“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.”—Maya Angelou
Your wedding day is filled with hope, dreams and unbounded expectations of happiness and joy.
And if you’re Indian, it’s filled with over-the-top ritualistic exercises that remind you that marriage is a soulful (permanent) union to last the rest of your life (and maybe even a few lives after). Your ceremony symbolizes the planets aligning, families joining and even ancestors waking from the dead to celebrate your coming together.
The flower garlands you place around each other’s necks sing with angelic praise, blessing your future life together. The fire ceremony calls for divine intervention and blessings. Every step around the fire confirms your unending loyalty, commitment and sacred vow to stick together throughout this glorious ride.
So you can imagine how separation and divorce go over in a marriage (and culture) like this.
(Stop the music!)
Not very well.
When the flower petals lose their fragrance, the gold stops glittering and the whispers of sweet nothings turn first into bitterness and then silence, thousands of thoughts enter your mind.
Is there something wrong with me?
Am I good enough?
Am I attractive enough? Kind enough? Nice enough? Loving enough?
Am I broken? Unfixable? Unlovable?
Following my divorce, so many thoughts ran through my mind and have continued to occupy my thoughts and my life for the past three years.
These are thoughts you experience while going through the most profound and deep-rooted pain. When the world as you know it shakes you up violently and your heart shatters into a million sharp-edged pieces.
If you’ve gone through a divorce or are going through a breakup now, you can’t imagine better days ahead. You’re in a place of darkness and hopelessness. You think it’s never going to get any better.
You can’t get out of bed.
You can’t think about anything but the pain and sadness you’re experiencing.
You think you can’t trust anyone ever again.
A divorce sadder than a melodramatic Bollywood movie and Jennifer Aniston’s love life.
The person whom I had counted on being there for the rest of my life was no longer in it. The person whom I had envisioned all my dreams with and whom I had planned my future with was out of the picture.
The exchange of wedding vows and flower garlands and the tying of the knot (a sacred golden necklace that we call a thali) replay in my mind.
Rituals and traditions that had so much meaning suddenly become meaningless.
When something so tumultuous occurs in your life, you hope you’re in a nightmare and will awaken soon.
But then you realize that you are awake and that everything happening in your life is real: the heartbreak, pain and loss.
As you grieve, you try to find ways to believe again. To become vulnerable again. To trust again. To open yourself to another relationship in your life.
And you know what? It’s damn hard.
It’s hard to put yourself out there, even though the possible pleasure far outweighs the pain you’ve experienced.
You won’t be as excited about that game of laser tag after you’ve served a couple years of military duty with the 2nd battalion in Afghanistan.
And you’ll certainly stay out of the Florida swamplands if Gretchen the alligator once took a bite out of your ankle.
It’s safer to write off the world and sit with cynicism.
It’s drier under the umbrella of pain than it is frolicking in the cloudy weather where violent storms await.
But you can go forward and walk away from that umbrella.
Why? Because maybe, just maybe, there’s not a violent downpour out there.
Maybe there’s sunshine out there.
There’s love out there.
There’s healing out there…
…and there’s wholeness out there.
Are you willing to step out and learn to trust again after heartbreak and pain? Are you willing to let someone else, someone new, into your life after your divorce?
Here are tips on healing a bruised and broken heart: 9 ways to trust again in your next relationship.
1. You’ve acquired experience; some call it wisdom.
You can’t pay for wisdom but you can acquire it through your life experiences. A broken trust and a broken relationship can be great sources of learning and reflection.
You now know that people can be untrustworthy, that everything they say is not true and that their actions might not reflect their intentions.
You know what to look for and you know the warning signs in a relationship.
Hopefully, you have a better idea of what trust looks like and you’re better able to recognize trustworthy people in your life.
You might not have asked for it, but you’ve received a priceless and lifelong lesson about trust that you can now use in every aspect of your life.
2. Learn to have healthy expectations.
No one gets married thinking they’re going to get divorced.
No one goes to their stockbroker thinking they are going to lose money.
And certainly no one goes on a trip around the world thinking they are going to get SARS!
But life happens. Just because we don’t see it coming or can’t imagine it happening doesn’t mean that life won’t get rocky at times.
If you were jaded and idealistic before, you’re welcome! Life’s woken you up to realize that people change, circumstances change and relationships change.
You’re learning that changes happen, even the most unwelcome ones. You can now live life expecting change, which means you’ll experience less shock and despair in the future.
You’ll not only learn to survive the winds of change, you’ll be able to successfully navigate your sailboat for the rest of your life.
Also, you’ll set healthier expectations. Things don’t necessarily happen the way you want them to. The more you want things to go a certain way in a relationship, the more disappointment you’ll face if you don’t get it.
In terms of my own experience, I didn’t reach the point of “no expectations,” but now I’m more realistic about what can happen: the good, the bad and the unpredictable. All circumstances are possible.
3. People might break your trust and it has nothing to do with you.
“How could he?” or “How dare he?”
You immediately think that when someone does something hurtful or harmful, he or she has it out for you.
Maybe. Or maybe not.
Others are going through their own journeys in life. They are at different places than your own. They change. They have different perspectives. They are on their own paths toward healing and growth.
Theirs just might not coincide with yours.
They’re human. They might have made mistakes.
They might not have known what they were doing.
They might not realize until later what a good thing they had going.
The point is, the way they hurt you or broke your heart may have nothing to do with you. It’s very likely that it has to do with them. In this case, “it really isn’t you, it’s me.”
If you don’t feel as though your ex was intentionally sabotaging you, you’re less likely to take everything he or she did as a vendetta against you. You’re less likely to feel the sting of your ex’s wrongdoing. Less likely to see yourself as a victim.
4. Learn to trust yourself. Listen to your intuition.
You’ve been learning about trust from your partner, but how about learning to trust yourself?
Go with your gut feelings and be more open to your internal voice. That’s your intuition speaking, but we hardly pay it any attention.
The more in tune you are with your intuition and your inner voice, the smarter decisions you’ll make about people. And the smarter you’ll get about trusting others.
Create more silence or complete a mindfulness practice to tap into your intuition. When you have too much internal noise, you’ll have a hard time tuning in and listening to your deepest, most sacred voice.
5. Know that heartbreak breaks you open to trust more genuinely.
You’re probably thinking that your separation or divorce is the hardest thing that has happened to you—and you’re probably right.
The pain and suffering that comes with heartbreak and divorce is brutal, but it is life changing as well.
When you’re broken open, you’re ready for your life’s greatest breakthrough.
Through the pain, suffering and broken dreams, you’ll find yourself. The masks that we all wear, as well as all the other BS, drop away so that we see ourselves as we really are.
From this more authentic place, you’re able to see the superficiality around you and the games people play.
When you’re coming from a place of authenticity and truth, you can connect more freely with others and have a better sense of whom to trust.
6. Think of people you trust and how you have many trustworthy people in your life.
Sometimes our recent experiences cultivate false beliefs.
You might think that just because your relationship ended, everyone else will try to end their relationship with you.
Or you might believe that everyone is a heartbreaker. Or that trusting others is simply setting yourself up for failure and disappointment.
If you look around in your life, you likely have a group of trustworthy and supportive people surrounding you.
And if you look at your past relationships and experiences, you’re likely to think of many trustworthy people who have crossed your path in life. Don’t permit one life event to color your view of the world.
Leave disempowering beliefs behind. Know that there are trustworthy people out there and keep those people close to you to remind yourself that a trusting relationship is possible.
7. Your past experiences don’t have to repeat.
Just because you experienced and ended your last relationship with pain doesn’t mean you’ll see more of that in the future.
Your past does not have to repeat.
You’re smarter now, you’re wiser now and you’ve at least learned what kinds of people not to trust.
You’re more familiar with untrustworthy behavior and know the kinds of people who will let you down.
When you have more insight about yourself and other people, you make smarter decisions about trust.
8. Take small steps of courage to open up to trust again.
If you’re ready to trust again, start by forgiving the people who hurt you. Release them from your life by forgiving them, no matter how badly they let you down or broke your heart.
Start trusting people by their actions and not by their words.
See how people respond to small commitments.
Does he say what he’s going to do? Show up when he says he will?
Does he keep his promises to you?
Does he flake on dinner with a last-minute text? Does he disappear to the bathroom when the check shows after dinner?
Pay attention to red flags.
Build relationships over time and see if the person you’re dating keeps up with small commitments. Don’t jump in like you did the first time.
Send the charmers, the smooth talkers, the big promisers and the showmen on their way.
9. You’re now able to make room for a more trustworthy relationship.
Now that you’re divorced, you’re single again and have more time and space to invite a new relationship into your life.
You can evaluate each person whom you invite into your life, testing his or her trustworthiness. You can be more selective.
You can better listen to yourself. You’re more knowledgeable about what to look for. You’re a survivor of relationships that lacked trust.
You’re ready for a person who’s going to commit, a person who’s going to stay. You’re ready for the one.
“Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness,” Eckhart Tolle has said. “How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you’re having at the moment.”
Your journey has brought you to this place today, where you’re more ready than ever for a happy and healthy relationship.