Hi, my name is Tamlyn Ryan, I’m 21 years old and I have a, uh, problem…
Okay, so this is not some AA confessional piece because I’m not an alcoholic. I have never done drugs in my life or even smoked a single cigarette so I’m not a recovering addict either – though maybe I am suffering from withdrawal symptoms and I have gone ‘cold turkey’ because I’m part of a generation that no longer knows how to trust. In fact, I’d go so far as to say we don’t know how to form or sustain either friendships or relationships.
We’re scared of being hurt again so we don’t even try or we distance ourselves enough so that we even won’t run the risk of caring. We reckon we’ve been hurt enough… and if you get hurt enough times, you start to believe that is all that will ever happen to you, don’t you?
You start to mimic the person (and their actions) who you condemned, the person you pointedly criticised amongst yourself and others for acting the way they act. You turn into that self-same person… The one you swore to yourself (and to others) that you never would be remotely like.
You don’t try to connect with people, show them you really care or offer anything beyond the most basic of friendship and affection.
That’s when it’s convenient, mind… When they lose their shine or they start asking for you to help, to commit, to care, to trust on a serious, no, on a real level, oh, well, then you can’t… You just can’t.
“How can you ask that of me?” You begin to think, “I’ll give you money, time… Anything. Just don’t expect me to care, don’t ask me to trust you… I don’t trust myself so how can I trust you?”
What guarantee do I have that you won’t dump me like that last girl I fell for? Who says you won’t lead me on like that last guy I was dumb enough to love? Is there any proof that you will stay my friend when so many others have been ‘seasonal friends’*?
*(Note: my definition of seasonal friends is: The ones who pluck you when you’re ripe for the taking, when you are happy and hale and life is good but just let the winter winds start up and they’re gone before the snow has even settled.)
Don’t tell me you won’t be like her. Don’t say you won’t treat me the way he did. Don’t promise you’ll be my friend.
You can’t, you see… Because even if you promise that now, in a week, in six months or maybe even two years from now, things might be different. You might mess up, I might mess up… Things might go so horribly bad that we won’t ever be able to fix them.
More importantly though, we won’t even try. You’ll say it’s best to move on and wipe the slate clean, that you forgive me but maybe it’s too much to forget… and I will let you. Because the truth is, we don’t trust enough to go back and fight for what we had anymore. We were never taught to.
We don’t know what it means to wait six months to receive a letter – the only form of correspondence available back then – from a loved one fighting on the frontlines during WWI. We don’t understand that committing to someone or being ‘in a relationship’ used to mean more than zoning in on one person and occasionally going out with them. We can’t even hope to comprehend the concept of having an old friend… because our friends are all new and young and honestly, once we finish school or university, once we travel the world during a gap year or relocate for work purposes, we simply lose touch.
Friendships and relationships have always been hard… but we’re making them harder.
I have over a hundred friends on Facebook… Most of whom I have not seen or spoken to in over seven years and the rest of them… Well, I never really knew them very well to begin with but we met and spoke and they seemed like good people so we added each other on Facebook and suddenly we’re friends. They know if I’m single or taken. They know my likes and dislikes and occasionally the heavy thoughts or uplifting quotes that spill forth from my mind.
Yet, sadly, only a handful of those people know the colour of my eyes, the way I look when I am sad, pissed off or really, really happy, the sound of my voice and the fullness of my laughter… They might not know that I support Liverpool FC or that I just went to watch Mockingjay Part 2 but they know me. They actually want to, you see.
Those are people who would fight to stay in my life even if I was trying my hardest to stubbornly push them away. Those are people I could call in a moment of need and if they had the means to reach or help me, they would do anything they could to. Those are the people I know I can trust.
It’s not to say they’ve never let me down. It’s not to say I am the best friend, family member or loved one they’ve ever had or that I’m even deserving of their faith and affection… but those are people I want to want me because they are the ones I know I can’t live without. Not because I wouldn’t be able to survive without them… I am sure I could, people learn to adapt and we know how to get by… but because I wouldn’t want to ever not know them. They matter.
I have a lot of Instagram and Twitter followers too… These are mainly people I have never met and never will. They are people who like or comment on my photos and posts but they don’t know me from a bar of soap.
Do they trust me? No, why should they? Do I trust them? No, not particularly… but I’d like to. I would like to think that out of those 100-200 odd people, at least half of them are good but flawed people like myself, trying to make a difference every day in some small way.
I would like to trust that guy who was about to offer me a hand-up when I was struggling up Lion’s Head but chose to keep perfectly still instead when he saw the momentary but telling flicker of hesitation in my eyes.
If you look at the world and everyone in it with mistrust, then don’t expect them to go out of their way to act in a trusting manner or to trust you in return.
We don’t know how to trust… but isn’t it time that we learnt? We’re young, they say we can pick things up quickly at our age… They also say that you’re never too old to change.
Well, I think we are too scared to… and that’s the only thing holding us back.
You’re going to be hurt in life – and, as a result, you are going to have to decide who is worth hurting for.
You’re going to love people who never think twice about you… but that doesn’t give you a damn right to stop loving other people or the next one who comes along because of one bad experience or one human bond gone wrong.
You’re going to be used and abused in every single way possible to conceive with your mind during the course of your life, whether you live to be ten or a hundred… That’s okay. You’re a warrior and you will survive it… but no act of revenge, unkindness or bitterness will ever undo the wrongs done to you so make sure you don’t repeat someone else’s mistakes. Instead, be brave or wise enough to willingly choose to learn from them.
See how it feels to be hurt, to be hated, to be betrayed and rejected and then do your best to never ever make anyone feel that way again. Even if you have in the past… Even if you did today.
Learn to forgive, to love, to care and to believe in people until you have nothing left to give… When your life is over, make sure you go out knowing you used up all your goodness. It’s of no use to you or anyone else once you are dead and gone.
Be cautious – not callous. Take things slowly but don’t leave people hanging on by an uncertain string.
You don’t have to love or even like everyone you meet in life but don’t be like the rest of humanity who have chosen to hate without cause or reason or who use people only while they have need of them… We’re so much better than the people we have become.
You don’t have to keep everyone close… but sometimes it’s a tender mercy to hold onto people. One day, you might need them again… You might even miss them or wish they were still around, though we’re kind of bad at doing that nowadays too.
So yes, my name is Tamlyn, I’m 21 and I have a trust issue… But you know what? I’ve never let that stop me… So I’m not about to start.
Two years ago, I thought I had forgotten how to trust. I hadn’t… I just needed to re-learn that most delicate and risky of arts. I had to expose myself to the possibility of being hurt again because the alternative, the safer option of keeping my heart buried deep within me and never letting anyone else in again, was simply impossible for me to follow.
I am disgusted by the world’s ‘use and abuse’ mentality these days… I’m good at caring for people but I’m hopeless at using them… and yet, I know I still have.
I am sorry. I am sorry for everything I’ve done and everything I haven’t. I am sorry for not always knowing or being able to trust or treat the people I care for and love in a way I expect them to do for or to me. I apologise, too, to all those random strangers – especially to the man who tried to offer a helping hand – whom I have failed to trust… purely because the world tells me not to rather than because they broke or even activated my sense of trust.
Trust is fragile, trust is fickle – and being a trusting human is heartbreaking and cruel to the bone sometimes… but it’s also the most beautiful and otherworldly thing we can ever hope to achieve. It is its own reward – but like everything else that is worthwhile having in life, it comes at a steep price and it does not recover or spring back to life overnight.
It’s also like a muscle… If you never use it, it will eventually grow weak and almost useless. Every small, daily task you ask it to perform becomes a little harder or more taxing as time goes by. It grows weary or sore very easily and old, familiar chores require too much effort or pain to be borne.
Yet, if you use it, if you exercise it and keep pushing on through the pain, if you take time out for it to heal and slowly challenge it back up to optimal performance or capability, you will discover that it is far stronger and better than you ever imagined or hoped it could be.
You’ll be able to extend a helping hand without the promise of a reward. Your eyes will start to see the potential for good rather than hunting out the next mistake someone will make. Above all, though, your heart will be more receptive to love, friendship and human fellowship because it is something we all crave as humans and truthfully, it’s something we just don’t really know how to live without because we don’t want to… We weren’t ever meant to.
I don’t have much reason to go into 2016 with a trusting heart… but I’m going to do so anyway because that’s my resolution… learning to trust myself and others again.
Not because the alternative isn’t easier or ‘better’ – but because that choice is simply unimaginable to me.
I, like so many others out there (maybe even including you…) was made to love and to trust; it’s the only thing I know with any dead certainty that I am good at… and I’m not about to let myself or anyone else sabotage that going forwards. So bring on 2016… because I’m learning to trust again, darling.
Posted from WordPress for Android by T.A.Ryan