ACoAs: PATTERNS of Mistrust (Part 1)

protect heart
– even if it keeps me from being loved!I

PREVIOUS: UNDER-Trusting (Part 3)


We are not to blame for being deeply mistrustful of everyone.
But we also need to be clear about how we perpetuate the patterns created by our trauma so we can stop beating ourselves up, feeling ashamed, & limiting our options. (CDs: INFO & the Brain)
Instead, we can try out new internal beliefs & external actions.

• We have experienced many, many betrayals by the important people in our life – from family, friends, spouse, school, church or government. Some or all of these betrayals are so extreme we may never be able to forgive, regardless of what the ‘gurus’ tell us.
This is not to deny the benefits of forgiveness – just that if we can’t do it (yet) but believe we should, ‘or else’, we unfairly add to our self-hate & sense of failure.

PATTERNS* of Mistrust
* All of these are being generated by the WIC in an attempt to protect ourself from further harm, but are totally unsuccessful, since they prevent us from getting the closeness & love we so desperately need – AND have a right to. And all are forms of control – based on trying to stave off more PMES abandonment.

a. FAKE MEWIC pretending
We clearly got the message that who & what we were as a child was unacceptable to our parents. So as adults, when interacting with others, the WIC in dress-up tries to ‘improve’ our personality by twisting in unnatural avatars – into something we think some present-day person or group is going to want or find acceptable

• We spend a lot of time trying to figure out “how I should feel”, “what I should wear”, “what I’m going to say”…… & never get it quite right, because it’s artificial. Of course, if we’re being run by our WIC, we don’t know who we are or how to relate from a place of empowerment, so it’s very hard to be healthy and safe at the same time

Some of us decide at the beginning of a relationship (potential friend or lover) what kind it’s going to be, without having enough information about the other person or giving it enough time to develop organically.
We may think: “THIS ONE IS :peopel labels
• just going to be a friendship
• just for sex
• isn’t going to last
• just casual
• permanent  / ‘the one’
• the one I can’t live without
• I’ll love forever”……

Again, we’re trying to control the outcome to be prepared for the inevitable abandonment we expect.  Preconceived notions may –
• actually create a self-fulfilling prophecy of loss because we prevented it from growing into something positive
• shock us with unexpected results, if we have illusions about it
• severely disappoint all unrealistic expectations
• occasionally surprise us by turning into something better than hoped for

Because we were so often hurt as a child, we conclude that for the rest of our lives everyone** will inevitably do us harm, sooner or later.  So we assume the worst of anyone we meet, men and women, although some of us may be more afraid of one gender than another, depending on which parent was more paranoidconsistently damaging or crueler.

• We actually scan our environment for the potential danger we’re sure is there & – of course – we find it.
• We ALSO ignore all the neutral or positive people & things around us, so we can maintain our ‘story’ that “The whole world is dangerous”, in order to validate our childhood trauma

** This is our reaction even with people who have consistently proven to treat us well, making it hard to benefit from anyone who can be there for us – in healthy ways

d. OVER-TRUSTING (recent post)
Everyone tells us about themselves, subtly or not, yet we ignore all the unhealthy things we hear & experience about people we ‘need’, staying too long at the party & getting trampled. Then wonder why we can’t trust!

NEXT: Patterns of Mistrust (Part 2)

2 thoughts on “ACoAs: PATTERNS of Mistrust (Part 1)

  1. Hi Donna…

    Another great post that I can relate to.

    One key thing for me that under-pins many of my relationship dysfunctions is from early in your post where you reference forgiveness, “This is not to deny the benefits of forgiveness – just that if we are not able to do it (yet) but believe we should, ‘or else’, we unfairly add to our self-hate & sense of failure”.

    For those of us who believe the Bible and were conditioned by church culture, I think we can be unrealistic about our ability to forgive and what it really takes… and how long.

    We also need to be cautious not to overcomplicate forgiveness. So we have to find a realistic point between these two extremes of forgiving before we are realistically capable and procrastinating/overcomplicating forgiveness.

    Church culture often holds us to Jesus’ standard of forgiveness. The ultimate example of which was him forgiving those who were brutally and torturously murdering him.

    Should we not keep in mind that this was Jesus himself and we are not Jesus? I used to beat myself up for my inability to forgive on Jesus’ level and Jesus’ timeline.

    Then one day, quite unexpectedly, while I was struggling with deep feelings of hurt, anger, and unforgiveness, an unlikely person said to me, “Forgiveness is simply forgoing your right to vengance”. I thought, “wow, I can do that”, and I did.

    Now is this what forgiveness is in its completeness? I really don’t know. But it got me a lot farther than where I had been. And even though the person I have struggled to forgive still is a source of pain and injustice for me, I can erase his name from any accounting of wrongs, and just say, “This hurts”. But I no longer say things like, “He’ll pay”, or “I’ll get even”, or even “It isn’t fair”. I no longer hold his actions up to any measure of justice. It just hurts and I leave it at that.

    Forgiveness does not mean the other person’s actions don’t hurt anymore. I think what Jesus went through would exemplify this. He was still being painfully curcified when he forgave those who were responsible. He simply did not count it against them.

    This distinction between pain and forgiveness brought me a long way to shaking off the self-hate that came with my feeling that I should forgive but couldn’t. And freed me from some of the dysfunctions you’ve itemized later in your post.

    Thanks for the enlightenments as always Donna.




    • I haven’t written the post on forgiveness yet – still putting my thoughts together on that. In the meantime –
      a. I’ve made friends with my ‘sadist’ side – she’s allowed to rage at someone – in my head, just not act on it. That satisfies her.

      b. I comfort myself in knowing that “Vengeance if mine, sayeth the Lord”. It’s not MY job to ‘get’ someone.

      c.I know that wanting vengeance is a deep need for fairness & justice, which I don’t usually have control over, making it hard to let go.

      d. Working thru the old accumulated pain (rage work, deep crying….) allows me to disconnect from the terrible events, which is an equivalent to forgiving them because I’m not emotionally attached. It just takes a long time to get it all out of the body & some take longer than others.

      Thanks for sharing, Chaz


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