I've been thinking a lot lately about trust. Trust is such a core value of mine.
I trust that most people don't intend to cause others harm.
I trust that my partners, my friends and others I surround myself with are mostly honest.
I trust in my own mind.
I trust in my own body.
I trust that most people will strive to respect me and my wishes, whenever that's possible for them.
And once that trust, any trust, is shown to be misplaced.. That hurts. For example, I can no longer fully trust my own mind and body. I'm currently hormonally unstable and struggling with depression. This means I'm biased whenever I'm interpreting events and sensory input, giving more credence to the negative than the positive. I also have slightly reduced cognitive function (another gift from the depression), meaning that my ability to multitask and concentrate is poorer than I'm used to. This makes me unsure of myself, angry with my own mind and body, and frustrated that something I thought was trustworthy, actually isn't.
Similarly, a scandal is currently wrecking my extended circle of friends. Three men that "everyone" knows really well, have been convicted of sexually abusing a girl (whom "everybody" also knows) below the age of consent. The girl is now about 20 years old, but back then she was 14-15 years of age. The men were not only legally adult, two of them were over twice her age. They abused the trust of a child. And indirectly, they abused the trust of everyone else who knows them. Or thought they knew them.
This scandal has triggered a wave of discussion and debate about what's ok and what's not, who you can flirt with, how far you can go etc. Mostly good and constructive, with the goal to fight rape culture and prevent similar incidents. However, there's also been a fair amount of finger pointing, as more and more incidents come to air. Mostly not abuse or rape or anything, but definitely things that aren't ok for one person to do to another. And it's made me question the moral integrity and trustworthiness of... everyone. There are so many nasty, terrible incidents out there. And these people just walk about their daily life, either completely ignorant or just not caring about what they've done! It's made me feel like nobody is trustworthy. It's made me question whether I'm trustworthy, myself. What might I be ignorant of? Who's limits might I have stepped over, who's consent might I have violated?
Now, I know logically that this isn't true. Most likely, I've not abused anyone. Most likely, most people haven't. But as I've previously stated my mind isn't completely trustworthy either, so I can't really stop these thoughts. I can't help feeling hurt and distrustful. Of everyone, a bit.
Today, my mind received another "proof" of how you can't actually trust anyone:
I love my work place and most of my colleagues are awesome people. For this reason, I've confided in my team mates, and told them that I'm polyamorous (and roughly what that entails). It makes my day-to-day interactions with them easier, as I don't have to make up mini-lies or lies-by-omission. For example when we discuss what we did that weekend, what our vacation plans are, who that was who just called me, and a million other mundane situations where the mention of someone's significant other(s) would be a natural part of the conversation. I've been very clear, every time I tell this to someone new, that I don't want them to discuss this with others. I want to control who knows and who doesn't. This is a big deal to me, which is something I make very clear.
Today, I learned that one of my colleagues have told someone else. Another colleague of ours, who did NOT know beforehand. This new colleague was not told that this was some big secret and that she shouldn't keep sharing it. No, my secret was apparently spread matter of factly and without much thought. Not much malice either, or so I keep telling myself, but no thought as to the consequences of what had been done. Or what the consequences might be for me.
When I learned of this, I was shocked and hurt and sad and angry. However, instead of growing sullen, glaring at people or talking about them behind their backs, I tried to behave as though we weren't in high school anymore... So after doing a bit of digging to find out who had rattled, I went to confront that person directly. She was upset and sad, and eventually apologized. I believe her when she says she didn't mean anything by it, that she just hadn't thought it through. And sure, everyone can slip up and make mistakes. However, once that mistake was made I would have expected her to come to me and fess up... Instead, I had to find out from somebody else.
And yet, rather than taking responsibility for her actions and handling the consequences... She grows sad, sullen, withdraws and blames others. She blames the woman who told me about it. And she blames me. Apparently, she "didn't know it was such a big deal". There was also an attempt to make me feel guilty that she's now distraught and upset. Making ME the "bad guy" in this, and not the victim.
So I'm angry, and sad, and I feel betrayed. I thought I could trust her, but I can't. And because, like I said, I can't trust my mind to be objective... I'm not so dead certain that she's wrong... Not as certain as I'd like to be. Maybe I really am making too much out of this? Maybe this shouldn't hurt me as much as it does? Maybe I'm the one making the drama, maybe I'm the one who's ruining the work environment? After all, if I hadn't reacted this way, but just shrugged and let it go, no one else would have been hurt. Just me.
Am I wrong to raise the issue? To speak loudly of that which bothers me? To work to prevent it from happening again? Is everything ok, if I'm the only one being hurt?
My trust has been betrayed. That hurts. It's ok to hurt. And voicing my concerns and telling people how their actions have affected me, is the only way there will ever be change. It's the only way to avoid a similar issue in the future. The fact that I happen to be the victim is incidental. The members of my work team speak freely to each other about all kinds of private things. Something else could have been shared. Something worse, for someone else. This problem of gossip needed to be addressed. The thoughtlessness of it. Maybe people will think some more, next time, before sharing someone else's personal story?
I can should "no!" to my heart's content. I can try to convince myself that I'm right to be hurt, and right to try to do something about it. But it's difficult! I'm so unsure of myself, and my brain keeps tricking me. It keeps making these broad generalizations, telling me that everything is black and white: If these (few!) people aren't trustworthy, that means nobody is trustworthy. If those two people spoke of me behind my back, that means everybody does. If everyone is already speaking of me being my back, that means they don't really like me. They are just pretending to like and accept me to my face, and then they snigger whenever my back is turned.
I've had these negative thoughts in other social settings before, but usually not at work. My workplace has been a safe haven for me, much like the BDSM scene is. A place where I knew I could be myself, say (mostly) whatever I wanted, and be accepted and respected regardless of how weird or different I was. A place where my competence is appreciated, and where I get respect from my peers. I feel like that safe haven has been stolen from me. That one act, that one betrayal, stole that from me. And I will have a very, very hard time feeling really safe at work again.
I know, logically, that this was one person. One mistake. One. Amongst many, many people who care about me and respect me and wish me well. And yet my mind cling to this one incident. It digs up similar things that happened when I was a child, and later a teenager. Times when I trusted someone, confided in them, only to later have it thrown back in my face by someone else. My trust betrayed, my confession ridiculed. Being isolated. Alone. Disliked. Nobody to confide in, nobody to trust.
I'm not sure how to handle that right now. It's one thing too many. I'm really sad, and I'm not sure how to get out of it. So I write. It helps me sort through stuff, analyze and re-focus. And I cry. Sometimes, that helps too.