Having been through a life that was emotional void, traumatic, dysfunctional, and challenging (and I existed in a fairly “normal” family), trust is not something that has come easily to me. Trust is something that is developed, built. It doesn’t happen in a snap decision.
Take the illustration for example. By the time you and I sit down in our seats to see this trapeze act, they have practiced time and time again. Used to be they practiced with a net, and then for the shows, went without. Which meant that, you had to absolutely trust that the other person was going to be spot on time when you both reached the middle.
Not all of life is so high risk. If you cannot be trusted to do your job, then you get fired. You don’t necessarily hit the ground in a fatal or permanently injurious way. Yes, getting fired feels that way, but the fact you’re feeling it is one very positive sign.
So what does it take to build trust? Since I would want to feel trusted and counted on as trustworthy, it seems to me there is a certain level of self-knowledge in knowing I am trustworthy. I know my limits, what I am and am not willing to do, not just because of consequences, but because of my own values. Knowing what those are takes looking in and asking questions, which is not a common practice anymore. I t means I know I can get out on that trapeze, by myself, swinging back and forth, and eventually, hanging by my knees.
The second part of that is doing what I’m asked, told, or expected to do. I’ll do this, you do that. Like taking out the garbage, doing the recycling, cleaning the cat box, all that sort of stuff, and then adding to it. Doing extra. This is called practicing. I like it when I can look and say, “Oh! Cat box needs emptying.” I don’t empty it because I get anything out of it other than the fact it makes the cats happy and that my level of awareness is such that I noticed it. It becomes a priority.
“I see that look on your face, and it’s not about us. It’s about work.” That’s a different aspect, but when you are aware of what those around you are going through, it develops that trust that makes relationships work. This is a practice too. It’s that practice of swinging upside down, and swinging far enough where when I look up, I see you doing the same.
All this practice is what makes it possible to make that connection in mid air, that place where we are completely vulnerable and counting on someone else to be there. That place where, when my arms are outstretched and I straighten my legs and let go of that trapeze; me in mid air. Are you there? as I crane my neck to see you.
Just when I have no more motion to keep me in the air, our hands meet. Maybe I’ll never get over those butterflies of that moment. But I know that repeatedly, time after time, that assurance of contact, of trust fulfilled, gives me assurance that we can complete together the act we have set out on.
It’s easier to trust now. I know people fail, because I do. I can accept that. I also know that those who like being trustworthy work to repair those breaches. The functionality and fullness of being in a trustworthy relationship make the work worth it. Despite how scary it is making myself vulnerable, learning to trust is a great act to be in. It’s the foundation of my sudden urge to do a 360 somersault in the air before you show up!
Trust is an affirmation of myself, you, and us. That’s a strong foundation for any act. What say we make this act the best we can?
Image from deck of Mixed Emotions