Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Reflections of a Schmuck

I wonder how different my life would be if I weren’t so doggone trusting. There have been times when I thought it’s a good thing to trust other people, but today, I’m not so sure.

I got burned. I trusted someone completely, only to learn that this person had lied, cheated and stolen from me. Now, I know that there are people who do such things. And I’m realistic enough to acknowledge that this is fairly common behavior in our world. So, I can accept the fact that a person could do such despicable things. I get that. But that it would be THIS person, someone I was so sure I could trust, leaves me feeling like my guts have been tossed into a blender.

No, this isn’t the first time in my life when I’ve trusted someone who betrayed that trust. It's happened a lot. And I’m starting to think I may have a problem in that regard. I may be too trusting. When I first meet someone, I’m always cautious. But once I let my guard down, I’m ripe for the picking. I’ve never thought of myself as naïve, but maybe I am. I do know that when I trust, I trust completely. It’s hard for me to trust someone a little.

Why am I such an easy mark? Some of it, I suspect, has to do with an overpowering need I have to be loved. It’s not something I’m particularly proud of, but I’ve grown to accept it as a part of who I am. I need to be loved so much that I have been known to allow that need to over-ride my better judgment. So I tried to overlook the unfaithfulness of my first husband. And I denied the obvious deceit of a second one. How could I have been so stupid? I feared the consequences of facing the truth because it meant losing the love I so desperately needed. The thought of that was more painful to me than facing the truth and taking care of my own best interests.

Another reason why it’s so easy for me to trust those who aren’t trustworthy is that I make the mistake of thinking other people are like me when it comes to honesty. There is not a dishonest bone in my body. (Okay, maybe there are a few tendons and ligaments, but none of the major bones.) If I lie, I get physically ill. I mean that literally. And I assume that other people are the same way. This is especially true with those I become close to. I know that I would never deceive them, so I can’t imagine that they would ever deceive me.

Oh, let’s face it. I’m a schmuck, plain and simple. I try to convince myself that trusting others is admirable by going to a poem that’s attributed to Mother Teresa: “People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway….” I'm not convinced today. And then I think of that wonderful quote from Anne Frank, “Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.” Yes, what a wonderful perspective on life! But now I’m remembering that this was something she wrote in her diary before some of those really-good-at-heart people drug her off to a concentration camp and killed her.

Despite the fact that I know in my head why I have reason to hope, sometimes despair gets the best of me and threatens to crush my spirit. The only thing I can do to combat it is offer deepest thanks for all the trustworthy people God has sent to be a part of my life’s journey. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to go on. Yes, this is one of those days when I’m convinced that people who are “really good at heart” are truly the exception in this world, but that just makes them all the more valuable to me.

1 comment:

Kathy said...

Nancy, thank you so much for your insights and for validating my feelings about "tongue bridling". Loved your hurricane metaphor about the Democratic Convention arriving in Charlotte.

On a more serious, note,when I look in the mirror, I am not sure who I am seeing. Still haven't figured that our=t after almost 60 years one earth. You are reminding me to keep trying.