I went rock climbing the other day. I was wearing the whole outfit: helmet, harness, climbing shoes. I did this climb and had a hard time using my feet. I used my knees. By the end of the climb, I was bruised, scraped, cut with blood running down my legs. On the next climb, a person told me that I could trust my climbing shoes and my legs. I told them I was scared, so I continued using my knees and my elbows, so I continued to get hurt. I say that it makes me feel tougher, so I didn’t change what I was doing. Look how I survived this climb with all these cuts and bruises and I came out on top.
You see – I have this problem with trust. Trusting others and myself. Trust requires faith, which is something I tend to lack. There’s a lot of good things that can come with trust: fulfillment, happiness, support, peace. I tend to only think of the bad things: betrayal, hurt, pain, break. You may automatically think I am only talking about romantic relationships, but it’s a lot more than that. It’s with friendships and family too. It’s not believing that others would choose you. It’s believing that if people had the option to stay loyal to you or betray you, they would always choose betrayal. This probably stems from the whole “not good enough” belief, that haunts me daily. It seeps into my relationships and always has a major piece of me believing it.
Another part of me wants to trust the people in my life. Trust that they do care. Trust that they will stick around. Trust that they do want to be in my life of their own free will. Trust they will defend me. Trust they will be there for me when I need them. When I find myself about to let down my barriers and start trusting them, I hear anxiety and depression whispering in my ear. They tell me to stop. They say how trust leads to leaving. They tell me there’s no point. And I believe them, so I stop myself right before I’m about to leap into trusting that person. I keep standing on the ledge. Waiting for the moment where I can have enough strength to make that leap, but instead, something always holds me back.
I try to think of how this began. When did I start thinking of myself so lowly? Was it when the boy in seventh grade pretended to ask you out? Was it when someone called me fat? Was it the fact that I never excelled at anything and was always average? Was it because I never felt chosen? Maybe it was the boy sophomore year who pretended to ask you out only to laugh in your face? Maybe it started much later or maybe it just really sunk in when you stayed with the boy for four years who made you feel that you were a burden. All of this sounds ridiculous to me. People go through so much worse than I do and come out shining when I broke under the simplest of pressures.
I can beat myself up for why I’m feeling the way I do. Tell myself it’s stupid and I should just get over it. I tried that for years though, with nothing coming from it. I only became more isolated and less of my true self. I hid. I didn’t wear clothes I wanted to wear. I didn’t go to places I wanted to go. I didn’t do things I wanted to do. I hid because I felt that I didn’t deserve ever to get what I wanted. All these people close to me betrayed me in the past in one way or the other. What makes now any different?
I see the hurt lack of trust has caused me, but at least it’s been on my terms. It’s been my fault. It’s been my choices. I haven’t left it up to fate in a while. It’s a form of protection. You see I am the one who pushed people away and hurt them – they didn’t choose to hurt me – I did. Let me hurt you before you hurt me. It’s simpler that way – right?
Lately, I have wanted to let go of that logic. Wanting more and more to leap off the ledge and jump head first into my relationships. I have friends who stuck around and keep showing up despite my fears. I have a relationship with a man who knows me inside and out and accepts me for me. The more I let anxiety and depression dictate who I am and who I trust, the more alone I become. It’s keeping me from everything I want. Maybe lacking trust, leads me to win in protecting myself, but I only end up alone. And what is life alone?
So I think back to climbing. I look at the remnants of the scars and bruises that cover my knees. It’s time to try climbing without doing the thing I know hurts. It’s time to trust my climbing shoes and legs a little bit more. Maybe this way, I can still end up on top, but with just fewer scars.