PREVIOUS: Early Trust Betrayal
QUOTES: “Never trust anyone completely but God.” ~Lawrence Welk
“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.” ~William Shakespeare
“You may be deceived if you trust too much…. ” ~Frank Crane
AS ADULTS : OVER-Trusting (OT)
DEF: Ignoring information you already know about a person or situation (or a potential one you’ve been told about) that screams: “I’m NOT safe. I’ll get you as often as I can. Don’t trust me” AND that everyone else except you can see!
A therapist explained to a client why she needed to be less trusting & more discerning: “Some people you don’t let in the bedroom, some people you don’t let into the living room, and some people you don’t let in the front door!”
All of us ACoAs experienced years of trauma in childhood – at home, at school & in our neighborhoods. We were deeply scarred by those experiences but each of us handled it in our own way, depending on our basic personality AND our Family Roles. We found those wounds to be beyond anything we could bear & so developed our own defensive posture:
• some of us became overtly tough, angry, bitter
• others hide away from everyone
• some try to rescue & fix others so we can feel safe
• others escaped into a world of fantasy & have stayed lost, needing to see everyone thru rose-colored glasses! THIS defense mechanism is a thick blanket of vagueness to soothe the ache in our heart, BUT it makes us endlessly vulnerable to emotional, mental & physical vultures who can smell our ‘out-to-lunchness’ a mile away!
EXP: Josie hears a new acquaintance say that she has trouble with friendships – they usually end in serious disagreements. But Josie is starving for companionship & overlooks this vital information. Unconsciously her WIC is thinking: “She wouldn’t do that to little ole’ meeee – I’d never hurt her or make her feel bad, I care too much, I’m so sweet…..” Yet, sure enough, at some point Josie says or does the ‘wrong thing’ & the friend gets mad at her – attacking, accusing, withdrawing ….. Josie is shocked, then hurt, confused & of course blames herself for the problem (as if this outcome wasn’t totally predictable!)
ACoA IRONY: Regardless of which protective style we act out, we get trapped in another dilemma – while feeling unsafe with everyone, some of us carelessly trust everyone, to cope with the intensity of our fear, while especially trusting the most damaging people! It’s so automatic we don’t even realize that we are being too credulous because we need it a safety blanket and because it’s often in a passive way. AND we excuse our blindness by saying:
— I’m just trying to be a good person, I’ll give them another chance
— it’s wrong to judge other people & besides – they’re trying
— ‘they’ don’t mean to hurt me / can’t help how they are
— you don’t know their ‘good’ side, their good qualities
— …but they say they love me, give me money, neeeed me
— I can’t make it without them
— & it’s my fault anyway, I deserve how they treat me …..
We are too ‘easy’ when we:
• believe someone who tells us we’re crazy, or wrong, or stupid…. we trust they know more about us that we do
• believe each new promise made by someone who has repeatedly disappointed us – we trust that they’ll come thru — this time
• go to someone immature & unhealthy to share our emotional upsets – we trust that they’ll be supportive & nurturing — this time
• wait for others to give us ‘permission’ to say or do something — we trust that they have the right to do so, & know better that us ….
• let someone cajole or badger us into telling too much about ourselves – too soon…we trust that they won’t use it against us or for their own gain!
• “lend” money to someone who had proven to be irresponsible or outright dishonest — we trust that this time they really will pay it back
• are so happy that someone who used to ignore or dislike us suddenly is friendly, now that we have some money, fame, a good-looking partner, a big job….. we trust that their motives re pure & it’s us they really like!
• are willing to believe anything an authority tells us, without question or checking with your gut — we trust that they all have our best interest at heart & that they know everything
• keep ‘taking the high road’ with someone who is mean, selfish & disrespectful – we trust that our goodness will somehow soften them! This is a particularly dangerous illusion (not to mention arrogant & childish) – because:
— consistently abusive people are hardened in their narcissistic shell, which makes it unlikely that they’ll ever improve how they treat us
— the longer we stay around them the more their barbed-wire protection will tear away at our soul
ACoAs unconsciously assume that if we ignore the characteristics in others that we don’t like or that hurt us, it won’t have any effect. Even some of us in Recovery say they wish they could stay unaware of how toxic their family & friends are, because then it wouldn’t hurt. That’s like saying that eating rotten food would NOT be harmful to our body – just because we’re so hungry that any food is better than none.
Some part of us knows this is ridiculous, but the WIC doesn’t want to face more unpleasantness. All the while we become further debilitated by sticking around for more poison that certain people automatically dish out. It does not matter if it’s deliberate or not. Barbed wire is barbed wire! Protect yourself.
NEXT: Over-Trusting (Part 2)