Awfully Whetted Strife

By nature I’m a very trusting person. By nature I give everyone the benefit of the doubt. By nature I strive to be kind and compassionate, and for the most part, I think I succeed.

So when the knife came out, I never imagined it’d be directed at me.

The truth is I can’t talk about specifics. I’ve committed the cardinal sin of writing: Intrigue the reader and then, in jest, fail to deliver. But too many people were involved for me to speak openly if I speak honestly, and quite frankly, my dear, I’m past all of this–I want only for it to be over, for it to be history, for all of us to be civil and mature and treat each other as human beings, not pawns or players in this idiotic game.

If that’s an unfair want, well, all the worse for all of us.

It’s not what happened that I want to talk about, however; it’s the collateral damage that matters. And as such, when I thought about the things I’m thankful for today, one thing more than everything else floated to the surface, and it’s one thing I have least after all of this: Trust.

I try to be sincere. I intend only to be genuine. When I’m kind and honest and caring, I expect the same in return. When I lend a helping hand, I don’t amass debts, but I assume helpfulness is in store for me somewhere along the line. When I shake your hand, I expect I’m shaking hands as a friend or colleague, not as a duelist stepping into a match to the death. And when I look you in the eye, when I look you in the eye and see a friend, for every God-given moment our eyes are locked, I assume we’re truly friends.

This week ruined everything.

Lies were cast, accusations were tossed around, and dissension ruled for days straight. Sanity itself seemed to have slipped from the face of the earth. Even the moon had no sense to its staring. I lost sleep. I lost hair. I lost faith in the world itself.

I have always believed people are inherently good.

Now I see that’s foolish. Now I know terrible people exist. Now I know even friends can be enemies in disguise.

When you lose trust in a friend, it takes a long time to earn it back. It takes a long time if it’s ever earned back at all. What do you do when you lose trust in the world itself?

In the mid-twentieth century, Erik Erikson developed his theory of healthy psychosocial development, which progresses in eight stages from birth to death. The first stage–the hopeful stage–is the foundation of healthy development, and it hinges upon whether a child learns trust or mistrust. When something like this happens–even at the dawning of my adult life–I’m sent right back to infancy. My trust in the world has been shaken. My trust in the universe has been cracked and broken. Everything that has come forth from this basic premise has been placed under question.

How can I live like that? How can anyone live like that?

I refer to Maslow’s Hierarchy quite frequently in my day-to-day life. At the very foundation of our needs is the need to feel safe. If we lose trust in everything, which I’ve come so very close to committing, that sense of safety is shattered. No longer can I care to belong, care for confidence or self-esteem, care to become a better man and who I want to be. All that falls secondary when this very basic psychological need to feel safe has been betrayed. If I cannot trust my closest friends, what hellish and hostile environment do I have to live in?

The truth is my words are bloated and bombastic. I have a tendency to speak in extremes while I stand in the middle. It’s simply how the human mind functions. Yes, my trust has been tested. I feel betrayed by more than merry, more than I believe anyone should ever have to name. Will the next few weeks be less enjoyable on account of this? Absolutely. It will take time for people to pull themselves up from this disaster of discourse, but for some, it will happen. For others, it never will. Along these stairs before us, I will climb strongly and surely. My faith inside myself has not been tempered. My trust in myself still stands strong.

If anything, the loss of trust in so many has made me more thankful for the trust that still remains terra firma beneath me. Trust is easily taken for granted when taken from everyone and given freely. I won’t trust so freely anymore, but this hindrance in some skewed, sadistic manner is a blessing: Those I trust I will trust more deeply, and more gratefully, than ever before.

Minuscule miracles make misery meaningful.

This entire ordeal has done more for me than that. In dealing, I’ve learned how badly I’ve dealt. I’ve made some poor decisions and in reflecting on them, I know I’m now equipped to make better decisions in the future. I shall not spend in spite. I shall not feast in fury. Because, when all your base belong to me, I’d rather be rich than even. Because, when we find ourselves at the end of days, we all sleep the same. Because, when the world turns and the sun appears to rise tomorrow, physics will obey the same rules as yesterday, the universe will still be infinitely larger than this instance, and I–I will be the only thing to have changed the world I live in.

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