The Beginning of Something Else

On June 1, 2007 I found out my husband and partner of almost two decades had been unfaithful to me since before our marriage, and had been having intercourse with prostitutes for 3 1/2 years. This is what happened next.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Expectation, Reality, and how do you re-establish trust?

A common question early in this journey, and one that continues to come up, is how do you re-establish trust?

That was the discussion topic in my S-Anon meeting this week.

The consensus in the room, expressed in many different ways, seemed to be that one's notion of trust is forever changed by betrayal this deep. "Those of us in this room no longer have that dream, that fantasy, of completely trusting."

The answers that did come...

"I'm learning how to trust myself."

"I trust the process."

"I trust my Higher Power."

Nobody said, "I trust my qualifier exactly as much as I did before."

The point being, for me, that the amount of trust I'd placed in Husband before was not appropriate.

It's not reality-based thinking to expect that humans will be perfect at anything. 

Humans are flawed by definition.

A healthy adult is prepared to maintain wholeness, and to take appropriate action for self-preservation, in any event. Betrayal by loved ones included. A healthy adult does not give away that power to another.

One can have expectations that "my [fill-in-the-blank] would never lie to me." But if one isn't prepared to maintain wholeness and take actions for self-preservation were that lie to happen, one might find oneself in a bad (painful, traumatic, apocalyptic, etc) position.

Being human, and therefore not perfect, we all find ourselves unprepared at times. That's an opportunity to grow.

Another point that came up is that it's appropriate, given past events, to expect that someone who has lied to you must re-gain your trust over time. They must earn your trust. That's appropriate. They don't have your trust because they've shown they don't deserve your trust.  That's appropriate.

Expecting you to trust them on their timetable instead of your own because it makes them feel bad to be considered untrustworthy...well, that' shall I say about this? That's a natural consequence of their actions and not for you to control. (I started to say "that's just TOO BAD!" but decided that was less helpful.)

Right now, the natural consequence of Husbands recent lies is that I've pulled away. "What do you expect?" I asked him. I recently realized that not responding according to his expectations doesn't necessarily mean I'm unreasonable or passive aggressive or unwilling to forgive. It just means that my response and his expectation were different. Period. Anything else is just meaning that he or I have added.

(Can we just redefine expectation to mean a fantasy about the future? That would be so helpful.)

What causes fear (for both of us I think) is when expectations aren't met, because that introduces the unknown.

As creatures programmed for survival, nothing is worse, nothing is less tolerable for human beings, than the unknown. I suspect that developing that capacity is the reason I'm here.

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