*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!)