Lord, I got issues.
Trust issues. It never dawned on me until this very moment that my attachment or lack thereof to other human beings has much to do with trust issues. In the rule book, I have written for myself, people get one strike — one chance at gaining my trust, and one chance at losing it forever. In my twenties, I was a serious commitment-phobe.
I dated, but always found a reason to break up with said boyfriend right before we hit the three-month mark. I am not joking. I was a man-eater and breaking hearts was my M.O. If I wasn’t breaking hearts, I was investing myself in relationships I had no business being in the first place. Walking past all of the warning signs right into a trap of a relationship, asking men who were also afraid of commitment to commit in ways neither one of us was capable of.
Over the years, I have buried my trust issues under pragmatism, “keeping it real-ness”, and simply writing people out of my life when they crossed the line. The hard part about trust issues is, the impact of the trauma and hurt is not limited to the people who actually offend us—it translates into every arena of our life.
People are going to hurt you. They are going to hurt you, and it is not because they are evil (well, not all the time) it’s because there are lots of broken people our here doing their best to get through life with fractured hearts and minds, and hurting others in the process. I know, because I am one of them. The other night I was talking to my partner, and he told me that I could commonly be characterized as “so nasty and so rude”.
Now, I was purely making a joke as we sat on the couch talking and playing with our son. Though my husband was laughing as well, I noticed that he kind of meant what he said. That yes, even though he loves me, he knows that I have a serious mean streak. The mean streak turns on whenever I feel someone has crossed the line or is invading my privacy.
I really didn’t even know I was mean until now. Honest to God. Imagine that, years of praying, fasting, going to church AND therapy, and I am just now realizing that I am not kind. In fact, I can be mean as he—.
My meanness isn’t because I want to hurt others; it is more of a protective measure I developed around middle school and high school as a defense mechanism for bullies. A bully would make a black joke, and I would come back with at least three wisecracks that were sure to destroy their self-esteem, or at least make them think about their life.
Terrible, I know, but it is just how I learned to survive. In certain areas of my life, I have this uncanny ability to disassociate myself from others emotionally, and it's not a big deal, especially if I find the person dishonest, disrespectful, or overbearing.
This past week in my quiet bible study time, I felt drawn to scriptures referencing trust, about God fighting FOR me, and defending me. Then I had two friends reach out and confirm it by sharing Isaiah:
'Do not be afraid—I am with you! I am your God—let nothing terrify you! I will make you strong and help you; I will protect you and save you. ‘ - Isaiah 41:10
I initially thought something terrible was coming my way, and so I’d better gear up and prepare for the worst…again. But then it dawned on me that maybe God was asking me to relax rather than prepare. Perhaps this was an invitation to trust again. Going through something as traumatic and infant loss destroys your trust in the natural life cycle of things.
If not careful, loss, trauma, disappointment can lead us to a place where we are cold and indifferent because we expect to be let down, expect to be disappointed, except those we trust to betray us, and slowly but surely, we begin to build walls to prevent the hurt, the feelings of betrayal and disappointment.
Our view of life and others become distorted. We don’t know what’s true and what’s a lie anymore. Even as we read and declare scripture, it comes from a place of knowing what God said, though life presents the complete opposite.
At this point, my trust in God exists above and beyond feelings. It has to, it's the only way I thrive moving forward. My question is: was this the goal all along? Is this what it means to dwell in the shadow of the almighty? Where your trust is in God and his word alone because all other things, and every other person, seems fleeting?
I believe there is a balance somewhere, and that I will get there eventually. But until then, I will be patient and merciful with myself. I’ll move a little more carefully when making friends, a little slower in building deep connections. Until my trust is humanity is rebuilt, I’ll dwell and lean on God.
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