My Big Fat Trust Issues

friends

“I believe people are wholly selfish. Why do I need them?” I asked with flat, thorough conviction. There was no quibble in my query. I wasn’t playing a game. He was a professional and the burden of proof lived on him.

After all, I was armed with forty years of evidence.

“Other people may need people. But not me. I have a vibrant relationship with Jesus, and He’s perfect and has no disguised agenda. He knows me completely, loves me anyway, and He is briefed on all facets of every circumstance of my life. Why would I invite other jacked-up people to drag their dysfunction into mine?” I sincerely continued.

I guess I’m a reformed loner. That dialogue was with my Christian counselor two years ago; I suppose he won the argument since I now find myself thick in genuine relationships. You see, my people are meeting at my house tonight. In fact, I should be vacuuming and hiding the disgust of our lives right now instead of this, but….

Last week I was five minutes late. And I was hosting. I ran in with 2/3 of my wet hair clipped to the top of my head, designated Meredith as the substitute hostess, and pointed them in the direction of the kitchen. I don’t think my dust bunnies will catch them off guard this week.

ladies group

These people are seventeen gals looking for a safe place for friendship and an honest pursuit of Jesus. We began meeting weekly a year and a half ago, and it’s ridiculous. I have cried, cussed, and gasped for air, suffocating from breath-snatching laughter. This is where I asked for prayer as I weaned myself off the anti-depressant. This is where we cry out for wisdom as we parent. This is where we admit we have lost the desire to read our Bibles. This is where we send each other heinous pictures of our morning carline attire and our mountains of laundry. This is where we have permission to be flawed.

laundry mountain

Our purpose is gritty. Because life is.

And then beyond that circle, there are a handful of people with whom I have no secrets. None. And there is no freedom that I have ever experienced like being fully known.

I have zero fear these people are checking out on me. If they had been that kind, I gave them ample reason to vamoose long ago. And they’re still kicking it around these parts.

So how did my counselor change my mind?

FOMO.

Fear of missing out. He sold me on the aspect of life I had never experienced – intimacy. He championed its benefits while acknowledging its risks.

“The real and probable risk of being hurt is worth the richness of relationship,” he lobbied.

I am no longer afraid people won’t love me if they really know me. I am no longer afraid people will use my feelings against me if I share them. I cannot remember the last time I intentionally walled people out to protect myself.

Am I speaking anybody’s language here?

As I learned through counseling, due to childhood trauma, some parts of me stopped developing at age 5. The ability to trust was one of them.

Now I still have some wonky defaults. I still automatically assume the worst about people. It’s my natural response, but I catch it almost immediately and recalibrate to truth and love. I still have to force myself to share with other people….even meaningless details about my life. Sometimes my internal exchange goes like this, “Cookie, you have to tell this. Not because it’s important but because you are committed to this relationship and sharing yourself in it. Now do it. It’s not optional. And it does matter.” I still have to bully myself into it at times.

I was recently told I had been described several years back as “a really neat girl that you’ll never get to know.” Absolutely nailed it.

And, fellas, after extensive conversations and expensive counseling sessions with my dude, you are often apt to live in this place too. Probably for different reasons, but the dangers of isolation are the same. You need other guys who will cut the BS and shoot straight. Who will challenge and support you simultaneously. You carry a weight we gals don’t acknowledge enough. You need the company of other men who shoulder the pressure to succeed and provide. You aren’t meant to be the lone ranger.

Because isolation is dangerous.

We need people to speak hope when our circumstances seem hopeless.

We need people to speak Truth when we are believing lies.

We need people to lend us strength and faith when we are thin.

And we need people to text us nutty YouTube videos and memes that make us snort cackle on a cold Thursday morning.

That’s how we’re built.

friends

So if your bicycle is stuck in the mud of distrust, and you’re exhausted from spinning that back tire and catching no traction, here are my suggestions:

  1. Be wise about whom you trust. My counselor suggested I test the waters with a couple of people before emptying all of my closets and dumping a heap of skeletons at their feet.
  2. EVERYONE needs at least one person they can tell EVERYTHING.
  3. For the most part, people are doing the best they know to do. When you get hurt, be wise, extend grace, and move forward in a healthy way.
  4. If someone breaks your trust, don’t allow it to negatively affect your capacity to trust others.
  5. Everybody needs a group. I highly suggest a same-sex group committed to real dialogue about real life.
  6. If you have trust/intimacy issues, Scary Close by Donald Miller is the best book I’ve ever encountered. If you don’t read, get the audio version.

As much as I hate to admit it – I was wrong. I do need people. And so do you.

Because YouTube wasn’t meant to be enjoyed alone.

[Feature Image: Mathias Klang]
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3 Comments

  1. Caren
    CarenReply
    January 21, 2016 at 1:17 pm

    I really needed this today, since my divorce I have completely isolated myself from women. Not one girl friend stuck by me in the hardest days of that ordeal and I have poured myself into prayer and Jesus. I seriously laughed out loud when you said you had Jesus why would you need anyone else? Because God has been pushing me to join a small group. I’m kicking and screaming the whole way. Thank you for sharing and reminding me to be obedient.

  2. Meredith T.
    Meredith T.Reply
    January 21, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    Touched home!!! I love this and you Cookie Cawthon!!!!!

  3. Martha David
    Martha DavidReply
    January 22, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    I’ve always needed one person, a best friend, and until 8 years ago, I had one. I’ve never thought about an intentional group but I enjoy groups of fun people who love Jesus. I don’t do isolation well. Not being able to drive for over a year or get out of the house much for two years before that, I find myself very much isolated and it sends me into the depths of depression. Isolation has made changes in me that I don’t like. What is really sad is the people I’m able to spend time with now are people who find themselves in similar situations. We have to get that if one of us is not well, plans to get together are canceled and scheduled for another day.

    I hate this life because, more than at any time in my life, I find myself in disagreements with people. Am I taking my dislike for isolation out on them? Mind you, it’s not the people that get people in poor health may often have to cancel plans. It’s just a few people and it’s people that I should be very close to. Right now, my sister isn’t speaking to me. I’m really not sure why but I think it’s because I went to see “Wicked” with a friend and she secretly wanted to have that experience and be able to know that I missed out on something special.

    Jesus, please help me! What a friend we have in You! But I know You want me to have peace, joy and the unconditional love of some women that I can spend time with!

    Thank you, Cookie! I needed this!

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