Trust. It’s a funny thing, isn’t it?
The reason we struggle with rebuilding trust after divorce is because we feel like we’ve been betrayed. It’s a crappy weight to have on your shoulders. Similar to other divorce feelings such as anger, guilt, and resentment, losing trust keeps you from getting your life back and moving on from divorce.
But like all the other feelings, you have the power to break free from their hold and regain control of your life. Let’s discover how!
Trust and the Source of Betrayal
Many times, lack of trust comes from a sense of betrayal—which is exactly what you feel the end of a long-term marriage. Whether the betrayal was from simply growing apart, or from more insidious things like abandonment, abuse, or infidelity, it’s no wonder why you may feel like you cannot put your faith in anyone anymore.
As if that’s not bad enough, loss of trust can be nasty because it makes us doubt ourselves during a time when we deserve to be strong. The inability to trust actually has a stronger blowback on us, because it makes us lose confidence in ourselves, it turns our world upside down as we begin to question what we can really depend on, and as we work to start over and get our lives back.
As difficult as betrayal may seem, there is one thing you must remember: It does not get to define you for the rest of your life.
What happened to you does not define you
When we are betrayed, we tend to view the work differently. We may think that everybody is out to get us, that we can no longer trust any of our relationships, and that we will not be able to trust anything in our lives again.
But as painful as betrayal has been, it is not your death sentence. It does not mean that good will never come your way again, or that you will not be able to heal. If anything, betrayal during your divorce actually shines a light on the toxicity and shows you that you deserve better.
The next time that the hurt from mistrust creeps into your thoughts, you must remember the following:
- Trusting yourself is the foundation to trusting again
- You are not alone in this world
- There are people who love you
- There are people who are rooting for you.
Exercise: Rebuilding Trust
If learning to trust again is something you have been struggling with after your divorce, take a look at this simple exercise for a kick-start…
Answer the following questions:
1. What and who can I depend on that I sometimes overlook?
List your answers. They can be simple. If you are stuck, take a look at some examples below!
- It may not seem like much, but I know that my dog is always there for me. Whenever I come home after a long day of work or if I’m feeling sad, he can always sense it and he comes over with his tail wagging as he sits in my lap to snuggle.
- My little sister has always been there for me. As we have gotten older, she has become a confidant, and shoulder to cry on, and a thinking partner when I am struggling with a problem.
2. What will I do to acknowledge and celebrate the things on which I can depend?
Your answers to the second questions do not have to be complicated, either! Here are some of my own examples.
- I will continue to care for and spoil Oliver, who brings so much love into my life.
- The next time I talk to my little sister, I will let her know how much I appreciate her.
3. How will I embrace those things when I am triggered and feel mistrust and betrayal as I continue to heal?
This third part of the exercise is all about bringing the first two questions together. It recognizes that you may be triggered, but then it challenges you to help yourself when you are. Take a look at some of the ways I have incorporated the exercise into my own post-divorce life!
- When that wave of mistrust washes over me—which is many times when I think about the marriage—I will put that feeling on pause, and then remind myself of the many beautiful things in my life that I can depend on.
- I will list those things, and if I am physically near one of those things, I will reach out to them. For example, I will hug my dog and take him on a walk to clear my head. Or I will text my sister to see how she’s doing.
- Redirecting the negative feelings of betrayal into something positive will gently remind me that there are people and things in this life that I know I can depend on, who also depend on me. I will celebrate that trust and focus on that love instead.
Now, it’s your turn! Who are the people and things in your life that you can depend on, and how can you draw on their energy to heal and build trust again? What will you do this week to celebrate the confidence you have in them?