Childhood Adversity and the High Cost of Isolation and Distrust

No one would fault a person who experienced adversity in their childhood home for believing that opening up to others can be risky. The people they should have been able to trust most – their parents or caregivers – were a source of stress, fear, pain and often direct harm.

There is, however, a high cost to isolating yourself

There is, however, a high cost to isolating yourself. Not being able to trust others (or yourself) can cause far more problems than it solves.

Here, in this post, we will explore how isolating yourself can prevent you from experiencing a real connection with another human being, and why an intimate connection with another is the very thing that can help you heal from your past.

quote-21You don’t know yourself; if you cannot trust yourself, how can you trust others?

The tendency to isolate yourself or the frequency with which you tend to find yourself alone or disconnected from others can stem from the LIE of ALONENESS you learned growing up in a home with adversity – like CDV.

This Lie causes some people to avoid intimacy at all costs. For others, it’s more a general feeling of being disconnected they don’t know how to offset. You may not have as many good friends as you would like, or those in your circle may not feel like true friends to you. Somehow, you may always feel detached from the rest of the world.

The fact is, you learned that you cannot trust anyone at a very young and vulnerable age. You don’t even trust in yourself. You picked up a set of negative beliefs in that home that have skewed your own perception of yourself, so you don’t really know yourself. How can you trust yourself when you don’t’ know yourself. And if you cannot trust yourself, how can you trust others?

That’s how I felt throughout most of my life. Before I was 18, I’d only dated two girls. I wasn’t intimate with either of them. It wasn’t that I didn’t want them; I just couldn’t fathom for the life of me why they would want to be intimate with me. Then, at 19, I met my future wife. Things got physical and I fell in love.

When we were two weeks away from getting divorced

One night, I opened up to her and shared some of the details of my childhood. I knew this was risky. I told her how afraid I was of so many things. How we only had so much time to live. How the idea of dying petrified me. She didn’t seem to be comfortable talking about it, so I decided not to speak of it again. Not until twenty years later did we briefly discuss it, and that was with our marriage counselor when we were two weeks away from getting divorced.

My decision to keep silent about my fears and to shut down that part of me actually kept a part of me cut off from my wife. I am positive that had we worked together to create more open communication, and had we known how vital real intimacy and trust are in a relationship, we wouldn’t have reached the brink of divorce.

Share with someone else

Through my own journey of healing a past of experiencing adversity in childhood, I realized that what helped me heal most was being able to share with someone else my fears, memories and story. But when I was stuck in the LIE of ALONENESS, it made it difficult to bring myself to do that.

I share this with you to highlight that living this LIE of ALONENESS and distrust actually does more to create the disconnection and pain we fear than any amount of opening up to someone. I think deep down, we fear that if we let someone in, they can hurt us, betray us or cause us to suffer. In reality, however, it is when we shut down and keep others at a distance that we actually betray and hurt ourselves the most. We squander a big chance to heal our past and find happiness in our present life.

Move towards a real connection through the decision to risk trusting someone

As you begin to see the high cost of aloneness and distrust, my hope is that you will choose to move towards a real connection through the decision to risk trusting someone and letting that person in.

Have you been able to trust someone and really let them in? Or do you continue to keep people at a distance? I encourage you to forge that connection now by sharing in the comments below. Thanks for sharing!

A detailed overview of the ALONE Lie can be found in CHAPTER 5 (“Alone to Trusting”) of INVINCIBLE: The 10 Lies You Learn Growing Up With Domestic Violence, and the Truths to Set You Free.

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