Let me begin by saying for the record that trusting anything or anyone has always been difficult for me. I don’t trust my gut, I rarely trust other people, and when I am hurt by a friend – or anyone for that matter – due to trust, or lack thereof – I blame myself. As a child, I trusted everyone I met, giving no thought to things such as betrayal, pain, suffering…it’s a shame we grow up and lose that innocence. Some days I wish I had it back; other days I’m glad I have my wall built around me – and only I have the ability to tear it down brick by brick.
Trust is one of those words that people toss around like they do the word Love. Both can be shown or said, but the true meaning behind it can be frivolous. In my case of trusting others, it is like eggshells and steel. Fragile in the beginning, strong when gained, but impenetrable when lost. Seems like every day I am faced with this quagmire between my heart and my head – do I take a chance and trust or keep myself safe behind my wall? The majority of days, it is the latter. Anyway, when asked to write a post about trust and my experiences with it, several scenarios in my life come to mind. There have been many recent examples; however, I am staying away from those because they are too raw and as I write this, I am not up to debating with myself again about what I did wrong.
I met my first best friend in grammar school; Nita and I were in the same sixth grade class and we automatically clicked. To this day, I don’t know why. She was prettier, more fashionable, skinnier and her family had more money than mine did. But we were joined at the hip every day and because she lived around the corner from me, we hung out after school too. Once we started junior high, our relationship changed a bit as friendships often do. She became more interested in boys, clothes, music and especially sex. None of that interested me at the time so I was forced to do my own thing – whatever that was. Our relationship suffered a lot throughout school – mainly normal teenage maladies – jealousy, fighting, anger, feeling left out and deserted…I could go on and on. After high school – during which we never spoke or saw each other – I never saw or heard from her again. I never even thought about her – not once.
Five years later when I was 23 and still living with my folks, I was at home and heard a knock on the front door. When I opened it, to my surprise Nita was standing right there. As the saying goes – you could have knocked me over with a feather! Being the trusting person that I was at the time, I was so happy to see her; she hugged me as she walked through the door, smiling and laughing that I looked good and it was great to see me again. We spent some time catching up and it was during this conversation that she asked me if I wanted to look for an apartment together. Thoughts of our former friendship immediately came rushing back and I immediately said yes. My folks weren’t too happy – they were never a fan of Nita’s and told me flat out that they didn’t think it was a good idea. I should have listened to them.
We found a place right away, a nice little townhouse across the street from the same high school that we graduated from. We shopped for furniture together, stocked the kitchen together and made decisions on the decor together. The first couple of months were great – we were living as roommates and I was happy to be out on my own. After that second month, her boyfriend – whom I never knew about – started spending more and more time at our place. Jimmy was bad news – I knew it from the moment I met him. He was into drugs, had been arrested several times for stealing and dealing, and in all honesty I was afraid of him. Eventually he pretty much moved in and with him the parties and drug deals too.
I felt like an outsider – my space had been violated and I was no longer welcome in my own home. My bedroom – which was also my living room and dining room at this point, was my only solace. The only time I left it was to go to work or to the bathroom. I ate out or at my folks’ whenever I could and it took me awhile to realize that this was the reason that Nita showed up at my front door a couple of months prior. She needed another person – that her parents liked – to live with so that she could eventually live with her boyfriend.
Each day was more hellish than the next. Nita and Jimmy turned the closet in her bedroom into a marijuana greenhouse complete with florescent lights. The plants grew, drug deals were made, parties were had – by the time month four hit, I had had enough. I came home from work one evening and Nita and Jimmy were sitting on the couch – of which I had paid half – and Jimmy had a knife in his hand. He looked at me in a way that still haunts me to this day and said with a rage in his voice I will never forget, “Who has been fucking with my plants?” Nita just sat there with her arm around him, not saying a word. “I don’t know what you are talking about,” I replied. And then he came at me. I ran, but he grabbed me, put the knife to my throat and asked me the same question in a calmer, more sinister tone. I was even more terrified; I started to cry and screamed that I didn’t know. Nita must have started to get scared too, because she finally found her conscience and screamed at Jimmy to stop. He let go of me and I ran out the front door to my car and drove straight to my folks. I never went back.
Thank God for my parents, who along with several friends moved me out of there the next day. I made arrangements with the rental office to pay my half of the rent directly to them until our lease was up. I never knew or cared what happened to Nita and Jimmy; I do know that when they eventually did move out they trashed the place and because my name was still on the lease, I was responsible for the charges. Luckily, again the apartment complex worked with me to pay my half. I don’t know if they ever collected from Nita.
It is because of this one incident a lifetime ago that I rarely trust anyone. Those people in my life that have earned my trust today don’t take it for granted, and those that lost my trust will never get it back. As I get older, I have no time for people who don’t know or care about the meaning of trust. I just don’t have the patience anymore. My heart is mine and I will not give a piece of it to anyone who treats my feelings as an afterthought.
If there is an upside to this story, Nita did reach out to me about five years ago via Facebook. She was married (not to Jimmy), living in California with her husband and two kids, and saw the posts about the passing of my dad a few weeks prior. She said she was going to be in town the following week and asked if I would be willing to meet for dinner. Primarily because I was curious, I said yes.
We had a good dinner; we actually laughed as we talked about old times, and she even broke down and cried as she apologized for the hell that she put me through all those years ago. I accepted her tears of “please forgive me” at face value and promised to keep in touch. I called her when my mom passed three years later and she was very comforting and supportive and said how much she loved both my parents. She reacted like a friend should.
Am I glad I saw her and that I reached out to her as well? Yes. Do I trust her? No. And I never will.