Panic at the Distrust

January 23rd, 2023

I’ve had some real revelations this week on my issues with trust.

Growing up, I was generally untrusting. I struggled to articulate why. I had clear reasons: bad things happened to me. Bad things happened to people I loved. People talked about bad things other people did to them or, still, other people.

Yet none of that felt like a complete explanation.

I knew my trust issues were bad when I realized I distrusted people I deeply cared about who had never given me a reason to. Even my art reflected a person who was reacting to imagined slights and threats; not being in the position of actually being hurt, but knowing what that hurt would feel like when it finally, and inevitably, came.

When a person does work on themselves, the real, gross kind of work, they have to dig through the top layer of grass to get to the dirt, the worms, the decaying but still moving bodies below.

I was the untrustworthy person.

I have done the most untrustworthy things.

And despite the actual hurt that had been done to me, the poor role models and bad quality of character I sometimes found myself associated with and influenced by, nothing could justify or rationalize any untrustworthy thing I have done myself.

And yet, like most humans, I wanted to believe I was still a good person. And that led to a cognitive dissonance, because I believed only one of two things could be true:

I was a bad person, or good people are capable of doing untrustworthy things.

I definitely still vacillate between thinking I’m a bad or good person; I have accepted that I am somewhere in between.

But I decided, from a very early age, that good people could do bad things, because I thought I was a good person, and I had done bad things, so therefore, nobody could be trusted.

Spoiler alert, you guys: it worked out terribly.

This approach to life exacerbated my alcoholism and tried to decimate my relationships, to people who are the most trustworthy I could find in this life or any.

I was watching Neal Brennan and he said it’s so hard to find and stay in a relationship because no matter what, that other person is going to fuck you over. And it’s true. Even if they never break your heart or steal your life savings, they will die and leave you here without them. You have to trust them despite and because of this.

Weirdly enough, when I started making steps towards being more trustworthy myself — genuinely caring more about others and hugging ideas like honesty and vulnerability — I naturally started to trust others more, too. I realized that trust isn’t a weakness; it is one of the greatest traits a human can contain. People can break your trust and it says nothing about your trust, and everything about what they did with it

I still have to deal with what I did with it.

And looking around at the world, the general distrust it holds for itself, I don’t have to wonder why it feels like it’s gone crazy some days.

When neighbors can’t trust their neighbors to be who they say they are, their neighbors become something else entirely.

Foreign enemies. Imagined slights and threats, pretending to be in positions of hurt before anyone fires a shot.

And nobody around to lean on when we find ourselves down.

Published by dennisvogen

I'm me, of course. Or am I?

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