What To Do When You Can’t Trust Yourself.
One of my biggest obstacles in living with mental illness is trying to accept the fact that I can’t trust myself. Sure, when I’m slaying symptoms on the daily I’m able to figure out pretty quickly when my anxiety is doing the talking. But when I’m not doing so well, my instincts and everything I know are completely jumbled up by a panic stricken, over thinker knockin’ around my noggin.
Abusive relationships are a consistent pattern in my life. From dating to friends, to employers to acquaintances, I’m sometimes seriously shocked when I think back on all the bastards I’ve let into my fold. I once had a therapist who could not stop shaking her head when I explained what I thought was a perfectly logical thought pattern that led me to allow someone to mentally mindfuck me so hard I had a horrific Major Depressive Episode that nearly took my life. The more mindblown she was, the more I realized that oh, holy crap, maybe there isn’t a single good reason why I’m allowing someone to take every ounce of self worth I’ve got!
To this day, one of my biggest struggles is in figuring out the motives of others. I wish I could tell you that I’m way better at this than I used to be. I wish I had some delightful tale where I’d screamed “STRANGER DANGER” at the top of my lungs and proceeded to Chuck Norris the shit out of someone whose only goal in life is to screw me over. But the truth is that I’m usually standing squarely on the far end of a fo’ real fucked up spectrum: I either won’t let someone get close to me at all, or I let them get so close that I end up completely robbed of myself.
The worse my anxiety gets, the worse my trust issues become. I worry all the time that the people around me are trying to deceive me, hurt me, or just plain get something out of me. If my husband comes home with a gift, I wonder what he’s going to ask me for. If my boss tells me to take a load off, I worry she’s wanting to replace me. And if someone is genuinely trying to screw me over, I’m incapable of taking healthy action because I usually convince myself that it’s all in my head in the first place.
So how do you combat something like this? How can you possibly maintain quality connections when you’re two steps away from sporting a tin foil hat? I say, it’s time to bring back the buddy system.
Over the years I’ve been fortunate to connect with some phenomenal mental health professionals who’ve taught me the power of humility. I’m humble enough to admit when I’m in over my head and few things give me more relief than being able to relinquish control and ask for help. As I’ve gotten older, the circle has become bigger, and I’m pretty much grateful every day for all of them. (That includes my Twitter peeps btw! Thank you for being you and stuff!)
My beautifully bearded husband, for example, is someone I heavily rely on to figure out when someone’s fuckin’ me over. He knows that I’m extremely independent and that telling me what to do goes over about as well as trying to explain veganism to Fred Flintstone. So, instead of trying to tell me what I should do, he simply tells me what he would do and why he would do that. There’s no strings when it comes to his advice. I can take it or I can leave it. I can make a bad choice and get hurt and there’s never a moment where he says, “I told you this would happen.” Instead, he respects the fact that I, like every other horrible human there is, have a right to my own journey and, even more, to make major mistakes and learn from them. And oh yeah, he’s always there to wipe the tears when things go awry. He’s got a nice ass too.
The thing about the walls we build is that yes, they keep bad apples at bay, but they also keep really great people away too. So if you’ve got some really good relationships now, lean on them more when you need to figure out who else is worth your time. And if you don’t, start digging a little deeper and letting people in. I’m not saying you won’t get hurt, because you will. We all will. I’m saying you’ll be able to lessen the amount of time, energy, and love you’ll spend on people who don’t deserve it in the first place.
And maybe you won’t be able to trust the voice in your head, but you will be able to trust in your ability to ask for outside advice which is, ultimately, the best way you can start trusting yourself again.