Friday, August 26, 2005

Trusting and Believing

“Trust nobody,” my dad would say. “Not your enemies—especially not your friends.”

“But Dad,” I would answer, “that would mean I shouldn’t trust you.”

And he would say, “Yes, that’s right. Trust nobody.”

My father wanted only one thing—that I should be happy. The feeling was totally mutual. People say that in his eyes, the sun rose and set on my head. I answer that he hung the moon. I’m not sure how he created such a magical relationship, but he did. Despite his advice, I trusted him implicitly.

My dad left home at age 12. It was 1919. He knew the hardest sides of the world. When he said, “trust nobody,” he knew what he was talking about. It was one of a litany of lessons he shared daily. I saw the signs of those lessons written on his hands, his back, and his face, but not in his eyes, never his eyes. His eyes only spoke hope and joy.

My father loved me unconditionally. Despite his own advice, he trusted me too. He offered his wisdom for my own. His life lessons became my legacy. Yet in between his words, he let me know that turning away from bad things was turning away from life itself.

My dad used to say, “The reason to trust your friends even less is that they get closer to you than your enemies do.” Every now and then, there is a test to see whether I was paying attention.

Last night a friend broke a trust with me.

It so blindsided me. I guess I didn’t think that it could happen to me, not this late in my life. It made for a long night of thinking and looking at the sky. Yet in the end, I landed in the same place I always do. I realized that the believer I am can’t stop trusting everyone because I cannot trust one. To give up my trust would be to give up part of me. My soul would wither from losing connection to my own humanity. Many have held my trust faithfully. I choose for them. I choose for me.

I think of my father’s barrel chest, where I used to lay my head when the world got too big, too mean for a little girl. I listen for his heartbeats that whispered, “I love you, I love you,” and I hear them in my head. I see them in my husband’s eyes. I know them in the words I put on the page. As each second passes, I feel the proof that I have risked and won, because I am still the believer, the one who won’t give up on the world.

Thank you, Dad, for trusting the believer in me.
—me strauss Letting me be


Ned said...

You sometimes have to choose to trust, even when nagging voices tell you to be wary, even when you are afraid of sharing something you never shared before. Even when you are cautious it is always possible to have trust betrayed, to be injured. It is all about knowing when it is worth the risk,

GreyGuy said...

It's almost a cliché, but I'd rather have a trust broken than never have trust at all.

ME Strauss said...

Ah Ned,
I hear the poet in you. Yes that's where I am too. That's why I feel so good, like I've fought the good fight and won.


ME Strauss said...

bonhomme soleil,
You're right, so right. You have to make the climb if you want to see the view.

Thank you.

dog1net said...

Hello, me-Liz:

I'm beginning to find that having a blog is akin to having a village store. You have the regulars that stop in on a regular basis to get their usual wares and to catch up on anything new. And then there's the new person in town who stops in for a look see. The new person might get a couple of the regulars curious to the point where one asks, "Who's that." To which the reply is, "Don't know, someone passing through I guess." As for my blog, I'm glad you stopped by to have a read and for your kind response. Since you're a newcomer, I decided to check out your blog, and I find I'm very pleasantly surprised with both your content and your craftsmanship. I like personal narratives, especially when they're well written. "Trusting and Believing" reminded me of the many conversations I used to have with my grandmother. Without "Hope" and "Joy," as your essay so eloquently demontrates, we lose our "connection to humanity." Your last paragraph is especially poignant and makes that connection self-evident without being contrived. Beautifully done. I think I might find myself becoming a regular. As such I have linked your site to mine. Thanks again for visiting,

ME Strauss said...

Well, Scott,
Thank you, and I guess I should say welcome to my store. Now that you've read the narrative you might understand why I appreciated the chance to read about your preparation for a walk earlier today. Thanks again for that, too.

I appreciate your eloquent and thoughtful critique, not (well not only) because it is so positive, but because it makes me return to what I wrote and look at it through your eyes.

Your writing speaks for the quality of your praise and it humbles me.

I can't get the details of your last paragraph out of my head. how you placed the coffee cup and fed the cat some treats. I have a complete image of what that kitchen looks like right down to the color of the refrigerator.

Thank you for coming to see me.


Mark said...

I appreciated the story but a couple of things really spoke to me here in the comments section.

First Ned mentioned you have to “choose to trust.” I agree with that completely. I have to be careful what I say here. I don’t want to give away too many details for fear of the person involved somehow, someday seeing what I wrote - Am I paranoid? No, just cautious. – Anyway this person (not my soul mate BTW) has violated my trust so many times in the past 6 years that any rational person would say enough is enough. But this person is blood and even though I often wished I didn’t, I love them. I continue to trust and the trust continues to be violated.

Second, Scot mentioned “we lose our "connection to humanity." For many years I had no connection to humanity. I’m only now beginning to get it back. Yet I still often find myself pulling back from people when I sense we’re getting too close. I suppose it’s a natural defense mechanism because of this situation I mentioned. My wife is the only person in this world I trust emphatically. That’s not healthy but it is my reality.

ME Strauss said...

Thanks Mark for choosing to trust us. I agree that sometimes trust seems to go against all sanity, especially when there is blood involved. But like Scott said and you point to, I want to hold on to my humanity. The older I get the more important that becomes to me.

Tanda said...

It's wonderful, Liz, that people trust you enough to share their thoughts and ideas here.

My husband and I are on different ends of the spectrum when it comes to trust. Because of a painful childhood, he will not trust until he is a given a reason to trust. Because of a rather mild childhood, I usually trust until I am given a reason not to. I can say with certainty that there are definite advantages to both, but the disadvantages sometimes cause more trouble.

Which of the two are you?

ME Strauss said...

Tanda, I can't not trust. It's in the fiber of my being. I believe that most people are good and that I have the intellect to choose rightly enough of the time with the rest. I'd rather trust and lose than live inside a fence cut off from my own humanity.

Thank you for asking. :)

Bluesky_Liz said...

I have been betrayed by friends, but I have chosen never to let such events stop me from making new friends and investing trust in people. Of course everytime I'm disappointed, I feel stupid for 'not seeing it coming'. That's a given, I guess.

My dad too had taught me the lesson of not trusting anyone, but he wasn't particularly as gentle in teaching that lesson. And in my case, I lost trust in him and it was never redeemed.

ME Strauss said...

Hey Liz,
I know what you mean.If you stop investing trust in new people it's a lose-lose proposition. They did nothing to lose your trust and you did nothing to lose their friendship. You're right though. When it happens, it's hard not to feel like a fool. But, to combine two songs in a mixed metaphor, better a fool than a rock.