Trust is an issue I spend a fair amount of time thinking about. A lot of the people I have spent time with have trust issues of various sorts, and I certainly do, as well. I tend to be pretty binary where trust is concerned. Most people, I don’t trust at all. Now, I imagine most people have this, to some degree – you have no reason to trust most of the people around you, the people you only see for a fraction of a second a day. But I don’t tend to trust even people I see more often, people I might have casual conversation with, even know on a first-name basis. It probably has something to do with a childhood spent moving around a lot, never having much chance to get to know people before moving on again.
The other side of that coin is that once I do trust someone, I tend to trust them completely. I don’t have a lot of friends, but the ones I have I would do anything for. It’s kind of an all-or-nothing deal, which I think bothers some people; they feel uncomfortable with that amount of trust being placed in them. That is something that I don’t understand, probably because we see the world in different ways. But it’s not a deal where I expect reciprocity. It’s not even a deal at all. If I consider someone a friend, I trust them. I don’t expect anything back. I’ve heard it said that trust is something that has to go both ways, but that hasn’t been my experience; I am entirely capable of trusting someone who doesn’t trust me in return.
This is probably good, because many of my friends that I have developed here have trust issues. They are very reluctant to trust, and some of them may never trust anyone completely. It hurts me to know that they’ve been hurt like that. But this isn’t about them, and I don’t want to talk about how they work; it isn’t my place, and talking about them here without their knowledge would be a betrayal. This is about me and my issues.
Being such a black-and-white person in the trust area is probably not a very good thing for me. For one thing, it means that I am not an easy person to get to know, because it takes a lot to get through to me enough for me to consider someone a friend. I tend to be pretty laconic, and it makes conversations with me…frustrating. I hear this even from my good friends, the people who I let my guard down with, so just imagine how much worse it is with people I don’t know or trust. For months now, since my second suicide attempt, I have been trying to work on a principle of total openness and honesty – there is nothing secret about my life, especially to my friends.
The problem there is that even when I answer questions that people ask, it doesn’t tend to get them the answers they want. I’ve been giving short, terse answers for so long that it is a hard habit to break, and so my friends often don’t get the information they want because the answers I give them don’t give them enough to work with. That’s another things I have to work on, believe me. I may seem chatty here, but it is much harder for me out in real life, face to face with another person. Things that seem normal in writing seem much more melodramatic in actual conversation.
But I digress. Trust is something I am working on, not because I want to trust the friends I have any less, but because I am trying to widen the scope of my lens, as it were. Instead of black-and-white, all-or-nothing thinking in the trust area, I am trying to introduce some shades of grey – people I know enough and trust to some degree, but not as completely as I do my good friends. Maybe it will ease off some of the pressure I put on my friends – having to deal with knowing that someone trusts you completely and unconditionally is probably pretty stressful to them. It’s not on purpose; I don’t try to cause any more strain on the lives of my friends than they already have. I always figured that that trust would be something of a sign of respect and love, if nothing else, but I’ve been in treatment long enough to know that most people don’t see things the way I do.
So part of that is making my apartment here someplace where people who are or were in the program can hang out. I have an open-door policy; as long as I am awake and around, the door is open, and people are free to come by, watch TV or movies, play games, read my books, and just hang out. I know who they all are, but they aren’t all good friends, but I think having that kind of policy not only helps increase my odds of socializing, but also shows some degree of trust. I don’t know if they’ll become good friends; hell, some of the people I would consider good friends since coming to Menninger aren’t even really speaking to me anymore, and I don’t know why. It might have been me, or it might be them, but regardless, I still consider them friends. And maybe some of the people who decide to come hang out at my place will become good friends, too. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see – and trust, to some degree.