cathy terranova

The reality of chronic abuse is that it deeply plants seeds of mistrust. Often, people who are abused find it nearly impossible to trust others. They may not even see their own issues because for them, distrust is a normal state of being.
The unearthing of my own troubles with my inherent aversion to trust has been complex. I have discovered that I go to extreme lengths to appear trusting and to have the feeling that I trust others. But the schemes I employ to achieve these emotional scams are poorly constructed and unravel easily.

I frequently use the method of the “over share” to quickly create an atmosphere of trust. I give over enormous amounts of information in one sitting, thus, making the listener feel as though I have told them all that there is to know about me. In reality I have only said a few choice things that are true and intensely personal, but I have told so many people so many times that the exchange of the information is no longer a vulnerable one. By over sharing I can guard the real emotions that I have about myself and my past.

Another tool I’ve used to create a synthetic feeling of trust is by earning the trust of others. By asking them more and more questions about themselves and their past experiences I gain their trust and feel as if this means I must trust them as well. The truth is that I haven’t really entrusted anything to them. They know very little about me and so I am “safe”.

The third is used almost exclusively for more long term and deeper relationships but I am finding that I have become even more guarded over the years so this practice has extended also into the sector of acquaintances.
I only share recent and innocuous details about my daily life over the course of an abundant amount of conversation. I create substance out of the ordinary so I don’t have to share what I’m feeling. Thus, the person feels as if they are simply caught up on my circumstances because I have communicated with them so frequently.


cathy terranova

These aren’t elaborate cons that I’ve spent time planning. I don’t do them to be intentionally manipulative. But abuse robs a person of his or her abilities to make certain connections; especially connections birthed out of the usually inaccessible element of trust.

Abuse indoctrinates its victims into the falsehood of no one and nothing being trustworthy.

Acceptance, love, forgiveness; these aren’t unconditional things. They are based on the irrational messages and rules of our abuser. We can only trust that we will be hurt again.

We live under a set of rules that don’t apply once we’re not being abused. We have to reprogram our brains to understand healthy connections and feelings.
It isn’t impossible. It just takes a lot of work and positive reinforcement.

Consider Pavlov’s experiment with conditioning. Only, instead of being fed, we were injured. The bell was the sound of our guard being let down followed by injurious stimuli. Eventually, we kept our guard up and learned to hear the bell all the time as a sound of warning. When our guards started down, we would expect a negative result, so we stopped.

There is no perfect science to healing. There is no guide book. GOD yearns to make us whole and He is the only one who really can.

So unless you’re GOD, be patient with yourself and with those you love. We need reminding that no one is going to hurt us. The things I’ve written about are reflexes used to feel normal and unafraid. They are coping mechanisms to help us try to synthesize fears and experiences.

The longer you’ve been using them, the longer it will take to stop. But genuine human connection is not so rare as we think and it is very much worth it.



1 photo credit: <a href=”″>more faces</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>

2 photo credit: <a href=”″>more faces</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>

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