The Anatomy of Trust – Brene Brown

Okay, it’s a Friday & this is NOT a podcast.  But it is something I need to post BEFORE the end of this remarkable week, one that has been all about trust.

Trust is, in my understanding, THE most important sense that there can be within relationship, whether with others, our self, or the Divine.

My thanks to Brene for her wisdom over the past few years.  Am posting this in place of a Friday podcast because TRUST is where I’m at.  You come too!


Trust was a major, unspoken issue in my family.  My parents had a similar strong, almost supernatural sense of trust, apparently in full bloom with their introduction.  But with everyone else, especially me, Mom had trust issues.

Mim had the most serious trust issues.  It might have been based in part in her nature – or not.  Whatever deep terrible trauma she experienced when she was very young – which was never acknowledged within the family – left her distrustful of even her nearest & dearest.  I think the only people she never spoke of as “against” her were Penny, Gray, Lark, both Beths & a couple cousins.

It seemed to me that Mim cloaked herself with snide comments & slighting observations because she felt it was better to get the thrusts in first before someone did it to her.

This was brought home to me after Mim’s death.  I was planning on making cupcakes for the long-term care facility where she’d lived.  My oldest brother warned me off, sharing that she’d told him that the staff despised her so much, “she doubted anyone would notice if she died.

That went straight to my heart – not because they were so callous & unfeeling, but because I knew from personal experience & from talking to her closest friends that the staff adored her, expressed in ways that can’t be faked to people of heart.  More than that, I’d heard Mim use either the exact same words or a variation to describe how many people – including my oldest bro – felt.

Mim could not feel accepted by people she did not trust.  No one can.  Mim wrapped herself in a straight-jacket of distrust & could not be coaxed out of it; the more she felt love from someone, the more she distrusted him or her.

I was also wrapped in distrust.  Until recently, my greatest belief was that no matter how much you seemed to like me, I would disappoint you & turn you away.  I certainly can point to the relationships in my family that went ka-blooey because of others feeling a deep lack of trust in me.  I think about my oldest brother’s children, who had terrible experiences with me because of my conflicts with their dad – they were caught in the middle & I was too short-sighted & emotionally dumb to notice.  They have BIG trust issues with me, which I respect & grieve.  My oldest brother considers me a mega liar, my sister experienced me as toxic & my s-i-l once described me as the most psychotic person she knew.  I respect & grieve their feelings, especially when they bar the way to any sort of healing.

Praise be, Mom worked her way out of some of her most entrenched trust issues.  We used a quirk of hers to create an opening to greater trust.  John or I would be headed out & she’d say, “If you’re anywhere near the pharmacy, would you pick up…?

That might sound innocuous enough, but it  drove me NUTS.  “Mom, if you need us to pick up a prescription, just TELL us.”  The next time, same thing – “If you’re anywhere near…?

It broke my heart that she didn’t think needing it was reason enough for us to want to get it.  John & I came up with a plan – when she’d ask, we’d ask her, in turn, to make it a direct request, like “Could you pick up my prescription at Bethayres Pharmacy?”  Then, we’d make sure  to pick it up,  without having to be reminded – and it was a pleasure.

To me, Mom’s reluctance to ask directly showed a lack of  her trust in our willingness to help her out.  Praise be, she developed a stronger sense of  assurance that we honestly enjoyed doing her bidding & that we would let her know if it was inconvenient & when we could pick up her order.  We used drugs to build Mom’s trust muscle!

Trust can be lost in little, middling or big ways, but it can only be restored in small ones & over time.

People we trust have been there when we needed them – stopping by Gretchen & Andrew’s at 3:30 a.m. in the morning because Mom had fallen & was being taken by ambulance to the hospital & I’d blown off getting gas hours earlier, so we were driving on fumes to a hospital 10 miles away – without a moment’s hesitation, we swapped car keys.  (The EMTs found it way bizarre that we left in a silver sedan & arrived in a blue suv.)  It’s knowing your niece & nephew WILL get to your wedding weekend, even though it’s outside Philadelphia & they’re in school in NYC & Delaware.  It’s the people who are there to give hugs when most needed, even if they haven’t the vaguest idea why.

Trust is built in the smallest of moments.”  Today was a big trust builder with John – we were heading out this morning & we couldn’t find the small purse the keys are in.  It’s really hard to misplace this purse, since it is the head of a cat.  John names EVERYTHING, so it is called Pursey.  And there was no Pursey to be found, anywhere.

The right place to put the purse is in the key basket, but I’ve been known to put it next to the coffee pot or next to the laptop.  I searched my book bag, the pockets of my pants, checked out in the car – could not be found.  The appointment of John’s we were headed to was a wash.

And it took him a full hour before reminding me that HE had been the last one to drive the car.  At this point, I could have gone ballistic.  “Why didn’t you remind me of that earlier, as I was searching places where I might have left it!

It would have been such a good vent, but like holding a balloon when I was a kid – – something I really really really wanted,  quickly left me disappointed, dissatisfied.

I kept my mouth shut & left him to his search.  He called the friend he’d visited yesterday, the gas station where he’d stopped – nothing.

After two hours, we talked about how we approach situations.  I step back, calm my mind & wait for whatever to show up, either in front of me or in my mind.  Until this morning, John has bunched up, which only drives the energy of what’s been lost deeper & deeper into the dark.

Instead of getting snippy, I suggested he go through part of the meditation practice we do at Pura Vida – after a couple minutes, he realized that an even better activity for him would be to get in his daily walk, which he used to do listening to A.M. talk radio but now is music for the chakras.

A couple hours later, he came down to the Basement, where I was working.  He held out his right hand – there was Pursey!  “I was snugging with Sky (our small tuxedo kitty) up in the bedroom & was walking past the stuffies on the top of my bureau, when the brown shape of a cat’s head caught my eye.”  Bet it caught his heart, too!

Yesterday, instead of waking me up from a nap to ask, “Do you want to come with me to Bernie’s?” – code for “Would you drive?” – he drove himself (very rare), letting me sleep on.  When he came back, I was still zonked out.  My guess is he thought to himself, “I’ll just put Pursey right here,” tucking him in with the stuffies, “And she will be surprised to see him when she walks past!”  Except I didn’t see my purse, it had flipped over from its cat face to its brown back & John clear forgot his clever surprise.

After finding the missing Pursey, John rescheduled his morning event to late this afternoon.  All is well & I will be picking him up in about 45 minutes, at 9:00 p.m.  He will come home to a dinner of mac & cheese, a chilled Goslings Ginger Beer & a slice of pumpkin cheese cake.  Not exactly nutritious, but it will be spot on with my Hubster.

John & I have done post-mortems on our fracas since our earliest days.  The last couple years have been especially testy, probably because we’ve been on the cusp of making some mega serious breakthroughs on the cause of my still surfacing trust issues.  Today was one of several triumphs of relationship over fear.  It would have meant little without the other small but mighty victories that came before

Trust can be lost in a heart beat, but restoring it takes a long time & many moments of putting relationship – with the other &/or yourself – over ego.

If I had blown up this morning, gone ballistic over the irksome niggly bits & pieces that pester & fester relationships, tonight’s served-with-love dinner would have been an empty, albeit it tasty, gesture.  But this morning, when the moment of reckoning arose, we aced it.  So bring on the mac & cheese, the ginger beer & pumpkin cheese cake, served WITHOUT  a snide of  discordant undertones!


Author: auntdeev

playfulness coach, life enthusiast & general instigator, ENTJ, cat lover

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