Trust: Easily Broken and Seemingly Impossible to Repair. So, How Do You Pick Up The Pieces and Move On When It’s Gone?
Waiting for someone else to prove that you’re safe to trust again won’t help rebuild it. So, when it feels like you’ve lost it forever, where do you start? At 33, I finally stumbled across the first step in a chain reaction of events that helped me address my trust issues and move forward.
I celebrated my birthday earlier this month, and I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on everything that’s happened since I turned 30. This journey of transformation hasn’t always been an easy one, but I’m grateful for everything the last three years have taught me. I’ve learned a lot of lessons but looking back, I realize they were all meant to help me realize one thing:
Freedom to trust comes from our own healing, not someone else’s actions.
By the age of 33, I’ve experienced not one, but two quarter-life crises. The first one started at 25 and it took me almost two years to do something about it. I was burned out from working and traveling constantly, and hadn’t met anyone new in months, in spite of the fact that I was going out 4–5 nights a week. I woke up one morning and felt like I was suffocating, I could see the next 5 years of my life. I had everything figured out and I hadn’t left any room for surprises or new beginnings. The velocity of that realization catapulted me into action. I moved to LA at 27, with no job and I didn’t know anyone. I rented an Airbnb for 3 weeks and told myself if things didn’t work out I could always move back to Colorado. I was lucky enough to find one of the most fun jobs I’ve ever had — and I never looked back. 6 years later, I’m still in LA and it was one of the best decisions I ever made.
Part of me believed I had learned my lesson and wouldn’t need to worry about another existential crisis for at least another 25 years. But turning 30 wasn’t anything like I’d expected. I was at a new job and managed to dig myself into the same hole I was in before I moved to LA. I was working around the clock and traveling constantly — exhausted and unhappy. I was getting out of a string of relationships with men who lied to me, tried to keep our relationship a secret from their friends, and after becoming controlling or aggressive, had backed me into a corner where every move I made was a decision based solely on trying to find the best way to avoid an argument. I felt like I was losing my mind and I was questioning every decision I ever made. I wasn’t having trouble in only one area of my life, it felt like everything in my life was crumbling around me. It was the perfect storm — I completely lost all trust. I didn’t trust men; But worse, I didn’t trust myself anymore either.
“Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.” — Tony Robbins
It was clear I hadn’t learned the first time around, so the universe threw me back into the same situation all over again, so I could finally learn my lesson. The pain was finally too much to bear and I knew I had to make a change. That’s when the universe brought Ellen and I together to create Daughters. Neither of us had any idea what would happen but looking back, it’s easy to see that the universe doesn’t just bring us challenges to teach us hard lessons — it also brings us opportunity to grow and move forward once we have.
I spent most of my life believing that the way other people treated me was a reflection of my own self-worth and value. Something I came to believe over the years — so much that I didn’t know how to let it go. When someone hurt me, or made it clear they didn’t care about me being in their life, I would tell myself “this is a reflection of how they feel about themselves and has nothing to do with me” a million times, like a broken record on repeat. I would distract myself to hide the pain and avoid feeling hurt. I was ashamed that I wasn’t “good enough” to matter to them. But last year, thanks to this journey with Daughters, I was forced to finally deal with a lot of the damage that’s been holding me back from being able to move forward and TRUST — both the universe and other people, but mostly myself.
I realize now, the first (and hardest) step is just to talk about it. Acknowledge the event, whatever it is, with someone who makes you feel safe. At the time, I had no idea where to start but I knew I had a LOT of work to do. Ellen and @daughtersbrand gave me the support I needed to start being honest about my past, how it made me feel about myself, and the fact that I didn’t know what I needed to heal.
You can’t control everything that happens to you, how others treat you, or the mistakes you made when you didn’t know better. But you can choose not to be reduced by them, so you can learn from the experience and be better in the future.
The simple act of talking gave me freedom not to be controlled by things that hurt or embarrassed me. And that freedom gave me a new perspective on life. Though it was painful, I learned firsthand that people will fall out of your life when you’re doing a lot of work on yourself and going through an awakening. Some I expected, others hurt more because I didn’t. But it forced me to shift my energy to enhancing the relationships I do have and focusing on the things that bring me health, purpose and joy. I stopped trying to prove myself to people who don’t value me. I realized that some of the people I lost are at war with themselves — trying to fight internal battles through me, and I would always come out on the losing end. Others will always be committed to not hearing me, and it’s as simple as that.
I was finally able to give myself permission to let them go; And in doing so, I found space to prioritize myself. I became hyper-aware of people and situations that made me feel bad about myself, or sucked my energy dry.
Watch the way people react and behave when they’re not getting what they want. It becomes clear, very quickly, when someone is set on manipulating you to get what their way.
This awareness made it easier to say no when I needed to set limits. I stopped making excuses for people who apologized for doing hurtful things over and over, but never changed their behavior.
As I shifted from focusing on material success and achievement to the things that brought me joy, my values changed.
I wanted more kindness, compassion, happiness and purpose in my life — and I wanted to be surrounded by others who understood that and supported me. Though I didn’t realize at the time, this process actually began to rebuild my self-worth independent of other people’s opinions. If I wanted more of those things in my life, I needed to BE them, too. That became the pivotal point where I realized I could finally fully forgive the people who hurt me in the past because I was no longer weighed down by their judgments or actions. This came easier with some people than others, and it’s still something I work on every day. But accepting that some people will always be toxic was an important step for me.
Realizing I didn’t have to repair my relationships with them, lifted the weight and helped me forgive us all. It helped me forgive the people who hurt me with empathy and compassion, and the understanding that their actions were borne from pain and their own internal battles. And it helped me forgive myself, for accepting less than I deserved.
Forgiving myself helped me find more compassion for others. Focusing on relationships that bring me joy helped me let go of people who made me question myself. And freedom from judgement helped me get one step closer to the person I want to be. A woman who values relationships and kindness, who gives as much as receives, who always tries to say thank you instead of I’m sorry — and most of all, a woman who TRUSTS that the universe has my back. I started this journey hoping for someone to show me I can trust again, waiting for someone to give me a reason to believe. But the most important thing last year taught me was that trust is found with others when you trust and value yourself, first.
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Trust: Easily Broken, Seemingly Impossible to Repair. was originally published in We are All Daughters. on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.