Thanks to Karen at YSM|ink, I’ve been thinking about trust.
Such a big thing, trust. Such high stakes. Get it wrong, and depending on who you’re dealing with, it could cost you your life. For me, with the expectation of one person, the stakes have not been that high, but the risk of being hurt is present with every single person I encounter, and most people I know have turned out not to be worthy of my trust. I don’t think that’s unusual. Humans are unreliable. What we do best is adapt, so nothing for any of us is the same all the time, including our willingness to betray someone else’s trust if it suits us to do so.
In this life, the only two things that are always true are:
- Nothing stays the same. This too shall pass.
- Everything and everyone ends sooner or later.
Other than that, it’s all up for grabs. What I finally came up with this morning, laying in bed opening to my heart’s reaction to the idea, is that trust is just another expectation, really, and so not something I invest emotional capital in anymore, and that’s okay cuz I was never very good at it to begin with.
Not that surprising, I don’t think, for someone whose first experience of life was loss. Being taken from my mother seconds after birth did not set me up for a lifetime of trust. I have no idea how my baby brain and heart processed those first few weeks of life, but I’m sure trust in anything or anyone was not in the mix. It never got much better, really.
I was trying to think this morning of a single person in my life who had not betrayed my trust and I couldn’t come up with anyone until I thought of my grandmother – my Nana – who I really don’t believe ever let me down. That’s it, though, she’s the only one. Family members…friends…co-workers…nope…not a single person in the parade of folks passing through my 57 years of life has proven worthy of my trust.
Some have been flaming, banner in the sky, heart-deadening betrayals, others much smaller, but all have done damage. Some years ago, one quite recently. Some of the people I counted on the most. Some surprised me, others didn’t. They all hurt, though, and changed me in some way.
So trust is not useful to me. Trust is an expectation that someone won’t hurt me and that’s just setting myself up for disappointment, like all other expectations, because it’s unlikely to ever be true. That’s just not the way human beings are. We think of ourselves first, and ultimately, if it comes down to me or you, I’m going to choose me. That’s simply human nature and to expect something different, to trust that someone is not going to hurt you at some point just isn’t realistic.
I don’t ever feel safe with people. With the exception of my Nana, I don’t think I ever have. Not completely. I have been waiting for the other shoe to drop my whole life. But here’s the surprising thing I realized this morning:
I think that’s a good thing.
Does that surprise you? It surprised me this morning as that was not at all what I thought I was thinking or feeling. Hmm…
I have allowed people to hurt me and that’s too bad. I was naive and just so desperate for human connection and validation that I left myself open to abuse. I put my heart in other people’s hands and trusted them not to break it as if it were their own, rather than learning to trust myself and to take care of myself; to stand on my own. It took me a long time to figure out that was a bad idea, and that’s too bad, but I forgive myself for my naivete. I didn’t know better.
Now I do.
The trick is to keep my heart open to connection with other people without expectation that they won’t hurt me. I don’t want to seal myself off from the world because it’s scary and I don’t feel safe. I’ve never felt safe, and yet here I am. I’ve survived being hurt – repeatedly – and lived to tell the tale.
And I will continue to. People will continue to hurt me and I’ll continue to be okay in spite of it. I trust myself. I trust my ability to survive. I trust my ability to adapt and keep going no matter what happens. I don’t like pain, and I’m not looking for people to hurt me, any more than I’m expecting them not to hurt me. I like people and I will continue to be the best friend I can, the best daughter I can, the best me I can be.
Beyond that, no expectations other than life – and people – will be as they should be. We are each here to walk our own way, to learn and to grow. Throw karma into the mix and everything’s on shifting ground. I can be scared and afraid to move, or I can be scared and just keep going, trusting in my ability to adapt. There is no such thing as safety. There is only this life, and taking the risk to live it as fully as possible.
It’s the only way.