Someone recently asked me, “How did you get over your distrust of men?”
It’s a long story that begins with building a wall around my heart – an impermeable tower of protection – as a result of some very big disappointments (like childhood sexual abuse) and some smaller ones along the way.
Realizing the wall’s existence was the turning point for me. It happened when I was at my lowest point: addicted, suicidal, and having committed myself to the psych ward.
It was there I met my first energy healer, whose advice would stick with me forever (but that’s a different tale), and included an interpretation of a dream that meant I was waiting for a man to save me.
I also met a nurse, an immigrant from Nigeria, who approached me as I wallowed in self-pity, drowning in tears, rocking myself, near a window.
He said, “When you were a baby, your mother wrapped you in cloths and fed you, rocked you, kept you safe.” (I resisted the urge to scoff at this image of a mother who was so different than the shell of a woman I had known.)
He said, “That was then. But now you are grown. It is up to you to carry on.”
He paused, and then said, “I do not know why you are here, and it does not matter. What matters is that from this moment forward, it is up to you to carry on.”
With that, my circumstances were blaringly obviously and quite suddenly my own.
And so I turned inward.
I saw a scared, hungry, lonely child-me huddled within a tower of stone, shrouded in darkness.
“Get up,” I softly urged her. And she did.
Examination of the stones revealed their mysteries: each one held a memory, a moment in time that was so terrible it could never be repeated.
Here was the moment my mother drove up that driveway, to the house she swore we’d never return, where He lived …
And I felt the rush of dread, the sinking sick feeling – and then, almost just like that, it was over.
Where the stone had been, now a feeble bit of sunshine filtered through! It wasn’t much – certainly not a big enough opening to escape – but it was enough.
For the next several years, I removed the stones of the wall around my heart one by one. Some were smaller and more easily destroyed; others took a lot of work. Sometimes I had to leave a whole section in place and work on another part until I built up enough strength to try again.
I wish I could remember the day the last stone fell. But I don’t – because as more light flooded in, I became stronger and more confident.
All that work – years spent examining myself, tearing down the layers of protection I had put in place, recognizing that they had served their purpose but that now I wanted to live in the light – was a strength and stamina -building exercise in SELF-trust.
And it wasn’t until I told this story a few short days ago, as an impromptu answer to that simple question, that I realized I had the answer all along.
“How did you get over your distrust of men …” he asked, “because I just can’t see how I’ll ever trust a woman again.”
Trust isn’t something we place outside of ourselves. Trust isn’t something that can be given, broken, taken away, or controlled by anyone … except for ourselves.
Trust lives deep within the center of our soul. Trust is what we earn when we do the work to uncover our innermost, childlike Self. When we look at what we’ve surrounded ourselves with, and slowly gain the confidence to break free of our self-imposed constraints, finally venturing out of the shadows and into the light, we will know trust.
And that is an unbreakable trust.
I never got “over my distrust of men.”
I learned to trust myself, and then, I simply carried on.