In Trust We Trust
Ugh, must we?
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One way that I understand my present difficulties is that I am unable to trust, and because of this, I lead a greatly curtailed life.
Naturally I’m fixated on why, and I believe I’ve found answers in theories of attachment trauma and developmental trauma. There’s a long memoir version of this. The very short version is that I do not believe my early caregivers behaved in trustworthy ways; and so I never hardwired the ability, during my earliest most critical months and years, to trust another human being (or myself).
The cascading consequences of this are hostile to human thriving and include: A fearful posture towards all people, a fearful posture towards life and the world, and difficulties developing loving feelings and relationships.
A few days ago I listened to Brené Brown talking about the anatomy of trust, and I was struck by this nugget: We have a hard time trusting people who don’t ask for help.
I hate asking for help.
My whole body rebels, cringes, at the thought of it. Partly, I hate to admit I’ve made a mistake, or am overwhelmed. Admitting mistakes or defeat was simply not done in my family or community when I was a kid.
And partly, I assume that nobody wants to help. Why would they? Nobody stepped in to help me in my biggest childhood battles. I’ve been fighting dragons alone since my first memories. I can only rely on myself.
I know I’m not alone on this mindset, this Lone Ranger thing. It’s very American, and I think it’s a fat slice of the present crisis of hopelessness and despair. Because life is, in actuality, too much for any single human being. Humans were never meant to go through life alone. No human endeavor is accomplished in isolation, and to believe in the solitary genius, the bootstrapping entrepreneur, or the Lone Ranger, is to simply miss the vast network of human interconnectedness.
The cost of this mindset is a deep existential loneliness.
We are fundamentally social animals. We only exist in the context of the group. A solitary human being makes as much sense as a solitary honey bee. Or to quote Bessel van der Kolk: We barely exist as individual organisms.
This is an ambling prelude to say, I could use some help. I’m losing at Capitalism; e.g., running out of money. I do believe I am doing Right Work with my art, but so far it brings in about $300-400 per month. So I need to find a part-time job. I wonder if anyone in my network knows of one. I’m looking for something remote, with flexible hours, that pays lavishly. My target is to work the equivalent of about 4 days a week. Besides my creative skills, I am well versed in admin-y stuff, customer service, communications.
I would love to do work that is closely aligned to my vocational work (creative, mental health, human wellbeing). But may settle for something else that is not evil.
Alternatively I am looking for funding sources, grants, sponsors, patrons, for my vocational work.
Kindly email me if you know of anything (you can just hit reply to this newsletter).
Trust is coming up in my life in another way. I’m in the midst of an online training with a California-based therapist named Riyaz Motan. There are 50 or so participants and we are working on healing others through something called embodied presence. If I could explain embodied presence adequately I’d probably be enlightened and smiling on the back of a bestselling pop-spirituality book. Presence is mindfulness-adjacent but it is not mindfulness [Try to unwind that koan…] It’s a meditative practice, but the focus of the training is on using presence to heal others.
The practice is much more intuitive and subtle than anything I’ve experienced in the therapy space. My first attempts to practice it with a partner were medium terrifying, because I was petrified of doing harm. Also I had intensive imposter vibes because most of my fellow students are working therapists.
Trust is central to healing with presence. The practitioner must trust their senses and intuition as they work with their partner. And core to the practice is the belief that a state of nonjudgmental presence is inherently healing.
Much of the work involves guiding the partner into a state of gentle presence around their own suffering. This involves little talking, or doing.
And yet, as I watch and practice, time and time again, the meditative exercise of “being with” one’s suffering serves to ease that suffering. Other gifts arise: Positive feelings, insights. Riyaz urges us to trust the presence, and trust what unfolds.
As I take part in the classes I am struck by the curious reliability of something so airy and vague as presence. To watch Riyaz work with a partner is to watch the most subtle of dances. And yet the partner always lands somewhere easier, hopeful, more expansive. It’s beautiful to behold. And central to all of it, a radical trusting.
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