Ze Frank - Why Trust Is Worth It
Words by Ze Frank, emphasis my own.
We talk about trust as something you build. As if it's a structure or a thing. But in that building there seems to be something about letting go. And what it affords us is a luxury that allows us to stop thinking, to stop worrying that someone won't catch us if we fall, to stop constantly scanning for inconsistencies, to stop wondering how people act when they're not in our presence. It allows us to relax a part of our minds so that we can focus on what's in front of us.
And that's why it's such a tragedy when it's broken.
A betrayal can make you think about all the other betrayals that are waiting for you, and things that you haven't thought of, and people you rely on. And you can feel yourself tightening up, bracing. And in the worst cases, you might resolve to trust no one.
But, that doesn't really work. Trust is your relationship to the unknown. What you can't control, and you can't control everything. And it's not all or none. It's a slow and steady practice of learning about the capacity of the world. And it's worth it, to keep trying, and it's not easy.
I almost imagine trust as these invisible hands that we stretch out into the world, looking for someone to hold on to, as we walk into the unknown future. […]
So who do you trust, and how can you grow it?
Well, that was a punch in the feels.
"You might resolve trust no one."
Yeah, and someone on the internet says that that doesn't really work, except what if it does? What if that's how some people have to stay safe?
We can't choose who we love, and we can't choose who falls in love with us. People tell me they're different, that they won't smash my heart into pieces like the last person, or the person before that. What if I'm tired of hearing promises, promises held with as little regard as my emotions? What if I don't want to trust anyone with my heart anymore? What if I've grown weary of seeing how people treat each other in this world, and I don't believe that trust offers the payback people say it does?
I just told a friend who's experiencing some similar thoughts that he's not alone, that he has friends who care, and that that's the important thing. That one day maybe he'll be happy with someone, maybe I will be too. That the two of us will probably never find happiness together, but I'm OK with that, as long as we're still friends as long as it feels right for us to be that way.
I said that there's no point in pining for relationships that have gone wrong, that instead we should try to learn from break-ups and bad relationships, and know that we won't always find the answers we're looking for, but unless we stop staring bleakly into the past, berating ourselves for being terrible people and unloveable monsters… unless we stop focusing on past failures, we won't ever find happiness, in ourselves or others.
I told him that he shouldn't beat himself up for loving people who didn't love him back, or for not loving those who loved him. That we can't choose who we love, and we can't choose who'll reciprocate.
I told him that all we can do is to look forwards and be the best people we can be. That if we focus on being as happy as we can within ourselves, then one day, people might come along and tell us they love us, and we might want to love them back. That if love doesn't follow the happiness, then it doesn't matter, because we will be happy in ourselves.
I pointed out that some people die alone, that I probably will, and I may never be OK with that, but I can at least try and be happy with who I am, and what I have, even if it's not everything I'd choose, if I had the choice.
Deep down, I believe everything I said just now, or I wouldn't have said a word of it. But who for?
I know that I'm happier recently than I've been for the best part of this year, and yet, there are these thoughts niggling at the back of my mind. What happens when my body gets old, and I have to slow down? Will there be anyone there to look back on years of adventures with, or will I sit alone, flicking through online photo albums at photos of people who have been and gone? What happens if I never again hear the words "I love you" from someone who I want to repeat them back to, from someone I want to grow old and decrepit with?
I get reminded that other people are worse off than me. I have no doubt about that, and I'm grateful for what I do have. But this world, our society, it isn't set up for people to be alone. We're supposed to trust, to be trusted. To fall in love, to be loved.
I get told that I'm still young, that I've got time, and maybe that's true, but by now, I'm far more used to saying "I love you" and hearing an affirmation that later turns out to be false: maybe they never meant it, maybe they did but realised they were wrong. It doesn't matter, because what it comes down to is that they never loved me, never could, never will.
They love other people, often people I know, but I was not loveable enough for them, I am not loveable enough now, and I may never be loveable enough anytime in the future. The only way I can find out if I can be loved is to trust… but what if that has already hurt me too much? What if I can't? What if trust is too tied up in heartbreak already?
Maybe trust is worth it… for other people.