February 1, 2013


At my gym, most people leave their jackets on the hanger rack near the changeroom lockers and their shoes or boots underneath rack while they work out. We keep our other clothes and valuables in the lockers themselves, but nobody really wants to have their jacket crushed into that small space.

Last fall, I came back from my workout and realized that my jacket was gone.

My shoes were still there, under the jacket, and the shirt that I had with the jacket was still hanging right where I left it, but my grey jacket — my favorite jacket — was gone. Someone had stolen it.

These days, I stuff all my belongings — clothes, bags, jackets, shoes — into the small lockers when I work out. While, for the most part, the people that come to my gym are nice and honest and I don’t need to take such precautions, my trust in that changeroom has been shattered.

Last year, the best and deepest friendship I’ve ever had, the strongest and most fulfilling relationship I’ve ever had, ended, and ended badly. I won’t get into details, but the end came because of actions that were hidden, feelings that were unspoken; the end came because we each hid secrets under a veil and eventually they destroyed us.

I’m convinced that, had certain things been spoken and disclosed, that had we both been honest about things and not had to reluctantly drag the truths from each other, the friendship could have been salvaged. While it would have changed and it wouldn’t have been the same, our forthrightness could have helped maintain something special between us. Instead, I spent a significant part of the year devastated and struggling, and still am hurt from separation, betrayal, and loss.

When she walked away from me, exactly a year ago today, she didn’t just break my heart — she destroyed my trust.

Since then, I have been jaded, cynical; since then I have been reticent to put my faith in others or to believe in the goodness of the people around me. I’ve stopped trusting people, trusting circumstance, and worst of all, I’ve stopped trusting myself. I am wary, and I approach life with a hesitation — hesitation that I never had, as I always lived with reckless abandon.

Every year, I pick a word to guide the year ahead. When 2013 rolled around, I still wasn’t quite sure what that word would be, but now, a month into the year, I think I’ve got it figured out.

This year, I’m going to start to trust again.

Trust is a good word because it will encourage me to trust in other people and not automatically assume that they will hurt me; right now, I’m struggling to open up to anyone because I am scared that they will leave. Trust is apt because it will also allow me to have faith in circumstance and in my responses to the challenges the world throws at me.

Most of all, trust will remind me to trust myself. In the devastation of last year, I lost a large part of who I am, and I continue to struggle to find myself. Part of that struggle is not allowing myself to trust in my abilities, thoughts, and actions. I second-guess myself, everything I do — on a fateful week of 2012, I was made to feel unimportant, unloved, unwanted, and unnecessary. I still harbor those feelings one year later, so I need to trust myself that I am, at my core, okay.

That will take time — any efforts in self-worth and self-esteem are hard and I still have many (daily, hourly) moments when I feel worthless and when I hate myself — but this year I will focus on trusting myself to let myself be me.

The first time I lost my phone last year (I lose my phone often these days, it seems) I was sure that it was gone forever. Instead, a young man named Daniel found it, and went out of his way to return it to me. He didn’t accept a reward, and barely accepted my thanks.

Prior to last year, I believed that everyone was that good, that everyone was kind and honest and loving. I trusted everyone, I wore my heart on my sleeve. Then, everything changed, and I locked myself in an icebox that was cold, calculating, and mostly impenetrable.

Daniel, and so many other people who love and care for me, keep reminding me that the world isn’t as horrible as I feel it is, these days. This year, I’ll trust them, and myself, to keep that positivity.