Trust is an issue

I know. Holy cow! Two posts in one day! But they’re related. I had to get the “OMG, I’m so excited” one out of my system before I could post something real. So, here goes.

I don’t know if its universal, or if it’s just folks who’ve experienced cruelty & bullying, or if it’s just me. But the harsh bullying and cruel ridicule I suffered in Jr High and High school has had a profound impact on my ability to graciously accept a compliment, or even believe positive reinforcements are anything but a trap waiting to spring, leaving me publicly humiliated.

Who didn’t experience (or at least witness) that cruel joke in adolescence where the cool, good-looking guy (jock, in my case) approaches the awkward, ugly, fat girl in school and sweet-talks/badgers her into agreeing to a date, only to have him loudly, and in the meanest way possible, humiliate her presumption & gullibility in front of all the other cool kids?

I’ll call foul if you say you don’t know what I’m talking about. It’s a trope, yes, but also 100% real, happening every day.

Those ultra harsh lessons in cruelty don’t fade. And they make it next to impossible to trust overtures of kindness, compliments and encouragement from people. That’s especially true when it’s coming from someone prettier, more popular, more hip, more affluent than you are or believe yourself to be.

As I sat there today receiving glowing praise from my boss in front of my peers, I had to physically restrain myself from backing away to a position from which I could easily escape the room. You know, just in case it all went to hell and they started laughing and yelled “”bazinga”, you bought it, sucker!”

What? You mean you don’t plan escape routes and brace for impact every time someone says something nice to you? Congratulations. I aspire to your level of self-actualization. Seriously, I’m envious of the ability to not only accept, but truly believe, a compliment given.

That’s part of why I was so excited by today’s good news. The event itself was awesome. But even more amazing, in a way, is my victory over my inner flight response. I somehow managed to stand there, smile, shake hands, and say simply “thank you” and mean it.

So, trust is an issue and likely will ever be, for me. But I’m making progress.


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