Trust is an essential aspect of all good relationships. Underpinning all trust is the implicit value that a someone has the best intentions for us. People can make mistakes and let us down because of circumstances or personal challenges and this can still hurt us but when someone deliberately sets out to deceive us, it is particularly painful. Knowing that someone has duped us or manipulated our trust in them to further their own ends, leaves us feeling abused and denigrated.
It is often easier to forgive someone for letting us down e.g forgetting an important anniversary or not being available to listen because of their own personal circumstances. Disappointment results but fundamental trust in the other person’s best intentions for us is still intact. But when someone deliberately feeds us with false promises that we mean something special to them, only to find out that they have done this with others to get what they want, we feel horrifically abused and foolish.
When trust is broken under circumstances of manipulation and falsehood, the responses are similar to those experienced in grief. The reactions are not linear but complex and overlapping but broadly follow four steps: Disbelief, Anger and Despair, Depression and Recovery. Recovery does not always occur because of the disbelief that a person can treat us in this way. We might bargain with ourselves and the ‘no longer present’ person saying things like ‘Did I get it wrong? Have I exaggerated? What are they going through? etc’. We have to process all this alone as the person invariably is no longer present to get straight answers from and our anguish is exacerbated by the fact that whatever they say, we can’t totally trust them anyway.
Recovery comes when we accept not to continue the trauma but accept the fallibility of ourselves and others. To hold on to the rage and grief makes the painful relationship even more expensive. Letting go and forgiving their limitations is something we don’t have to do for them – but ourselves. If we don’t, we can’t trust ourselves to be there for ourselves when the going gets tough. If you are holding on to the loss and pain of a relationship where trust is broken, you might need help to let go and have the wonderful assurance that ‘whatever happens, you can trust yourself to be there for you!.