Trust. It's an inside job.

Can I trust you? 

It's question numero uno when it comes to matters of the heart. Some offer trust freely until it is compromised... others say hell no to that, insisting that trust be earned. Either way, most of us desire reliability in intimate connections. We hold high standards for truth and demand loyalty in our associations. Damned straight. Nothing wrong with that. 

Yet how do we trust another without giving away our power?

It's a fine line, isn't it?... for to trust is to place emotional security in the hands of another. One might even go so far as to say that, in trusting someone, we rely on them to navigate life in a way that promises not to unsettle us. Sound far-fetched?... maybe, but this co-dependent definition of trust is a common romantic notion that leads to a whole helluva lot of suffering in the world. 

The truth is, trust means different things to different people. 

It's near impossible to create concrete guidelines for what exactly constitutes trustworthiness. Regardless how noble the intention, trust can never be guaranteed for it is far too subjective to pinpoint. Some say I'll trust you if you never lie, others consider trust a reward for the overriding of sexual urges... others allow greater freedom as long as they experience loyalty and someone who stays when the going gets rough. While these parameters may overlap, at other times they contradict one another... not to mention they attempt to control and systematize intimate connection - perhaps the most illusive human endeavor there is.

In fact, I've seen relationships crumble through well-meaning efforts to instill trust. Perhaps one partner conjures the courage to offer full emotional disclosure, only to very soon retreat back into silence due to the emotional backlash they receive upon sharing a hard truth. Little by little, trust is compromised, not solely because of the cold hard facts of life's many influxes, but also due to the ways our wounds lash out upon hearing the beautiful-ugly truth we were so sure we could handle. The grown-up parts of us long for emotional transparency; yet, our childlike-primal selves are still learning to navigate it. 

It's always a gamble trusting someone... anyone. AND it's most definitely a two-way street. If you want true mutuality of intimacy then you'd better be ready to hear things that sting and/or rock you to your very core.

Will you hurt me? Yes. Probably.

On the surface it seems so simple. If people just tell the truth and keep their word, then no one will get hurt. I'm sure you know by now, that's not at all how it works. The heart doesn't keep score, nor will it always move in the direction of reason. Thus, when you base trust (and good favor) on predictability and someone pledging allegiance to live his or her life according to your edges, get ready to have your boundaries challenged again and again. 

Please don't get me wrong, I'm not at all saying we shouldn't hold people accountable for their emotional indiscretions or misrepresentations of fact. I'm just inviting you to take a closer look... strongly advocating that someone be trustworthy might also just be another way that you defer to others, escaping the real work of facing your vulnerability and owning it as power. 

For example: Are you making someone else wrong for being true to themselves, denying your power to have a say (and be at play) in how you are "being treated?" You can turn that pain into power by first admitting that the perfection of trust is an illusion. 

In relationship, someone is always sure to step out of bounds. 

Why? Because no matter how much we line up with others, we are always and will evermore be sovereign creatures with unique desires and ways of moving in the world. The more you deny that reality, the more often life will step in to remind you.

Now believe me, trust is important to me... I know all too well that when trust is violated it sucks royally. And this is true however it goes down: through overt deception - conscious misrepresentations or lies of omission... and/or via a change of heart - what happens when the soul is called to alter its course and loved ones experience the fallout. While the latter is certainly my preference, it can still hurt like hell. Heartbreak is a bitch no matter how ya slice it. 

Nevertheless, change WILL happen, and sometimes it isn't so pretty. We can hope for and call upon the very best in people, yet we are ALL equipped with a shadow capable of unleashing hell, especially upon those who love us most. 

Are you putting your trust in the right hands?

Trust is an inside job. If you really want mutuality of intimacy in your relationships, you've got to put self-reliance at the center. You are in charge of your needs - expressing them and creating boundaries in response to those around you, every step of the way. 

I'm not implying that another's indiscretion is your fault... not at all. Life isn't always fair. You won't always get to choose which of your edges you work (at least not consciously). However, you CAN choose to trust in yourself and your power to respond more gracefully to the hand you are dealt. 

What will you do when someone's choices challenge your own sense of justice? 

Will you condemn them? Or will you forgive and forget? 
Will you inch-in closer? Or will you create space between you?
Will you make them the enemy? Or will you be your own advocate by owning your edges? 

There is no right answer. It's your choice, always. TRUST YOURSELF to show up when you need you most. Self-reliance becomes the ultimate eternal vow. You are no longer a victim of betrayal when you take your power back and own your responses to life.