“God is the strength in which I trust.” ~ A Course in Miracles, W, 47
I trusted you, God. You were supposed to keep me safe. You had always kept me safe before. What happened? How can I ever trust You again? Or anyone, for that matter?
Do these thoughts sound familiar? They are a common response to trauma, especially if you had a relationship with the Divine before the trauma. We are left with shattered trust. We no longer trust God, our fellow man, family members, and ultimately ourselves. It’s a scary place to be.
A common symptom of PTSD is the state of hyper-vigilance. This is a state of being constantly “on guard,” maintaining a heightened awareness of potential threats to your safety. It is exhausting. It is the ultimate state of living without trust.
When we try to live without trust, we are choosing to live in a constant state of fear. If we look at that idea in terms of relationships, it becomes quite clear. When there is a breakdown of trust in a love relationship, you live in constant fear. Fear that the person will let you down again, fear that they don’t love you anymore, fear that the relationship will end. These fears, if not addressed, lead to the eventual undoing of the relationship.
The same is true when we lose trust in our world, God, and ourselves. Those relationships are at risk. The restoring of trust is urgent if we are to heal these wounds of trauma.
How can we come to a state of trusting again?
When we have been abused by our fellow man – sometimes even a family member – our sense of safety in the world is gone. But we find there is within us a drive to find those who we can trust in. It can be a slow process, but every time you trust another soul, the trust will grow. Remember, you’re trying to put back together a vase that has shattered into a hundred pieces. Joining two pieces is no small miracle. Take the time to put it back together at your own pace, with your own sense of comfort, but remain diligent.
There are days when the nightly news and the people you encounter and your own memories and thoughts will bring you to despair in the human race. Seek out that friend that raises your spirits, read the writer who makes you smile, and if all else fails, go to YouTube and type in “compassionate acts,” or “acts of kindness.” No kidding, this works. There are so many wonderful stories on there about good people doing good things. You start to see that there is goodness in the world to be trusted. Take a baby step. There are no wasted steps.
When we feel we cannot trust God, we are at sea without a rudder, a sail, or an anchor. The mistaken thinking is that God somehow abandoned us in our trauma. Let me assure you, God never abandons us. But I felt this profoundly after I was attacked. I felt I had always been a good person, grew up going to church, prayed regularly, sought Truth and honored all religions. What the hell, God?
We have this error in thinking that bad things should only happen to bad people. If we look around us and read the teachings so many profound thinkers, we immediately see this is not true. Read the writings of concentration camp survivors, soldiers on the front lines, nurses in neo-natal ICUs, and spiritual teachers who have endured much. As Rabbi Kushner said so profoundly in his book, bad things do happen to good people. Try to realize that God has not abandoned you. Again, it takes baby steps to find your way back. For me, it started with a shift in perception. God never left me alone in that trauma situation, the Divine was with me the whole time. God was with me immediately after, and angels were sent to help me heal. The more you recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit, the stronger your trust will grow.
Is there a reason some of us experience trauma? I don’t know. But I do know there is a extreme value in healing. Healing from trauma has brought me to a profound trust and faith I may not have reached without it.
“God is your safety in every circumstance.” ~A Course in Miracles, W,47
Finally, when we feel we cannot trust ourselves, we again have to shift our thinking. Look at what you did to survive your trauma situation. Look at what you are doing to take care of yourself now. You didn’t cause your trauma, you can only cause your healing.
Most of us have seen an abused animal. We instinctively know what they need, right? They need soft voices, soft touch, food, water, and gentleness. We are that dog cowering in the shelter cage. The more we love that dog, the more the dog will trust us. Not all at once, and not in one day, but eventually trust will be restored. The same is true for us. Following trauma, and for a long time after, you will need to give yourself this gift of love and gentleness.
You will trust again. How do I know? Because I did, and thousands before you. Look to the teachers on this topic. We have found the safe rocks to stand on while crossing the stream. Follow us.
Start with being hypervigilant for examples of trust. What we focus on becomes our reality. So says the Universe.
You are Still Beloved.
Give to the winds thy fears,
Hope and be undismayed.
God hears thy sighs and counts thy tears,
God shall lift up thy head. Hymn, Paul Gerhardt, 1656