Rebuilding Trust: Part 2
When trust is broken what is actually breaking?
Last week, I introduced the concept of termites in a home representing how behavior that breaks trust eats away at the structural integrity and safety of a relationship. (Click HERE to refer back to Part 1 of this series.)
This week, I plan to explore what is actually breaking in the relationship and what the primary barrier is to rebuilding trust. During the upcoming Part 3 of this series, I will begin to walk you through the actionable steps to take in order to rebuild trust and connection in your relationships. While this information naturally lends itself to marital or romantic partner relationships, I would encourage you to also apply this to other forms of relationships as well.
Let's Talk About Intimacy... and, no, I don't mean sex.
The way that I define intimacy is simply the degree to which you are connected to someone. We all have varying degrees of connection depending on the type of relationship, the frequency with which we interact with someone, and also the nature of what we share and witness within each other's lives.
The degree of connection that I have with my sisters is much deeper than the degree of connection that I have with my gas station clerk. I know her name, that she has a dog, and is still in school... but that's it. We're connected but it's a very shallow, tenuous connection that could be easily broken. The deeper the connection you share with someone, the more you can weather in the relationship.
When someone breaks trust in a relationship, the thing that is breaking is intimacy/connection. This is why it hurts so much. Think of it like a muscle tearing. It was once whole and connected, and as it tears there is so much pain. And the pain exists for both parties... in different ways but the tear is happening to both people.
Please keep in mind that I am not an expert in computer art but for all my visual learners out there I will put my ego aside and do my best to demonstrate what is being discussed in images 😊 The picture above represents what has been discussed. Trust has been broken and the connection between the two people has torn like a muscle.
Notice that these people are still connected. Use the termite analogy from Part 1, I would say that while the termite damage is extensive but by killing the termites and repairing the damage, this house can still be saved. However, if the termites continue to eat away at their intimacy, the connection will completely rupture and their "home" will have to be condemned.
Since the connection is torn for both people, both individuals feel its effects: pain, fear, anger, and resentment. This means that both people have individual work AND together work in order to heal and rebuild the connection. In my experience with clients, when trust is broken, both people are bleeding out and usually neither knows what to do about it.
Sure, we have vague ideas about how the behavior that broke the trust has to stop and that it takes time to heal. But there are some real ways that couples, families, and friends can be empowered to engage in a more specific process that leads to healing, and possibly (while not always - this will be discussed further down the line) rebuilding the connection/intimacy. It still takes time, but when you understand the process you can have a little more patience and not feel like you're simply waiting for something to happen.
What's to Come
In the next post in this series, I will start outlining the actual steps or process to healing and rebuilding trust. If you've read this series from the beginning, you probably can guess where we will start, but I hope you tune in for more details. As always, I welcome constructive comments below and I will do my best to answer any questions that you may have.
Scheduling a Counseling Session:
If you are in the state of Tennessee and looking for a therapist as you heal wounds, learn to forgive, and/or rebuild trust, then reach out to me. I'd love to work with you. I offer in-person sessions at my office in Nashville's Green Hills area, and I also offer telehealth sessions to anyone living in Tennessee. Check out the rest of my site for more info on me and my practice or reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org or (615) 682-8674.
Please remember that I cannot diagnose or treat anyone via these blogs or social media. This content is intended to be solely for educational purposes. If you need assistance, please contact me directly or another professional. If you have an emergency then please call 911 or your local Mobile Crisis Unit.