No one would fault a child of domestic violence for believing that opening up to others can be dangerous. The people he should have been able to trust most – his parents or guardians – were a source of stress, fear and possibly harm.
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 real connection with another human being, and why an intimate connection with another person is the very thing that can help you heal your past.
The desire to isolate yourself or the consistency with which you find yourself alone or disconnected from others can stem from the lie of aloneness. This lie causes some people to avoid intimacy. For others it’s more about feeling disconnected.
You might not have as many good friends as you would like, or those in your circle don’t feel like true friends to you. Somehow, you always feel detached from the rest of the world. You don’t trust in yourself; you don’t know yourself; so 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 emotionally 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 madly in love.
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 was not 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.
Through my own journey of healing a past growing up with domestic violence, I also realize 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 I couldn’t 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, when we shut down to others and keep them at a distance, we actually betray and hurt ourselves. We steal another big chance to heal our past and find happiness in our present life.
As you begin to see the high cost of aloneness and distrust, my hope is that you will choose to move toward real connection and 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 keep people at a distance? I encourage you to share in the comments below. Thanks for sharing!