Studies in trust

For me, trust is everything, and it’s also something I find very difficult. It’s not especially the issues of practical trust – will people do what they said they’d do? I’m able to roll easily enough with the natural forgetting and error that is part of life for all of us. The critical balance for me lies around the trust-truth-acceptance dynamic.

Part of my problem is that I’ve been sorely messed about by people who were not truthful, and who did not accept me. Pressure to change, and rejection of how I am as a person whilst wanting either my body or my utility, having been reoccurring themes. I’ve learned a lot about how not to get caught up in that, and am doing better, but the legacy of it remains.

I find it really hard to trust people in any way. Most especially I find it hard to trust that I will be accepted. I am easily persuaded that silence equates to rejection, when probably it doesn’t. I tend to assume that my emotional openness will be unwelcome, and as a consequence I am less honest than I could be. I undermine the trust-truth-acceptance dynamic every time I lie by omission to someone I care about. Most often the thing I lie about in this way, is exactly how much I care. It says a lot about some of the people in my history that I have learned to be fearful around this one, and to feel that saying ‘you really matter to me’ is likely to cause affront.

It is so easy to cart victim/survivor status about, letting things that have happened in the past define what I do now and how I see the world. Holding the belief that I will not be acceptable and should not be emotionally open is actually a safe space, a cheat. If I stay in that view, I need take no emotional risks. I do not have to be vulnerable for anyone, or face my fears of rejection, or deal with the complexities of how other people feel and what they need. The more carefully closed I am, the less likely I am to invite emotional honesty and trust from anyone else, either.

Last year I ended up on my knees at one point, utterly convinced that how I am is fundamentally toxic to other people and that I should batten it all down and hide it as much as possible. It’s taken me a long time to think this through. Is it fair or reasonable to base all future relationship judgements on the words of one person? Is it fair to the other people who are in my life, or who come into my life, to assume that they will all, without exception think and feel in this way? Clearly they don’t. My husband Tom is an ongoing source of affirmation that I’m not some monstrosity that should be hidden away. Other versions of how I am perceived are available and I can choose which story to trust.

The bottom line in terms of why I find it so hard to trust other people, is that I do not trust myself. The reason I do not trust myself is that a very small number of people, half a dozen or so across my life, have really gone to some lengths to undermine my confidence. I know in some cases it wasn’t even personal, it’s how they treat everyone. In other cases its likely a consequence of being lost and messed up themselves. I realise that only if I can learn how to trust myself, to trust my judgement, my honour and my integrity, then I will be far less at the mercy of the people who want to take me down for the hell of it, and far more able to be open to those who might genuinely accept me as I am.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

7 responses to “Studies in trust

  • Léithin Cluan

    I have a very hard time trusting people, too. It can take me a LONG time to get to know people enough that I open up to them. The rewards always outweigh the risk of being hurt when I do… but knowing that intellectually doesn’t always make it any easier emotionally.

  • Christopher Blackwell

    It is just as difficult to be as bad as we may think we are as it is to be as good as we would like to be. So at worse we fall somewhere in-between. Most of us tend to be harsher on ourselves than we should be, and perhaps it is time to be our own best friend.

  • Morrighan's Trove

    Trusting people is difficult for me as well. For some of the same reasons as in this article. But, my reasons stem from indoctrination and experiences within the military. Once you find yourself in the dark of humanity, it is difficult to find your way back into the light.

    Trust is something everyone needs to work on. Both in Trusting and Being Trusted.

  • Iulia Flame

    Well-said. I tend to trust too much, or not at all. Balance is difficult to come by–and there are sooo many who are not worthy of one’s trust nowadays.

  • Raven Seven

    Trusting yourself is one of the most important first steps. Knowing your own boundaries and sticking to them i.e. temptation, the price you may have to pay, the fall out. Once your line in the sand is drawn being able to stick to it and knowing when to take a step over it into other people’s territory and knowing when to take a step or even more back from it. Not always an easy thing to do but a place to start.

  • Laetitia Latham Jones

    I can relate to that. It is difficult to trust when you have been betrayed many times. I have also found that being too open and honest has worked against me as many people do not wish to hear the truth. A difficult one! :-/ x

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