A good game of hide and seek requires secrecy. A perfect hiding place means breathing quietly, moving slowly, and keeping the location to yourself.
We’re taught from a young age to keep things quiet, and that we can only really trust ourselves. We know that hiding places mean we won’t get hurt, and that small spaces fit for one can keep us safe.
As adults, we follow that rule.
We build forts for single occupancy, keeping still to protect ourselves from the intentions of others.
Once bitten, twice shy… isn’t that what they say?
We lose trust when we give someone a piece of us and we don’t get it back, like sharing toys that end up stolen. We lose trust when people cloud us in lies to cloak their deceit and then, we lose faith when they hurt us and leave us to find our way back through the dark.
When we give it to the wrong people, trust can be terminal. When it’s gone, there’s an exquisite kind of pain we must endure, and we experience the kind of hopelessness that people write, sing and paint about.
As with most types of pain we encounter in our lives, the best way to get over it is to push through. There is no way around it, and there’s no way to pretend that fear doesn’t exist.
We can walk through aches and sprains, and we can command our bodies to move when nerve endings tell us to stop. We can manipulate muscles and twist our tongues into saying we feel fine, convincing ourselves that we don’t feel sick or faint. We can bandage up flesh and cast up bones, and push through the recovery of a crack here, a chip there.
Endings are heavy, and the absence of another is sharp, making it hard to get up again. The reality of a cut tie can leave lasting damage.
There’ll always be something telling us not to push through, warning us not to risk further damage.
I’ve found the only way to vanquish the voice in my head that tells me to run is to admit to myself that it’s there and abandon it anyway. The truth is people will always hurt us, and that’s just the way things are. There is nothing we can do about it, and no armour can protect us forever.
Basically, I pretend it isn’t there- like a child with her hands covering her ears screaming “I can’t hear you” until it rings true.
It feels reckless, and I don’t like doing it. You know what I really don’t like? Living in fear. So, I jump and close my eyes until it’s over.
I’m trying to trust again.
This bravery is borrowed and I return it quickly before I get fined for using too much of it, but it’s there. I must keep doing things that keep me courageous, because in the end, practice makes perfect.
One day, one of these risks will be worth it.
I do all these things quickly, before I can talk myself out of it. It’s not a fool proof solution, but it’s taught me how to do things in the moment.
My friends encourage me, nudging me into decisions I probably wouldn’t make without them. Their backup is straight bourbon, words leaving me drunk on courage. I drink up and forget until morning.
I’m someone who has the tendency to self-sabotage. I prefer to fall on my own sword, rather than take someone else’s in the back. So, to be honest, this whole piece is just the blind leading the blind but I’ll do my best to explain how I’m putting trust in others again.
I’ve learned that people have picked me up and dropped me, and to a certain extent, I’ve allowed them to. Having someone half there was better than having no one at all, but then they kept hurting me, and so my trust would shatter all over again.
After going through an intense breakup, it can be tricky to return to life by yourself. It’s not easy to be alone when you’re used to spending most of your time with another person, and it can be tempting to jump straight back in to a new relationship.
Honestly, I think that approach does more harm than good. There’s no transition time, and grief gets buried before it’s ever been resolved, meaning that many of us carry our old problems to our new relationship.
It also means that the love we may have lost for ourselves along the way, stays lost somewhere. Temporary love fills us up.
The best thing I’ve learned is to take my time, because nobody wakes up one day and forgets everything that happened to them. Little by little, it starts to fade, but there are no magic words to erase the pain of the past.
I try to avoid looking for things about my past that will hurt me, but it’s been vital for me to study my failed relationships. I’ve had to be honest about what went wrong, why things unravelled, and if I fall for the same kind of person. I need to understand my own habits and my own emotional needs in order to see clearly.
There is no secret to trusting someone else again, but it all starts and ends with you.
Trust yourself before anyone else, and that means forgiving yourself first for whatever you’re punishing your heart and your head for. Sometimes, we can’t see the warning signs or red lights that flash in front of us, for whatever reason. Sometimes we give people the benefit of the doubt. It’s not your fault.
Learning to trust my own instincts was critical in learning to let go of fear, and my anxious tendencies tend to tell me to abort mission at all times. This meant having to learn what was a gut instinct, and what was fear masquerading as internal knowledge, which is easier said than done.
I remind myself that I don’t want to go through life never emotionally connecting with another person again, and I don’t want to be my own worst enemy. In the end, the only person I have is myself, so why be the root of my own pain? I know I need to put trust in other people, whether I like it or not.
For a long time, the only person I truly trusted was my therapist. I’d been let down by so many people and been conditioned into believing I couldn’t trust myself anymore. My therapist kept me on balance, even when someone tried to cut the tightrope beneath me.
One of the things he’s said to me, is “What’s the worst thing that can happen?”
It’s such a simple, elementary question.
Of course, so many things could go wrong but all those things only ever happened in my head. I’ve had to learn to know myself all over again to believe I can make it through whatever comes next.
To trust again is being sure of yourself enough to know you’ll see the warning signs and knowing that you’ll leave if you don’t get what you deserve. It’s being fearless enough to fall, and knowing you can pick yourself back up if someone lets you hit the ground.
There is never going to be certainty, and promises might get torn in two, but you will be okay again.
It’s far too easy to withhold trust out of fear, sadness or resentment. We tell ourselves we’re better safe than sorry, and that guarding ourselves with tall castle walls is what keeps the war on the outside. Fencing ourselves in seems like the best option, until the battle breaks out at home.
If you don’t learn to trust again, chances are you’ll get hurt anyway. You’ll be in deeper than you know, running away faster than you want to, and you’ll probably hurt someone else in the process. The worst part is that you’ll hurt yourself the most. There’s no hall pass for pain, the only thing that protects us is luck.
When we’ve been hurt, we cradle our hearts. The stitches are delicate, and the bruises are sore, so we heal them without pushing or prodding them. We protect it, holding it like newborn flesh, singing it to sleep to keep the nightmares away.
As we heal, we remember the betrayals from what came before, and we refuse to be blind again. Reluctant to put ourselves on the line, we withdraw from people who make us smile out of fear they’ll use it against us, and that those small smiles will be broken.
If you’re going to get to know someone new, you need to remember that trust is built, and the truth often takes time to unfold. Relationships are messy and complicated, because people are.
Be honest with new people in your life, so that they know why you might be hard to get to know. The people who want to be there will build safe places for you and they’ll stay.
It’s not a walk in the park to trust all over again, and sometimes I feel jealousy, fear or control lock onto me, jump starting my paranoia.
I’ll start to imagine all the things that could be happening behind my back, but I’ve learned to take ownership of that. That’s my stuff, not theirs. I need to deal with that and value the progress I make.
When we play hide and seek, we want to find an untraceable hiding place but deep down we hope someone finds us eventually.
We want people to search for us, because we’re afraid of being lost forever.
We can protect ourselves, staying still and quiet, but we’re still afraid. We can make ourselves unseen, and we’re still petrified. Is that any less terrifying than taking a chance on someone else?
Could we speak up and tell them to come and find us? We might be more afraid, or we might not be.
Maybe, there’ll be someone who sees you in your hiding place. That someone might just be a person you don’t even have to question, and maybe, that’s enough.
Ready or not, here it comes.