Have you ever started to forge a connection with someone, and started to open up, only to have one or both of you shut down to the connection?

As I shared in my previous post, this happened with me and my wife. After tentatively opening up to her, and feeling rejected for it, I decided that perhaps it was better just to keep parts of me and my past hidden. As we will see here, there’s a healthier response we can choose which, although counterintuitive, can bridge the divide and heal our aloneness.

I didn’t know when I first met my wife what I now know about healing from a childhood growing up with domestic violence. Instead I used my experience to tell myself that keeping my wife at a distance was a good idea. In reality, we both just needed to learn how to communicate – how to really share with, and also really listen to, another person. I chose to believe the lie that I couldn’t trust her with my fears and past. That lie continued to distance us from each other until we sought a divorce.

While it seems like such a little thing to keep private the bad thoughts and the hard memories, such isolation cuts deep in an intimate relationship of any kind. It can make you feel inadequate, like damaged goods. Or you may constantly feel that danger is just around the corner and that you always have to be prepared to protect yourself. It can become downright exhausting.

We often want to blame others for our being unable to connect to them, yet my situation with my wife made me realize the truth that I never really trusted her to receive my past in the first place.

How could we not have talked about it? Was it that shameful? How could I not share? How could she not ask? I believe that if we had talked about it years ago, we would be together today. Not being able to trust someone enough to share—not knowing at that time what I know now—is my greatest regret. One of my greatest wishes for you is that you avoid making the same mistake as I did.

Maybe you don’t feel capable of maintaining a relationship. Maybe you’re uncertain that other people want to be with you. You may even avoid intimacy. There’s a sense of disconnect from others or a suspicion of their motives. Perhaps you simply feel that you are on your own. You had no one to rely on but yourself growing up, and you assume that will always be the case. Either way, you lack trust in yourself and, because of that, find it next to impossible to trust in others.

Fortunately all of this can now change. You don’t have to continue to feel isolated and alone. Most important, you can learn to open up and trust others. In the beginning it comes down to simply choosing to trust. And while that can be scary, it is totally within your control and power to do so. Trusting someone can change your life for the better. You are not doomed to repeat the past.

Please share in the comments below the last time you really trusted someone and didn’t expect them to at some point betray or hurt you? How did it turn out?