Parents are the ones you can trust as a child surely? You would think so, but that’s not trust for all children. Sadly when someone is gripped with their addiction, trust is the last thing you can rely on.
I don’t believe most people struggling with their alcoholism purposely want to lie and manipulate their children and family. It’s a necessary part to survive and to minimise the guilt and shame.
For many children of alcoholics after a while you begin not trusting the ones you love, because they become unreliable.
What is trust?
A firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something.
How does the trust impact how you behave?
It’s the same with anyone but once you’ve lost the trust you had in them, it’s hard to get it back. It is possible, but it takes work. As a child it’s confusing because you don’t usually have anyone else in your home to trust, the ones you can trust should be your parents, that’s not always the case.
If your parent is or was a drinker, you’ll probably be nodding in agreement to these examples. You have a birthday or event that they promised to come to, but they don’t show. Time and time again you hope that it’ll be different, even though in your heart you know they won’t show. You still have the hope THIS TIME, it’s THIS TIME that they’ll come. Soon you learn to expect it.
Maybe they made promises to you about doing something and not turning up drunk, you trust them, you believe them, they’re your Mum/Dad, the wouldn’t let you down. Slowly over time that changes, the more and more times they say they’ll do something or turn up the more you realise that isn’t going to happen.
You start to notice that you no longer expect them to do what they say, you actually don’t expect anything. Or maybe you still do and cling to the hope that they’ll change. You could start questionning if it’s you, are they not doing what they say because of something YOU did?…. NO it’s not about you.
Years pass and as this carries on, whether you live with them or not, you become more wary of other people. It’s harder for you to trust what they say, if your parent(s) can’t be relied on how can you know if others will stay true to their word. You approach with caution.
How do you feel when the ones you can trust, aren’t the ones you can trust?
You can feel let down, disappointed, sad, angry, betrayed abandoned and much more. As a child you probably weren’t aware of those feelings and emotions, but they’ll have been there. Then depending on the severity, regularity of the distrust, lies and manipulation will depend on how it affected you.
Everyone and every situation is different, I can’t possibly say how it would affect you personally as I don’t know your circumstances, but there are some common themes.
Sometimes as an adult we can map the trust issues we had as children into our adult life. So if the “male parent” was the drinker and the one you had trust issues with, you may well not trust men that you meet, or maybe just partners. The same is true for “female parents”, it could be you struggle to trust girlfriends or partners.
Sadly, these issues happen in a moment in time as a child, but those beliefs stay with us because that’s how it works, at least that’s what we know. We can only live in this moment, not the past or future, so to not trust someone you meet today or tomorrow in reality is madness. The conditioned mind is fearful that they will replicate what you are used to, but it is known to sabotage us.
The difference that makes the difference
If you want to change your patterns, stop letting the past affect your present then you can. Here are some suggestions:
Learning to accept the reality vs what you hope life/things/a person will be like – this can bring up feelings of life not being fair/right/just. Here’s an example, you can’t pretend, hope or wish the rain to stop, it’s wet and you can’t make it dry no matter how much you complain, reason it to be so or want it to be dry. The rain is quite happy as it is. You can accept you’re powerless over it/changing it – so you can move your focus, you can avoid it or you can use an umbrella!
If you feel you can’t trust someone, trust yourself and know that your gut instinct is ALWAYS right. Avoid asking them if they can be trusted, if you’re asking, you don’t trust them, they’re not going to say “no”.
Write down any typical things you say to yourself when you need/want to trust someone but don’t, what sort of things come up? then write down a positive alternative.
You can also check out a PDF I did on dealing with the mistrust of a drinker, click here to get a copy.