We all have facets of our selves that aren’t obvious to us. Some people are blissfully unaware of who they are vs. who they think they are. We all know that guy who thinks he’s hot shit while everyone rolls their eyes when he comes around, or that woman that dates guys that look and act like Fred Durst circa 2002 yet always seems confused when she ultimately catches him doing the same thing those guys always do.
Some people are painfully aware of what they’re lacking but not sure what the answer is. We know people that seem like they’re still figuring out things they should have figured out at nineteen.
“I can’t believe Tim still hasn’t realized how loud he yells when he gets excited about something.”
To be fair, though, I should have learned that at age five, not nineteen.
I’ve been examining lately just how little I trust people. I think maybe I’ve been blinded to it because it doesn’t manifest itself the way you typically think when someone says they have trust issues. Example – if you’re reading this, the thought that probably popped into your head is that I have trust issues with my wife, or my friends, or my family, or all of the above. But that’s not the case.
My wife is a free spirit and I love her for that, and sometimes (always responsibly) she’ll go off with her friends and won’t came back til the next day. Some of my friends couldn’t imagine texting back, “Sure baby, have fun, see you in the morning!” Sure, the occasional fear pops into my head, but I trust her. Only once has it turned out she was getting plowed an in interracial gang bang, but even then she said it was an accident. Of course, I’m kidding. It was seven times.
It takes me a long time to trust a person. Probably far longer than most people take. I’d say it usually takes me half a year of regularly knowing someone before I start to let my guard down. But once you’re in, you’re in. I cherish every one of my friendships, and my trust is thorough.
No, the place where my trust issues manifest is everyday life. I don’t get the luxury of six months of character vetting in regular human interactions, and it’s a hindrance. I’ve been accused by people of being cold, aloof, and impenetrable. When I play basketball, all the guys bullshit between games and talk sports and weed and women and I shoot, by myself, in silence. Often at the rim furthest away from people. This isn’t intentional, and it’s only recently that I realized I was doing it at all. In fact, that was the impetus of this introspection.
The past couple months I’ve been examining my body language, my speech, my actions. I act like a celebrity that knows everyone in the club wants a piece and so everything she does is designed to deflect that. Except I’m not a celebrity, I’m responding to my past. The demons of my childhood scream to me that people are up to no good, that they’re going to take things from me, that they’re going to hurt me. It’s been two decades since the last time I was legitimately bullied, but the stimulus response is still there – still telling me to keep my guard up. Still telling me that there’s no difference between people and snakes and that I should know as much as possible before deciding whether or not to get too close.
The charm, the jokes, the stories are all ways of control. Ways of owning each interaction so that the choice is mine on how much to let people in, or if I want to let them in at all. Frankly, I don’t even know if I want to change. I’m happier now than I’ve ever been in my life, but in spite of how I see things shaking out in the world around me, not because of it. And I’m not even talking about politics or climate change or the attack on truth by those that think feelings are more important (this is a poison saturating all sides), I’m just talking about day to day life. There’s just too much taking and not enough giving.
But there’s room for growth. Room for hope. Room to build trust between myself and the people that can’t even really hurt me that much. If I didn’t think so, I’m sure I wouldn’t have started paying attention to it in the first place.
And no, my wife isn’t getting gang banged. It’s actually me. Keep your eyes peeled for this month’s invite. Bears and muscle cubs only. We’re having a slip-n-slide go right from the front door to my crotch. Bring your rubber underpants.