Betrayal is a Four Letter Word

I am the first one to admit that I have serious trust issues. It can take a lot to work through all the different aspects of learning to trust other people.

When you talk about trust in a psychological context, the person doing the trusting is relying on the actions, words and choices of the person they have chosen to trust. That person could be a parent, a friend, a romantic partner or any of a number of roles that others take in your life.

The relationship between two people – no matter what the relationship is – always involves a certain level of reliance that a person develops based on past actions, words and choices to extrapolate expected behavior in the future.

It does not matter if the trust issues are based on subjective reality or on objective reality. Either way, the person having the trust issues must find a way to come back from those problems. As someone who has trust issues, I am working very hard at learning to look at the root causes of those issues from an entirely different perspective.

A parent does not have to have been abusive for their children to have developed trust or attachment issues. The parent could have easily done the best that they possibly could. Sadly, parents have their own issues that may or may not have been passed on to their children.

Acknowledging that something happened to make you feel that you cannot trust someone, does not require that the other person actually admit to having done something wrong. Often the other person may feel they were justified in saying or doing whatever caused you to feel betrayed. Is it easier to face those trust issues if the other person admits to their side of the situation? Of course, it is!

A continued relationship between yourself and the person you feel betrayed by must, however, be based on an acknowledgment of your feelings. It does not matter if they think your feelings are not justified, but they must be able to recognize that you have those feelings. They do not have the right to invalidate the feelings themselves.

It can be difficult to break free from an habitual reaction with someone you have a long-term relationship. The contextual history of your relationship with that person influences both of your reactions to each other. This is particularly true when the relationship between yourself and another person is a parent/child relationship.

There are so many things that can be seen by a child as a betrayal of parent’s relationship with them. A critical comment that is motivated by the parent’s own psychological issues can be devastating to a child.

I grew up as a fat child, and both my father and my grandmother were also fatter. As an adult, I can look back on many of the critical comments, both made as having been made from a motivation to help me to not have to experience many of the problems (i.e. Bullying, fat-shaming, or other ways to experience social isolation) that they both endured in their lives. That does not mean that the words and phrases they chose communicate their concern were appropriate to the situation. Being told ‘you will never get a man to love you, unless you lose weight’ is not exactly the best way to show your concern. Nor is being told, ‘you have such a pretty face. You would be gorgeous if you could only lose weight.’

That is only one example from my childhood. Unlike many children I knew for a fact that I was loved. But that does not mean I did not grow up feeling like nothing I ever did was not good enough for my parents, or for my grandmother. Again, from the position of an adult, I can look at those situations with a far more balanced eye and can acknowledge what the original intent was.

I freely admit that I have an extremely harsh response to being betrayed. But I have learned that if both people in the relationship want to recover from betrayal, it can be done. However, if my boundaries have been clearly communicated and they are ignored, I have the right to limit my interaction with that person. It is not an expectation that they will change, it is only a simple result of their choice not to respect my boundaries. Likewise, if I cannot seem to respect someone else’s boundaries, I fully expect to have them limit their interaction with me.

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Categories: Mental Retraining | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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