Stories that define me: Trust.

*This is the first in my mini-series on stories of my past that define me. I’ll write these periodically, as the ideas flow. Enjoy.*

Growing up, trust felt innate to me. I trusted my family. I trusted my friends. The one person that I never quite trusted growing up, though? My father.

As I have shared in brief before, my relationship with my dad growing up was rocky almost my entire childhood and much of my adulthood, too. My parents separated when my sisters and I were young but officially divorced when we were 10. He never had any custody of us or, to the best of my recollection, cared to, either. We’d spend time with him from time to time, but he would so often break promises, go against his word, and just be completely awful to us (‘hiding’ his money to avoid child support…to the measly sum of $25/week for three kids, no less…, picking fights with us or my mom and then dissapearing for months at a time, with not a word uttered and no clues to where he was living or what women he was living with, or uh, marrying etc).

So I just never trusted him. Even when we’d be in a good place with him, my sisters and I, and we’d get along, it was usually short-lived and would end in an eruption of anger and hurtful words. And when we’d reunite again, I still never completely trusted him, nor said ‘I love you’ to him, no matter how often he’d say it to me on the phone or in person. It was my coping mechanism, a way to protect myself.

It’s probably the only example I have of my inability to trust someone, especially someone in my family. To this day, even though we are all back to being quite close to my dad (my niece Isabel, as I’ve said, has really united us together, and my dad has really stepped into the grandfather role so well. I am proud of him for that), I won’t say ‘I love you’ to him. Because there’s still that part of me that doesn’t completely trust him. And if I don’t trust enough or let him in enough, he can’t hurt me. Yeah, I’m coping and defending myself against any future hurt by him, but I think I deserve some semblance of self-preservation.

~~

The only other example I have of trust issues is when I got divorced.

…and started dating. 

That thing called trust?

Well, first of all, in the beginning, I trusted too easily. I took their word for it…when they say they’d call, when they say they wanted ‘more’ than just something casual, whatever they would say, I trusted that it was true. Because that’s how I’d always operated. Innate trust.

Obviously, you can see where this is going. Burned. Burned again. Burned some more. To the tune of a one night stand that I call accidental, because I didn’t see it coming and wasn’t expecting it to be just one night, either. (isn’t that always the case, though, incidentally? Most of the time, anyway?).

After that incident, I banished trust from my vocabulary when it came to dating. It was frustrating to question every single word I’d read or hear out of whomever I was on a date with or dating at the time. I wondered if it was a line, if it was an excuse or legit, if they meant what they were saying.

Because I am a firm believer in – mean what you say and say what you mean – yet that is SO hard for so many people to do, isn’t it? Especially in dating.

And then, after many, many, many first date ‘one date wonders,’ dates that fizzled after a few, non-starters (first dates that just sucked, in other words – hehe…remember 10 second guy?!), I met M.

And that thing called trust?

I felt it. Almost immediately. I trusted every word he said, every gesture, everything.

He said what he meant and meant what he said.

And that’s when I knew we were going to go the distance. Truly. When I naturally trusted him. And when that trust was reciprocated…from a self-professed non-truster, no less. A man that had also gotten burned by friends, family, his ex-wife, and women he’d dated too.

We got into this very conversation the other night…about trust. And how hard it is, sometimes, to open up and trust people. And then I asked him how he trusted me so easily and readily.

And he said, he just did. 

Simply put. But so true. Because I did too.

I still do. With all of my heart. 

Trust is a powerful thing. It’s not always innate (nor should it be), it’s not always deserved (nor should it be!) and it’s often elusive.

But when you have it, keep it, honor it, and respect it.

Trust. Is this a hard one for you? Do you have a hard time trusting people? (I hope you enjoyed my first installment…more to come!)

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47 thoughts on “Stories that define me: Trust.

  1. Thanks for sharing this. I find it very hard to trust people. I’ve definitely been burned by friends, by exes. Honestly it took me a long time to trust Jason just based on past experiences. I’ve trusted friends too much and been hurt so badly that now I almost always just expect the worst. I expect that I can’t trust. I feel like I can only truly trust myself and my sister and Jason – not even my parents. Awful right?

  2. Trust is one of the absolute toughest things in the world for me. I’ve been hurt by so many people in my life….it’s just a protective mechanism, I guess. Even with CBG….there’s only a certain amount of trust that I can give him. I’m working on it, and I’m definitely getting better, but I often wonder if I’ll ever be totally there all the way. The fear of being hurt – again – is a big one for me.

    1. It’s the shield we put around ourselves so we don’t get hurt, so we don’t fully trust. I completely get that feeling, obviously I do it a lot with my dad and others in my life too.

  3. Trust with other people is intangible to me, so I don’t put a lot of weight into it. Like I physically do not feel trust like I feel admiration, love, respect, sadness, etc. I think trusting yourself and your abilities to make decisions about people–who they are–and who they are not, and ultimately if they are good people is a bigger measure of trust. Which I use. People are going to let you down. That’s just life. That doesn’t mean they are not untrustworthy. It means they’re human… you are left up to the decision whether to allow them in your life or not, to forgive…or to not. Your dad is not untrustworthy… he’s just checked out (it sounds like, from what you described) and either you can choose to deal with it or just let it alone. I don’t know, I just feel like trust is this word we use that is SO BIG…but when it comes to defining it, it’s more a sense of security, and this is dumb and cliche but the more you feel that inside yourself, the easier it will be to find people like that. 🙂

    1. That’s an interesting point. Intangible, sort of subjective, too, and definitely there are waves of trust, too. layers of it. It is a huge word and I guess at the root of it, we all have trouble with trust, to some extent.

      1. I just think about myself in this situation… Have I been 100% trustworthy every day, every minute of my life? Heck no. So many little things “break trust” in people. You can only do your very best at the end of the day. Have I hurt my friends at times (not on purpose) or forgotten things, or told a white lie? Absolutely. I just think we tend to put this enormous emotional weight on other people that we should be able to carry ourselves. If that makes any sense.

        1. Makes complete sense to me. We all need a little breathing room in this department, to a point. Obviously nothing terrible or completely distrustful, but I think it’s human to falter here and there, too.

    1. That’s what I was doing when I was starting to date! And I still do that too sometimes…I just think I automatically want to think there is good behind people’s intentions and that isn’t always the case.

  4. I love the part of this where you talk about your evolution, trust-wise, when it came to the dating scene. Particularly how you just sensed it right away with M and immediately knew he’d do what he said, and said what he’d do versus the other guys who were far less likely to be quite so truthful and real. That’s how I know (and you know!) how truly special M is. He’s a keeper, a genuine, real, GOOD, guy and very much worth gaining the trust of. I love that.

    As for dad? Yeah, I don’t give all of myself to him and never will. I think I end up giving to him more than you do though, and I’m not sure why. I end up hurt by him (or did in the past) because of it, but I think I just have a soft spot for him that I guess I didn’t realize was there because I do say “I love you” when he says it, and I mostly mean it. Which is weird for me to say. I am at a point where I know our relationship will be more friendship than father/daughter bond, and I’m ok with that. Before – I was always looking for it to be something it never could or would be. Now, I’ve accepted that this is how it’s gonna be. And it’s ok.

    1. No question that M is a keeper, very special, and very much trustworthy and honorable. Huge things I love about him! And I find it interesting about your view on dad vs mine. You used to be the one that ‘didn’t care’ and not let yourself get emotionally involved, and now I am. I have accepted our relationship with dad and know that there will be fights in the future, cuz there always are. I just prefer to preserve my emotions and feelings and not invest too much anymore.

  5. I think I trust too easily and have got hurt in the past. Sometimes I put my barriers up too and find it difficult to trust people. It’s a hard one.

    1. I think I agree with that statement – love and trust don’t have to go hand in hand. Does it mean I don’t really love my father? I don’t really honestly know the answer to that one.

    2. It’s definitely a hard one, Susan. I agree. I think there is a happy medium with trust, a certain level of barrier, and a certain level of trust. Depends on who the person is too!

  6. trust is so hard once you’ve been burned before. The hubs has the same issue, and i have the opposite. I trust too much. WE have to find that balance and its hard put ourselves out there and trust ourselves to do it. WEll, I hope this makes sense? haha. either way, i get you!

    1. Well, I think it speaks to wanting to see the best in people and their intentions. But sometimes, intentions aren’t trustworthy (behind the scenes), which is sad!

  7. To trust is generally my first instinct, although it has backfired on several… huh, most, actually!… occasions. I think I’d still prefer to (selectively) trust and be burnt though because otherwise I’d just never put myself in line for the good stuff.

    Oddly, I’ll trust people blindly with my heart but not even close with my life! That kind of trust you “feel” is one I physically feel or don’t feel when I get into a car with someone else behind the wheel. I guess that (mis)trust stems from a car accident I was in with my ex which basically cemented my inherent unease with his driving. An ex who, incidentally, cheated on me. After the accident I couldn’t trust his driving. Hah, metaphor, much? 🙂

    1. Wow, what a story…totally a metaphor, there, huh? That is an interesting nuance – trusting but not with your life. I can see why you feel that way totally though! (and agree with you on some selective trust too. good point)

  8. sidecomment: my dad has always been around, always helped, my parents are still together, etc, etc, but i think i’ve heard him tell me he loves me about once in his lifetime. so you’re not alone in the “i love you” dad thing…

    as for trust, i trusted and got burned, and i also trusted and got rewarded. i guess it’s a give and take. there was a lot i learned about eric AFTER we got married that i wish he had told me BEFORE we got married….but you live you learn. the first year was hard, and i’m really glad it’s over. we’ve hit such a good point in our relationship now. the ones you love the most can also cause you the most pain, but it’s important to remember that people make mistakes.
    i am so happy for you and m and hope that eric and i get to meet him on a future visit!

    1. That’s so interesting re: your dad. My dad says it now, I think, because he knows how much he has hurt us in the past and tries to make up for it more now. For me, I guess it’s just my knee jerk reaction to the past. As for you and Eric, I am so glad that you are in such a good point in your relationship now and have worked through trust and anything else that you face. You two amaze me. You are so strong. I love it! (and can’t wait for you to meet M one of these days!!)

  9. What a great post. I trusted my husband immediately, even though I’d been burned so many times before. Sometimes you just know!

    I have to admit that when reading about your dad, I was thinking about my girlfriend whose dad is dying as we speak. Self-preservation is imporant, but you also don’t want to have any regrets. You don’t say whether you actually do love your dad or not…only that you don’t necessarily trust him. Anyway, I am not judging (it sounds complicated), but I’ve been thinking a lot about parents aging this week.

    Again, an awesome post!

    1. I love that you trusted immediately with your husband too!! That is so great. As for the stuff with my dad…ya know, after reading your comment and thinking about it all morning, you have a really good point. I think I do love him in some capacity, at least, or why else would I put the effort in to stay in a good place with him, right? Thanks for the reminder, sometimes a little extra boost in perspective is needed!

  10. After getting burned by Soldier, I was really shy about trusting my Gentleman. Long distance doesn’t make it any easier, either! But he kept doing these little things… not necessarily to win my trust but just because he WANTED to…. and they all worked. They still do. I love that he wants me to be a part of his life, even when we’re 200 miles apart. It really goes a long way.

    Great first post, jobo! And along the way, you’re learning more about yourself. Love it!

  11. Wow, thanks for sharing. I’m a HUGE believer in say what you mean and mean what you say, too. And since I live my life that way I expect the same of others and end up getting let down a lot more than I’d like to admit. But I refuse to change my beliefs because of others.
    Great post, friend!!

    1. Aww, thank you! Glad you liked it! It is really hard when you want to be treated as you treat others and then don’t get that in return. A total letdown, isn’t it?

  12. Love this!! I completely understand where you’re coming from…I don’t remember when I stopped giving people the benefit of the doubt regarding trust…but I know it was sometime after I had been burned time after time…trust has to be earned, with me, anyway, as sad as that is.

  13. Thanks for sharing this story. Trust for me is also a very big deal….and something that I struggled with before finding my hubby. I can honestly say that he is the first person (God not included…I’m very spiritual but won’t go into it here) I’ve ever truly trusted & it has turned me into the best version of me…I can take life on, head first because I know he’s there to support me when I fall and cheer me on when I succeed!!

  14. the man and i had a rather epic conversation about this a couple of months ago. he kept telling me to trust, to have faith, and much like M, when i asked him how he was able to do it, he shrugged and said, i just do.

    it’s hard to do it. i don’t know that, had the man and i not shared the spectacular history of loyalty and friendship that we had before we consummated the relationship, i’d be able to trust him as much as i do. it’s complex. it’s thorny. and heartbreak makes you guarded.

    i don’t have a lot of answers, but i do know i can count on him. and that counts for a LOT.

    1. Counting on someone DOES count for a lot, as does having a solid friendship like you two did, before your friendship turned into love. A leg up on the rest of us going in blindly 😉

  15. You know I get where you are coming from. It is amazing how what we grow up with completley defines us as adults whether we realize it or not. Beautifully written by the way:)

  16. Yeah, after the ex burned me so badly, trust didn’t come easily. It didn’t just spill over to the man in my life, but to my friends and family as well. I lowered my expectations and prepared to be disappointed. That way, I was never caught off guard. Sam taught me about trust, maintaining it. earning it, not breaking it. We’ve had some issues, but I honestly trust this man. Good thing, since we’re doing forever together.

    So happy for you.

  17. We should talk one day.

    I have a very untrusting relationship with my father that has seemed to hit rock bottom. Again. He was an alcoholic when I was growing up. Cheating on my mom. Threatening to knock me out. But when he was normal…there were times when he made us feel like family. Times when he’d tell my teachers I was amazing. And then that night he’d drink and tell me how horrible I was. He’d make me laugh…and then make me cry. He and my mom recently divorced and it was because of another woman…and I finally gave up and met her. And things in our relationship started looking up…until I suddenly started feeling like an outsider. This is actually something I’ve wanted to talk about on my blog recently, but don’t know how to, because of the nature of the topic. He’s doing things with her that my mom begged to do. He takes her and her kids on trips that we begged him to do. He’s taking part in traditions we built…but that he never participated in until her. He made a 4 hour trek to take her shopping…in my sister’s city. On the weekend she was gone. I’m starting to feel resentment toward him again…and yet, the one thing I can’t seem to say enough?

    I love you.

    You hold back…and I can’t give up. Two ends of the spectrum…but two totally similar problems: trust and fear.

    1. Wow, totally. Same exact thing with our fathers, huh? You are more like Jen, in this case, I think…the one that never wanted to give up, but in turn, probably got most hurt from him in years past. Thank goodness it is much better now, but then? got pretty hairy. XOXO.

  18. I usually trust way too easily and have been burnt many a time for it. I guess I always believe that people truly mean what they say. It’s funny – I say to The Aviator all the time, “I mean what I say”. Otherwise – why waste my breath?

    1. It’s hard to understand that sometimes people do NOT say what they mean or mean what they say…and that’s sad, but true, I guess, ya know? There is a balance between both.

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