There are athletes out there that are prone to recurring injury. They are said to have glass knees or glass shoulders. When I felt ready to get back into the dating game, it was with a glass heart. To avoid pain and the risk of someone new re-shattering what I’d been piecing back together for several years, I held back my true self.
I have always been a very open and honest person; for better or worse, it’s sometimes impossible for me to hide my feelings. If I like you and you are important to me, I am all-in on our relationship. My friends tell me I am fiercely loyal. That’s why keeping a safe emotional distance from other people sucks out a great deal of my energy. For a long time, I wasn’t used to functioning with a protective wall around my heart.
“How do I let down my guard and learn to trust again?”
“Trust a new man, or learn to trust yourself?”
It wasn’t that I was distrustful of men as much as I was distrustful of myself. I was still very hurt from being blindsided; that my intuition hadn’t warned me of impending devastation in my marriage. It hadn’t warned me that my whole world was going to be turned upside down…
Or had it?
You know when your car starts making that weird engine noise and you tell yourself, “Eh, it’ll go away” and then turn up the radio to drown it out? Yep, that was me. After much soul searching and help from an amazing friend (my angle at the time), I faced the truth: all of the obvious, neon warning signs had been there, but I just had failed to acknowledge my gut instincts.
Deep down I knew things were wrong; very wrong (I can name them all but that’s for another time) but I suppressed them, content to smooth out the rough edges as “normal ups and downs.” Complacent to continue living the “amazing life” everyone around me thought I had. I was too busy fulfilling my role, too focused on raising my kids, keeping our home afloat and maintaining our social status to see what was really going on. As with a weird engine noise, or inevitably a lie, the things we push away always get us in the end.
I know some wont like this but I was mad at myself. I was mad at whatever part of me pushed reality away, didn’t protect my heart and allowed me to settle for less, believing that certain behaviors were acceptable. If I didn’t trust my radar to detect the warning signs with the person I was married to for over a decade, how was I supposed to trust it around complete strangers?
First of all, my amazing friends helped me to learn there was no use in beating myself up. I may be a nurturer, but I didn’t have to bear the weight of responsibility for another person’s horrible decisions and actions… I had done everything I should have done to be an amazingly loyal and trusting wife.
Secondly, although my heart had survived extreme trauma, I couldn’t keep basing my decisions in fear if I was to move forward with a new relationship. Yes, I risked more heartbreak in the future, but if I didn’t let down my guard and open my heart, I risked closing myself off to love. So I started to focus on trusting myself again and that’s where the healing began.
Violations of trust are painful lessons that we can turn into opportunities for profound personal growth. Isn’t that SO true?? One good thing about what I’d been through was that I could now trust myself to recognize those flashing warning signs when something was off. I was now in a brand new state of awareness.
I remember reading somewhere that when it comes to trust, “Life gives you the process through your experiences; people provide you the opportunity to practice.” In the dating world, people are going to do what they are going to do; there is little I can do to control them but that sure doesn’t mean I have to put up with it. I have to trust in my ability to acknowledge and call out unacceptable behavior; to see things as they really are instead of blindly making excuses for it or brushing aside. If something doesn’t quite add up or seems sketchy, I certainly can assert myself by taking a closer look at the situation and if needed, ask for verification. (And by the way, a woman who stands up for herself doesn’t have “trust issues,” she believes that she deserves honesty and is worthy of her own trust.)
My intuition has never failed me; my mistake was in choosing to ignore that inner voice for many years. I’ve learned a lot along the way. By checking in with my intuition and asking it for confirmation, I have regained trust in myself and, not surprisingly, those protective walls around my heart have started coming down.
Part of my journey has been learning that by trusting others, I am actually fine-tuning my intuition. As I meet new people socially and allow myself to be vulnerable, I not only deepen my ability to trust my own instincts, I find safe places to open myself up to love. Every day is a new day.