I feel really late to the trust party. It is highly likely no one will understand what I mean by that so let me explain. I was under the impression for most of my adolescent and young adult life that I knew what healthy, trusting relationships looked like. I believed I had everything figured out – I knew how love, respect, and honesty manifested themselves in real life. It is a blessing and a curse in my life that I am incredibly stubborn, willfully blind to what others see. Sometimes it works out for me, my ability to carry on as if I know everything, but for the most part it would have done me a world of good to swallow my pride for a little bit.
This stubbornness has allowed many a disastrous relationship in my life to carry on for much longer than it should. I even refuse to listen to myself when that little voice in my head is telling me what I really, really need to hear. There is a small (but growing) rational voice in my brain that has always been there for me, saying things like, “This is really not a good idea” or “You really don’t want this” or “You’re better than what you’re doing right now”. By ignoring this voice of my own, and the voices of those around me, I have allowed myself to not only wallow in self-pity but also be taught that the strongest, toughest relationships are those that are fraught with drama and trust issues.
I’m not saying that I ever truly believed this was healthy. I knew that feeling constantly frustrated or upset with someone, feeling relieved when you or they went away so you didn’t have to see them, or always having a nagging lack of trust in them was not conducive to a truly beneficial relationship. But dear god I was good at ignoring it all.
I say this with as little intention to martyr myself as possible but in nearly every serious relationship I’ve had, romantic and friendly, I have had my trust in that person severely broken. I have made mistakes too, hurt them too, I know this. I am still learning of occurrences when someone I thought was worth my time, my love, and my trust was actually sculpting them into tiny sharp spears and hurling them at my back when I wasn’t looking. And you know what? There were a good few times I did the same thing back.
And there I was, thinking this was fine, this was cathartic, this was how grown-ups just deal, man. Well, isn’t that just a whole entire form of fucked up?
The most difficult thing for me to learn in my current relationship was how to trust. Sam has never, in any instance, given me a reason to believe I couldn’t trust him. He’s never not called when he’s going to be late, he’s never not shown up somewhere, and he’s always followed through on his word. He is the definition of reliable but I still couldn’t fully trust him. I still believed that one day, some day, he would leave. Every day he came home, proving me wrong.
It took me a long time to realize that the issues I was having had absolutely nothing to do with Sam. One day I sat down with a notebook and took stock of all of the things that I could remember someone else doing that had bruised my trust in them. And then I tried to think of how many of those things Sam had done as well.
None. Not a single one.
And can I even begin to explain how simultaneously enlightened and chagrined I felt when I realized that the reason my trust in him was taking so long to gain full strength was simple: it was me.
It’s not easy to let things go. I am an expert at holding things within my bubble, sculpting them into my own tiny sharp spears to stab myself with whenever I feel things to be too good. I am a glutton for punishment, craving drama to make my life feel important. I thought I needed those experiences, those awful moments in my life, to remind me every day of who I was. I didn’t realize that they might have changed me but they didn’t make me, and I was allowing them to make me weaker when they should have made me stronger. I thought the whole point of having bad past experiences was to dredge them up to make my life seem lived. Only recently am I discovering the beauty of a simple, easy existence and how deeply trusting, honest relationships factor in to that type of life.
I have spent the last year making myself better. At times that can be a long, arduous process. But I have started to rid my world of the people who didn’t fit into a healthy life, who never showed me that trust was something I could expect from them, or them from me. I have started to understand that being selfish, taking care of yourself, is the first step towards being selfless in your love with others, as backwards as it seems. And I’ve started to surround myself with people I can believe in, who I think truly want to know who I am, and who like me for being that person.
It may have taken too many years, but I think I’ve finally joined the trust party. I feel great.