So, for anyone who doesn’t know, I have left Minnesota for the semester to study abroad in Ireland. It’s a fantastic privilege and something that I didn’t expect to ever have the courage to do. I’ve been here for close to a month now 🙂
Besides never expecting to end up in Ireland for a full four months, something else unexpected happened before I left home. To keep it short and sweet (and it is indeed sweet), the girl that I had been seeing all summer and I decided to make things official– you know, BF and GF, BAE and boo-thang, Facebook official.
So things for the most part have been going really great. But there was one little snag, about a week ago, that caused some conflict. It wasn’t an argument or a fight but just really bad tension I suppose. The topic of going out, flirting, and cheating came up during a Skype call, and admittedly I was the one who brought most of it up.
I’ve had many conversations with her about trust issues, and I’ve made it clear that through various heartbreaks and painful events in my past I have become skeptical of trusting or having faith in most people. So, in a back and forth, tension-filled conversation I finally got to the point where I said, “Julie, I’m not going to change how I am when it comes to trusting people. I am just this way now and there is really nothing I can do about it. It’s how I am.”
This never turned into an argument, but it could have; probably should have. She had the decency to just let me vent out of respect for me and the shit that I’ve told her has happened to me. After a few days of rethinking the conversation, I realized that her reaction was far better than I deserved. What I said was completely unfair to her and selfish of me, and if she would’ve gotten angry or upset she would have had every right to do so.
After a few contemplative days, a few restless nights, and one phone call with the smartest person I know (my mom), I came to one of the biggest realizations of possibly my whole life (or at least this decade…). I finally faced the truth that, since being cheated on four years ago, I have looked at my life and at relationships through a totally different lens. I have spent years distrusting people and actively expecting the very worst from them. And I’ve essentially promised myself that I’d never again be in a position where someone can hurt and betray me– a position of vulnerability. It took a long time to do it but I finally, with some help, discovered that this is not healthy. And even though it is workable as an independent, single person it is nothing but detrimental and toxic in a relationship.
So with a new perspective on myself and a new-found understanding of what relationships should really be like, I have begun my journey, so to speak, of relearning faith, trust, and love. It is, without a doubt, extremely difficult. Struggling with changing thought patterns and habits is probably one of the hardest things a person can do; it feels as if it is counter-instinctive at this point in my life.
In the bad moments, where I want to resort to old habits, I start having racing thoughts and make up hypothetical situations that not only haven’t happened but probably never will. This is accompanied by a deep feeling of sickness in my stomach and an uncomfortable pressure in my chest. All I can really do in these moments is to take one breath, and then another, and keep on like that until the time of weakness passes.
Now I’m not striving for perfection, that’s not realistic. We all get worried sometimes and we all need a little reassurance to chase off the shadows of doubt. But I know that I can be better than I have been and I have every intention of working at it until I am at my best. While it is very hard to kill habits, I know that it’s definitely time for this one to go. If I stay stuck in the past– in distrust and skepticism– then there is no way I can create a future with Julie that is any better than that. And she and I both deserve much better than that.
So here is to quieting the voice of distrust in my head.
Here is to giving up on self-sabotage and racing hypothetical thoughts.
From here on out I will spend my energy on relearning faith, trust, and love, remembering that the most valuable things in life are a product of all three.
DANNY P WRITES
There is a blog I have been reading that is extremely helpful if you feel you may be someone who’s struggling with trust.
I’ll put the link here: http://sparklife.info/blog/2010/08/trust-trusting-relationship/