Why Bother to Trust Again?

Why Bother To Trust Again?

To trust and rely on others is a basic human need. But, when that trust is broken our hearts break, our defenses go up and we become guarded individuals. Our thinking shifts after an experience of shattered trust. We may think that our best defense from ever feeling disappointment in someone again is to keep ourselves from ever trusting anyone again. It is a natural response. But, just because it is natural does not make it good. The very thing that reinstates us to experiencing faith in others is the very thing we resist: trusting once again.

Broken Trust

It can be difficult to think of ever trusting someone again. Being vulnerable may feel impossible, even life threatening. When we’ve counted on someone to be there for us and they are not, our thinking shifts, not only about them specifically, but about everyone in general. We may no longer believe that anyone is trustworthy.  

When my father ended his own life, my defense shields went up. Suddenly what had once felt like a reliable world, suddenly became chaotic and confusing. I found a way to survive such a thing as my father’s suicide, but when I grew into an adult, every person I encountered was suspect to leaving me high and dry just as my father had.  

Distrust, unlike a physical defect, is something disguisable. It can be covered over with busyness, maintaining an impeccable appearance or putting on a false bravado. Though mistrusting individuals may wear a hard outer shell of protection, our thin veneer covers a heart longing to believe in someone. We wish for someone whom we can rely on. But letting down the guard is too risky. To trust again means we could get hurt again. 

To trust again is a risk. We have to decide if the gamble is worth taking. Yet, remaining a distrustful person has its disadvantages too. There is the problem of loneliness, isolation, self-medicating, one way conversations, unresolved anger and depression. 

When we are hurt by someone whom we thought trustworthy, we don’t have to throw out the rest of humanity. Not everyone is a suspect. To allow others back into our lives means taking baby steps of courage. And baby steps of courage can lead to gaining confidence once again in another human being. 

Why bother trusting again? It is worth trusting again when you consider the alternative of distrusting and being alone.

Why Bother Breaking the Silence?

Why Bother Breaking the Silence?

We all start out as children. We all grow up within a unique environment we call 

our family. We were all shaped by the people in our childhood and memories formed from the events in our early lives. 

Family Memories

My siblings, the ones with whom I share childhood memories, are unique individuals with their own personalities. We all have our own version of our family vacations, our clunky old blue station wagon and our beloved dog Bubbles. My siblings and I also share another memory, the death of our dad who took his own life at the age of 49. 

It was an intense and difficult experience for all of us. Suicide was an unmentionable topic, and made our grief impossible to share. So, like silos on a prairie, we stored away our sorrows. We silenced our sadness and hid it from one another for years, until a most unusual event occurred; the Chinese virus. For some this catastrophic event was deadly, for everyone it was a depressing time. 

Yet, right in the middle of it one of my sisters concocted a plan to keep the seven siblings connected. She gave her idea a name, The Macek Maverick calls and in the spring of 2021 sent out an email to everyone explaining her project. 

At first, I deleted her email. I’d experienced these types of calls before. Near the end of Mom’s life, we’d had several family phone calls trying to decide how best to care for Mom. But the older siblings talked over the younger ones, emotions ran high and chaos reigned. 

But I was curious and after a few weeks went by, I asked the sister who best understands me, if she’d participated in any of the Macek Maverick calls. She told me she had and encouraged me to do so because I was the only voice that wasn’t being heard. Everybody but me was participating. 

The following week I took a leap of faith and joined the call. Each sibling was polite, respectful and waited their turn to speak. After I hung up the phone, I thought perhaps these Macek Maverick calls would be good. 

The following week was my turn. On the night of the call, my mouth went dry as I read my question aloud to everyone. “What was your first response when you heard the news of Dad’s suicide?” After a long pause, it was as though some invisible force granted us permission to speak the unspeakable, to mention the unmentionable and to unstimatize the stigma. After years of silence, the shafts of our silos broke open and our grief spilled out. 

Why bother breaking the silence? If there is one thing I’ve learned as a result of my father’s death and the Macek Maverick calls it is this: unspoken grief becomes a private agony, while shared grief makes an unbearable memory, a little more bearable. 

 

Why Bother to Speak the Unspeakable?

Why Bother to Speak the Unspeakable?

My siblings were the ones with whom I shared childhood. We bunked together, the girls in one bedroom, the boys in another. We shared the same meals around the same dining room table, we squeezed ourselves into the back seat of the family car. 

But not only did we partake in ordinary and mundane life with each other, we also shared a common tragedy; the death of our dad, who ended his life when he was forty-nine years old.  

Silence is Not Golden

His suicide was tragic, unexpected and shocking. Our grief was obvious. Our pain was acute. Yet, we had no idea of how to talk about any of it. So, instead, like silos on a prairie, we stored our sadness away from each other for years, until a most unusual event opened the shaft between us, and our words spilled out.  

In the winter of 2020, the Chinese virus invaded the world. Suddenly, everyone was forced to isolate themselves. Social contact was risky, dangerous and deadly for some. 

It was a depressing time. But even in the worst of circumstances one of my siblings created a way for our siblings to stay connected in spite of madness, mandates and regulations. 

We connected with a conference call on the same evening of each week and at the same time. The topic of discussion centered around one question, submitted beforehand, by one sibling the rest of us taking turns in subsequent weeks. We could choose to participate, or not. 

When I got the invitation to connect to these conference calls via email, I deleted it. I’d experienced these types of calls before. When Mom was near the end of her life, we set conference calls to try and decide how best to care for her. But in my opinion, they were useless. A lot of words were said, but never a consensus. The older siblings had a way of dominating the conversation and emotions always ran high.   

But I was curious about these Macek Maverick calls as they were aptly named. After a few weeks went by I took a chance and joined one of the calls. The conversation was lively, friendly, funny and insightful. Each sibling took their turn, and no one talked over the other person.

 The following week it was my turn to submit a question and I pondered long and hard before I composed my query, “What was your first reaction when you heard how Dad had died?”   

My oldest brother spoke first. He talked about his anger. Then my older sisters each took their turns. They’d been plagued with guilt, and confusion. My other two brothers related to feelings of anger, while I’d felt dumbfounded. Finally, after years of silence, we spoke about the unspeakable, we expressed the inexpressible. Our stored-up stories of grief finally spilled out. 

Why bother to speak the unspeakable? Talking about tough topics validates just how tough the topic is, and also strengthens the links between those who survive their tragedies. 

Why Bother Talking About Family Trauma?

Why Bother Talking About Family Trauma?

I remember my mom often said, “Don’t dwell on the past.” But dwelling on the past and learning from it are different. To dwell means to put your stakes down, inhabit, and abide. To learn implies to realize, comprehend or get the idea. Though our past is behind us, it has a way of continuing to influence us, especially if we experienced any childhood trauma. At the age of twelve, my father committed suicide. Though my three brothers and three sisters and I all experienced the same trauma, we did not all experience it in the same way simply because of our age.

      Learning From Each Other

At the time of my dad’s death, my youngest sibling was nine, the oldest was twenty-one. We all went to bed one night knowing our father was alive, but the next day, everything in our lives went sideways. Suddenly, mysteriously and without any explanation, my dad had vanished from planet Earth. Back in the 1970s, suicide was not a topic families discussed openly and for that reason, my mother’s explanation to me about my father’s death went like this;

“Your father is dead.”

“How?”

“His heart just stopped.”

Her commentary on his demise left me with a load of suspicion and finding out the truth became paramount to me. In a large family like mine, the older siblings always knew more than me. If I asked an older sister for the truth, she would tell me. Indeed she did, yet her honesty left me reeling in confusion. 

Though Dad’s death was an enormous life changing event for each of us, no one ever said anything about it. In essence, we were all left to ourselves to sort through the rubble and find our own way to survive. And most of us did. 

Though my dad’s suicide is ancient history, only recently has it become a topic of discussion among my siblings and me. And in talking about it, I’ve realized I was not alone in some of the issues I wrestled with. It seems most of us grew up with a certain degree of mistrust, a bit of anger, some shame and a lot of confusion. As adults, we learned to cover our imperfections with busyness, appearing more confident than we felt and though we had it all together, and maintaining  an emotional defensive stance. Communicating with my siblings about our shared trauma, all of us longed for trustworthy intimacy, but letting down our guards was often, too much of a risk. 

Talking about the past with some of my brothers and sisters has given me insight into their struggles as well as my own. Sharing our common sorrow has brought us closer together and made us a little more empathic toward one another. 

Why bother talking about family trauma? Denying the bombshell that blew apart a family does nothing to mend broken hearts. Whereas talking about it can lead to understanding each other a little bit better and comprehending why it is the way we are.

Why Bother To Consider?

Why Bother To Consider?

Along with being a wife, mom, mom-in-law, grandma, sister, aunt, friend, author, yoga teacher and public school teacher, I am also a suicide survivor.

My father ended his life on July 5, 1972. I was twelve-years-old. I remember how my mother explained his death to me by saying, “Your father’s heart stopped and he is dead.” Somehow though, I knew that her words were only partly true. 

A few days before his funeral, I asked one of my older sisters, “How did dad really die?” Since older siblings know more than the younger siblings in a family, I trusted her to tell me the real story of his death. Though she spoke softly and quietly, her words were like a heavy, blunt force that hit my heart so hard they took my breath away. His death alone was hard to absorb. That it was not an accident, was harder to fathom. 

Ruminating on the Facts

I connect well with this quote from another suicide survivor, Dr. Edward Dunne, an editor of Suicide and Its Aftermath: Understanding and Counseling the Survivors, when he said,  “For me, being a survivor has made me a reluctant participant/observer in my own inner struggle between wanting that to be the most important fact of my life and wanting it to be the least important.” 

When a person takes their own life, it affects the life of another for the rest of their lives. Regardless of whether or not my father’s suicide is the most important or the least important part of my life, I cannot deny that it left me as a reluctant struggler. 

It is impossible to imagine how my nature would have turned out differently if my father had chosen to live his life instead of ending it. So, I can only say how his death affected me. 

First of all, it pitched me prematurely onto a path of independence. Knowing my dad’s protective presence was gone was like knowing I no longer had a guardian angel. Intuitively I knew I would be on my own in trying to survive his death. Mom’s inability to tell me the truth from the start indicated to me that she would be incapable of any support in the aftermath. 

Though life with Dad had been chaotic, it was still a predictable chaos. After his death the tide of events became absolutely unpredictable. By all appearances, the gates of hell had been swung wide open and something worse could possibly happen. I put up my “dukes” so to speak, taking a guarded and defensive posture against any and everything. Protecting myself from feeling any more pain became paramount.  

My siblings and I did not share our grief. It was private. No one spoke about his death. No one understood just what to do with all the sadness that now permeated our lives. Like silos on a prairie, we stored our sorrow, shame and guilt in silence. 

Now, I know that suicide survivors are connected. We all share the same interior tension. We are reluctant to participate in that inner struggle between wanting it to be the most important fact of our lives or the least important. Nonetheless the truth remains. We survived a suicide. 

Why bother to consider? It is worth contemplating what we struggle with and observe how it partly defines our nature. Then maybe we can lend a hand to a kindred spirit.