Sometimes I’m afraid I won’t be okay

I’m in my 30s, and I broke down in tears after playing a social deduction game tonight. I don’t normally like social deduction games because I don’t lie well, but I’ve always enjoyed this one well enough because it’s simple and the rules are straight forward. The whole point is to lie, and I wasn’t in the least upset with anyone. The short version is I really believed my boyfriend of many years was not a traitor (in the game). I believed he wasn’t not because of any in-game actions, but simply because his body language was so completely authentic to me. When I found out he’d been lying, I felt confused. I held it in until I left, but when I left I just started crying. I wasn’t upset with him, and of course I understand it’s a game. What shook me was how convinced I was and yet how wrong I was. It shook my faith in my own judgement and left me feeling confused about how I can trust myself to form judgements about others. I know it sounds silly, and I do of course understand it’s just a game. I’m not at all upset about how the game went, it just shook me. I really thought I knew that he was telling the truth, and the experience of being unable to tell if someone I know so well is lying or not triggered something for me.

Anyway, it left me feeling really concerned about my own issues. Reality feels so unstable for me, and I just want to find a sense of peace and confidence in myself, but I don’t know how or even if I can.

Looking back on my life, I feel like I can track something akin to a disintegration of reality. My sense of the world feels like it was relatively whole until my Aunt and cousins moved in with my mom and me. She often took care of me, but she was not kind to me. She treated me differently from her children and, in my memory, seemed to resent me for reasons I didn’t understand. After that, I think I felt confused and just kept expecting the situation to change but it never did.

I think I became more internal to cope because reality must have been too confusing for me. I read a lot of books and played a lot of video games. I always had friends and a social life, but was also content by myself.

This is too long, but in short my life in retrospect appears as a series of betrayals leading to an increasingly uncertain relation to the world around me. For example, my best friend and childhood crush in first grade tricked me by making me think he liked me only to reveal in front of the class at lunch that it was a trick and he really liked my friend. My aunt who was my caretaker but treated me with contempt when I expected love. My first real boyfriend cheated on me with my best friend, and lied to me about all sorts of things I can’t even remember. I only remember my own disorientation because I never considered the possibility of someone lying like that, even when confronted with hard evidence.

Then I go to college and join a club. I had so many close friends, and three years in all of a sudden no one will speak to me. I find out eventually that another girl had started a rumor which had not even the slightest basis in reality. Unfortunately, every single person I knew, even my very best friends, stopped speaking to me. Hundreds of people, everyone I knew, hated me overnight and I suddenly had no friends. It was bizarre.

I left that group, and then I dated another guy for years who cheated on me. We were living together, he hid another woman etc. etc. I had no idea. Etc. etc.

Dated another guy who randomly had a panic about commitment, also was living with him for quite awhile, and he just suddenly kicked me out. Caught me completely off guard.

After that, I really haven’t been able to trust people. I’ve never been short of friends, but I feel unable to discern anything about the people I’m around anymore. I don’t trust my own judgement. I am constantly uncomfortable and unhappy. Everything feels unstable and I’m so afraid of everything, even though I rarely express it. It came out tonight when I just started crying about this silly game. I’m very close with my partner and would like to think I could tell if he was lying. The other couples at the table were able to recognize if their partners were lying or telling the truth. For me, when I saw his body language and reactions, I completely believed him, and when I realized my judgement was wrong I just wanted to cry. I can’t help but realize that every time I’ve experienced something like a betrayal, I have always been caught off guard. I feel like I might as well flip a coin and believe that.

There are more little examples like this in my life, but this is already so long I’ll just say that I am left wondering a couple things. Does everyone experience betrayals like this? Am I just coping with it poorly? How can anyone trust anyone else with any level of confidence when people are clearly so capable of betraying that trust? What about when one has been constantly blindsided by betrayals of trust, how do you decide who to trust moving forward?

I feel like somehow I need to develop better judgement, but trying to develop the ability to be a “good judge of character” has quite simply not been working out for me. On the one hand it’s as if I trust no one and am constantly afraid, on the other hand it seems like I’m just as gullible and unaware as I’ve always been. Literally the worst of both worlds, and it’s making my life unbearable. I’m becoming concerned that my view of the world is so untethered that I’ll never be able to establish a solid sense of anything.

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Welcome to HeartSupport! You’re among friends now.

I don’t think everyone experiences betrayals like that, but many people do. There are more than a few in this community who have been the casualties of lying, gaslighting, infidelity, and plain meanness.

You’re not coping with it poorly. It’s what people call “little-t” trauma, a series of events over a long time that slowly crush you. Hell, having a lover cheat on you with your best friend might be “Big-T” Trauma, a catastrophic event that shakes you and breaks a part of you. You have endured so much betrayal that it’s become a part of you. Any one of those events isn’t something you just move on from, but all of them together have set expectations for how people are.

What happened with your boyfriend was a knee-jerk reaction to your trauma trigger. It was no more his fault than yours. I can understand how he’d be upset, being called out for lying when he would ostensibly never betray you in real life, but your response to being deceived yet again by someone you love is natural after all you’ve been through.

As for how can anyone trust someone else: trust is a step beyond logic. Trusting someone is believing they are good and well-intended. The end. When you put it that way, trust can seem naïve, but that’s what it’s about. Looking for reasons to trust isn’t trust, it’s investigation. While not everyone has experienced the degree of betrayal you have, everyone has had their trust broken in ways big or small. For me, I was hurt by multiple dating partners, but each time I met someone new I hoped for the best. It sounds to me like you do the same. How can a new relationship be any kind of joyous if you go in with walls up, expecting betrayal? If you go in expecting betrayal, why even bother? It sounds to me like you go in trusting, but your trust is fragile, and understandably so. Your trust issues have been heavily reinforced, and there will be no shortcut to “getting over” that, but you can start working on it in counseling or with EMDR therapy.

You have done a great job identifying everything that led to this game night. You have great self awareness, and that will go far in starting to reconcile your past. You’ve identified it all here, taken it from your mind and made it real, and now that it’s real it’s something you can work on. I hope you can find some healing :hrtlegolove:

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Hello there,

I want to welcome you on into the HeartSupport community. I am happy that you have landed here and felt comfortable enough to reach out for the encouragement and support that you need right now. I also want to commend you on how proud of you that I am that you recognized all of the past emotions and how they impacted your life at this moment.

One of the first things that I thought of after reading your posts was that it might be helpful to have a conversation with your partner about how the game is making you feel and the impact of the lies within the game makes you feel. Your partner might be very good at lying but that might not be who they are as a person. It might be helpful to have some sort of ‘sign’ within the game to show that checks in with one another without making a huge deal to derail the game and whatnot. It might also be helpful to take a step back and take a break from the game or just walk away altogether. Communication is a good tool to have in the toolbox of life and I think it’ll be extremely helpful to you in these types of moments. Thank you for sharing with us. You are valid. You are enough. You are strong. You matter.

-StarFox :yellow_heart:

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From: ᏒᎧᏕᎥᏋ

Hi Friend, Welcome to Heart Support and thank you for posting. When you’ve been hurt a lot in your life, you expect new people to treat you the same way. A lot of us don’t give the new person a chance to show us what kind of a person they are. I was abandoned by my xhusband in the darkest time of my life and I expected my current boyfriend to do the same. He hasn’t tho, he’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. If we play a game like you played and he has to lie it’s ok, because I know he doesn’t lie to me IRL. I trust him. Perhaps having a discussion with your boyfriend about how you’re feeling would help. You could even do some couple’s therapy too. ~Mystrose

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From: Mamadien

Lola, welcome to the HS community. I’m glad you’re here and that you are choosing to trust us enough to share what you are feeling. This is very much a safe place and your feelings will be valued and honored. I’m sorry for the experiences you have had that have brought you to this point with trust. It’s totally understandable how you feel this way while playing this game. Have you talked with your partner honestly but non confrontationally about how you feel and why? You were able to communicate that with us really well. Perhaps that conversation would help your partner understand why you reacted as you did after the get together. Also, do you have or have you considered seeing a counselor or therapist to talk about learning how to trust and how to work through relationships and trust with others? It may help you trust yourself more. You’re so very worth it and you are loved.

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Hello Lola,
welcome to Heart Support and thank you for reaching to us.
Sorry to hear what you have experienced, i also have trust issues but can’t imagine how this is for you.
I don’t know how long you are your partner are together, but i think if he is aware of your past
and your trust issues, you should talk to him about that with the lying even it is based on a game.
Talk about your feelings.
Maybe a therapy might be an option for you, think about that. It will help a lot, but also speak about
everything. Take little steps forward, you are self aware of yourself this is great.
Have a nice day and feel hugged,
Greetings

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From: Lisalovesfeathers

Hi Friend, Welcome to Heartsupport and thank you so much for your post. I can honestly say that a lot of what you wrote about I can relate to, not the story, we have led different lives of course but the thoughts and feelings are very similar indeed and I too have had many years of feeling the same way and readiing your words were thought provoking to say the least. I can certainly understand why that game and the reaction you had to what happened has had such a lasting and harmful effect on you, trust is such a massive part of our lives and one that if you struggle with becomes so difficult that anything can set it off and that certainly did for you. I think those sorts of games sound awful. If I had to suggest anything it would be to talk and be open with your partner, explain everything, talk to him like you have spoken so well to us about how trust has been such an issue and that the game has triggererd this feeling. Let them know that its not that you dont trust but your fears of not being able to trust are what are bringing you down and ask him to help you with that, maybe if he is ok with it you could go to couples therapy and really get into dealing withit properly? Its ok to have these feelings, things have happened in your past that have put you on alert, its normal to react to that but you do not want it to overwhelm you or ruin something that is good for you. I hope you can talk to your partner and work it out. we are here if you need anyting. Much Love Lisalovesfeathers x

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From: susieqzz

Hey there Lola,

I’m so glad you feel like you can come here and talk to us about these things. I know it must be hard rehashing things from the past.

I want to start by saying that your train of thought after playing the game is totally valid. If I were you experiencing all the things those things in the past, my brain would react the same way. Your process of figuring out what triggered you and why it triggered you is commendable as well. It’s so great you have that insight.

I feel like maybe being open with your partner about why it triggered you could be helpful. Not all people who are good at lying are bad. I can totally understand why you may feel that way because most people you have had close encounters with in the past proved otherwise. In this case however it sounds like your partner was just playing the game the way it was meant to be played, and it unfortunately brought up some awful things from the past that are completely valid to talk with him about.

Building up the ability to trust in people again is not an easy thing to do. I feel like you are doing your absolute best to trust again, just having that open communication with your partner could make all the difference in the world to build it up with them specifically.

I wish you all the best! I’m so sorry you had to experience all those things in the past. You are valuable and deserving of trust and peace of mind!

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From: Dr Hogarth :rainbow:

Hi Lola,

Firstly, welcome to the community and thank you for telling us your story.

You’ve had a lot of betrayal in your life; I would say more than most. I feel an overwhelming need to tell you that what all of these people did to you was wrong and they should feel shame for it; your desire to trust these people does not make what they did to you your fault. Trust is inherently a risk, but that doesn’t make wanting to trust people naive. I just wish you’d met some kinder people to place your trust in.

I can completely understand why this game bothered you so much; you’re excellent at explaining and identifying why you feel the way you do. Obviously, I don’t know your partner, but I would say that being a good lier doesn’t mean you actively lie about everything; one thing is a skill and the other a personality trait. I think what your partner needs to hear is what you’ve told us. Explain why this game hurt you, without any accusation. I know that requires placing more trust in him by telling him how you feel, but that risk can be worth it.

I hope you know that you can always reach out here if you need support. Keep strong x

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Hello Lola,

welcome to Heartsupport! Thank you for opening up to us about your struggles and trust us. I know it cannot be easy for you.

My partner is a poker player and always tells me, as soon as they sit down at a table to play cards you cannot trust a single word they say. Still they would never lie to me in a real life situation.

Even if your boyfriend was very successful at this game, that doesn’t mean he would ever try to trick you in real life. Lying in a game to win is different from lying in a real life situation. People usually don’t have much to lose, there are no negative consequences, so I guess lying is easier in a game. It is also not done with a malicious intent, so just because your boyfriend succeeded in the game doesn’t make him an untrustworthy person.

In a real life situation there is much more to lose and also negative consequences, so usually people have more inhibitions to lie and it is a lot harder for them.
I don’t know if you know who Joe Navarro is. (He is a retired FBI-Agent who now writes books about body language.) He says that humans are lousy at detecting deceit. It has nothing to do with you being gullible or being naive. Please don’t feel bad about not detecting it. I think you have a pure heart and believe in the good in people. That is a fantastic quality in itself! And I am sorry that it led to you being betrayed in the past over and over again. But please don’t lose your optimism and belief in people.

It is completely understandable that this is a sensitive topic for you due to your past experiences. Maybe you could open up to your partner about this and explain to him how you feel?

I wish you all the best. You are a great person! :hrtlegolove:

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