Life Lessons with Monica: Choosing Trust

Your faith has been shaken. Your trust has been broken. Time and again you
have found yourself seemingly at the end of your rope, warring between your
logically analytical mind telling you that trust broken can never return, and
your ooey-gooey heart that is nothing but a soft spot for the one who broke
your trust, quietly beseeching the heavens for help with repairing. What do you
do?

I’ve been through the mill when it comes to trust. Given it out and had it
ripped away, much of the time because my “too sensitive” nature, that is far
more giving than it is selfish, cannot seem to assimilate to this dog-eat-dog
kind of world we are living in. Then there are the moments I have shattered
trust through my own lies whether done through commission or omission. One thing
I learned is that the delivery (or lack thereof) of a lie is absolutely NOTHING
compared to the damage that it causes.

So let me tell you a little story. There was a time long ago, and when I say
long ago, I mean I was a pregnant sixteen-year-old, dating a guy who swooped in
and “taught” me what “true love” looks like. Now, a caveat here for you all, I
believe in true love. I believe it with my entire being. I believe in all the
spiritual aspects: Soulmates, False Twin Flames, and the highly coveted (though
not without its own set of challenges to overcome) Twin Flames. I do not use
my, as I would like you to think of them (as Weird Al did say to never use
quotation marks for emphasis) to be my sarcastic quotes, because I lack faith
in true love. I digress, let’s go back in time to the summer of 2003. As I was
saying, I was pregnant with my beautiful daughter, Hayley, at the time, and I
was TERRIFIED.

Every summer my mom and stepdad take a 7–10-day vacation down to South
Dakota. They load up their fifth wheel, set out early in the morning, and go to
their favorite campground, Fish N’ Fry, in the Black Hills. Tucked neatly in
between mountains, the campground back then was essentially cut off from the
outside world (aka there was no Wi-Fi and not even a semblance of cell phone
signal), blissfully peaceful. Unless that is, you are a pregnant teenager with
a possessively controlling boyfriend who insists upon checking in every hour or
so on the “cell phone he bought me to be able to talk to me whenever he
wanted.” At the time this is what I believed love to look like. It took another
year before I would learn what was really happening, but that is a story for
another time.

My mom could see the stress I was under. Granted the news of my pregnancy
had gone over about as well as the flight of the Hindenburg. Flames everywhere.
We had had several months to let the waters settle after the news, and I needed
to get away from small town living. It’s not easy always being the talk of the
town. I explained to my boyfriend before leaving, “We’re going to be in the
black hills, so my mom said the reception down there is spotty at best. I’ll
call every chance I get.”

He turned away and mumbled, “Yeah. I gotta go. I’ll see you later.”

“I love you.”

“Mmhmm.”

Out the door he went. In the past I would have fallen apart, wept, begging,
and pleading with him not to be upset with me, and ultimately would have chosen
to stay behind so that he wouldn’t be upset with me anymore. Why you may
wonder, did I do these things? First, because I was assured if I ever attempted
to walk away from him, what little was left of my positive reputation in town
would be shattered with what he planned to tell others, lies always have more
power than the truth, and make for much juicier gossip. As bad as that argument
was, the one that was worse, was the one I was put through when I attempted to
break up about a month before conceiving my daughter, “If you don’t love me,
and don’t want to be with me, I don’t want to live. I can’t live without you.
Please don’t leave me.” By the summer that argument had morphed to encompass
nearly any time I was going to do something he didn’t agree with, including
saying no to having sex.

In my underdeveloped teenage mind, to upset him meant that I was holding a
gun to his head, and never knew whether or not my finger was going to pull the
not-quite metaphorical trigger completely against my will. Would that have
mattered? Not even a little bit. I was trying to grow a human, trying to study
for my ACT exams the next year, starting to contemplate college, trying to be a
kid and an adult all at the same time, and I was also holding the life of the
boy I thought I loved in my hands. One wrong move and the juggling act I was
doing was likely to come crashing to my feet.

The first five or six days of minimal communication was some of the freest
days of my teenage years. I read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,
throwing the book from time to time across the camper in frustration at
Professor Umbridge (side note: if you get invested in the welfare of the main
characters in the books you read, NEVER and I do mean NEVER read The Order
of the Phoenix when you are pregnant, the combination of hormones and
vindictive witchery that is Umbridge are a wicked combination). The seventh of
our ten-day stint down at Fish N’ Fry, saw us driving through the scenic hills,
stopping off at a look see with a trail that went down to a waterfall.

It was deemed too treacherous for me to make the sojourn, so I remained at
the head with our traveling companions, my stepdad’s best friends. My mom and
stepdad had been down at the waterfall for a bit, and suddenly I heard some of
the most joyous laughter floating back to us. My mom was giggling like a schoolgirl.
Coming back, she had the biggest smile on her face, and my stepdad’s lighter in
her hands. I gave her a bemused smile and questioned with my eyes why she was
holding a lighter (my mom did not smoke, ever). Turns out, she had just gotten
engaged and lacking a ring at the time, the lighter was to serve as a
placeholder. It was shiny and had three lights on it, red, yellow, and green
like a traffic light. The lights would flash every time the lighter was
clicked. We laughed about it the entire day.

The next day we loaded the pick-up and headed to Rapid City, it was ring
shopping time. It would be the first opportunity for me to talk to my boyfriend
in nearly four days, and it was a Sunday afternoon, meaning he didn’t have work,
so he would be available and happy to hear from me. Or so I thought. The second
I saw two little bars of reception on my phone I pulled the retractable antenna
up and dialed his number.

Ring, ring, ring, ring . . . Voicemail.

Huh? This was not normal, he always answered before the second ring had even
finished. I shook my head, convinced it was just bad reception on my side, and
waited to get to town. City limits, I called again. Same thing. Straight to
voicemail. There were alarm bells in my head, and a sick roiling in my stomach.
I knew why I felt how I did; it happened the previous winter when I found out
he was using Yahoo chat to message women from other countries and sending
explicit messages back and forth. He punished me for looking at his computer
screen when I walked by it, as though it was my fault that he was doing this. I
tried to break up with him repeatedly, but you already know why I stayed.

I tried a few more times throughout the afternoon, even leaving a message,
“Hey babe. We are in Rapid City. Guess what? My mom got engaged! We’re ring
shopping and then going to eat supper before heading back. I should have
reception until 7 or so. Miss you. I love you. Call me.”

My mind swirled with the possible things occurring. First was the thought
that he had done something because I had been absent from checking in as
regularly as he would like. That took me hours to pull myself out of thinking.
Then that small voice, the voice of my intuition, piped up, nudging me gently,
telling me, “Honey, he’s cheating. Don’t take it as a bad thing. This is your
chance for a clean break.”

Unfortunately, I knew she was right, I was right, but it didn’t make me feel
better, only betrayed, and confused. Fast forward to the day we got back home.

My boyfriend wanted to head to the local dam and go fishing. He was waiting
for me outside the house in his stepdad’s pickup, boat attached, and my brother
and his girlfriend were in the back seat. They both jumped out and ran to hug
me, say hi to the baby in my belly, then congratulate my mom and stepdad on
their engagement, oohing and awing at her beautiful ring. My boyfriend stayed
in the truck. I hugged my mom, and she whispered in my ear, “Are you sure
you’ll be alright?”

“Don’t worry, Ma. I’ll be fine.” Then I went and got in the truck. I leaned
over to hug him, and he leaned his shoulder towards me as acknowledgement,
presenting his cheek for a kiss.

“How are you?”

“Ready to go fishing. Get your brother.”

It wasn’t a question, nor a request, it was an order. So I rolled down my
window, calling to them to hurry up, hearing a sigh of irritation. Was I
supposed to get out? Was I supposed to be as annoyed as he was that they were
still talking to my mom? I wasn’t sure what I had done wrong, but I knew I had
done something.

They got back in the truck and we headed out, driving in relative silence.
My brother and his girlfriend asking me about the trip, the engagement, what we
did, but my answers were mousy and short. I saw them exchange a knowing look,
and it was as though some sort of silent communication passed between them in
that moment. My heart dropped into my stomach. I fought off wave after wave of
emotionally driven nausea. Swallowing the lump in my throat, I fought tears the
entirety of the twenty-minute drive. When we arrived at the dam, the guys set
to work putting the boat in the water, and my brother’s girlfriend pulled me
aside. Making it seem as though we were having girl talk, she told me that she
needed to talk to me about what happened when I was gone.

“When you were gone, your boyfriend hung out with us a lot. He met one of my
friends, and even though they are both seeing someone, they hooked up. He even
gave her the necklace he always wore.”

“I noticed he wasn’t wearing it. I just thought he was mad at me, so he
didn’t want to wear it.” (He was one of those guys who liked to wear
necklaces and asked for one for Christmas to which I obliged.)

“I’m sorry sis. Do you want me to tell your brother we need to skip fishing
and just go home?”

“Yeah I think that would be best.”

She went to talk to him, and my boyfriend came charging over and told me
that we were going fishing. We needed to talk, and the boat was in the water. I
don’t know what he had told my brother, but my brother asked me to just hear
him out. My boyfriend was a persuasive guy when he needed to me, could smooth
things over quickly and efficiently while hiding the violence and anger until
we were alone. This was nothing new. Resigned, I got in the boat and we set
out.

The rest of the story is classic, I didn’t mean to, you were gone, I was
lonely, I have needs, you’re the one that left, and ended with “We are going to
be parents and have a family, I couldn’t survive if I didn’t think we were
going to be a family. You know that I believe we are meant to be together,
that’s why you’re pregnant. It means we are meant to be together. I won’t do it
again. Just don’t leave again, okay?”

We stayed together for another six months after that. My daughter was born,
we split up a couple months later. He continued talking to the other girl for
the rest of the summer. Our fights were volatile. And I never trusted him
again. He never gave me reason to. No apology. Just blame piled atop my
shoulders.

So how do you ever trust again after something like that? How do you put
your heart back out there? He wasn’t the last to cheat on me, nor to abuse me,
but I still kept putting my trust in the love I held for others. Sometimes it
is harder to gain back than others. Sometimes it is broken down little by
little over time until there doesn’t seem to be anything left to chip away. Is
that supposed to mean that trust is gone permanently, never to be renewed?

NO.

Okay, I know, it is a split issue for a lot of people, the whole fool me
once concept. Yet, there is a powerful force between two people who are right
for each other, Love. Love is all-encompassing and gives way to second and
third and fourth opportunities for healing and rebuilding. There is no
limitation on these things when there is love present. That is what I have come
to learn. Love can fuel the rebuilding of trust, but you have to essentially
retrain your mind after it is broken.

If you decide that you are going to trust. Trust in change. Trust in another
person’s words and love. Trust in your love. Then you wake up every single day
and make that decision. You wake up and think, “Today I choose trust.” When you
have doubtful thoughts floating through your mind, replays of the events from
the past that have broken it, remember that is a negative thought pattern
designed to destroy what you have already deemed beautiful and important to
you. Don’t allow it to win. Scream over top of those thoughts, “Today I choose
trust.” Go to sleep thinking it. It is the same premise as positive
affirmations. You are reprogramming yourself to open back up to trust. Like
every domino effect of positive affirmations when you do this you will find:

  1. Using a generalization will rebuild your trust in another person, a
    relationship, yourself, the world, the Universe, the Divine.
  2. When you build it, blessings will come. (Yes, I did just take and change
    the mantra from Field of Dreams. No I am not sorry, it’s the truth.)

The beauty of positive affirmations, your persistence and commitment to the
decision and choice that you made, despite your wounded ego and past pains, send
out clear signals of personal growth to the Universe, and things align
accordingly from there. I am not going to sit here, putting all this out to
you, and lie, pretending that this is an “anything I can do, you can do”
situation. I am human. I make mistakes. I get hurt. I struggle. This is how I
get through those moments, through those struggles. I wake up every day and
make a choice. A choice to be better today than I was yesterday. A choice to
trust. A choice to believe I am beautiful, worthy, enough, blessed, abundant.

My programming has some major glitches in the system from past conditioning.
I am a work in progress. We are all works in progress. But we have the beauty
of free-will. We get the choice to change ourselves. We get to be examples,
teachers, pass on to the next generation these essential things for living
fulfilled and happy lives. Free will to choose this is a gift. So today, I
choose to trust. Take your first step, make your choice, and stand firm in your
new Self. Healing comes in time, but it can only come when you open yourself up
to it.

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