There's a part of my mind that is like a missing tooth sometimes. Aware of the gap of what should be there, the tongue runs through its grooves, again and again, looking for its negative spaces and carving out lines and folds. I haven't missed a tooth in some time, although a blister from a hot food or a cut from a sharp chip can leave that sensation of obligatory probe. Why are you there? When will you go? Oral tissue, like gums and cheeks and palates, is covered with soft skin that heals very rapidly. The mind, the memory, can heal over too- obliterating a sense of insecurity or filling in a too large space. It can also fold over a piece of real damage, encircling it and preventing it from getting out. Bullet fragment, bad memories. It is still there, encased in a little cyst, but immobilized from everything else. Of course, it is still there.
The parts of my life that haunt me most are the memories of trust gone bad. Times when I have put my faith in another, to be fully let down or deceived. There is the long con version of trust gone bad. Friendships with an undercurrent of competition or betrayal, the kind that collect lots of info on you to use at a later date. Dangerous waters kind of trust gone bad, when you can't see the riptide underneath but you sense there is something unsavory just below the surface. Family trust of repeated disappointment but not real betrayal. Just the reminder to never put your trust entirely in another person. Unless your life depends on it. And avoid having your life depend on things like that.
It's easy to say in retrospect, I should have known better, all the clues were there. We can say that about murder mysteries, cheating lovers, drug addicts, gamblers. At some point we ignored a sign we should have noted, or missed it altogether because for some reason we needed to have the belief in the other. None of us can say this hasn't happened. To live with regretted relationships, for being fooled, for being taken so easily. History and the Bible and the myths are written about deception and trust, misplaced belief, and the battle for your heart. Those who hurt us or seek to hurt us implore for their trust, to speak against our own hearts, to ignore our gut instincts and choose their words.
How can you know fully when you can trust someone? Is it something they say, or something you feel? If your heart catches, or your mind keeps slipping on the same spot, how do you know if it is paranoia or if it is real? If you have been oblivious all along, the greater the deception the greater the disconnection from your own self trust.
I think my friend is losing her mind, and I have been seeing the road signs along the way. There is great cause, I don't think any of us could take what she has had to go through, without going off some end. I just can no longer believe her. I think she has stepped into the realm of her beautiful mind, where reality and fantasy have become one. I feel like I am betraying her trust in me, as I contact her parents and let them know, please, come do something, help. You don't know what's going on. I know that I risk ruining her trust in me, and I know she trusts me more than most. I don't know how long that will last if instead of help, she creates a new delusion about our friendship. I've seen this before, with her. I've seen this with others. I have lost friendships, or recognized they could never be that. My role in their life was sounding board, but the reality check was too much to bear.
Another friend laments trying to date. Beautiful and smart, but not without her own things, she is a bit fantastical at times. She has the capacity to be in outer space and down to earth at the same time. Sometimes I think she is delusional, but maybe I am just jaded. This weekend she met a man who seemed like a good catch, and all the chemistry missing from the other dates. And when she found out he was still married she turned him down. He accused her of being judgmental and unfair. She agreed to another date, trying to know him better, only to be needing to fend off his aggression and accusations. He hadn't earned her trust, and he had been angry that she even asked about his life. He wanted to just get it on, letting her know she was screwing up. It's not like this doesn't happen very often. It does. People don't want their cover blown, and instead tell you that you are being mistrustful. Which, it turns out, you really should be. A new acquaintance who is recently married is trying to figure out an annulment, having discovered the extensive deceit of her new husband. She is deeply ashamed, for trusting that an older, frumpy woman like herself was going to find real, true love at last. She cannot bear that her family know how much she let herself be fooled.
My memories of relationships past rarely dwell on the parts that went well, or that ended without a bang. Instead, they hone in on the slightly toxic part that has become encased in a layer of regret and shame. The relationships that revealed what a big fool I was, the lies that I bought, the excuses I accepted, the rationalizations I made to keep going. I am not a battered woman, but I managed to avoid the inevitable escalations. These two friends, in their previous marriages, waited a little too long and overlooked a little too much. They were married, there was money involved, there were children. I can always leave, if I have to, even if that means walking away from everything. I keep trying to avoid the accumulation of so much that I can't be free if I have to.
Every morning I have a little dread in me, what will this day bring from my friend? New stories of horror about the man who will somehow never be her ex? or elaborate stories she has made up to forgive herself for trusting him for so long? Does she reach out to me in a moment of lucidity, like she did on saturday? Or does it turn into another part of her jags of manic delusion? I am not sure I can trust much that comes from her mouth anymore, and I don't even know if she realizes she has burned almost all her bridges. She is kind, beautiful, bright, generous, compassionate, friendly, and wonderful. And yet her shining star is twitching a little too vividly, and her light has gone from sunshine to flickering fluorescence.
The only way to have real relationships is trust, romance or friendship. And yet, so many of us, find that trust may be part of the delusion we must build to stay connected and feel loved.