Trust IS Hard

It will probably come as no big surprise that I have trust issues. I don’t think it’s only because I was sexually abused by my father, though I’m sure that didn’t help.

The world makes it hard to trust. People act like our friend, then are beyond cruel to us behind our backs. We are supposed to trust our own families, but you have heard as many stories as I have about untrustworthy family members. We are supposed to be able to trust the leaders of our countries and our states. They repeatedly show they are not to be trusted. Pension funds have been bankrupt by people who are supposed to manage them. People who raise money for needy children steal from their own charities.

In the same vein as the post about people mistaking kindness for weakness, if you are trusting, you can become the perfect victim. The creeps of the world look for people who trust and they prey on them like hyenas on a dying animal. It makes it hard to trust.

Trust is an elusive thing much akin to hope. Most of us are born with it. It is natural. It is normal. It is healthy.

We are told to be trusting and to be weary. How can you have it both ways? I don’t really have any idea how anyone is supposed to do that. I also don’t know how anyone can live without trust, even just a little.

It is one of the both/and conundrums of life. Trust cautiously. Love cautiously. Hope cautiously. No wonder everyone is confused and afraid to trust.

The daily struggle is exhausting. People are overwhelmed. Their hearts tell them to do one thing. Their experience tells them to do something else. Society tells everyone to do something entirely different.

This is hard, especially for anyone who has ever been hurt. I’d say that’s just about everyone.

The best I can say is keep trying. When it’s too hard, take a break, cry, call a friend, treat yourself to a special meal out or go to a movie. Give your heart and your soul a little rest. Take a breath and keep going.

When you find someone to trust, not everything will be perfect all the time. Everyone is a person and people have been damaged by life, just like you. There are times, such as abusive relationships, when trust cannot usually be repaired, but in many relationships, people can work it out and learn to trust each other again, especially if both are truly sorry for their actions and both are willing to try again to be better to each other.

Trust is hard. Life is hard. You deserve to be able to trust. I’m sorry for everyone who ever hurt you and made you thing trust wasn’t real or that you couldn’t find someone worthy of trust. I can’t fix it, but I know you are worth it. You are worth the struggle to get through and try to trust again.  Work on it  and I think you will feel less anxious. I think you may feel more joy. I think, as hard as it is, you may feel more like you.

How has someone worked to regain your trust after they hurt you? How did you sustain yourself through the process?

(This song is actually about Truth. Sometimes in order to trust, we must find someone who can hear our truth. And I did a search for the wrong word, but liked the song anyway. 🙂 )

 

He Mistook Kindness For Weakness

Jennifer and I have an ongoing discussion about this saying. “He mistook kindness for weakness.” It is one of those experiences we have both had, but thought was unique to us. We both thought people in our lives had taken advantage of us and we both thought it didn’t happen to other people.

We have both learned that we are not alone in this. We are not alone in this even as survivors of abuse. Abuse conditions us to make ourselves small. We were taught that our wants and needs don’t matter. The needs of the abuser are all that matter and we are disposable.

One survivor who shared her story with me said that her brother had no memory of abusing her. To say the least, that was troublesome and hurtful to the woman. Her therapist told her that her brother saw her like a Kleenex – something he used and then threw away. I think she found some comfort in that.

I thought it was a horrible explanation. I was angry at her therapist for even suggesting that a human being could be viewed as disposable. I still do not like that explanation, but I have learned many people see others as disposable. It clears their conscience and allows them to hurt people. I do not know of many other explanations as to why someone could hurt and abuse others.

People around the world are seen as disposable. When I was living in California, there had been a recent incident of homeless people were being poisoned. Whoever was poisoning them (I do believe the person was caught), did not see the people as people. He or she saw them as a problem; an eyesore that needed to be disposed.

With all the bad things that happen, I believe people are generally good. I think people chose not to be good and mistake the kindness of others for weakness. Whatever part of someone that allows them to victimize another sees the kindness as an opportunity. It is something they can exploit and use to their own devices.

I do not know why they do it, but they do. Some people do not realize they are doing it. Others know exactly what they are doing and do it time and again because they can.

People, not only those who abused me, have seen my kindness as weakness. I try to be kind to people. I try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes it is a good idea, but many times it is absolutely the worst idea I could have.

I have had friends who acted cute and coy and helpless to get me to help them. I do not like to see others struggle and I like to help people, but I have a limit. If someone keeps asking me to help them but they are unwilling, or unable, to help themselves, I cannot help them anymore. It is hard and it temporarily makes me feel like a bad person or that I’m doing something wrong, but if anyone, a survivor, an acquaintance, a family member, anyone, is unwilling to help themselves, I cannot help them. I do not have the appropriate training to help them if they are unable, and if they are unwilling, there are not many people who can help them.

That sounds harsh, but I have learned that I am not a doormat. I am not disposable.

If someone is working through their pain and doing the hard work of healing, or just trying to learn a different, healthier way to be, I will back them up in any way I can. If they are just expecting me to fix their problems, or handle things for them because they don’t want to or don’t think the work is important enough for them to do, I will eventually realize that this is not a healthy relationship. The person is treating me like a Kleenex, something to use and then toss away.

I matter more than that.

You do too!

We would love for you to join Jennifer and me in the discussion of someone mistaking your kindness for weakness. We have learned we are not alone. We want you to know that you aren’t alone either.

What warning signs have you seen that someone is mistaking your kindness for weakness? What tactics have you learned to extricate yourself from these kind of situations?

Sticks and Stones

Oh the irony!!  The saying “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me” are words that have hurt innumerable people.  Words can and do hurt.  Especially words spoken by someone with power over another person.  The words a parent, teacher, grandparent, priest, minister, mentor or physician have the power to heal or to hurt.  But that’s a subject for another day.  Today I am ready to call an end to one word that is spoken by society without a thought to its hurtful impact to all of us.

Provocatively. I found this word staring at me in the midst of an article on rape culture…a comment written by a survivor…written to help end rape culture…raised up by the author as a poignant example (I added the bold):

The views of Ms. Mac Donald are widely held, and they are one of the fundamental things that stand in the way of combating rape culture. When I was sexually assaulted, I had been out with good friends and had been drinking. In the end, one of those good friends was the one who perpetrated my assault. Afterwards, though some people were sympathetic, many more told me it was my fault. That boys will be boys. That I shouldn’t have drank, shouldn’t have trusted my male friend, shouldn’t have been wearing that dress, those shoes, that makeup. It wasn’t until a year later, when I began to research rape for my own writing project, that I began to realize that this wasn’t my fault. The societal problem of the ideas that it’s okay to sleep with drunk girls, that girls who dress provocatively deserve to be treated as objects, that it’s irresponsible for ladies to drink—that was at fault for both the situation and how I ended up feeling about it.

I realized in that moment how deeply rape culture is ingrained in our language and how this word is hurting.  It’s hurting me, it’s hurting you, it’s hurting our society.  PLEASE WORLD – STOP USING THIS WORD TO DESCRIBE A CLOTHING CHOICE!

In case you’re not following me yet, I will back up and dissect this word…this hurtful word.  First of all, this word is never used to describe male clothing choices.  Until now, I had never considered how I’ve been taught (we’ve all been taught) by our own words, that only girls can provoke behavior with clothing.  Because, apparently, only girls and women dress provocatively.

And yes, that’s what the word provocative means – to provoke.

Dictionary.com defines provocative as: tending or serving to provoke; inciting, stimulating, irritating, or vexing…  acting as a stimulus or incitement, esp to anger or sexual desire.

I usually don’t write blogs in an angry state.  I try to ruminate on what I have to say, let it simmer and make sure I am not just spewing on the site.  I can’t get there with this topic.  I’m getting angry just writing about this.

Please World…please stop using this word to describe girls’ clothing choices.

Clothes don’t provoke.

Please.

Don’t you see?

Sticks and stones can only hurt one person at a time.

Words can hurt us all.