It’s not easy, as a single parent, to learn to trust again. If you feel you have been rejected by your partner, you can feel pain almost beyond description. The pain of that broken relationship might leave you thinking, ‘never again.’ It simply hurts too much. It rocks your self-worth, your security, your desire to be needed. The person who has rejected you seems, in effect, to have said, ‘You are no good. I don’t want you or need you.’
It’s normal to resolve never to be so hurt again, and to build up barriers to protect yourself. Your previous experience will affect you and much depends on your own self esteem. If you have low self esteem, then somebody might say something comparatively innocent to you, but you read ‘rejection’ into it. If you’ve been hurt in your childhood as well as in your adult life, this is difficult to overcome.
Going out and meeting other people, building relationships (not necessarily romantic attachments) is risky. Yes, you open yourself up to the possibility of being hurt again. But isn’t the alternative – living a totally isolated life – too lonely to contemplate?
Building a wall around yourself can be helpful in the short term, while you come to terms with the breakup of your relationship. Then begin to look outwards, even though you might feel vulnerable.
Try to take on board that although you’ve been hurt in the past, it doesn’t mean everyone else is out to hurt you. Discovering that others don’t treat you the same way as your ex did will give you hope, and help you regain your self-esteem. It might be difficult for you to accept deep inside that you are lovable. There are helpful books on the market, and if the roots of your rejection go very deep, counselling can help too. It will take time to rebuild your own self-worth and trust in others – be prepared to work at it.
Attempt to accept yourself as you are, even though someone else might have rejected you. Be careful not to carry false self-blame into your new relationships – at the same time as being self aware enough to recognise when you have been at fault.
It might seem strange to realise that being willing to forgive your ex for the pain he or she caused can make it easier for you to trust again. Being unwilling to forgive can only damage; it makes it difficult for you to move on. Holding on to pain and resentment makes people bitter and self-centred. Forgiveness means letting go, releasing. It doesn’t mean pretending the wrong didn’t matter, or wasn’t important. The wrong remains – but it doesn’t have to rule you.
It isn’t only your ex you’re releasing – it’s yourself. While you hang on to anger and unforgiveness, you are bound to the other person. You are not free to move on and trust again.
So try to take those first vulnerable steps towards other people, and start to believe in them and in yourself once again. It’s worth it!
This article is adapted from an article on the Care for the Family website. All rights remain with Care for the Family. Used with permission