Rebuilding trust can be tedious, trying, and at times disheartening. It’s an extremely difficult task. It’s like taking a crystal glass and slamming it against the pavement so it shatters into a billion pieces (including those dust like pieces) and then someone telling you to piece it back together exactly how it was, and smile while doing it. Ever hear anyone say “Rome was not built in a day” ? I hear it all the time. Well what I really would like to know is, if Rome was not built in a day then how freaken long did it take to build it??!? Can someone answer me that question? Again I ask, how freaken long did it take to build Rome? We all know how important trust is in relationships. I think we learn even more how valuable it is when trust is broken and we are trying to rebuild it. Trust is something like the immune system of the body. Think about it. When we are in a relationship and we have trust, or an immune system, negative thoughts that come in our head, doubts we have about fidelity or the other persons feelings towards us, these parasitic worms are grabbed up by macrophages to be destroyed! When trust between two people is broken, or the immune system becomes infiltrated, it cannot function properly and we become susceptible to all sorts of parasites and viruses etc. The immune system of trust is essential for every relationship to function healthily and ultimately to its survival.
So how do we get well? How do we recover from an infiltrated immune system? How do we piece back together the crystal glass? I’d say the first step is deciding if it is worth fixing. Do you love this person enough to give them a second chance? To roll of up your sleeves and get your hands dirty? To put in slave labor? To accept that you may cut your finger and bleed and scar trying to put it back together? Both persons have to be willing. The next step is acknowledging that things will never ever again be the same, or how they were before. This is not to say that they cannot be good again, or that the immune system cannot recover and function properly again. There is a possibility it will, and that it can, but it will be changed. Maybe for the better, maybe for worse. There is also the possibility that it cannot. That is something else that both partners must accept when trying to pick up the pieces. It must also be acknowledged by both partners how difficult of a task it is going to be. The partner who broke the trust, must be willing and ready to accept the tornado of emotions the other person is going to go through and what kind of destruction may come of it as a result of their inner turmoil.
In trying to trust someone again we really do go through an inner turmoil, or a tornado of emotions. We are over powered with negative thinking. Will he cheat again? Does he really care about me? If he did it before he could do it to me again? How could she lie to me so easily? If it was that easy then, will she lie again? What else has she lied about? He’s making a fool of me! She thinks I’m stupid. I’m stupid for trying to make it work. But I love her so much. What if he’s still cheating? What if he can’t change? I look like a fool, I look like a fool! How could he do that? If she cared about me, how could she do that? I would never have done that to him. I loved him so much, so freely. What did I do to deserve that? What the fk did I do to deserve this? She threw my love back in my face. What if she just leaves? What if I put in this effort to make it work and he just leaves me? What if she meets someone else who isn’t so bitter and she leaves me for him? I can’t blame myself for being angry! It’s not my fault! He made me paranoid! She made me bitter! It was so perfect before, I was so happy. He ruined it! …Yea lol, if you have had trust broken you know you’ve had these thoughts! Just to list a few!
Okay so what do we do with all of these thoughts? Ever find yourself fighting with the person you’re trying to work it out with for no reason at all? Rebuilding trust is like suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We have flashbacks. Yup! Moments of re-experiencing where all the old emotions from the traumatic event come flooding back and we can’t distinguish between past or present or reality. So what causes these flashbacks? Triggers! Triggers can be something simple like you catch him checking out a girl, or he comments on a friends picture on facebook. You can’t tell him exactly why you are mad because you don’t really know. These are things that wouldn’t have phased you in the past, so you are just mean for no reason or start a fight just because you want him to be reminded of how much he hurt you. Or a bit more complex. For example, when she was cheating she would often not answer her phone around a certain time. When the cheating has ended and you are trying to rebuild, you call her phone around that time and she doesn’t answer. All hell then breaks loose!! You go into flashback mode, all the anger and rage comes back along with all the hurt, you automatically assume she’s cheating and civil war ensues. It’s pretty hard to hold your tongue and you are completely irrational. What happens next? Well after you drop 6 nuclear bombs on her when she gets home, and then she takes out her phone to show you the battery is dead and you realize you pre maturely waged war, it can be a frustrating and stressful experience for both you and your partner.
So if our immune systems aren’t working to get rid of these thoughts and the flashbacks are coming regularly, we have to work on taking immune building supplements and on awareness. Of course we are always going to be on guard, but be aware of your triggers. When you have a negative thought or feel a flashback coming on do some Cognitive Behavioral (CBT) exercises (I’m a mental health clinical nurse specialist lol). Here are some examples of things you can do. Ground yourself in the present, in reality! Ever see Inception? Leonardo used a “totem” to help him determine when he was in reality. Find a totem, it can be mental or physical, but have something to remind you this is the present not the past. When the thoughts come on or your feel like declaring war, identify the event that triggered the thought, the feeling that came as a result, and your action (if action happened). Then “examine the evidence” or check the validity of your thought. Would she really risk hurting you again? She really has been trying to make an obvious effort to show you she cares for you and wants to make it work. Do you really think she’s cheating? Or is there something else that could explain why she is not answering her phone? Then re-frame your thinking! You may come to a much more logical conclusion. Don’t get me wrong here. I am not telling you to let your guard down when someone has betrayed your trust! By all means, keep your guard up!! You have to until the immune system gets working again, and even after I’m sure it may stay up for a while. I’m saying, try to drop the nuclear bombs when they are warranted. Otherwise you may destroy needed infrastructure.
Most of the work needs to come from the defendant, not the plaintiff. So all that putting pieces back together, the majority of the labor should be of the one who broke the trust. They should be earning trust back. If they really want to work it out and love you, they will deal with the civil wars and nuclear bombs. This does not give you liberty to drop them at any point in time. They do still have the right to get fed up with you if you are not working with them trying to work with you. Offenders, I am going to warn you, the person whose trust you broke is going to unconsciously want to punish you! Yup! Ever listen to Mariah Carey “H.A.T.E You?” Well that’s kind of like how they may feel. Torn. They want to ” make you pain like I do” or “break you down so low there’s no place left to go.” They will unconsciously want you to feel how extremely shitty and hurt you made them feel so you can understand just how incredibly f-ed up you are! Honestly though, if they stick around and are doing this, it means they love you. That hurt and anger comes out of the depth of their love for you. So bear with them. Become aware of their triggers and for the first couple months avoid setting off those alarms. If you know you never used to answer your phone at this time of night when you were cheating, yes, put in the extra effort to ALWAYS answer your phone at that time! Try, and keep trying. Honestly, you owe it to them. So be patient. The anger and hurt will subside. It may never go away completely, but it will subside.
Immune systems can heal, crystal glasses can be glued back together, and PTSD can be successfully treated. The immune system can be as strong as it was before. The crystal glass may not be exactly how it was, but it will still be beautiful, and the PTSD may disappear never to return. Trust can be rebuilt. According to Wikipedia Rome was built in around 500 years or so. Thankfully, I don’t think it takes 500 years to rebuild trust 🙂 I mean this is modern-day! If you really care for someone, that will be enough to sustain you through the rebuilding phase. Just be patient and understanding of one another, keep a pack of band-aids near, and just love each other. Most importantly, pray.