Trust in me

Adapt

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 expection 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:

  1. Nothing stays the same. This too shall pass.
  2. 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 contine 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 adaptThere 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.

Trust in me

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Trust is hard for me. I suppose it is for most people. For the most part throughout my life I didn’t trust anyone or anything – not people, not circumstances, not even myself sometimes. It’s something I’ve worked on over the years, and I think I’m better at trusting now then I ever have been before, but still it’s hard.

I’ve worked especially on trusting myself; being someone I can count on even if everyone else lets me down. I try not to take anything personally, I try not to beat myself up when I make a mistake, and I give myself permission not to know everything.

I don’t have all the answers, and I don’t expect to anymore. I no longer compare myself to other people, nor do I care what they might think of me. I would like to be liked, of course, but I get that I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, nor are they mine. That’s okay. There’s room for all of us here, and though we do have to get along and be kind to each other, we don’t have to like each other.

The Golden Rule says, “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.” It doesn’t say, be like everyone else, or that other people have to be like you. We just have to treat others as though they matter to us as much as we matter to ourselves. Be nice. Be patient. Be compassionate – to others, and to yourself.

Human beings are complex. With a couple of notable exceptions, no one is all good or all bad. In my experience, given a chance, everyone will let you down at some point, including and especially yourself. Humans are fallible. We can do better, probably, but mostly we don’t. We talk a lot about it, usually in reference to a book about a god, but mostly we do what we want, what feels good. That’s okay, we’re human. We’re not perfect.

 

What I really have trouble with, though, is in trusting God, or the Universe, or the angels/spirit guides/life energy – whatever you want to call it. I recognize there is a force in the world, and that there is order in the world that emanates from that force.

I feel it, I see it in nature, and I have to admit sometimes I have been witness to small miracles, for which the only explanation could be incredible luck or other worldly intervention. Other times, not at all, usually when it is most needed, unfortunately. So surprise – it’s not Santa Claus – you can’t just ask for what you want and get it.

So my feeling is that it’s no more trustworthy than humans, and usually, downright not trustworthy at all. Not perfect either, apparently. It seems to be random, and that’s fine. Sometimes I’ve been given a gift, and I’m deeply grateful, and I benefit. Other times – no dice.

So okay, that’s fine, but how do I trust that? Believe in it? Maybe. Probably, even. But trust? No way. What good is a god/spirit guide/force in the universe that’s no more reliable or helpful than us? Honestly? If I’m here on my own and can only count on myself and other humans, well then, okay. At least I know that.

But so many people believe in the Santa Claus God, (Christian, Hindu, Muslim – it doesn’t matter) and I’m thinking, if they’re right, then what’s wrong with me? What could I have done to piss that god off so badly that I’d be the only one not on the “nice” list?

Oh, right, it’s not just me. How about kids with cancer? How about all the people who lose their homes and/or their lives everyday in weather-related disasters – “Acts of God.” The list goes on. What’d they all do?

If believing in and trusting in god is the same as not believing in and trusting god, then what difference does it make? So far, I can’t see where believing in a god does any good, but it definitely seems to do a lot of bad. So much evil is perpetuated in the name of one god or another. Really, is god as petty and horrible as the worst in human beings? Doesn’t it seem like any god worth its salt would be a little more evolved? Doesn’t it seem that such a being would be all about LOVE and nothing else?

Do you see love at work in the world on a daily basis? In your life? In the life of anyone you know? Yes, maybe. Is it winning? It doesn’t seem so to me. So where’s the loving god who’s going to make everything okay? Where’s the Perfect God?

Believe it or not, I’m not a cynic. Really. I’m not. I just think chasing our tails trusting in a god “out there” is killing us. I think we need to trust ourselves and each other. We have to become people who are worthy of trust. Our only hope as a society and as a species is to stop looking “out there” and start looking “in here.”

Find the good within you, and within me. Be kind to yourself and then to someone else. Then be kind to the Earth. Live gently. Take your eyes off heaven and look around here now. Nurture yourself, your fellow human beings, and our Mother Earth. Not because of a rule, but because it’s the right thing to do.

It’s the only thing to do.

Today’s the day

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Yes. Exactly.

This was a long time coming for me, but I’m so grateful that I finally got here. Proud of myself because I didn’t give up, even though so many times I wanted to. Up until 15 years ago I never could have imagined the way I feel now;  comfortable in my own skin, forgiving of my flaws and those of others, accepting what comes as the days unfold (mostly – sometimes it takes a while…), confident that I have the ability to get through (or over, under or around) any roadblock I encounter on my path.

I would have preferred to be “normal,” I guess – to have lived life without the chronic depression that dragged me under for weeks at a time and forced me to fight for my life over and over. One thing those struggles taught me, though, is that everything passes – the good and the bad, and that – no joke – what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…and smarter and more compassionate, if you let it, toward yourself and others.

Because life is hard in some way for everyone. Absolutely everyone. Always. Regardless of all those “living large, shiny happy people” posts on Facebook and Instagram – everyone struggles in some way with something. Everyone has something they hide from other people; something they think makes them different from everyone else.

I’ve learned to enjoy the good times, and to appreciate them, for I know that life is up and down and nothing lasts forever – good or bad. The “ups” are fabulous, but the “downs” can be pretty deep. Even without depression life can be really challenging and discouraging at times, with no end in sight; but I’m learning to set fear aside, split problems into manageable pieces so I don’t feel overwhelmed, and to ask for help if I can’t do it alone.

Let me be clear about this: it was easy to write that last paragraph, but it is still not easy to do those things always. But thanks to a good therapist several years ago I have tools now that help, and I learned that running away just postpones the pain, and that there is no value in “toughing” it out, either. There is a big difference between being strong and being tough.

Being tough is just bluster, blundering through, knocking things around, sometimes making things worse. Being strong is facing things head on, making good decisions, finding the way through carefully and thoughtfully, while keeping yourself whole and healthy along the way. Never backing down, but not pushing through blindly, either. Remembering always that this too shall pass.

I encourage myself to rise to a challenge now, rather than shrinking from it, and every time I do that it gets a little easier. I take a deep breath, get a drink of water, pat myself on the back, and start assessing the situation:

  • Is this my problem to solve?
  • Is the problem solvable?
  • Is the solution within my control?

If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” I’m setting myself up for failure right from the start. Better to let go of solving the problem (getting through the obstacle), and to start working on accepting the situation as it is and trying to minimize its impact on my life and wellbeing (getting around the obstacle). Either way, I keep going on. I keep learning and growing and trying.

That’s all anyone can expect; all we can ask of ourselves in this colorful, hilarious, difficult, tasty, challenging, cacophonous LIFE:

Just keep moving forward. That’s enough.

Learning curve

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I’ve been having some lessons in trust. I didn’t sign up for them, but I asked the universe, god, and/or angels for help, and the result was chaos. Through it all I’ve despaired, raged, resented, trying all the while not to slip over the edge into depression. I was right at the edge looking into the depths a couple of times, but I didn’t fall in, and for that I’m deeply grateful. I kept asking for help, and things just seemed to get worse and worse. There was enough that went right, however, that I kept trying to trust that the craziness was the help I had asked for and that everything would turn out alright and that things would be better if I could just get there.

I’m not sure I’m there yet, but I’m hopeful, and trusting that I’ve been led to the path I’m on now, which, if all goes according to plan, seems like it will be the right thing, and better than where I was before. I hate to do that, because historically, when I start using words like hope and trust and I feel optimistic I am kicked squarely in the teeth. I just hate that! So let’s say I am trusting that I’m heading in the right direction, and that I’m cautiously optimistic about the journey.

When life has dealt hard blows – and it does to absolutely everyone – at a certain age, after bearing so many bruises, it’s hard to trust anything or anyone. I think I’ve gotten better about trusting myself, and I have an inkling that the “universe” or “spirit” I make my pleas to is within, but I’m not sure. The consensus is not in on that yet, right? So many religions and beliefs and they all have credence. Hard to know who’s correct, and who’s just making it up as they go along. Probably a combination of all, like the elephant in a dark room; everyone has a hold of a piece, but no one is able to see the whole or how they all fit together.

So I’m comfortable with not knowing or naming what “that” energy is. What really matters is learning to trust it. That’s been my stumbling block all my life, and it’s not any easier now, I’m sorry to say, especially when things fall apart all at once and my carefully constructed life becomes a pile of rubble at my feet. I think probably I’m just along for the ride this time – on hand for the journey because I need to get to the same place, but not in the driver’s seat nor the main objective on this trip. That’s okay, though, because I think it’ll be worth it, even though it’s been a bumpy ride so far. I have a lot to gain and not much to lose, unless I fall apart, stay in the bathroom too long at the rest stop and get left behind.  (How’s THAT for a metaphor?)

So the only way to lose on this trip is not to take it. That makes sense to me. Stay in your seat, fasten your belt, and hang on. Take it one day at a time. Take snacks and frequent breaks and it’ll be okay. Most of all…trust. It may prove to be a detour and not the right thing again, but at this point I can’t tell. So I have to trust that someone or something knows where we’re going and that we’re going to be okay when we finally get there.

It’s so hard, and the anxiety is rough, but I’m getting through each day and not looking much beyond that. The lesson continues and I’m trying really hard to learn.