Thursday, June 17, 2010

Trust No One?

Oasis Reflection: On Trust During Troubled Times

David: Why do people do such terrible things?
Sophie: Like what?
David: Like beat people, and kill them, and make them prisoners.
Sophie: Most people don’t do that, David.
David: My friend Johannes always used to tell me, "Trust no one."
Sophie: Oh, life wouldn’t be worth living if you did that, David. You can be cautious, but you have to let people in.
David: How do you know if they’re bad or not?
Sophie: David, most people are good. They have families and friends, and they just want to live their lives as happily as they can. Oh there will always be bad people in this world and you will usually know them when you meet them, but sometimes you won’t. But you can’t let that stop you from living your life fully and freely. And making friends and seeing the goodness in people because if you can’t do that you will never find any happiness.

Do you ever wonder how you can trust again after a difficult experience? I admit that I struggle with this one. Sometimes I think I'm a bit like the 12 year old David in the quote above. He was taken by himself to a Bulgarian concentration camp when he was young because of his family's political beliefs. Growing up away from his family in a lackluster environment surrounded by guards who are quick to administer punishment changes the way he interacts with people. He forgets how to smile. When unexpectedly he is given a chance to escape, he sets off on a journey across Europe to Denmark carrying important secret papers which later turn out to be his personal identification and the information needed to reunite him with his mother.
The story is compelling, but it is his interaction with Sophie, the Swiss woman who helps him to get in touch with his mother that is the most moving. She is played by Joan Plowright, a favorite English actress who plays a similar role, Mary who takes care of Luca Innocenti, in Tea with Mussolini. Both Sophie and Mary are exactly the kind of people I admire. In both of these roles, we meet creative, self-sufficient yet engaged with others woman; these women are not afraid to reach out when help is needed. Admittedly, I like Joan Plowright best in Enchanted April, where she plays Mrs. Fisher, a woman whose feelings have contracted so much that she has lost the ability to feel compassion for others, but then her time in Italy thaws the her heart and she realizes the importance of yielding to creative impulses and allowing connection with others. (photos from Facebook fan page)

Why am I pulled toward this type of character? I think I have to continually learn the trust lesson. I imagine myself sitting down and discussing life over a cup of Earl Grey tea with a wise woman like Sophie. If I let my imagination go further, I can envision that I might be a woman like Sophie in the future...and maybe a little now. However, at the moment, I'm feeling more like David-cut off and fighting with my own emotional demons- I'm particularly battling with trust issues.

Perhaps you know that my own mother was murdered by a neighbor. (I have told the story before-just click the link.) I don't know if you realize how perplexing it is to that young person who resides in me -ever an innocenti- who cannot comprehend how someone familiar and well-known-a lifelong neighbor- could do something so drastically cruel.

You read about people- this past weekend in Puerto Rico, for example- who kill their own spouse or family, and then turn the gun back on themselves. It seems like such a foreign experience. You never think you will have to confront that type of situation with anyone you personally know.
I have never been able to connect the act of murder with the known person who was my neighbor.
Factually, I know he did it. I've looked at him in photographs and in court but it never made sense to me. I think about his behavior more as a symptom of society's sickness and lack of tolerance for others differences. I have to make myself remember that it was his hand that pulled the trigger. It was Jim Brooks who killed my mother and her partner, Christine.
No, even after writing that statement, it still feels remote.
While viewing I am David, I allow myself to feel upset. After the movie, I watch an episode of Friends and found it extremely amusing. I laughed out loud. I felt freer somehow and more open to all emotions. I know it is important to feel. I also know that trying not to feel leads to depression. Did you know that when you have trouble, it often acts like a trigger for a cluster of repressed feelings, and there are some things that you just don't want to remember. Noticing myself going through this emotional roller coaster made me realize that I need to remember to feel and allow myself to trust people again.
Sophie is right, "...there will always be bad people in this world and you will usually know them when you meet them, but sometimes you won’t. But you can’t let that stop you from living your life fully and freely. And making friends and seeing the goodness in people because if you can’t do that you will never find any happiness." I'll take that wise-woman's advice!


  1. I just feel to say : 'Trust in God, but tie up your camel'.

    Trust people warily. Give them the benefit of the doubt, but be alert if there is ANYTHING that gives you an 'off' vibe.
    Your mother's story is still shocking, no matter how many times I read it. I cannot imagine what it has been like for you. So Sorry.♥xx

  2. Cynthia, what a powerful post. These times are trying, indeed, and it's often impossible to feel trusting toward mankind in general.

    I read the link about your mother's death with great sadness. What a waste of a decent, productive, postitive life. Her legacy of power and promise lives on in you.

    You honor her by living life authentically.

  3. You've made me want to see that film the minute it comes out (on DVD that is - a film as good as this would never make it to the suburban cinemas of France where everything is dubbed mercilessly into French).

    Oh,what a reflective post, Cyn - and I woud imagine that you do live your life fully and freely but it still doesn't stop the melancholy creeping in from time to time. You've been through a lot you lovely woman.


  4. I don't know if life would be worth living if we couldn't love and trust others. I simply cannot wrap my mind around the level of hatred and utter disregard for the sacredness of life that took your mother and her partner from you. Because you were not raised to hate like this, you can't, either. I think that's a blessing.

    It's OK to speculate about what resides in a person's heart and mind. It's healthy to wonder. It's healthy to pay attention to nagging doubts about people. Sometimes I think our subconscious picks up on cues that our higher levels of thought try to squash. It's important to learn to listen to your inner voice.

    Hugs to you, Cynthia. The story of you always takes my breath away.

  5. Natalie, great advice. Thanks for your warm presence here. xx
    Jo, thank you. I appreciate you reading my story and your compassion!
    Mrs. FF, you do understand me so well. I hope you are able to see the movie, and don't be surprised when you realize that I've focused on just a tiny part of the film-just the part that stands out in my mind. Thanks for your kindness. xx
    Rudee, Trust is a complex issue and I think you are correct when you point out that our inner voice knows more than we allow. I have to battle with the loud anxious voice quite a bit. It makes it hard to listen to the wiser, softer and more sound advice. ((xo))

  6. Powerful post, Cynthia. I like how you can take this personal tragedy and share with us what you've learned. Love-love Joan Plowright!

  7. Hi Cynthia
    You know we share in the murder of a parent --my dad was killed by a deranged employee who also attempted to kill three others in the store. It is a sadness and loss and a sense of injustice that we will never recover from. But yes, the world still holds joys and happiness and we have had to go on without him, as you've had to go on without you Mom.

    I like Joan Plowright and all her movies very much! Wonderful actress!

  8. Hi Cynthia,

    I've read here before without commenting but feel compelled to leave a messege. Thanks for sharing such a heartfelt and personal post. You've pinpointed how integral trust is to human connection in all its forms. I too will see this film. I wish you joy!

  9. Cynthia, I'm finally getting around to leaving a comment here on your blog & following it. I read it often, but had overlooked clicking to follow until today.

    Your post brought to mind a recent event in my own life that necessitated me breaking ties with someone who had been a close friend. While I in no way compare this to the emotional fallout that a death by murder causes, what resonated for me was the comment about authentically experiencing emotions. That's a lifelong lesson I think we all wrestle with!

    In my past, years ago, when someone around me inflicted harm, I would immediately forgive and shove my own feelings to the back burner. I would make the world okay for the person who had trangressed, forgiving way too quickly without giving myself time to process through my true emotions. While I am very intentional with forgiveness, I now take more time with the whole process, and I no longer ignore my own true emotions. I allow myself to feel anger, betrayal, indignation, sadness, etc., in order to process through those feelings. This is a much healthier & respectful approach to life for me and allows me to feel more settled when a difficult decision is necessary. By feeling those true emotions and processing through them, I can then leave them behind and move forward without a ton of emotional baggage & regrets dragging me down. Forgiveness after processing my emotions is a more solid, sincere and lasting form for me. Of course, it is an ongoing process and I'm still learning as I go along in this Earth School!

    I enjoy your thoughts so much, my friend, and will return often!


  10. Willow, thanks for leaving a comment. I always appreciate your visits.

    Pat,my heart goes out to you. I know that you are a private person and that makes me realize what a gift you have given me by sharing your story. I send you a big ((hug)).

    e,thank you for deciding to connect and share your thoughts on trust and joy. I wish you goodness and love!
    Dawn,thank you for writing such a heartfelt reply. I think we share the forgiveness (but too fast) trait. Sometimes I don't even recognize when I'm angry-I mean on important issues because I can feel anger for minor transgressions...and it evaporates-just like that! It's the stronger emotions that get denied...I don't even recognize them.
    I so appreciate your Healing Morning walk a healing path and I appreciate that you share it with others. Namaste, my new friend, and xx


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