Being raised in a dysfunctional home I had very few, if any, positive experiences to support trust in any way in my life. At home emotional temperatures could turn on a dime, and things could go from being okay and fine to anxiety and fear. Promises were broken regularly and I was constantly reminded what a financial burden it was to raise me. Hurts were dismissed or minimized, accomplished were ignored and mistakes were magnified and followed with over the top punishment. That was the first 18 years. The next 18 years I was married to an alcoholic and that was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.
My husband, my alcoholic, was not a bad person but alcohol robbed him of the ability to be trustworthy in our marriage. If he said he would be home by 6 then he may make it home by 12. If he said that he would control his drinking at the bar-b-q that just meant that he would control it until he drank that one drink that put him over the edge. If he said that he would be there for one of the kids events that just meant that he might. If he told me he loved me more than anything in the world that just meant more than anything but alcohol. His intentions were good but alcohol robbed him of the ability to follow through and if robbed me of the ability to trust anything he said.
I really believed my knight in shinning armor was going to save me and fix all of the broken places in my heart. At 18 my knight took me away from all of the hurt in my childhood and he really did try to be Sir Galahad. In the beginning he really tried to be my defender and protector. The big problem was that alcoholism is a progressive disease. No matter how hard he tried he could not do what he promised and my last strings of trust were broken. I began to realize that “happy ever after” may not be in my future with him.
Even today trust does not come easy for me. As a kid I did not analyze what was happening and how it was affecting me; what I did was internalize everything. Being married to an alcoholic on buried those emotions deeper. All of those feelings that I had been stuffing, ignoring and denying resurfaced as mistrust, lack of confidence, cynicism, and wariness. I trusted absolutely no one. Learning to trust has been one of the most difficult things I have faced in recovery. My 4th and 5th Steps helped me to recognize who and where I had put my trust where that trust had failed. That helped me to recognize the types of people I should and could not trust. This process also helped me to understand that words and feelings aren’t facts. Surprisingly I had blamed myself for a lot of things that happened to me even when though I was the victim. Through the 12 Step process I leaned how to love and respect myself; A miracle in itself.
I still approach people with caution until I get the “wisdom to know the difference.” Do the words match the actions? Are they narcissistic and selfish or loving and kind? Do they have a sense of humor? Can they laugh at themselves? Do they say what they mean, and mean what they say, and do they say what they mean with kindness?
My inner circle is very selective today. Recovery has helped me to define and establish healthy boundary lines in my relationships. I have learned which relationships are worth cultivating, which ones are worth salvaging and which ones to let go. The important people in my life today make me a better person by being in my life. The words and actions of negative people have no credibility with me. Narcissistic and selfish people do not define my self-worth. I give no power whatsoever to people who are not on board with helping me grow. The reason that I can be so selective in my relationships is because I have learned that I am the only person on the planet who has the power to define my self-worth and I will not allow anyone without loving support for me to be apart of my inner circle.