Narcissus' Echo

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A round peg in a world of square holes...

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Forgiving hurt versus trust: worlds apart

Note: The contents of this post applies to me only. Any references outside of myself (other than Linda's post, which served as a source of inspiration) are purely unintentional.

Read Linda's post a week ago, and it has been fomenting in my mind ever since. My first reaction was to dismiss it as an invitation to an indulgent exercise in self-pity. In fact, I even recalled a poem by David Herbert Lawrence:

Self-Pity (1928)

I never saw a wild thing
sorry for itself.
A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough
without ever having felt sorry for itself.

Stoicism is a great trait, IMHO. It allows one to soldier on even if the world is crumbling all around. But there is a very real danger of mistaking denial for stoicism. And it is denial that keeps us back. Denial that chains us to the past. Because when we deny the hurt that was committed against us, we reside in that period before the hurt / betrayal / insult / attack / disappointment occurred. I am no psychologist, but I reckon this is a very large part of what holds us back.

Acknowledgment of the hurt caused, and recognition that things have changed, and may never be the same again is the first step towards liberation of the self.

I started rock climbing at the end of my secondary school (high school) years. When I was 16, my mother was chasing a cockroach with a can of bug spray when the critter dashed across my bundle of rope. Needless to say, the coil received a liberal dose of insecticide-laden oil. Now, climbing ropes are made of specially treated nylon fiber that stretches slightly under load. That way, the shock to the falling climber's body is greatly reduced. However, this treatment renders the fibers extremely susceptible to contamination. Oils, acids and solvents can dramatically reduce the strength of the rope, with no visible changes to the material.

Understandably, I was upset. It would cost SGD$280 to replace the rope. I am no son of a tycoon, so, at 16, $280 is a princely sum to me. But I could no longer trust that rope with my life and limb. Sure, I could practice "selective vision" and pretend the rope is all right, much like how the spouses of alcoholics, drug addicts and wife-beaters pretend that their husbands are just, honorable men. I was the only one in possession of that knowledge. And if my climbing buddies used the rope, as long as I shut my mouth, they would never know.

But what if?

What if it breaks?

The question haunted me. I couldn't use the rope again. I just couldn't. The trust is gone. I scrapped it. I saved up for a new rope.

The loss of trust, I believe, is why I walked away, walk away, and will continue to walk away from friendships and relationships I cannot or refuse to fix. I cannot--will not--put myself in situations where trust can be violated. I will not be left hanging. I will walk off before the rug is yanked from under my feet, thank you very much.

Trust forms the foundations of relationships, friendships, etc. There are ground rules to follow, and you rely on each other's roles within those rules. When trust is broken, then what is the point of the relationship or friendship? Why hang around to wait and see if the situation deteriorates?

Will you rappel off a cliff on a rope that may be unsound?

Will you SCUBA dive with regulators that may or may not deliver air?

Are you going to comfort yourself that perhaps you will have grown wings by the time the rope breaks?

Are you going to hope that when both regulators fail, you would have evolved gills?

Shall I continue to use that rope, rationalizing with gratuitous sentimentality, "Oh, this rope and I have such a long history together. I am sure it will never let me down"?

Let go of pain, yes, but do not be deceived into thinking that trust is regained.

Linda, I salute you for having the courage to risk what I can't and won't--our emotional sides.

Be careful and good luck.


Blogger Linda Chia said...

To allow oneself to experience the wide spectrum of a human's emotions, is to have truly live.

I allow my heart to be broken, but not my soul.

11:37 PM  

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