When you become newly divorced, a funny thing happens: everyone in Greensboro gets in line to provide (mostly unsolicited and sometimes contradictory) advice on how to move on with your life. It’s a remarkable phenomenon, indeed; all of a sudden you’re surrounded by expert attorneys and therapists. However well-meaning those folks may be, there’s something none of them can help you recover, and that’s your ability to trust.
I suppose you can count me as one of those amateur psychologists too. Being divorced myself, I usually write about my own experience—I share things that helped me get through my own breakup and the aftermath that was my life in the months following. For weeks I’ve been trying to write an article—this article—about how to recover faith in people, only to get stuck and give up. I could not for the life of me understand why it was so hard. I mean, I found my ability to trust again, so how come I couldn’t explain how to do it?
I tooled around on Google for a while to get some perspectives. Let me tell you, the number of editorials on this subject is overwhelming. Many of them actually do have step-by-step instructions. But none of them made sense to me. I don’t think there is a standard set of directions. That’s why I had so much difficulty with the topic.
I can give suggestions on how to communicate with your ex or share ideas to help you think positively. Those issues can be tackled by suggesting some small, concrete lifestyle modifications. Trust isn’t like that. It isn’t exactly built upon anything. It’s not consistent or steady. It’s not an emotion either-no exercises can create it or alleviate it. It’s not a way of life. I don’t think a few quick tips organized into a quippy blog will help you feel good about putting your eggs in someone else’s basket.
So how do you help someone get it back? How did I get it back?
The answer is– tough it out, plain and simple. To have faith in someone else or yourself for that matter, you just do it. You need to take a chance, step off the cliff, and have confidence that something will break your fall.
Think about it—trust is created when you put your love, or your secrets, or your hurts or your…whatever…into the hands of someone else. And when that person doesn’t break your heart and doesn’t betray you, they prove themselves to be loyal. The gamble pays off. Soon, you start to have confidence in your own judgment again, which makes it easier to take another risk. And thus, a new, healthy cycle is born.
Trust is a belief.
It’s all up to you. Another person cannot make you believe in them. For that process to begin, you have to make the first move and give them an opportunity to NOT let you down. It’s an absolute leap of faith that leaves you vulnerable and raw.
And that takes a lot of courage. Opening up after a divorce is terrifying. At a time when you feel emotionally drained, physically exhausted and completely discouraged the possibility of facing heartache again is absolutely daunting. But it’s worth it.
After my divorce, I met an absolutely fantastic man. I decided I was not going to allow my Ex or the experiences I had during our separation to cast a shadow on my new relationship. Every day I reminded myself that this man was different, it wasn’t the same relationship. I put myself out there, being 100% honest and open about what I wanted, needed, expected, felt…the whole thing. I totally exposed myself. It was rough, but it paid off. I had the best romance I’ve ever had to date, doing and seeing and feeling things I might never have had the opportunity to otherwise. In the end, I had my heart broken, but I don’t regret one minute of it because of what I gained.
I learned that life was not over, and I knew the freedom of being my authentic self, showing that to another person, and being loved back–even if it was for just a brief time. Nothing worthwhile comes with a guarantee. Withdrawing from the world, or keeping parts of myself stashed safely away would have been easier, but I would have lost out on an amazing adventure.
So I personally recommend stepping off that proverbial cliff, even if you’re not sure the bridge will hold (or if it’s even there). It’s the only way to get to the other side.