Trust is a responsibility.

How old were we when someone first spoke to us about trust? Was it a warning – trust me, you don’t want to know – or a request to behave – I know I can trust you to be a good girl? How was the concept of trust first articulated to us?

I have no idea. We experience it before we can put a name to it, for sure. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t trust. I don’t remember a time when that trust wasn’t betrayed.

I trust easily, a childhood trait I’ve never outgrown. I tend to assume people are telling me the truth and behaving honourably. The various blows haven’t managed to knock that out of me.

Every betrayal remains a surprise.

I raised my children to be trusting. Be aware, but remember that most of the world is good people. Why not extend trust until you have information to the contrary?

Things aren’t as bad as twenty-four-seven news feeds would have us believe, at least in my location.

Truth be told, the most egregious harm has been done by those closest to me, as a child and now. So, my vague sense that strangers are mostly trustworthy is justified. [i] But I can hold a hard line when it comes to trust-betrayed. I’m not the most forgiving when it comes to that particular sin, though the degree and offender status matters. Did you steal my wallet, my partner, or my sense of self? Are we close or casual?

When it comes to trust, why is it sometimes easier to extend grace to strangers? Perhaps because their cuts don’t reach as deep?

I’m not sure I understand what trust is, exactly, though I can pinpoint the place it used to reside if it goes missing. Much in life turns out to be akin to defining pornography – we may not be able to articulate our thoughts clearly, but we know it when we see it.

We don’t know about a lot of the things we should know about. Try explaining a personal belief or philosophy to someone else and you’ll quickly find the holes in your understanding. We think we know more than we do.

This is one of the great things about children. They ask questions and expect answers. I learned to come to workable definitions on the fly with deep thinking planned for the near future. Kids are very rarely satisfied with vague and wishy-washy.

I’ve never had a kid ask me about trust though.

Trust is on my mind because my trust has been betrayed more than once over the last two and a half years. That’s a lot of gut punch. That’s a lot of wondering, “is it me?”

Trust is a lot of things, but for me, the most important component seems to be a belief that I’m safe from harm. When I lose trust in someone, is it across all aspects of the relationship? Is trust lost forever? This is when trust buts up against “forgive and forget.”

To trust. To believe in the reliability or truth of someone; to have confidence or hope in someone; to allow someone into your life with confidence.

Dictionaries are handy things.

Life would be dire without it, I suppose. We don’t thrive as single entities, especially not as infants and children. We need care and we need to trust that it will be provided to thrive. Trust is a requirement for survival.  

As children, we trust without nuance but with age comes greater sophistication. So, while it’s true to say that I trust, I don’t trust the person I interact with regularly at the corner store to the same degree that I trust my son. There’s trust level is tied to the nature of the relationship. Only X amount of trust is required.

This means that the sense of betrayal is commensurate with the depth of the relationship.

I’ve dealt with what I consider to be more than my fair share of betrayal, though what a fair share is remains unclear. I’ve been betrayed in ways gross and venal since I was a child and it always leaves a mark.

I start to wonder if the mark of previous betrayals is what makes me a target.

Betrayal also instills a desire for vengeance, but I’m working to evolve beyond someone who thinks that way.  

Lastly, it leaves me at a loss. I don’t know how I’m supposed to interact with someone who has betrayed me so fundamentally. I can’t do it if it’s unaddressed.

I’ve worked through betrayal before. It required conversations. It required listening, on both sides, and acknowledgments of responsibility. The relationship has endured post-betrayal, but even with the work, the relationship is different now. There’s a wall that didn’t exist the first time my trust was extended.

I’m wary.

But without even a conversation? I have no idea how to move forward in that case. That is, I know how. I pretend. I’m simply unwilling. This leads to accusations on the part of people who got used to treating me badly without consequence, or who’ve gotten used to treating others badly without consequence and have tried it now on me.

Once upon a time, I thought my choices were the right choices, and the way I chose to live was the right way to live, and people who made other choices were worthy of my scorn and contempt.

Smug arrogance is a hell of a deadly sin.

I’m more trustworthy without it. Unfortunately, that last lesson is one that only comes with experience.

One truth is certain, and it annoys a great many people. Things will never be as they were.

You can’t unring a bell.


[i] I’m often scared when I’m out, and often scared by men, but this doesn’t make me believe in their or the general population’s evil intent. I’m aware it’s a me thing.


5 thoughts on “Trust is a responsibility.

  1. I tend to take folks at face value unless and until they do or say something (or several things) to make me re-evaluate my assessment of them. I’m constantly subconsciously reassessing people with every new piece of data. Trust definitely lives on a scale, and should be applied accordingly. I don’t think I’m as trusting as you, but I don’t default to distrust or suspicion without good cause to back it up.

    Liked by 2 people

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