How can you ever trust again?
I met up with a new friend for tea. I was listening to her vent about her X and how he’d gained custody of her young child through dubious and manipulative means. She was in and out of court and being drained of every ounce of money she’d ever saved or earned. It was her abuser’s tactic. She was living a fresh hell that I was quite familiar with.
She asked me point blank – how can you trust anyone ever again?
At first, what sprang forth was an abundance of cheerful optimism. Or more like an abundance of clichés. You’ll love again. Everything happens for a reason. Time heals all wounds. Love conquers all. Love will set you free. Things always work out for the best. I basically told her the same crap people in the past had told me. They were right of course. But it was not the right time to hear it. There probably is never a right time. It’s something a woman has to realize on her own. And it usually takes years. After much healing.
Note: if you ever talk to a woman who is in a custody battle, or has lost custody, or has escaped abuse, DO NOT say the above. EVER. Just listen. That’s all she needs. Well that, and a lot of money.
On International Women’s Day, after I read from my memoir at a local university, a woman came over to tell me that she had had an almost identical experience as me. What really stood out in her shocking story, where even the police had her abuser’s back, was how she felt like she would never trust men again. This was years after she’d left him and he had died. Every guy she’s dated has sent off us some red flag signals to her. I totally get it. Why would you ever want to take a chance and risk your safety and your children’s safety?
This is what I know is true for me. After the abuse, I was suspicious of everyone. I didn’t have any intimate relations for years. My sole purpose was to protect, love, and nurture my child. Eventually, I opened up to having relationships. And let me tell you, they weren’t abusive, but they were short-lived and not all that great. I continued to learn and grow and become more and more myself. I learned to trust me first.
And I did fall in love again.
Do you have a story to share? Write to me @firstname.lastname@example.org