Hey Abigail
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Trust

I recently got a lovely letter from one of sisters in the community. I wanted to share it with you all. She said:
“theres this boy. he has been in my life since we were 11 years old. thats 7 years now. we have been dating off and on since freahmen year of highschool. we are both seniors now. he has cause me so much pain, yet so many smiles.

the last time we were together, it ended really really badly. he ended up dumping me for my best friend. needless to say, shes not my best friend anymore. but i could never get over him. a year later, we were back together, as i had hoped. but now, i cant seem to allow myself to feel safe and happy with him because everytime i do, the pain i felt for so long floods my mind and i cant clear it. i know its because i dont trust him. but i want to. he hates himself for what happened. and he has definitly changed. so there isnt any reason for me not to trust him. i just cant. and i fear that maybe i care about him too much. its terrifying. he does this thing, where every time i trip, (which happens WAY too often) he announces that im falling…in love. and i think hes right. and its scary. i dont want to love him and then have him break me again. i dont know if i can handle it a second time. im scared. what the hell am i supposed to do?”

 

Dear my courageous, love filled, confused sister,

Thanks so much for taking the time to write to me and…(insert names of all of the other women I went to for advice on your question). You should feel quite special as you were the talk of the town in my world.

And ladies, I think that what we are going to discuss is great info to learn or to be reminded of.
(Now, don’t be alarmed and freak out when my serious side comes out in the next few paragraphs. Because you’ve been officially warned).
First off I seem to gather that you’re thinking that it’s your responsibility to just trust him, and I sense that you are demanding that from yourself. But I am going to introduce a new way of looking at it. I think that trust is something that is earned. It is earned by him not telling you how much he cares about you and how wrong he was (although that’s a good startJ) But rather, trust is going to rebuilt by him showing you that he is going to treat you differently. Now when someone hurts us in a pretty major way trust is not earned overnight. We may forgive them, but it doesn’t mean that the trust is automatically there again. It simply takes time and patience. It takes time for him to rebuild trust by making a habit of treating you right. And when this happens, youslowly can open your heart to him again.

So, let me just say from all of us girls…You are not crazy for not trusting him! Actually the exact opposite is the case. The very thing in yourself that you are frustrated with (the fact that you can’t trust him) is the very quality that I am happy to see in you! When you said “there isn’t any reason for me not to trust him,” Well I’m going to say that there actually is a reason because when people hurt us, even after we forgive them, we need to have boundaries and guard our hearts. (This doesn’t mean that we never open our hearts up to them again). But we need to be smart and not prematurely put ourselves back in the same situation. (Disclosure: I am not saying that the following is similar to your situation at all! Just a little PSA warning to some of our other sisters who may be reading) I know some girls who have been in abusive relationships and every time they listen to the sweet words that their man says, and they think that it’s going to be different, this time. (Instead of assessing that his behavior isn’t changing and protecting themselves by getting out of the situation)

So, be gentle with yourself and don’t demand that you need to trust him right away. Take that pressure off of yourself. Instead be glad that you are responding in a healthy and normal way. And just relax in knowing that trust isn’t going to be rebuilt overnight, but be glad that it is possible to be rebuilt over some time.

I am so proud of you for being able to express how you’re feeling. Now you just need the confidence to trust what you’re feeling and to know that you’re responding in a very healthy way; and that you are a very unique and special girl that deserves to be treated with utmost respect.
I will leave us with this quote that I found “The purpose of having boundaries is to protect and take care of ourselves.  We need to be able to tell other people when they are acting in ways that are not acceptable to us.  A first step is starting to know that we have a right to protect and defend ourselves.  That we have not only the right, but the duty to take responsibility for how we allow others to treat us.”

I also want to suggest the book, Boundaries by John Townsend to you http://www.amazon.com/Boundaries-When-Take-Control-Your/dp/0310247454. If you are unable to obtain a copy, email me and I will send you a copy.

Thanks so much for writing. And be encouraged that you are responding completely normally and be encouraged that it is possible for trust to be rebuilt with your boyfriend, just give it some time.

If you were inspired or reminded of a question that’s been roaming around in your head please email it to me at askabigail@dearabigail.net (And I haven’t forgotten about the rest of your lovely questions).

Remember we can’t do it alone,

Abigail

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