The loss of trust in a relationship can be devastating or it can be a basis for growth and change; sometimes in the relationship itself, certainly for the individuals. Two paths manifest after a betrayal: victimhood or resiliency. “What’s wrong with me that I didn’t see this coming, how could they do this to me, it’s not fair” are conversations that lead to feeling powerless and fearful. Recognizing the need for acceptance and forgiveness, practicing self care, and implementing healthy boundaries provides opportunities for building strength and confidence.
I remember hearing family therapist Virginia Satir say that trust is like a basket; what it carries depends on what you put into it. If someone has a history of always being late that is probably not the person you want to ask to pick you up for an important event. But that same person may be totally trustworthy with your checkbook and your house key. If a person has a history of not being truthful, trusting their words may not be a wise choice….. but they might be the first person to step forward in a crisis. Rarely is trust a blanket that covers everything.
The fable of the frog and the scorpion illustrates the importance of awareness of an individual’s nature and the need for wise choices. In one version, a scorpion wants to get to the other side of a river and asks a frog to carry him across. The frog hesitates, saying ‘How do I know you won’t sting me?’ And the scorpion replies that of course he will not sting as they would both drown if he did. So the frog ferries the scorpion on his back and just before they reach the other side, the scorpion stings the frog. As they both are dying, the frog asks the scorpion why he repaid kindness with a death sting. The scorpion replied, “I am a scorpion. It's my nature.” Recognizing and honoring an individual's nature is important in making good choices regarding trust in that relationship.
Rebuilding trust after a betrayal can provide an opportunity for deeper intimacy if both parties are willing to be vulnerable and open with their feelings. Relationships are vital to our quality of life, and challenging times that offer opportunities for growth and change can help us appreciate good times.