Is it hard to trust people?

Published by at 10:15 am under Common Concerns

Welcome to First Steps to Al-Anon Recovery. This is a series of podcasts to discuss some common concerns for people who have been affected by someone else’s drinking.

Today Hannah, Catherine, Jerry, and Veronica will tell us how someone’s drinking affected their ability to trust people.

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36 comments

36 comments on “Is it hard to trust people?”

  1. Sissy says:

    My boyfriend of two years is an alcoholic. When I met him, he told me he was going to AA meetings and I believed him. He was not sober (he’d be drunk for days on end every week) and claimed it was impossible to find a sponsor. We moved in together on him insisting he’d “get help,” go to meetings daily and this time really try to find a sponsor.

    I trusted him because why not? I believe in people and put my faith in people’s honesty and integrity. He was not sober and couldn’t stay sober for more than seven days without going on a week-long bender (in which he’d drive drunk, invite friends over to do cocaine while I was at work, rack up huge tabs at every bar within walking distance and then ditch out without paying, send sleazy messages to past women he’d had relationships or just relations with on Facebook or through texts, flirt with bar patrons and bartenders who would scowl at me when I’d storm in to haul him out stumbling drunk, pass out on the lawn, get into fights, drive the wrong way down one-way streets and hit parked vehicles, damage my personal property–like throwing my cell off the third storey balcony and breaking framed photographs, etc.), after which swearing he’d “never get drunk again ” each time, because the sobering-up part was hard because he hated feeling sick–not that it was because he wanted to improve his life or try to be a good man for his family, of course not.

    After a week of being sober, having insomnia, and going to meetings, he’d get burned on not finding a sponsor (he refused to communicate or be involved in any way with AA, claiming he didn’t fit in and it was too hard), he’d start his bender over again, acting like he couldn’t understand why I was mad (I was mad because to me I was being lied to). It’s impossible to not feel resentful!

    Eventually our relationship reached a very low point, and his enabling addict friend (who dislikes me, naturally) encouraged him to pursue a woman friend of theirs. Of course, in his insecure position he started going out with her behind my back (“I’m going out with AA friends–there’s an AA meeting across town so I’ll be late tonight,” etc.). I wanted so bad to trust his motives to get sober. I encouraged and supported his sobriety, but I simply began to lose all patience.

    When he came home drunk at 6 am after “being with AA friends” all night, he coldly admitted he’d found someone else, since in his head he was trying to rationalize his cruel sneaking around–”I wanted to break up, anyway.” She was also in AA, so she “understood him” in ways I, a non-addict, couldn’t.

    I said good, you can be her responsibility now, I’m exhausted. I confronted her, the old “didn’t-know-he-had-a-girlfriend scenario plays out, etc., etc. He was mad, not because he was embarrassed he hurt me and used another woman. No, he was angry because this made him look bad. Talk about selfish. As is typical with people who have their cheating partner abandon them, he begged my forgiveness, which is something he’s always gotten from me, the typical doormat. We’ve been attempting to repair our relationship since practically the first day. After all of this I can still say I believe in him and I want to trust him, but how how how how do you keep strong and keep faith when to this day he refuses to go to AA or rehab (“too expensive “) and says he won’t drink, then proceeds to drink every time. How do you not just give up.

    The Big Book tells women we need to just suck it up and support our man and keep our negativity in check, as if their drinking is somehow our fault. I can’t keep doing this without someone helping me. His family completely ignores his problem, his friends are all drunks too. I feel like I’m the only person in the world who wants desperately for him to get sober. I know I can’t help him. But how do I help myself. I don’t want to give up because I care and love so deeply. I don’t know how you trust someone who won’t be honest with you but desperately needs you to trust them!

  2. crystal says:

    I have some major trust issues with my husband and it feels like we fight every day. He’s been “sober” for over a year but has been on Suboxone strips the whole time. Although he works very hard every day, 6 days a week, I question everything he does and says I’m driving him crazy. He can’t stand that I don’t trust him.

    I came from a life where my dad was always cheating and now is married to his mistress, so I guess I’ve always had trust issues. My problem is not knowing if it’s me or my husband. He just acts so suspicious sometimes. I’m going crazy. I’m constantly checking bank accounts and looking for receipts. I feel myself wanting to go through his phone all the time.

    He lies about little things, like how much money he has spent. I catch him in lies about different things. He doesn’t go out with friends and spends his days off at home, but he works the night shift and I worry constantly if he’s really at work (something he’s lied about in the past).

    He recently threatened to leave me if I didn’t start trusting him. I’m so lost and have no one to talk to. I often think about suicide because it’s too much.

  3. mel says:

    I am finding it hard to let go of obsessive thinking about my ex-boyfriend, who is a recovering alcoholic and the reason I found Al-Anon. I believed everything he said to me. A number of commitments were made. Some things said and done by him just don’t add up, though.

    I am disappointed that I didn’t take enough care of myself to say no to this kind of treatment. Love confuses me! I can’t even figure out what is inappropriate treatment, and what is me overreacting and being too sensitive and emotional. I am trying to learn when is the right time to say nothing and let things be, and when I need to stand up for myself and express how I am feeling. I would like to learn these things so if I find a partner in the future I can have a healthier relationship. I have been in Al-Anon for around 11 months now. Thank you.

  4. Darlene says:

    My first Al-Anon meeting was a few weeks ago and then I discovered this site. I have listened to several podcasts, but felt compelled to finally leave a comment. This topic — trust — really hit home for me on so many levels but none more nearer and dearer to me than the trust I have lost for my daughter. A few months ago, I learned of even more lies that she has told me, but nothing more serious than her addiction. I thank God, my HP, every day for saving her life, but it is so challenging for our relationship now. I no longer believe a word she says and even though I know this is not fair to her, I am left with no other choice. But after listening to the podcast and reviewing the comments, I am going to work hard at redeveloping a relationship with her. I am turning the challenge over to God because He has showed me that together we can work out anything.

  5. Ang says:

    I wonder how you help a friend that is with a husband that is an alcoholic. She has separated from him, but whenever he says I’ll prove it to you I’m not drinking, she’s like oh okay. She let’s him drive their son and I don’t get how she is doing this.

  6. Jenny says:

    I feel so lonely when everything is at its worst. It is the days when everything seems to pile up on me and I can’t fix it. I want to be able to talk to my family about what is going on, but they get tired of listening to me.

    I can’t leave because I won’t have any control over what happens to my son if he is with his father. He is old enough to choose his father over me, and he would because he wants to be able to do whatever he wants when he is with his dad. Sure I could trust the courts to take care of it, but then my son would just rebel against me. So I stay just so that I can keep what little control that I have.

    At the same time, I have nobody that I can turn to that will just listen and give me a shoulder to lean on. Everybody seems to blame me for the problem. In return, my family gets to be the freak show that everybody likes to judge and talk about. I am not helpless, I just need somebody I can trust and open up to.

  7. Lauren says:

    My husband has been sober for 5 months. After a while, I finally started to relax and stop living in fear. Now I am heartbroken because he told me that he has been lying to me about his finances and that he ran up 1600 dollars on a credit card in my name. He says he did it so I wouldn’t worry about money, that he is paying it back, and that the fact that he came clean shows that he is getting better. I feel so stupid that I trusted him. Again. I have to find a way to make sure that his bad choices don’t affect me. I’m praying for guidance and strength from God.

  8. Kristal says:

    Trust. It’s hard to trust my addict husband. After 40 sober days, my husband relapsed. I’ve taken him to the meetings and even stay outside the whole time to make sure he stays. Every time he is using the computer or his phone I’m always trying to find out if he is doing something he shouldn’t. All this has not worked.

    After I’ve read some Al-Anon literature and heard the podcast, I understand that I can’t live afraid that my husband will relapse. I have to work on me and I have to learn one day at a time. Today I have learned that I have to let him work his program. And even though it’s hard to trust him when he says he is going to a meeting or going to work, I can’t keep living in fear. We both have to live one day at a time and enjoy our life together. I don’t want to give up on him, but I know I have to give God a chance.

  9. mae says:

    My husband of 35 years stopped drinking 2 1/2 years ago. He was dry but not sober. He blamed me for not thinking his alcoholism was a disease, but obviously he didn’t either because he wasn’t getting treatment for his disease.

    For two months now, he has been going to AA and has a sponsor who is meeting with him weekly. I think he is doing better, but boy, do I still have trust issues. How do you believe someone who has lied to you about insignficant things for 15 years when they tell you they love you? Only a fool would believe that.

    I am obsessed that as I get older, I am cutting people out of my life who take too much energy. There is nothing left for me. Will I be left alone because I cannot trust people, so I hold them at arm’s length?

    I hate alcoholism. It ruins lives. It can ruins your life even if you don’t drink a drop.

    I hate how it has changed me. I hate that it has robbed me of so many years of joy in my life. I hate that I still am not getting better.

  10. Marg says:

    I have a son. Drinking. Wow, it makes him a different person. He has just had 4 years clean and now has a daughter of 2, but he has fallen. He can’t be trusted.

    I don’t know where I should get help. I have told him he is not welcome as long as he drinks.

  11. Michelle D says:

    I grew up with an alcoholic mother. I watched her lie to people about the dumbest things. But it made me wonder, how do I know she’s telling me the truth? So I decided not to believe anything she said and to assume that everything she told me was a lie. It was the safest way to protect myself.

    I have trust issues. I know that. Sometimes my boyfriend has lied to me to try to protect me so I won’t stress out and worry. Which I do, a lot. I’ve told him many times that it’s hard for me to trust people in the first place and even harder when I know he lies to me sometimes, even if he thinks it’s for a good reason. So now, even when he tells me that he hasn’t lied to me in a long time, I think to myself, how do I know that? How do I know you’re not lying?

    My mother passed away a few years ago. While she was alive much of my life revolved around her drinking and my issues of growing up with an alcoholic mother. Now she’s gone and I still have issues. Even when she was alive I hadn’t lived with her for years. Unless they’ve been there, there’s no way for people to understand what it’s like to grow up with an alcoholic or live with one. They have the disease but it makes you crazy and sick too!

  12. Cmac says:

    I grew up in a family of 8 with an alcoholic father. I find trusting people so so hard–even now at the age of 34. I am the only one in my family who has faced up to the problem and wishes to talk about it. Unfortunately the others are in denial. I am therefore isolated from my family.

    I want so so much to get better and trust people, especially my girlfriend who is a wonder to still be with me. I just want to be happy and feel peace. I am in such pain at the moment and feel like a wandering soul. Please help me God.

  13. Chris says:

    I do know that the mistrust within my marriage has led me to be on my own. I still find myself questioning his motives even after he has gone (October 2011). Or at least I want to take the full responsibility for it, as I am trying to make sense of what happened. In the end, I hope to know God more and find trust in Him as much as possible.

    Currently, I feel overwhelmed and am trying to yet again make sense of another thing that my husband has done to me. Living like this has made me feel unsafe because I’m not financially on my own. However, still having my home and job has made me feel like there is a light at the end of this tunnel.

    I pray every night and sometimes I think God hears me. Other nights I feel alone, but I hope that when the time is right to reveal the truth, I will be able to see clearly the next step to my recovery. Before Al-Anon, God showed me the lies, so I’m sure He will reveal again. Just have to learn to be patient.

  14. Mary says:

    I enjoyed hearing the podcast concerning trust.

    It is such a difficult thing for me to trust anyone. At a meeting I shared that because of this lack of trust I keep myself “safe” by maintaining emotional distance from family, friends, everyone.

    This creates a deep loneliness inside me that I wish I could heal.

    I have found a Higher Power in the halls of Al-Anon and I am learning to listen and learn and to trust in a better way to live.

    Coming to Al-Anon, I am learning to find trustworthy friends and little by little share my story and my life with them.

    Trusting my own good judgement and ability to take care of myself by being a responsible adult are things I am learning in Al-Anon. One Day At A Time.

  15. Ciara says:

    Before the Al-Anon program, I trusted no one. To me, trusting someone was just giving them a weapon to hurt me with later. My sponsor talked a lot about “being like cellophane” or “being the same person to the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker.” I had no clue what those meant at first, but she assured me that I would someday not wish “to shut the door on the past,” that I would get to the point where nothing in the past could ever hurt me. I thought she was crazy. There would never be a day when I could share my real self with anyone. I had denied myself for so long, that I didn’t even know who my real self was!

    But because she opened up to me so freely, my sponsor was the first person I ever really trusted. She was the only person that got to see all of me- good and bad. To my surprise, she just loved me. Simply loved me for who I was, warts and all. That helped me begin the journey of loving myself.

    Years later, when my husband went from drinking 3 times a year, to 3 times per week. Then 4 and 5 and 6. Sometimes 7 times per week. My heart sank. I’ve seen what happens to marriages when alcohol weasels its way into it. The doom and gloom hit me like a ton of bricks. My God kept assuring me that I would be okay. In a million ways, He kept telling me to stay. To trust. I didn’t want to. I wanted to run. But enough years of working my program assured me that my life was in the CARE of God and He knew what he was doing.

    When my husband started spending most nights out, I couldn’t understand why God was asking me to stay. I had always been jealous, but my obsession was now out of control. I kept focusing on “letting go COMPLETELY.” My prayer was “Completely, God. I am letting go Completely.” When something came up that didn’t add up, I asked, “God, do I investigate or leave this one up to you?” 9 times out of 10, the answer was leave this one to Me. I would then pray, “God have me see what you would have me see.” I trusted in God’s timing.

    At some point, I realized that I had stopped trusting my husband and started trusting my higher power. I knew that whatever happened in my marriage, I was going to be OK. God was taking care of me.

    When the time came for me to “see” what was really happening, the events unfolded themselves in the most gentle way possible. I could have never orchestrated the events that passed, the people that God sent to help me at just the right moments, the peace and calm in my heart. Step 11 says, “pray for knowledge of his will AND THE POWER TO CARRY IT OUT.” I had completely missed the POWER part. God gave me the peace, love and calm to do the things I needed to do. I kept saying, “this can’t be me. This calm person cannot be me.” It wasn’t.

    I am now basking in God’s grace. When my trust was rightly placed in my Higher Power’s Hands, amazing things happened.

  16. Ashley says:

    Trust, I don’t know any feeling of trust. Everyone I have ever trusted has let me down. I surely don’t even trust myself at this point to make the “right decision,” and I often wonder how I get into the situations I get into.

    People-pleasing and always feeling used. I don’t get it. I have been surrounded by alcoholics my entire life. Family and very close even two of my closest friends in the world are alcoholics as well as lost 2 friends with drug and alcohol problems to suicide in my teens.

    One friend is now 2 years sober and in AA and I am so proud of her. She is like a sister to me, but I realize our relationship still in sobriety needs attention. The other, I am not sure where they are but I only expect a call one day that that particular person has overdosed or died due to their alcoholism and drug abuse.

    I have recently attended my first meeting and cried through the entire thing. I also bought some literature explaining the program. It is a huge step to realize you cannot fix, control, help the alcoholic. You can only help yourself. Step One, admit we are powerless over alcohol and that our lives have become unmanagable.

    It is nice to feel that there are others like me. Thank you all for sharing.

  17. Hanna says:

    I’m very thankful that I have found this page. I grew up with an alcoholic father. I have always thought that I’m the strongest person in the world, and for a long time I was trying to save my father as well. I have been blind or denying my own weakness, which is about to take over me now.

    I have huge problems with my self-esteem and I can’t trust anyone. I just feel my “perfect life” (which I started to build right after I moved away from home when I was 16) is falling apart. I hope this helps me to recover and find a new way in my life. Thank you.

  18. JB says:

    When my alcoholic first got sober, he was mad at me for not trusting him. It was really messing with my marriage. Prior to getting sober, I heard a hundred things like, “This is the last time I will drink,” and it wouldn’t last but a day or two; “I will get a job tomorrow,” and he wouldn’t; “I will watch the kids while you work,” and I would come home to find him passed out, etc.

    After all the years of not being able to trust him, I couldn’t bring myself to try to trust him again because I was afraid of him failing. I finally got the courage to tell him and he was angry and hurt but after a while he understood. It took a long time before I finally was able to put my trust in him again.

    I won’t say my trust issues are cured, because once in a while I find myself trying to go down that path agai–that is when I know that I have skipped too many meetings. Thank you for all your comments.

  19. Mickey says:

    I have only just discovered this Al-Anon website and was very happy to find it and know that I am not the only one suffering and going through all this stuff. I don’t trust anyone, because I have been let down so much in my life, when someone tells me something, especially my husband, who is an alcoholic (I am also an Adult Child of an Alcoholic) and have had alcoholics around me all my life.

    I am having a really difficult time with my husband right now, and our marriage is in a very precarious state right now. We often fight because I don’t trust my husband and he is always saying how much I am “hurting him” by not trusting him, but I have often trusted him, given him the “benefit of the doubt” only to find out that he had been hiding things from me–his drinking, his porn, his relationships online. I feel as if I can’t ask him about anything that he does because he always takes everything I ask him as a “personal attack” and shuts down until he goes and gets drunk and then it all comes out with such rage.

    I would like to be able to trust people that I come in contact with every day. I have no friends, because I isolate myself to keep all the “drama” that comes from others away from me.

    I am in so much pain. I don’t know what to do about how desolate I feel inside sometimes, even when I ask the Creator to lend me the strength to try to sort things out, I just don’t feel as if I am equipped to even start as there has been so much during my entire life. I am destroying my marriage because of all the other emotional (trust) issues that are present.

    I plan on spending more time listening to the podcasts and reading the comments, as it has helped in just the few days that I have been checking it out. I think I might be able to get some help in dealing with the things that make my life so empty and cold.

  20. carmella says:

    I know I really need to go to meetings, soon. Reading everyone’s stories makes me feel not so alone. I’ve been with my husband for 18 years. He had been sober from alcohol for 13 years. In the middle of that gap of time he had back surgery and became addicted to pain pills. He went to rehab and quit like 2 years ago now.

    He was diagnosed with bipolar. He has not gotten the help he needs mentally. In the past 6 months he has messed up 4 times with drinking. So now every time he comes home smelling like a mechanic, he doesn’t have time to get in the door without me being defensive and accusing.

    I just want to let it go and trust him again. I can’t live my life in fear of when he falls apart. I hope therapy will help us. I feel bad for my 14-year-old son, having to deal with us. Peace to y’all.

  21. Sharon says:

    I wish I had been able to hear this podcast years ago. I have learned in Al-Anon that the person I need to trust is me. I put too much emphasis on my loving, trusting him. I didn’t realize that by putting so much emphasis on my own insecurities in not trusting him that I failed to see that the person I should trust was me.

    All my nagging, manipulating, and mothering was not helping. I could not trust him; lies easily flowed out of his mouth. I had learn to concentrate on cleaning up my “garbage”–I have plenty. My recovery was mine; his was his. It is hard to detach and live my life for me and stay on my side of the street. Trusting him is not as hard if I learn to trust myself.

  22. jonzie says:

    Trust is a hard issue. I don’t trust people to always do what they say or share their real feelings. Can see why people don’t trust people who drink. It’s when I’m my most unreliable.

  23. RP says:

    Generally I’m a trusting person, which is sometimes a double-edged sword. Recently my trust in my significant other was rocked when he relapsed after 10 years of sobriety. I’d always admired his commitment to sobriety and active participation in AA.

    Finding these podcasts already helped me realize the need for me to recover my ability to trust in myself and others. I look forward to participating in live meetings and starting my own path to recovery.

  24. April says:

    My husband never drank until he was laid off his job in Oct. of 08. It started out only on the weekends, and has escalated ever since. Slowly, through the years of alcohol abuse, it has changed his thought process.

    He isn’t the man I married, anymore. He replaced his anti-depressants with the alcohol, saying that he needed it to be more outgoing and social. If that were the case, then I wouldn’t have to sit at home every evening and watch him get drunk, verbally abuse me, then stagger to bed.

    I miss him dearly, but I am slowly giving up hope that the man I fell in love with is even still in there anymore…

  25. Nikki says:

    Thank you for sharing. The sponsor’s comments were really moving: “If you say things more than once, you’re controlling.” I cringed a little because I identify with this way too well, but it was a very big eye-opener for me.

    Now I have a simple question I can ask myself throughout my day that will help me stop and think before I react. Thanks for that simple, but powerful gem of knowledge:)

  26. edith says:

    I find trust difficult too. My husband died 9 months ago and he was my best friend. Now I am having trouble not blaming others for not being able to make me feel better and because I often feel like a fifth wheel. I realize today that these are MY issues and not the fault of other people. I’ve got to keep working on me.

  27. Elizabeth says:

    I was in need of hearing someone’s experience, strength and hope. I chose to listen to this podcast about trust because right now it is the biggest hurdle in my recovery.

    My program is 7 years old. HP is always there for me, but I second-guess everything. It takes courage to do what the spirit is leading me to do, despite my will. My will always leans on the side of staying with the familiar. The familiar is a dark place full of resentment and self-pity. When I let go of that and follow my spirit despite fears, I am always rewarded with a sense of ease, and sometimes awe and wonder.

    Listening to these podcasts reminds me, I am not alone. People in the program are working it and making progress. I can too.

  28. Tammy says:

    Most importantly, I don’t trust myself to be able to tell when someone is manipulating me. I hope I can learn to trust myself again. Of course, I don’t trust the alcoholics, but I’m angry with myself that I brought this garbage into my life.

  29. Stacie says:

    I found this real helpful because my best friend started AA and had reached her 30 days and then the next day she fell and started drinking again. I was dealing with a blind trust. I believe every thing she told me and even though I knew better or I questioned the task I kept quite. I was searching for an Al-Anon meeting in my area and found this podcast that is helpful. My trust has been downed several time, but I see now that it was all part of her illness. We went back to an open meeting last night together. I learned that I cannot just leave her, but I can put up a wall and then slowly bring it down as she tries to get better. Thanks for the chance to share and comment on the podcast.

  30. Sue says:

    I found this helpful. Thank you.

    I find it hard to trust myself, too. I have belittled my own instincts so often that I find it difficult to recognize them.

    It’s good to be reminded that I am worth it.

  31. melissa says:

    I can see myself in every person on this page. I can relate. I found this site and I have not stopped listening to the podcast stories. I just could not believe it. It has helped me in the last 24hrs to stop blaming myself for everyone’s unhappiness.

    I grew up with an alcoholic father and older brother, and now 22yrs later my husband and older son have an addiction to alcohol. Everything is my fault. If I would just not say anything to them, then things would be just fine. After listening to the podcasts, I will apply those principles in my life and deal with this, and I will start attending meetings.

    Thanks.

  32. Susan says:

    I hear echos of my experience in these stories. I am considering going to a meeting and hearing these stories has moved me closer to that end. Thank you.

  33. Pawn says:

    Thank you so much to everyone participating here. We really need each other. Living with an alcoholic can sometimes be too much for many of us. I am having a difficult time right now and I am so grateful for this site.

  34. Amanda says:

    I’m having trust issues with my husband also.

  35. Linda says:

    It’s hard to trust someone, everyone.

  36. Linda says:

    My first Al-Anon meeting is Monday the 11th, 2011. But my big thing with my husband is the fact that he turns everything I say & every situation into something else and before you know it it’s something about me & what I did or said. I’m so tired of having blame put on me when I’m not the alcoholic. I have reached the point to where I am angry all the time & I can’t even remember when I’ve had a good day.

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