The closer you get to the fire, the more you get burned

Songs are written about love every day. People are on an endless quest for love. It’s a currency, something people exchange constantly. You see it easily online: “Love you! xoxoxoxo” Kisses on the cheek when parting, a sign off from a conversation. “Love you!” And so we do. Love. Truly.

Love is very easy for me to give. I give openly and freely. Even when I was young and filled with hate, I also gave love, and it was as intense and fierce as my anger. I have loved friends I’ve known for only 10 minutes, friends I’ve only known online and never met in person. I mean truly, genuinely love them. I love and care about people I haven’t seen for years and years. They are in my heart, my thoughts, my mind. I see struggles people are going through, people I may not even be that close to, and I send them loving thoughts. Some people can actually feel the love I send, which is gratifying and mutually beneficial, but we won’t get into all the wicca stuff here and now, as I don’t want to alienate readers, but engage them.

Put simply, love is a currency easy for me to broker. My heart has a seemingly endless capacity for love. I have been very fortunate to experience the highest highs (and of course, the lows) of different kinds of love in this world: from a parent, as a parent, to a child, from a child, to and from lovers of various sexes, stripes, shapes, sizes and ages. The love I’ve received from friends has touched my soul more often than not, and I have even exchanged genuine, loving moments with complete strangers on occasion. Love makes living feel better. Life can be hard, and is fraught with challenges, and love can get you through. It lifts you up, it buoys you. It makes a bad day better and a good day soar. It feels good to receive and to give. For many, it’s the ultimate gift and one they value higher than perhaps anything.

It occurred to me recently how many people I’ve loved versus how many I have trusted. The trust number is pretty fucking small, actually. At times, it’s been a higher number, and I’ve paid for that again and again.

I don’t mind paying for love. Heartbreak is part of life. People move in and out of your life. They die. They no longer have a place in your life that fits, and you drift apart, or break away suddenly, and then that love is just a memory, albeit a treasured one. But trust is so much more hard to come by, at least for me.

I find you can’t count on most people, and so I don’t trust them. For a very long time, my mother was one of my most trusted confidantes. If you want to tell someone a secret and never, ever have it leave their lips, tell my mother, I used to say. And I suppose that’s still true, but since her mental break last year, I can no longer count on it, and so she gets less information than she used to. And probably gives me less as well. She kept a large secret from me for 3/4 of my life as well, and that fractured my trust too. The trust is very strained between us, and will likely never be repaired. I had to put her in the hospital last year. We no longer believe we can count on the other, for differing reasons. I understand that, and accept it.

I grew up with an immediate and extended family that loved and doted on me. For half of that family, the love they showered me with was only an act, a part they abruptly quit playing and turned on me with deadly force when I chose to live with my mother after my parents divorced. The vehemence and cold, calculated nature with which people can turn on you who once kissed your cheek and bought you birthday presents is incredible.

Later, I learned that my own father had been lying about certain other important matters, as well. It was after he died that I learned of his lies, and so I never had a chance to confront him about the lies, to find if there was any trust left. I was left looking over my shoulder at the past and feeling my entire childhood was, in a large part, fiction.

Mostly, my adult life has not involved giving a lot of trust, as I can’t deal with the burns. I’ve taken a chance here and there, and again and again am burned. Maybe this is just the trust portion of the roller coaster than love brings – but it feels much worse.

When I say I love you, I do. I really do, and freely and richly give that love to you, and enjoy receiving whatever love you have to give. But do not ask me to say the other three magic words, “I trust you,” as those are metered out carefully and rarely. I can – and do – give small parcels of trust here and there, when I see they are deserved, but the older I grow, the less I feel safe in giving of my trust.

Love sustains me well enough without it, luckily. It’s perhaps why I thrive so much on the love I give and receive.

Who do you trust, readers? How do you trust? Is trust easier, harder, or the same as giving and receiving love?

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