Losing and Finding Trust in Recovery

When I first started my recovery journey, it’s fair to say that I had little or no recovery capital

I felt powerless, I’d lost my identity, hope and meaning and after walking away from my peers and social networks and life as I knew it, I’d never felt so disconnected.

The isolation at times was suffocating and at my lowest point, I’d lost faith in all humanity; I felt hurt and let down by the people I thought I could trust the most. It left me feeling betrayed and used; it was so bad that I genuinely thought I might never trust anyone again. In my early recovery days, I was suspicious of everyone, including my closest family.

Before my breakdown, I would share and scatter my trust like confetti, only to have it used as ammunition against me. I’d gotten so afraid of being hurt that I’d made a pact that I wouldn’t allow myself to trust or rely on anyone else for anything.

For me, at that time was the only way I wouldn’t allow myself not ever to feel let down or feel disappointed by someone else.

I didn’t know it then, but TRUST was an integral part of my recovery journey and over the years I have worked hard to figure out what trust means to me and who is allowed in my circle of trust.

 The years of self-enquiry has helped me learn some valuable lessons, especially about trust, over the years, and I wanted to share some with you.

The first person I allowed into my circle of trust was a GP. At the time, I felt vulnerable and had no one else to turn to. After being released from a mental health ward with no aftercare, he suggested I might benefit from some support from a CPN nurse who used to visit me twice a week. It didn’t take me long to realise that none of them had no other hidden agenda apart from trying to help me get well. Instead of telling me what to do, they listened whilst I figured out what I needed to do for myself.

‘Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.’

Stephen Covey,

Lesson 1 –I realised early on that I was an empath; I tended to give everything into relationships and friendships. I would try and put myself in their situations and figure out ways to make them feel better in the hope of something back in return. Unfortunately, the only person that got hurt was me.

I used to think that putting myself was an act of selfishness, but I now realise that it’s an act of self-care. I’m still very empathic and compassionate to others, but I save some of that compassion for myself. Sometimes, this is easier said than done, so I have to prioritise ME time.

Lesson 2 – After prioritising my relationships with others, I realised I didn’t have a healthy relationship with myself. I found this hard at first because sometimes I didn’t like myself, but I persevered. I used to be like a contortionist trying to fit in; like a moth to light, I was attracted to people who I felt were filling what I now realise was a void within me.

Nowadays, I place a higher value on being my authentic self, taking more notice of what matters to me rather than trying to please and appease others around me. Some of my old peers have been replaced by authors whose writing has helped me to overcome my fears and anxieties. The first book I ever read was by Susan Jeffers, who wrote, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. Another favourite is Time to Think by Nancy Kline, who taught me the importance of thinking for ourselves, and my current go-to read is Think Like a Monk, by Jay Shetty, who provides insights and highlights new techniques to stay mindful in what sometimes feels like an insane world. – and god knows we all need a bit of that!

Lesson 3 – I used to assume that everyone had the same values and intentions as me, but I now realise that they don’t. If I can, I prefer to surround myself with people whose values align with mine, but that’s not always possible, not in the real world and especially in the workplace. Now I am not saying that these people are not BAD people, I have just realised that they are not MY people, and that’s ok because I’m learning to navigate myself around them.

 Lesson 4 –I found my tribe -I used to seek out friendships to help me feel complete, which left me feeling like I was constantly competing for attention. Nowadays, I seek friendships with people who complement me instead of completing me.

Lesson 5 –I was never good at understanding, let alone managing my emotions; that’s why I sought reassurance from others. That was until I started trusting myself. If I am struggling, my first port of call is me  #Haveawordwimesen. I will make some time to ask the question, ‘What’s going on?’ and nine times out of ten, after sitting and writing down my thoughts, I can figure out what’s happening, and If I can’t, I will reach out to someone I know I can trust to help.

Lesson 7 –You can’t save everyone – My mission in life has always been to want to help people, but I have had to come to terms with and accept the fact that not everyone is willing, prepared, or able at that point in their lives to help themselves. I have lost count of the number of hours I have spent sitting with people listening and absorbing their pains or frustrations, only for them to go back to old behaviours. And there is nothing worse than finding out that they are narcissists in disguise, otherwise known as Energy Vampires 

Lesson 6 – I used to be like a lost sheep, the black one that followed the herd. Nowadays, I surround myself with MY herd, otherwise known as my tribe. There is a poem by Jean Dominique Martin that resonates with me and my personal experience. He says,

“People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.”

Some people came into my life at the right time and for the right reason, like the GP and CPN nurse, for example; it was like they had been sent to me to assist and guide me through a challenging period in my life (season) They planted seeds and showered me with faith when I had no faith in myself. These people may no longer be part of my journey, but I will be forever grateful for the seeds they planted in me. And then there are the people in my life who I know are there for the long run (lifetime). There are those I trust implicitly, whose values align with mine, someone I can go to offload, and others who share the same sarcastic dark humour or love me for who I am without any strings attached.

Deep down, I knew that if my recovery were ever to stand a chance, I would have to learn to trust again. And I have to admit it hasn’t always been easy, but it has certainly been worth it. It’s taken me over thirty years to get to this place where I now longer feel alone, where I now longer feel the odd one out, and I’m sure I’ll still be #havinawordwimesen for the next thirty years – if I’m lucky to live that long. Finally, I’m going to finish on this note.

Jay Shetty says

“Trusting everyone makes you vulnerable to deception and disappointment. ‘Trusting no one leaves you suspicious and alone.’


My advice is

“it’s your job to find your own sweet spot, somewhere in between and BEWARE of the Energy Vampires”


Remember – I don’t write for financial reward or gain. I want to help share my lived experience with others, hoping it helps. And I love to write, so if ya fancy getting the occasional email (NO SPAM) with the most up-to-date blogs from yours truly, please feel free to subscribe at the bottom of the main page.

Love Fordy

AKA Unapologeticwriter


7 thoughts on “Losing and Finding Trust in Recovery

  1. Love love love this 1 in particular, always good to try to make sense of things , this path is full of magic In finding a way of expressing things your seeking, and the answers really are within, it’s just I need to take my foot of the gas sometimes and enjoy the ride

  2. Hiya fordy, another fantastic blog! Really enjoyed it love. Lots of thing said in it that realy resonated with me, especially about so called people or “friends” that disapoint or let you down, when all you did was take all their troubles on and tried to help them. Just goes to show, they wasn’t friends in the first place. Xx

  3. This is hreat stuff Tracey am starting to study with your blog to help improve my philosophy and contribute to recovery and life’s struggles. Your a star.

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