Learning Lessons

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Handwriting on the Wall

I am learning that the when we ignore the lessons the universe is trying to teach us, it speaks louder and louder until we finally listen.  I got a pretty loud lesson this week about trusting my gut when it comes to making judgments about folks I bring into my life.

The situation set me back a bit at first (you know, men are shit blah blah blah).  But I’ve given it enough space to realize that I have wonderfully decent men all around me.  This man is shit.  I just need to learn to smell it and call it what it is before I step in it and end up ruining my good shoes or something.  You know what I mean?

My experience with assholes has oddly left me still willing to give people the benefit of the doubt and to trust until you give me a reason not to.  I struggle with whether or not this is such a good idea though.  It’s not in my nature to be hardened and distrusting.  I want to believe the best about everyone, knowing that we are all capable of being monsters.  But trusting got me burned.  A friend said to me the day the shit went down, “Lex, we are victims because we trust but, without it, what do we have? ”  I’m not so sure I agree.  At least I don’t want it to be true.

What say you?  Who deserves the benefit of the doubt?  Do you trust until you have a reason not to or distrust until someone proves worthy of trust?  Do you think one’s approach to trust in relationships has an impact on one’s overall happiness?

I don’t want to live with a wall around my heart and hope for someone to come along who is patient enough to hammer at it until it crumbles.  I do want someone to understand the value of one’s trust and honor it — but do we set it out there as something to be earned?

Sound off, please.  I want to hear what folks think about this.

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13 thoughts on “Learning Lessons

  1. My sistah, I feel your pain. Trust has to be earned — it’s not something that we can or should hand out like Halloween candy. It’s not a bad thing to be cautious with your heart, mind, money and time. I think the one thing I’ve learned after the craziness at that “church” and with those “friends” and with that “man” is that you do have to listen to the voice inside, and to believe people the first time when they show you who they are. And we have to be honest with ourselves, and make sure we’re not seeing what we want to see in others instead of what’s really there.
    As for building a wall, not so sure that’s a good idea. After all, if someone has to beat down a wall to get to me, when will he/she know to stop beating down the wall to see me? And when the people are meant to be in our lives arrive, we’ll just know it, if, like you say, we listen to our guts.

  2. Just this morning, I was thinking no one I thought was a jerk turned out to be good people, but the reverse has been true. My mom used to say Piensa malo and Mejor sola que mal acompañada; if she trusted anyone, it was me. Just me. While I’m your opposite here, I want to argue your case.

    You’re not at fault for giving people a chance. Kindness per se isn’t wrong. Rather, shitty people are wrong for doing you wrong. Yes, this man burned you, but that’s on him. Put and leave it on him, not you. Did you ignore bad behavior or did he hide it well? What have you lost, time? What have you wasted, affection? Is that possible? Even if he didn’t deserve it, is it good to know you’re capable of giving?

    The best you can do is to think back and, if you can’t find anything you missed, see whether he resembles other shitty people you’ve known. If you find a pattern, you can hold people up to it in the future. If not, you needn’t wall yourself off, but neither should your wall be something for someone to break, anymore than the door to your home is.

    What’s your objective? I try not to regret and what works best for me is putting things into perspective thusly: If you had a time machine, would undoing the burn be your priority?

  3. @ ~m~

    Piensa malo cracks me up right about now! It would certainly serve me better if I’d adopt that.

    I agree that his choices are on him. And while I don’t blame myself for what happened, I certainly own ignoring my gut AND the handwriting on the wall.

    I guess you’re right also that I can walk away from this appreciating my capacity to give and look past someone’s shortcomings to give them a chance to redeem past …uh, shittiness. Some people will appreciate, benefit, and flourish from such treatment. Others, who are not yet ready to evolve, will take advantage of it.

    I also agree that my wall is mine to take down or to build a gate in, should I choose to build a wall. I like that perspective.

    I am appreciative of the lesson, but I can’t say that I am without regret at this point.

    So, now that you’ve argued my perspective. What’s yours? Trust no grimy mofo!?!

  4. If you’ve seen my site in the past few days, you know I’ve just come to a negative realization about someone. On the other hand, I refuse to allow her to taint the way I see other people. I am a very open person and I want to remain that way. Until I have a reason to distrust someone, I don’t want to fall into the trap of cynicism.

    ~*

  5. Lex,

    Found my way here from Katrina’s blog – left a question for you there as well 🙂

    On the latest lesson? Trust. Live. Play guitar. Dance like a dervish, sing like a diva, pray like you breathe, love like you mean it. Re-read Desiderata – then read Deteriorata for a balancing laugh.

    Will you hurt for a bit? Yep – so does falling down, tearing the knees of your jeans. Jeans get mended and hearts get mended.

    Know you are not alone…

    Rick

  6. Trust no grimy mofo!?!
    Hallelujah! That’s better than “Trust no one.”

    I think instinct is vital and I follow mine. I don’t think I’m missing anything by not doing what a lovely woman I once met said she does: greeting everyone everyone as a friend until they prove otherwise.

    Rather than looking past shortcomings, I say take them into account. Focusing on them to the exclusion of all else doesn’t work either. You need reality. Houses may be fixer-uppers, but people are not. (I wouldn’t want that kind of house either, but I absolutely need my home to be set, not in flux.) I also think people don’t get to learn/grow on my time. If they are not here [“eye-to-eye,” from a movie I can’t mention], what are we doing together? Do you take this man – or anyone else – as-is? If not, you know why not, and you know whether you’re being honest with yourself and living in reality, relying your instinct to protect you, or ignoring it in favor of a fantastical interlude.

    The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls[.]

  7. @ Chani

    I don’t want to be a cynic either. This just took the wind out of my sails a bit. I’ll bounce back though.

    @ Rick

    Hey there! Welcome. Thanks for the encouragement. Today I came home and really just needed to shake off the negative energy of this week. Didn’t feel like I was having much success until I read those two poems. A shot in the arm and a good laugh. Perfect combination. Thanks.

    Oh, and it’s a Dillion acoustic electric. And, um, how long has it been sitting in its case is a much better question. I’m not very good and I’m frustrated with the learning curve. 🙂

    @ ~m~

    Houses may be fixer-uppers, but people are not.

    Well said. Incredibly well said.

  8. Lexi!

    You’re welcome (and thanks for the welcome!) – that’s part of the job description as I see it 🙂

    The learning curve… Lemme see, I’ve been playing something since before I was in 6th grade lo those many years ago. Started on drums – the only instrument I’ve ever had formal instruction on – switched over to guitar when the Beatles were invading, added my voice to the mix. Since those early years? I’ve added keyboards, bass, recorder flute, and there are people out here who’ll swear there isn’t an instrument I can’t learn. They’re half right – I can learn any instrument badly. 🙂 For that reason I’ve never tried to play harmonica, sax, or bagpipes. 😀

    Pick it up, hold it close. The blues you feel? They’ll come out on a guitar easy (even if to the critical ear it sounds like you’re not getting your fingers in the right spots, you’re trying to let your heart out, and tell the critic to stuff it anyways!)

    One other thing – fixing people other than you? Can’t be done – not enough duct tape and superglue, sandpaper and itching powder in the world. Fixing yourself up? Start with folks who don’t see your brokenness as anything other than part of who you are, and hug them close 🙂

    Have a great weekend!

  9. I think you trust until someone shows that they are not trustworthy. While we all wish to learn from our mistakes and be better smarter people for them, don’t let any one (or two) person(s) ruin trust for you.

    I am not saying that you should trust blindly and mindlessly… please lock your doors at night and hold on to your purse in a crowd.

    It’s really hard to not take our baggage from other experiences into every relationship we have (male or female) but you shouldn’t make the next person suffer for someone else’s shortcomings.

    There are good people and bad people and while it’s hard when you seem to come across a string of bad ones, don’t the good ones make it all worth while?

  10. i tend to trust until given a reason not to, but i don’t trust blindly; my instincts are pretty finely honed after more than a few run-ins with assholes.

    that being said, i’m not really the “men are shit” type. i have a few girlfriends like that, and all they end up with more often than not is, well… shit.

    the poster before me put it best: we have our baggage from people in our past, but we shouldn’t make the next person bear the weight of our baggage, either.

    a few of my relationships really broke me, but i always vowed not to give anyone the power to hold me back in the past.

  11. I have been burned in that way far too many times but I kept on believing that not every man was an asshole, despite all evidence to the contrary. I finally found one who was honest and true and willing to give as much as he got.

    In the past, I expected too little and forgave too readily those who were happy to be let off the hook and took it as permission to hurt me again. I now believe that the old adage, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me” is good to live by.

    Hold yourself as the treasure you are, Lex. It’s wrong to see gold spilled in the streets.

  12. I agree with a few folks in that, one should never stop trusting. I am also of the opinion that all are ‘friends’ until they cross me. Even then, I’ll forgive, forgive, forgive (I just don’t forget). I do try to go with my instinct (hence my short list of ‘friends’). If you trust yourself, it is a little harder to be deceived the second time around.

    I also think that yes – people are fixer-uppers! If we were all our perfect selves form the start – there would be no growth. I have friends (including myself) in several phases of disrepair. The key is to acknowledge that and then decide whether you care to be bothered right.

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