For a large portion of my life, I believed I had to make relationships work with those that wanted to be in a relationship with me. Family, friends, acquaintances, they chose me and I adjusted, adapted, and accommodated to their needs to make myself amenable. Then I met my best friend. She was one of my roommates freshman year in college and looking back, she was the best part of those 4 years and remains the main reason I think I ended up at that school. I remember knowing, as soon as I looked into her eyes, she was trustworthy.
It is hard to remember how I knew that, it has been so long. That first glance, though, mattered very little in the actual formation of trust. That took time, meltdowns, celebrations, heartbreak, deep talks, and life in general; over and over again. She always has and will always continue to show up when I need her. Even when I don’t, I know that in every cell of my being – I can trust her with my secrets, my needs, my guilt, and my shame, with my heart.
I chose her and then I didn’t choose again for a very long time. I allowed others to choose me, over and over again and that way of choosing left me with a string of people that I couldn’t trust. My heart was speaking to me about what I wanted and needed and I wasn’t listening. My aunt told me, “the most important element to a person you choose is kindness”, and I didn’t listen. I just wanted to be chosen so much more than I wanted to be honest and I couldn’t trust anyone I was close to, that I eventually lost trust in myself.
Then, one day (about the same time I had my own children) I realized I was surrounded by people that had chosen me and few of them truly cared for my well being. This was a hard day. I realized I needed to look for kindness first and I went back to how hard it was at some moments to build a strong relationship with my best friend. There were days when I thought I needed her more than she needed me. There were days when I over shared and worried about my own vulnerability. There were days when I had to share decisions and choices with her which made me believe she would love me less. Hard days, worth every single moment.
Trust is something that another person earns by caring for us in the hardest moments. I started building a friend group that I vetted and could trust. I started interacting less with those around me that broke my trust. I began setting firm boundaries when someone crossed a line with my preferences and limits. I started using my voice about relationships, needs, connection, and my own flaws to see how others cared for me.
What came out of this experiment is a circle of women that show up for me over and over again. Yes, they are my friends, but even more, they are my trusted team. That experience taught me how to choose wisely those that I keep close, which in turn is teaching me how to show my children how to choose wisely. We have ongoing dialogue about who we keep close. Do they love us? Do they care about our hearts? We are on our way to overturning the lessons I learned as young person. Everyone needs a best friend like mine. Everyone needs a team. The hardest part is that each of us have to create these relationships by working furiously hard at trusting ourselves first.
Tips to finding a trusted person or group for you:
- Make a list of attributes you want in another person.
- Make a list of boundaries that cannot be crossed by someone you allow close.
- Be honest with yourself about who you have let close to you. Be even more honest.
- Speak your truth, especially about the people around you.
- Get out of something if it is hurting you, deal with the heartbreak of having made that choice. It is worse to stay than to feel.
- Imagine your crew/team and find them. At all costs. Find them, because they will make your life.