Rebuilding trust in relationships is a simple process, but not an easy one. Someone suffering from an addiction or uncontrollable behavior must build that trust from the very bottom and work their way up to the top.
Think of rebuilding trust as a house.
This house needs a foundation, floors, walls, and a roof. Think about building this house using the TOUCH anagram:
T – Trust
O – Openess and Openmindedness
U – Understanding
C – Communcation
H – Honesty
The absolute number one thing your house needs is the foundation. And in this case, the foundation is HONESTY. Some people think trust would be, but trust is easily gained and lost. Honesty takes a lot of digging deep to lay that foundation for what we’re going to build. Once we can dig deep and we lay that foundation and those footings, then we can build on top of that honesty. Without transparency and honesty, you can’t have trust.
So next comes the flooring. The floor of that house is COMMUNICATION. When communication is not where it needs to be, it is like walking a tight rope. Because one of the problems in an unhealthy or dysfunctional relationship is it’s always a tight rope walk. But once you have that honesty and communication of what you both want out of the relationship, you can walk freely on the floor, without having to do a balancing act.
Through that healthy communication where you are both in agreement of what you want, you start to set some boundaries. Those are the walls of your house. These walls are created through UNDERSTANDING. They’re not walls between you and the other person, but they are walls that protect us from the influences of outside. So those would be the boundaries. That’s an understanding. You both have an understanding of what it is that this relationship is going to look like and what the interferences are that can happen to it. And those walls then define how that relationship begins to look. Understanding begins to define those protective measures that we have to preserve this relationship.
Those walls of understanding are the structural pieces that then provides the last two pieces of this house. The first is OPEN MINDEDNESS that we have to have for change. It’s a gap, but it’s also where we’re open for those positive memories to be stored instead of the negative ones. We need to keep the negative ones in the basement. We need to create this open atmosphere so that new memories can be created. Having OPENNESS goes along with this. Being open to the change. This section would be like an attic of the house.
Then the last piece of the house is the roof, where you will find TRUST. There are different levels of trust. It could be partial or complete trust. Then a betrayal happened. In these lower levels of trust, I can still trust you because you’ve proven yourself there, but when we get close to that one spot, then I’m faced with whether or not I’m going to forgive you for that. That’s the ceiling effect of where our trust is going to be. If you forgive me, it doesn’t mean you forget about it, but you no longer hold that as the ceiling. You give me the chance to move beyond that and you may set certain opportunities up for that to take place. So with this roof of the house, trust can “leak” and breakdown, but it can be fixed without tearing the whole house down. You can lose an amount of trust with someone, but it doesn’t have to destroy what has already been built from honesty/foundation up.
But the first thing and the foremost thing is whether or not you take ownership of it. As long as you’re still denying that it’s your issue, as long as you’re minimizing the justifying at rationalizing it and all those other kinds of things, I can’t possibly begin to trust you because there’s no level of honesty. You haven’t taken ownership for it. You’re still casting that blame somewhere other than your choice and that limits how much I’m going to be able to trust you.
Trust is a natural byproduct of the pieces that you built your house with. But you HAVE to have that solid foundation by being honest and transparent. Once honesty goes out the window, and you’ve broken the communication by lying, cheating, etc., the understanding of boundaries is broken down, you become closed off, and trust is gone. So being honest the entire time, rebuilding that trust in the relationship should come as a natural occurrence.
Building a house/battling addiction takes time. It can be a lengthy process, sometimes taking years to get to a point of trust. It’s important to remember that while trust can take a while to build, it can be destroyed in a flash. As long as you are HONEST with yourself and the person you are building the relationship with, it’s much easier to build that trust and keep it.