If you’ve encountered a bad experience within a relationship: being betrayed, cheated on, or hurt in any shape or form, you may be expecting this experience to happen again.
After we’ve been hurt, it can be hard to trust another person again. We might have built up our defences and prefer to keep people out. However, it’s up to us to let go of the old pain so we can re-build trust.
In this article, I wanted to share with you a personal experience I had and why it made me think about relationships and what it means to trust after being hurt.
A painful incident
“When we think we have been hurt by someone in the past, we build up defenses to protect ourselves from being hurt in the future. So the fearful past causes a fearful future and the past and future become one. We cannot love when we feel fear… When we release the fearful past and forgive everyone, we will experience total love and oneness with all.”Gerald G. Jampolsky
Back in February of 2019, I got bit by a dog.
My best friend had adopted a dog from a shelter a few months earlier. Being a senior dog, and having lived on the streets of New York City for quite a while, this poor pup was highly distressed and anxious.
My friend was leaving the city for a few days and asked me to take care of him. Being the dog lover that I am, I agreed to take care of him while she was out of town.
One evening after our walk, I squatted down outside the apartment to clip off his leash. As my hand got closer to his collar, he suddenly snapped.
Next thing I knew, his teeth have sunken into the fleshy part of my hand and he was holding onto it tightly. I freaked out and with force pulled my hand out of his mouth.
Overcome with panic and fear, I opened the door to the apartment and rushed in to get some ice, while the dog sprinted into the living room. He was a small silky terrier, so the damage wasn’t as big as it could’ve been with someone the size of a German Sheppard.
I got scared of what I love
After this event had happened, and a few weeks have gone by, I realized that I became scared of petting dogs.
All my life, I have been a huge dog lover and have never had one bad experience. I grew up around dogs! I love them! However, after this incident, I could feel a sense of fear and anxiety creep up on me whenever I would get close to a dog.
After I relocated from New York City to The Netherlands in October of 2019, I stayed with my family. My mom and her partner have a big, adorable Golden Retriever. This 7-year-old ball of fluff is the sweetest, loveliest, and cutest dog you could ever meet.
One evening, I decided to take him for a walk. I put on my shoes, my jacket, and bent down to put on his leash. As my hand was getting closer to his neck, I felt a rush of fear.
‘Don’t be scared,’ I thought. ‘Cyrus is sweet. Relax. Don’t be ridiculous.’
I’ve taken him on many walks since then, but every time my hand would get close to his neck, I would tense up. One lousy incident completely disrupted my sense of freedom and trust with dogs. I was scared this sweet dog would snap at me.
I’m absolutely fascinated with psychology and the human mind. Therefore, I kept thinking and re-playing this whole incident in my mind.
‘I love dogs. Dogs are great. Cyrus is great’ I’d say to myself. ‘I understand that this once time accident was traumatizing, but come on, why would I let it affect all interactions with dogs moving forward? It was a one-time thing!’
I quickly had a profound realization.
WE DO THIS ALL THE TIME WITH RELAtionships
You get hurt once in your life and suddenly all the faith and trust you had in relationships disappears. We build up walls, have trust issues, and are scared to open up our hearts.
We may have an incredible partner by our side, but continue to re-live our fear of being lied to, or cheated on, just because someone years ago hurt us.
More importantly, there is usually a specific situation/emotion/scenario that triggers this fear and anxiousness to come out.
If your ex told you he was working late, when in reality he was unfaithful, your current partner saying he’s working late could cause you to tense up. Rather than seeing the situation as it is (your partner sometimes has to work late), your deep pain gets triggered, and you start accusing him of cheating.
This might sound slightly ridiculous for someone who hasn’t experienced this particular scenario, but that’s what we humans do. We take our hurt, trauma, and pain from one relationship, and drag it into the next.
One bad experience, re-lived day by day.
If you get food poisoning from a cheap restaurant across the street, what’s the lesson here? Don’t go back to the same restaurant! If we get “food poisoning” in a relationship, we imagine that every single relationship from this point forward will be the same.
You might be with the most beautiful and wonderful partner – and no matter how loyal, honest and loving they are with you, subconsciously you might be fearful that they will hurt you the same way someone else did.
The initial situation was so painful to us, and it got fixated within our subconscious so deeply, we can’t seem to get rid of it.
Take a look at yourself.
We’re always quick to judge others on their mistakes; however, what about us? We’ve made mistakes in our own lives, too. We’ve definitely messed up at one point or another!
What would it feel like if your partner didn’t trust you, because of something that happened to them years ago? What would it feel like if you were the most trustworthy and faithful partner, but your loved one couldn’t let go of their ex cheating on them, and thus would fearfully expect you to do the same?
It’s incredibly eye-opening when we turn the tables around and look at this from a different perspective.
Clear our your baggage.
Rather than living in fear and projecting our past onto someone else, we need to get rid of our baggage. Every new relationship should serve as a blank slate. No old fears, hurt, judgments, or expectations.
I still have a small scar on my hand, from where the wound was. I will always remember this painful and unfortunate incident. However, that’s all it was – one unfortunate incident.
Don’t drag the wounds of the past into the future
Just because you once got food poisoning, doesn’t mean you should be scared of restaurants. Just because you got hurt once, doesn’t mean you should be scared of love.
Leave the hurt and pain of the past right where it belongs – in the past. Acknowledge your scars, think of the lessons you’ve learned, and leave it all behind.
Don’t miss out on something that could be magical and wonderful, just because of one bad incident.
Want to do some soul searching? Inner child journaling prompts might help you. If you enjoy watching videos and want to learn more about yourself, consider checking out the Inner Researcher Youtube channel.