“No matter how confused, self-doubting, or ambivalent we are about what’s happening in our interactions with other people, we can never entirely silence the inner voice that always tells us the truth. We may not like the sound of the truth, and we often let it murmur just outside our consciousness, not stopping long enough to listen. But when we pay attention to it, it leads us toward wisdom, health, and clarity. That voice is the guardian of our integrity.” ~Susan Forward
We are taught as young girls to be loyal and trust others. It is expected that we would trust those who show us love, compassion, understanding. It is expected that we would be loyal to those who need us, those who provide us nurturing and those to declare us as the one they love. We are “supposed” to value those actions as meaningful and all inclusive of what is deserving of our trust and loyalty. It is only in recent years that our society is beginning to teach us to question those actions. And now, even as we rightfully begin to question those actions many in our society look at that questioning as a radical notion that means we are “neurotic” or “obsessed”. I mean, when someone tells you they love you, and shows you they love you…why even question them. It’s there in black and white…the words, the cards, the flowers, the affection. Isn’t that enough? Some would even say that a woman as independent as you would be lucky to have someone take you on. So what if he stays out…alone…way too late? So what if he views a little pornography? So what if he chides you in public about your accomplishments? So what if he cheated on you once? So what if he makes promise after promise and never keeps them? He says he’s sorry. That’s enough. And through it all you stay. As expected…you stay, you trust and you show loyalty. Because if you question…it is you who will appear questionable…it is you who will appear unloyal…it is you who will be untrustworthy…in his eyes and in society’s.
Herein lies the risk: You stay because you have been taught and told that it is the right thing to do. It is what you “should” do. You should forgive, stick it out, make it work. And a pathological needs that loyalty. He needs you to stay no matter what. He needs you to help make the pathological mask real. If you stay (you-who is loving, caring, compassionate, understanding etc, etc…) then he will be associated with all of those things and his façade is made stronger. You were taught to trust him from the very beginning…from the first tiny betrayal (his lateness to a date, his odd midnight requests, his sexual fantasies that pushed your boundaries) he wanted to see how far you would go and from there he would know that he could trust you. He balanced all of these betrayals with his confessions of love, dreams for the future…a false sense of safety.
Herein lies the benefit: You can never really silence that inner voice. No matter what we are taught we still have an inner voice…that inner voice that tells us what is right and wrong, what is good and what is bad. Some might call it a moral compass…leading to integrity. It’s there all along, sometimes screaming the truth. In one moment, the voice is clear and loud and unavoidable. Your ability to hear your inner voice is usually preceded by a particularly disturbing event or maybe a period of no contact. But when it comes and once it is there you have a hard time silencing it. Your quest for the truth begins and your search to find and document facts is insatiable. At the end of your relationship it is this voice that leads you out. Now, your trust and loyalty turns inward. You begin to trust yourself and be loyal to your needs. And with the veracity that drove you to say…you now work that hard to leave. You now know that the right thing is not always the most socially accepted path or the easy path…but it is the path that is RIGHT FOR YOU. Leaving may go against everything you were taught and everything you are being told but it leads to safety, security, clarity and peace.
You can evaluate your trustworthiness and loyalty by evaluating the balance in your trust. Does your need to be trustworthy take priority over your own needs? Do you trust at the risk of your own self worth, your own value, your own belief in what is right and wrong? Are you loyal in spite of the inability of the other person to be loyal? These are boundary issues. Often times your boundaries were established a long time ago. They could have been established when you were a girl and you were taught lessons of who you could or should trust. They could have been established when your trust was broken over and over again by a loved one…leaving you with unclear rules as to who is safe and who is not. You can rebuild boundaries as an adult. Breaking down the “little girl” beliefs of safety and reminding yourself that as an adult woman you have power. Take some time to write down what you stand for, what you believe in, what you will not sacrifice. You can consider these your new rules…your integrity laid out for you in black and white. As adults we know that boundaries can be pushed, pulled, removed and reinforced. So you can move ahead knowing that strength will come as you test these re-established boundaries and make decisions, consciously and mindfully, about what you stand for and of course, always listening to your inner voice.