“Trust is a fragile thing – difficult to build, easy to break.”
– Peter Lerangis
Imagine someone has a very beautiful yet expensive, breakable object. He/she lends it to you to take care of. You have to do whatever you can to take care of it and take all precautions not to break it.
Now imagine that you did break it – it doesn’t matter how, all it matters is the fact that you did. You broke your friend’s incredibly expensive and beautiful object that he/she lent you. What would a normal reaction from your friend be? Most likely anger, disappointment, sadness, etc. What would your normal reaction be? Most likely, you would say things like, “I’m sorry”. You might even bargain – you will try and owe it to him/her, save your money to buy him/her a new one, etc.
But would you think your friend would ever trust you to take care of another expensive object again? Despite your remorse? Despite you trying to make it up to him/her?
Maybe. Maybe not. It’s up to him/her.
Now what would be an insolent response be to your friend’s feelings of you breaking his/her object?
“That’s your problem…That’s not my problem…Why are you overreacting? It’s just an object…You shouldn’t have given it to me…Oh, why can’t you forgive me?…You have no right to be angry/sad/upset in me!…It could’ve been a lot worst!” etc, etc.
Some of you might be shocked and think “Who would react in such a manner?” Most of you are smart enough to realize the expensive, fragile object is a metaphor for TRUST. Yes, let’s say you have just broken your friend’s/boyfriend’s/girlfriend’s/colleague/boss/husband/wife’s/family member’s trust. It doesn’t matter how you broke it (even if it was by accident), what matters is the fact that you did. He/she has a perfectly natural response to the fact that you broke it. Would you apologize? Would you try and make it up to her?
It’s time to be brutally honest with ourselves.
How many of us have cheated on a partner and said, “It was only a kiss. She/he still hasn’t forgiven me.”
How many of us have forgotten an important detail for work and still say, “It wasn’t my fault!”
How many of us let a secret of a friend slip in conversation and when word got around, you respond with, “What’s the big deal?”
How many of us have made an insensitive joke and when the person is hurt we respond with, “Stop being too sensitive! That’s your problem!”
Of course, to forgive is divine. But sometimes…we make it pretty damn difficult for them to forgive us – especially when we show no remorse or responsibility. If we have broken someone’s trust without taking responsibility, we are placing ALL of the emotional work on the other person because we are too lazy and cowardly to do any of the emotional work ourselves. We are putting them through all the emotional turmoil so that we can be “free” of it – yet imprisoning someone else, letting them suffer the feelings of anger, hurt, betrayal and even humiliation.
Right you are, Mr. Lee. It is courageous to admit to being “the bad guy” in a story. It is courageous to admit causing someone else’s hurt. It is cowardly to deflect and to shift blame. It is cowardly to find excuses. It is cowardly for blaming the victim for their very natural feelings. I can understand where this cowardice comes from – we think if we admit to one mistake, then perhaps all of the things about us is wrong (who here hasn’t suffered from low-esteem at some point?). Most of us think it’s strong self-esteem never to say, “I’m sorry” (yes, I understand there’s the other side of the spectrum where people who apologize too much, but this blog isn’t about that). But, it is actually a symbol of high self-esteem to say, “I’ve made a mistake. I’ve caused you pain. I’m sorry.”
I will not go into any further details about when people do apologize someone will take advantage of you saying “I’m sorry” to guilt-trip you about other things…if the self-esteem is strong, that guilt-tripping/manipulation will be easily recognizable. But I have never, in my life, ever stayed angry at someone who actually had the courage to apologize to me after hurting me deeply. It was like his/her “I’m sorry” and remorse somehow magically melted all my anger away. Of course…I will be careful with my trust. There were the few times I have learned to trust the person again who has broken it…other times, I just couldn’t.
If you have broken someone’s trust, you have no right to expect that person to trust you again EVEN IF you have apologized. If that person learns to trust you again, then thank your lucky stars. Seriously. DO NOT take that for granted. Trust is a GIFT. It is a very precious and rare gift. If they can’t trust you again…let them walk away. Let them learn to trust someone else (it’ll be very difficult for them to learn how to trust someone else too because they will always have that fear and trauma…the fear and trauma you have caused).
To all the people who have broken my trust: I have forgiven you. All of you.
Those who have “won back” my trust, you know who you are, and I love you so much.
To those whom I can’t trust again…please let me go. I hope you treat the next person’s gift of trust with more care. Forgiveness and trust do not go hand-in-hand.
To all the people where I have broken your trust: I am deeply sorry. I hope you are surrounded by trustworthy people in your life.
Trust is a very precious, rare and breakable gift…let’s learn to treat it as such.