Someone once said to me, “You have trust issues.”
Why, yes. Yes, I do.
Some people might find that cold and mean, but what it really says is that I’m a sensitive person who can be easily hurt, and this is my way of protecting myself.
Admittedly, I’m a jaded person. I don’t know if that comes from growing up in New York City where you need to be tough, growing up in an immigrant family so that I needed to do adult things as a child, or from being a girl and, therefore, frequently dismissed and/or overlooked. Maybe all of the above. Throw in being gay, and that’s a pretty potent recipe for mistrust.
However, no matter what your life circumstances were or are, betrayal is a very real risk in life. Whether it comes from family, friends, co-workers, mates, employers, clergy, or your government, betrayal knows no boundaries and does not discriminate.
And betrayal is one of the most emotionally damaging things that can happen to you, whatever form it takes. Sure, when someone says the word “betrayal,” the first place people go is someone cheating on their partner. And, yes, this is like a mortal stabbing. But other forms of betrayal can wound just as deeply, especially when it comes from a friend. Sometimes betrayal comes in a mild form, like so-called friends who aren’t there when you need them. Or people not believing you when you are telling the truth.
The reason I’m talking about this is because I’ve been evaluating my life, as one does from time to time, and I sometimes think about in what ways I can be a better person. That comment about me having trust issues has always stuck with me because I don’t want to be a hard, jaded, mistrustful person. Those are not “nice” things to be. Those words are always used to describe people disparagingly. But it’s about survival, isn’t it? We find ways to protect ourselves, and that is just an evolutionary mechanism, an instinct that goes back to the caves—we have to look for “bad” because if we don’t, we might get eaten by a wild animal. Right?
But those of us who are introspective try to work around that instinct. Aren’t people always going to therapy to learn to open up and trust others? Maybe it’s not a matter of learning to trust but learning to recognize who you can trust and then letting yourself do so. Because letting go of that instinct is not only difficult, but many people don’t really want to let go of it. They hold on tightly to it, and that’s where unhappiness comes in.
This is just one of the many layers of the onion of my life that I’m trying to peel away. I hope the stink didn’t get you.