It is dangerous to take someone at their word.


How do you relearn to trust and take someone's word for what it is, rather than a trap?

The situation:
I'm currently having bad nightmares (the word 'currently' is probably redundant because I almost always have them).
[Side note: my team and I are working on trauma root & nightmares through therapy and meds].

Not many people IRL know about my PTSD, but two people close to me who do have told me that I can wake them up if I have a bad nightmare and need someone to be there.

The catch:
During my abusive relationship, waking him up was one of the most forbidden things.

He used to sleep a lot during the day, but he had this high qual eye mask which he showed/told me about in the beginning -- how I could turn the light on in the room and he wouldn't even notice because of the way the mask contoured his face. He told me that I could do that and that it would be ok.

Well, one day when he was sleeping, mask on, and I wasn't able to leave the room (fear of waking him with the sound of the door), I decided to turn the light on because I didn't want to lay there in a dim room (I spent plenty of time doing that while drugged and I guess on this occasion I wasn't drugged), and he'd told me that with the mask on, lights on were fine.

Long story short, it was a bad bad idea. Because even though he had said those things, they were clearly just a trap for another reason for me to get in trouble.

So, now I am stuck with a situation where it would be really nice to be able to take people at their word, so that I didn't have to be alone after a nightmare, but I am really f*cking terrified at the thought. And I am not really sure how to proceed.

People want to help me, but I can't let them. It doesn't feel very nice.


I think as a trigger exposure therapy would help- try a little and see how it goes. Or, since it is what it is, wait til the morning if you can, for your sake ultimately and theirs' at the time.

Really miserable not being able to trust for sure, unpredictable past awful experiences, there's no way to win there.

I think the taking at your word is a hard one to overcome, because it is until it isn't. But too it's possible to miss signals to take a hike so to speak (sorry, can't find other words) meaning the words maybe were not so disingenuous but the signal to go away was missed (I realized that the hard way).

So I guess the only way is to try, if you are so inclined.

Good luck! 🤗


It is dangerous.

The DEGREE of danger? Varies tremendously.

I’ve just lost a 30/40 year relationship with someone, because they chose the WRONG moment, about the WRONG subject, to lie to me. Maybe we’ll have a relationship again, in time. Maybe not. I honestly don’t know. But for now? The last thread with them snapped. I took them at their word, and they not only broke their word (which I can certainly forgive under many circumstances) but outright lied to me.... when I was operating out of an all or nothing headspace. If I’d been in a different headspace? It would still have been a blow, but I don’t know if I’d have ended things. Maybe yes, maybe no. I no longer trust them. At all. About anything. Finis.

^^^ That? ^^^ Is a risk of taking people at their word. It risks the loss of a relationship.

On the far opposite end of the spectrum? You can take someone at their word, and they can kill you for it.

Meanwhile in the middle of “all things bad” = betrayals to various degrees.

Loss of a relationship >>> Theft, Assault, Abuse, Rape, Murder.

It’s only HALF the spectrum. The risk/danger half. And it’s real.

What’s NOT real? To assume that’s the all of it. It’s not. There’s also the reward/glory side.

Gaining an ally >>> Simpatico, Strength, Synergy.

And there’s the middling neutral bit, where one gains/loses nothing. Because, sure. Maybe nothing bad happens, and maybe nothing good, either. It’s not black and white. There’s that great big blended part. >>> Maybe they make casual declarations they never follow through on, and will land squarely in the middle of “eh”. Maybe they’d never hurt you in a million years but they’re also bears when they wake up so they may MEAN every word they say, but dealing with Cranky McGrouchFace isn’t your cup of tea. Another sort of middling bit. Maybe they’d absolutely be there, if they hadn’t just been up for 36 hours with a new baby or injured back, but this time, nope!

You know these people, and where they’d LIKELY fall on the spectrum, best.

Trust your judgment, not your fears.

Fears are valid. They let us know there IS danger. You have to use your head to rate how likely those dangers are. Is there a danger of an airplane falling out of the sky? Sure. Not a very big one, but the danger exists. The bridge we’re on collapsing below is? Sure. A friend letting us down? Sure. An abuser being abusive? Sure. But how likely these things are? Is not the same. <<< Hearts feel // Heads evaluate. You really need both to work together. Either one trying to do the job of both just doesn’t work well.

Fears are a warning system, judgment is an evaluation.

Fire alarms aren’t known for putting out fires nor their ability to determine it’s a false alarm. No matter how loud they scream, or how hard they are to shut off. They’re just klaxons. A warning system. They don’t have the ability to evaluate or act.
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People want to help me, but I can't let them. It doesn't feel very nice.
I've had this a lot in my life. My brain is a bit scrambled, so I'm going to write down random thoughts in no order!

-I need to forgive myself for not asking for help. If the experience is awful for me, of course I don't want to do it! It's okay to admit when the experience, for me, is awful.

-I can identify little behaviors in others that can trigger me, and I can work on separating my fears from reality (if I cuddle against Mrs. W in the morning, which she says is okay, and she stays sleeping, it doesn't mean she's rejecting me. It means she is tired).

-I give myself permission to choose the safest people and the safest little things to work on. I remember telling my therapist that I was afraid of texting her or anybody else a few years ago. The goal is to find something that feels a little scary to do, but when I do it, I can experience a little joy or relief.

-These sorts of things make really good EMDR targets.


I find in my own recovery being afraid of depending on others is avoiding exploiting them...I felt no way you just want to give me something for the sake of giving something good.I came to realize deeper that I only used my mother for her milk (the root cause think of harlow's monkeys) and to avoid using or exploiting people like I did with my mother to survive, I just stop depending or believing their goodness altogether. This is my trauma - disconnection from humanity so foregoing any help.
It has unleashed so much consciousness since I had this insight. In my adult, I went out of my way to be helpful (still doing it consciously) seeking atonement for my wrong doing as a baby wanting the milk without connecting and depending on my mother - the holy grail of trauma for me. split in depending vs loving.


Sorry your going through this @bellbird. Unfortunately I think that you can't put to much trust in other people. Other people will always make mistakes one way or another. That's not a very nice feeling I know. I have only a few people that I trust but still I don't put all my faith in that as a defence mechanism. Because if I don't have to high expectations of them then they can't let me down. Period.


tiny toe in the water. Call them at 8pm - see how they react. Then try at 10 pm. see how they react. Then call when you know they are having dinner.
And so on.....
When you end up calling them at 2am? You will already have an idea of if they truly meant "you can call anytime"


tiny toe in the water. Call them at 8pm - see how they react. Then try at 10 pm. see how they react. Then call when you know they are having dinner.
And so on.....
When you end up calling them at 2am? You will already have an idea of if they truly meant "you can call anytime"

I'm finding this quite triggering as I am the sort of person that you can, truly call in in the middle of the night. I'll probably won't be super happy about it and I'll also expect it for having some valid reason other than just testing me. I absolutely detest not being taken at face value because I don't say things I don't mean. Going gradually is great but testing behaviour for me is very upsetting even if I pass all the tests., except the one of perfection because that cannot be.

How many nights in my life I have comforted friends having hard times in the middle of the night. And it's okay.

When I give my loyalty it's implied it will not be questioned, or at least not unreasonably. Loyalty is such a precious thing, abusing it is for me one of the worst things one can do. That will trigger a flaming hate and badly. I'm much less liberal with it now.

On the other side there are things that you cannot say right away being dead honest. You need time to unfold and show other facets of yourself before it becomes understandable. Sort of an order of presenting things.

I don't like to be pressured in having to give a black and white statement and a police report of what has been. It's too brutal for me. You can know everything about me, but not at once. Not the worst parts right away before I could show the good ones.

Reversibly, having a friend you deemed loyal having done something that contradicts their statements or just hurts you, bleh. but I have lenience over lies that were avoiding. But lies that are made to test your truth... Don't like the intention behind. I function with intentions and desires to do things in line with good feelings. Not having my boundaries pushed gradually based on my good will.

Buy I guess there is also a special tonality or non-casual loyalty declarations. It's not the same to say "call me anytime " than saying: if you need me, let me know asap and I'll do all that I can for you. I don't know if I'm making much sense.


Fire alarms aren’t known for putting out fires nor their ability to determine it’s a false alarm.
I will need to remember this one. Very true.
Have these supporters been trustworthy in other areas? Have they been true to their word on other subjects that are not as triggery?
Good questions. Yes, they have.
One of them has cared for my bird on a number of occasions while I have been away. The other is also very reliable, and I would trust them without question to do the same.
I need to forgive myself for not asking for help.
Thank you for writing this. I need to do the same, because as it stands it feels like a lose-lose:
*don't take them up on the offer and feel like a bad person for not doing so
*take them up on the offer and feel like a bad person for doing so.

Whereas I suppose, as @Friday said, there is the potential for alliance. Or at least, neutrality (which also resonated with me, as in biology heeeeaps of things have neutral effect, but we largely only pay notice to the positive/negative):
*if I don't take them up on the offer, it just means I'll deal with the nightmare on my own as I always have.
*if I do take them up on the offer, it could be okay.
Then call when you know they are having dinner.
So I have actually done this, not about trauma stuff, and completely unintentionally and they responded fine. No anger.


Do you have a "warning part" of you that signals danger when meeting others? I think I have gotten better at sensing a potential danger and acknowledging that in others by doing a couple of things:

1. Expect integrity from the people I am around (I left a number of people in my family behind, cold turkey, because they all were dysfunctional and lied. If you live with deception, to fit into that system, to some extent....even though I don't like admitting times to, to keep the peace I participated in deception. So step 1 is making a decision that I will be real, be honest, and be fair to others who are in my personal circle. Boundary setting....if people lie to me.....that is not tolerable and I let them go.... (maybe I'd make an exception if they are planning a surprise party)....

2. If integrity was what I wanted to exude, I couldn't be around others who lied and weren't honest with me or others.....nor could I continue to lie.....regardless of the reason. Telling the truth is much less painful. in the long run as you retain your dignity......and telling the truth avoids one having to deal with the ugly Two, guilt and shame.

3. With many PTSD systems, hypervigilance can be flipped and used like an early warning system.....and you can put it to good use rather than pretending that feeling has no place or use (I used to ignore it.....then get stuck up in drama)......Learn to listen to the "warnings about others" and consider their lifestyle, their mental health, and their background, and their personal narative for consistency. Use your warning system and evaluate other's lifestyle and likelyhood of having a decent set of values as an adult. I didn't realize my warning system was triggered by something.....a familiarity, drinking, lying, drug use, etc.. If the person in question comes from a dysfunctional background and has lived all kinds of chaos, say no thanks. If they drink too much or do drugs......walk away. Anything that feels like dysfunctional not accept. Look out for triangulation and don't try to fix other people's shit.....a big drama maker. I was in the helper role (because I needed a feel good in a family where there was so little), and in a dysfunctional is a no win......exhausting position.....a total walk on egg shells....and so to keep peace....yes, I'd lie.....(convincing myself they were just little lies.....but those lies helped keep me in an unhealthy family......and only served to hurt me in the long run. To be accepted and considered a part of the dysfunctional family, I had to lie to belong. When needing to belong becomes less important than being respected, treated honestly and fairly, and being happy AND ......then you can walk away.....but it is hard to do .....and it is a painful choice. In the end, I don't regret it and am much happier.....but it has been hard getting here-every year has gotten better, and I'm stronger, and more independent, and have a much clearer understanding of boundaries...... And I now feel free.

Your internal early warning system can be key to helping you identify unhealthy friends. I used to not acknowledge that part that was trying to warn me about unhealthy people (protective part), and I'd get all caught up in drama, have people lie to me, people twist conversations, and by the end.....somehow I was wrong.....and those who lied play things off I had misunderstood and they hadn't lied, or tell me I was imagining something that wasn't there..........and say I was the crazy one. You have to get away from liars, hang with people who are real and don't lie, and change your value system to lying is really unacceptable-even for yourself.
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