain trust in ourselves. Third, we need to learn to realize that some violations of trust can be healed from right away, while others will take a significant amount of time. Some trust issues will never be fixed completely. Instead we will have to be a maintenance worker on our own personal highway of trust. In 1941 the US Federal Government past legislation to create the Federal Interstate System. 70 years later it still isn’t finished. The reason why is because as the country’s population grows, the need for commerce and transportation grows; thus the interstate system is constantly being expanded. Also as the years pass wear and tear needs to be repaired. Sometimes entire sections need to be replaced. I think human emotions and trust is similar in the way that it’s in a constant state of wear and repair.
If we ignore our pain, lack of trust in ourselves, and others, we will become a road unfit for travel. We have to be both the foreman and the workers of our own emotional interstate system. We have to take charge of the repairs that need to be made and be willing to get in the mud and dirt with others who are trying to help us and work with them. If we don’t, we will find that one day our highway that leads to TRUST is so far beyond repair that it seemingly becomes impossible to get there. Early inspection and repair of damage is the key to keeping our emotional highway of trust from falling apart.
I am Trusting You With My Pain in hope that I will begin to trust my own decisions and intuition. If I can’t trust myself, then trust in others is voided out.
To read more from Jaime: http://my-unfair-fight.blogspot.com/
The opinions expressed in this post solely belong to the author.