Exit 139. You can’t trust other people with your plans.

For a while in my late 20s, when I had time to kill, sometimes I would go to this large used book store.  I would browse their clearance rack, which consisted of paperbacks for 25 and 50 cents, and I would buy things I knew I would want to read someday.  I was reading a lot of Star Wars paperbacks back in those days, and I also bought several books by bestselling authors I was already familiar with.  Over a decade later, there are still a few books I obtained that way on my bookshelf that I never read.  Recently, I was looking through my bookshelf for something to read, and I came across one such book that I couldn’t remember if I had ever read.  Looking through it, the synopsis on the back looked vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t remember any details beyond that.  I flipped through the pages and found a bookmark on page 83, less than a quarter of the way through the book, suggesting that I had started it but never finished it.  So I picked it up and started reading… and I finished it today.

Since the rest of this post contains major spoilers, I will only be discussing the plot in vague terms, and I won’t name the title or author here.  If you are curious, let me know and I’ll tell you privately.  This paragraph does not do justice to the actual novel, because I don’t want to make it too obvious from the start in case anyone else out there is reading it.  Most of what I want to say involves the ending, where the main character has a plan to disappear with a large sum of money and start a new life, along with a woman who is both his accomplice and lover.  Everything seems to be going swimmingly, wrapping up for his desired ending, except that the woman disappears with the money, leaving him alone and heartbroken without the fortune he wanted to start his new life.

I’ve always had an odd and cynical fascination with story lines of betrayal, particularly when the betraying is done by a woman who the main character thought loved him.  I think this is a reaction to the many times that I have felt betrayed by those close to me, particularly by potential love interests.  It’s a bit comforting to know that central characters also get betrayed by women, and that not every story has a happy lovey-dovey ending.  It’s also comforting that this betrayal is a key part of the story’s dénouement, and not just the back story of a cynical supporting character with a negative view of the opposite sex.  It makes me feel like I’m not alone in everything that has happened to me.

I see a sad but true lesson in this: you can’t trust other people with your plans.  Others cannot be controlled or predicted.  I’m not saying that every plan will end in betrayal.  There are good people out there, and I want to try to be someone whom others can trust as much as possible.  But the world just doesn’t work that way.  With over seven billion people in the world, each having unique back stories, interests, motivations, and weaknesses, some of those plans are bound to conflict with each other, whether intentionally or not.  The only one truly worth trusting is God.

I can’t make my peace depend on the way others treat me.  I can’t make my happiness depend on finding the right woman someday.  I’ve heard stuff like this before, over and over again, particularly the part about finding the right woman.  You have to love yourself before you can love someone else.  If you aren’t content alone, then you aren’t really ready for a healthy relationship.  Some of that I had dismissed as Josh Harris-type mumbo-jumbo, on the grounds that if I were to concentrate on being content with being alone, then if/when the right woman did come along, I’d miss the chance to get to know her, because I’d be so dead set on being alone that I would purposely avoid doing anything that could be construed as dating.  But there is a lot of truth in the idea of learning to be content alone.  As I said earlier, I can’t predict or control others, and I can’t orient my entire life and happiness around waiting for someone else.  Waiting for someone else to make you happy is also the classic setup for being emotionally needy in an unhealthy way.  There has to be some balance, some kind of happy medium where I can learn to be content in a way that is not contingent on others, yet guardedly open to new friendships and relationships that may happen.

I’m not sure what this is going to look like.  Maybe a temporary time of being more isolated socially as I figure life out.  Maybe a lot of time in prayer and meditation.  Maybe cutting out of my life some who bring me down far more than they build me up.  Maybe I’m not quite sure yet.  But at least I know something to work on.

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5 comments

  1. A few weeks ago, you talked about defining your legacy as a single person. While over the last several months, it sounds like you don’t want that to be your legacy, you’ve answered that question if you really believe the statement “you can’t trust other people with your plans.” If this belief is absolute, that no person is worth of being trusted, then you are saying that YOU cannot be trusted with anyone else’s plans, either.

    Without trust, there is no intimacy. Without intimacy, there is no love. And I’m not just talking about romantic love… if you can’t trust anyone, you won’t have any close, platonic relationships, either.

    I will say that we all have to be guarded in how we dole out trust. Trust shouldn’t be given away freely, but has to be earned, through kind words and noble gestures over an extended period of time. We are not children, who are predispositioned to trust automatically. The harsh realities that life exposes us to tells us that not all people can be trusted. But I disagree with your assessment; I believe that some people CAN be trusted, not all, but some. I think that’s a huge difference. It keeps me guarded initially, but has allowed me to identify who I can trust with my friendship.

    In the book you referenced in this post, you found affinity with the main character who was abandoned by his lover. Since I don’t know the referenced story, my assumption is that this character is running away to a new life because he has made some questionable choices in his old life. And perhaps one of the questionable choices was in finding a mate and accomplice that would help him made some of these bad decisions. If this is the case, it is not out of the realm of possibilities that this person betrayed the main character, who may have betrayed others before finding himself in this final predicament.

    My hope for you is that can reassess how you evaluate the people in your life, maybe even your own motives. If you are not finding people who are trustworthy, are you giving them too much credit initially? Or are your standards of trustworthiness realistic? Or perhaps you need to find a new outlet towards new relationships, with genuinely honest and trusting people? They (we) are out there… you just have to find them (us).

    1. Yes, but no. I did say that I do believe that there are good people out there, and I want to be someone who others say that they can trust. Maybe the analogy isn’t perfect, but I meant more here that I can’t orient my entire sense of happiness and well-being around others.

      The book is unclear as to whether the main character betrayed others in his old life. He unequivocally did commit crimes, but he was primarily acting against associates who themselves had acted illegally and/or unethically. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily make what he did right.

      You said maybe I’m giving people too much credit initially… I think that’s it. I tend to get too attached to people too quickly, and then disappointed when I discover they’re not what I hoped them to be after all.

      Thanks for sharing… I have a lot to think about.

  2. Trusting and wanting love from others is something I’ve been working on for the last two years. When I quit babysitting for my daughter and hubby and I got our own apartment, it was like I was abandoned by my daughters. They didn’t come over, didn’t ask me to shop with them anymore – nothing. Then when my older daughter would drive up to the town my younger daughter lives in and never once asked if I wanted to go with her – I guess I felt betrayed. It was okay when they both needed me to babysit their children, but once I wasn’t any use, they left me. I must also add that I have a mental illness because of abuse in childhood. That can’t be fun to be around, although I was always trying to be upbeat and normal.

    My husband loves me, but on his terms. He doesn’t want to talk much and gets annoyed when I do. He doesn’t want to do anything together. He just wants to work and watch TV. We used to do things together but that is all over now due to both our illnesses and also he isn’t interested in finding something new. It hurts when I want to be close and he doesn’t.

    Okay, so I used to go to God and talk with him about this a lot. I realized a few things. As you said, we must not base our happiness on other people and how they treat us. I have always based my happiness on other people. My expectations were too high – higher than what my daughters and husband were willing to do. They do love me, but they have their own lives and interests. I learned that God is enough. When I feel hurt, I now immediately go to him and talk with him about my hurt. He does comfort me. I ask him to help me love my husband in spite of how he acts. I do love him and I do see his good points. I think the reason God put us together is that my husband is a strong man mentally. He accepts and understands my mental illness. I feel protected by him and I know he will always help me if I get sick, mentally or physically. He knows that about me too. I will always be there for him.

    I think I’ve always had an ideal of what love was, and it wasn’t based on reality. It’s like I was looking through the wrong glasses about love and how people should act towards me. I’d been putting my dreams onto them.

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