REBUILDING trust can be a tedious and disheartening task. It's like taking a crystal glass, slamming it against the pavement so it shatters into a billion pieces, and then someone telling you to piece it back together and smile while doing it.
Trust is like the immune system. Negative thoughts, doubts about fidelity, etc, are like parasites. When trust is broken, or the immune system infiltrated, we become susceptible to all sorts of parasites. The immune system of trust is essential for every relationship to function healthily, and ultimately for its survival.
How do we heal an infiltrated immune system? How do we piece together the crystal glass?
The first step is deciding if it is worth fixing. Do you love this person enough to give them a second chance? To accept that you may cut your finger and bleed and scar trying to put it back together? Both persons have to be willing. It must also be acknowledged that things may not be the same. The immune system can recover, but it may be changed. There is also a possibility that it cannot recover, and both partners must accept that beforehand as well.
When someone breaks our trust we go through inner turmoil and a tornado of emotions and negative thoughts. Will he cheat again? Does he really care about me? How could he lie to me so easily? What else has he lied about? He's making a fool of me!
You may find yourself fighting with the person for no reason at all. It's like suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). You have flashbacks caused by various triggers where all the emotions from the traumatic event come flooding back. When he was cheating he would often not answer his phone at a certain time so when he doesn't answer at that time one day you assume he's cheating again, and civil war ensues and nuclear bombs are dropped. At times you are mean to him without reason or start a fight just to remind him of how much he hurt you. It can be a frustrating and stressful experience for both parties.
Don't be naïve, but be aware of your triggers. When you have a negative thought or feel a flashback coming, there are some things you can do.
First, ground yourself in the present. In the movie Inception, Leonardo used a "totem" to help him determine when he was in reality. Find a totem, mental or physical, to remind you that this is the present not the past. When the thoughts flood in and you feel like declaring war, identify the event that triggered the thought, the feeling that came as a result, and your action.
Then, examine the evidence. Check the validity of your thought. Would he really risk hurting you again? Is there something else that could explain why he is not answering his phone? You may come to a much more logical conclusion. Keep your guard up, but only drop the nuclear bombs when they are warranted, otherwise you may destroy needed infrastructure.
When putting pieces back together, the majority of the labour should come from the one who broke the trust. They need to earn you trust again. If they 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 non-stop, though. They do still have the right to get fed up with you if you are not working with them trying to work with you.
For the offender, know that the person whose trust you broke is going to want to punish you. That hurt and anger comes out of the depth of their love for you. So bear with them. And if you know you didn't answer your phone at a certain time of the night when you were cheating, yes, put in the extra effort to always answer your phone at that time now!
Ms Betty Lou, aka Elizabeth A Hylton, is a Jamaican-American writer, actress, and clinical nurse specialist hailing from Massachusetts.