We have all had this happen. Relationships develop, trust gets built. And then, BAM, that trust is broken. For myself, I have always found that when someone breaks my trust they never have the opportunity to regain it. Of course, this is different than when your child breaks your trust. They are still learning. But if they have not learned to not do that by the time they are in their early 20’s, then yes, the same rule applies. No matter how much you may love someone, if you cannot trust them, then they will never be healthy for you to be around. And this does not even have to do with the three A’s of Forgiveness: Acknowledgement, Apology and Amends. If someone has fulfilled those three A’s you can, of course, forgive them. But trusting them is something that may take a very long time, and it should, or it may not ever develop again, or at least not to the same degree.
We are often fed ridiculous messages as we are growing up such as, “Turn the other cheek” (great way to get punched in the face not once, but twice), “Forgive and forget” (way to set yourself up for yet another assault of your mind, emotions or body) and “Be the bigger person” (others will not be playing by the same rules, so just be YOU). All of these messages victimize the victim even further. They are actually counterproductive to creating a healthy society because they actually enable the culprit to continue on with totally crappy behaviour.
When our trust is broken, one of the first things that we often say to ourselves is, “I should not have trusted this person as much as I did.” It is like we are set to a default program of self-blame when it comes to betrayal of trust. How are we, as a society, to be able to build a positive environment in which to live, love and grow without trust? Of course we want to be able to trust others. But the fact of the matter is that not everyone is trustworthy.
Instead of saying things like, “I should not have trusted this person as much as I did,” we should lay the responsibility of the harm on the one who caused it. We should be saying to ourselves, “This person should not have taken my trust and broken it into pieces the way they did. They should not have taken my trust for granted. And now THEY have lost that trust and may never get it back.” People will be accused of being cold hearted when they take this stance. I know I certainly have. But what is actually more cold hearted is to seduce someone into thinking that they can trust you and then smashing that trust on the rocks with the zeal of a sociopath.
People will often come up with excuses for their sociopathic behaviours. They will say things like, “I didn’t mean to do it,” (then why did you choose to do it?) or, “You forced me to do that when you….(fill in the blank there with absolutely anything that deters from the issue at hand),” (the true narcissist will always make it all about themselves but never take responsibility for anything they have done), and many other types of shirking statements that will get them off the hook.
But the fact remains that the trust was broken and it was broken by choice. People don’t accidentally break trust. They choose to do so. I remember sharing something with someone I trusted to be a friend and, the next thing I knew, what I had shared was public knowledge. When I confronted that person I got all the excuses and all the shirking of responsibility. But the truth of the matter was that this person got a thrill out of “knowing something” that others did not yet know. And so this person chose to spread that information around like wild fire for the thrill of being the one who was “in the know”. And then, during the confrontation, when it became obvious that there was not even an acknowledgement of the damage that they had done, and I called them out as a “back-stabbing douche bag” they played the victim, trying to gaslight me as having rage issues. So I let them know in no uncertain terms that they were dead to me and always will be. For a couple of years my social life was totally destroyed by all the crap that person was saying about me. But I knew that I would survive that because it would eventually become “old news” and people would get bored as hell by the revisionist history. And indeed people did get completely bored with it. And over the course of those years this person did this to more people. Eventually this person was the one who became the outcast because people got really sick and tired of their piss poor behaviour.
People would come back to me and apologize for having believed all the crap this person had said about me. This brought up another question…do I forgive them for believing it? Instead of pondering that too much, I decided that it was likely better to not worry about that. I would say to them, “Well, choosing to believe them was something you chose to do, so I guess that you will have to resolve that within yourself.” They would then say stuff like, “But we are good now, right?” and I would respond with, “I did not say that.” They would leave with their tales between their legs. I was good with that. I had not needed them, obviously, over the last couple of years, so why would I need them in any way now? It wasn’t like they were wanting to make amends in any way. Yes, they acknowledged that they had made a mistake that harmed me, and they apologized for it. But the amends were just not happening.
These types of situations are the ones in which we discover just how strong we have become. We do not have to buckle to gaslighting or cave to others’ expectations that we have to automatically trust them again. We can rise from the ashes like the phoenix in flight and become radiant in our essence. And the best way to do that is to become whole, and to succeed in life and to become resilient to those types of toxic behaviour.
And, one more thing, we cannot hold other, new people hostage to that toxic situation of the past. That is not fair to them. Yes, we may have alarm bells that might go off now and then. Yes, we may need to pay attention to those alarm bells. But once it has been determined that it was a false alarm, we can turn those bells off. We cannot be forced to live a life with no trust in others simply because some douche bag decided to break our trust in the past. We have to continue to build our trustworthy relationships. And we have to nurture them as extremely precious, making sure that we, ourselves, are not the ones to break that trust.
I remember dating someone years and years and YEARS ago who had trust broken by someone before I ever came along. She was extremely hurt, understandably, but would continue to project that hurt onto me and pretty much everything I did. If I were to buy her a coffee she would question my motives. If I were to give her a small but meaningful gift, she became suspicious. If I were to show her love and support, she would think that I was just wanting sex. It became very toxic very quickly. And, on top of that, she was riddled with abandonment issues that were made worse by the fact that she was both needy and in the habit of pushing one away whenever we wanted to respond to her needs. It was a vicious cycle of push/pull/push/pull. Within two months I had had enough of that ridiculous program. Some would say that two months was not enough time to allow her to heal. That was not my responsibility, it was hers. I was there for her in every way, but she was holding me hostage to a past with which I had nothing to do. So I finally broke it off, but also took the time to explain to her why, exactly, I was breaking it off. That way she would understand how much she had royally screwed up the relationship and would, hopefully, be able to get some help to deal with her old wounds. Whether or not she did I have no idea, because when I break up with someone they become non-existent in my life. Well, other than the mother of my children. That one is different for obvious reasons. But anyone else…done. No longer connected, no longer friends, no longer connected through social media etc. I simply cut ties and move on. That is how a healthy breakup needs to be. That way people do not have confused signals and mixed messages.
I have a friend who broke up with his girlfriend a couple of years ago after she broke his trust and would not own that. To this day she still tries to connect with me…after she hurt him so severely that she might as well have just taken a knife and stabbed him 40 times in the heart. Each time she attempts contact I block her. She has even gone to the extent of trying to create a fake i.d. on social media and send friend requests with each fake i.d. (yes, she has done this numerous times…stalk much, honey?). Each time she has been blocked, yet again. Her motives are clear. She wants to manipulate his friend. What she has not yet learned is that I am “unfuckwithable”. I will chalk that up to her being extremely immature for her advanced age. I do give her credit when it comes to determination and ingenuity. But that is where it ends. And I will never connect with her on any level, because to do so would be a breach of trust that my friend has in me. I value his trust too much to do that. Besides, when she broke his trust, she also broke my trust that she would treat him well. And that is unacceptable.
Whether it is your trust that was broken, or that of a friend, it is important always to make sure that the responsibility rests on the correct party. No more self-blaming and no more allowing others to walk all over you. They became cold-hearted when they chose to break your trust. You are allowed to become equally as cold-hearted when you address that with them. And it is THEIR response that will determine if anything in that relationship is salvageable, not YOURS.