Even though love can help us heal, it's so hard to trust again after experiencing trauma. Because many people I encountered when I was younger hurt me, or they died, I started to distance myself from people. Even though I love people and I love talking with them there was always a wall that I put up so people couldn’t get too close. But I was very lonely for most of the years of my life. I’m now 40 years old and it’s only been within the past few years that I’ve allowed myself to really get close to people. But I didn’t do it randomly.
I first started with people who wanted to be close to me, but I pushed them away. I was very open and honest with them and told them about my mission to improve the relationships with people who love me and to build trust in others. I told them I was scared of getting hurt and that being vulnerable is hard for me. Because they already loved me, and this is what they'd been hoping for all along, each of them was patient with me. And something amazing started to happen. As I was more vulnerable them, they were more vulnerable with me. They began to trust me even more because before they could see that I had a wall up and was only willing to give so much of myself.
After just a few years I have multiple loving relationships in my life with both family and friends. Part of me feels a pang of sadness on all that I missed out on from the years that I didn’t allow myself to get close. But I know that I was just trying to protect myself. So, I try to focus on going forward and not allowing just anyone into my life but people who show me that they truly care about me and that I feel are deserving of a little piece of me.
Part of the reason I was willing to start giving a piece of myself away when I did is because I felt at that point I had the self-care practices in place to handle if somebody hurt me. Prior to that time, I wouldn’t have been able to handle somebody I love hurting me. However, because I did a lot of work and was maintaining consistent self-care practices I felt confident that if I did get hurt that I could rebound from the pain.
If you're also in that place where you crave connection, but you're scared to death of getting hurt, I recommend that you begin with implementing regular self-care practices and develop healthy ways to cope if you do get hurt again. Then when you’re ready, start small. Start with one person that’s in your current circle that you feel is most deserving of your vulnerability and be honest with them and tell them that you’re scared to death of getting hurt again but you want to work on building your trust in others.
If you need ideas for self-care practices and healthy coping mechanisms, I recommend that you read or listen to my book, Transformation After Trauma: Embracing Post-Traumatic Growth, where I detail the tools I used in my healing journey. Sign up here to begin reading the Introduction and Chapter 1 for free: serotinouslife.com/transformation-after-trauma-book
If you want to read or listen to the full book, you can find the eBook, audiobook, and paperback on Amazon: amazon.com/dp/1950336204