by Rebecca Stay
“Trust is like a mirror, you can fix it if it’s broken, but you can still see the crack in that mother fucker’s reflection.” – Lady Gaga
I apologize upfront for Lady Gaga’s use of profanity. I don’t usually use bad language (technically I didn’t), but it seemed appropriate for how I’m feeling about this particular subject matter.
Trusting people. It’s been an ongoing problem for me before and in the midst of this mid-life strife of mine. When you first meet me, I might come across as stand-off-ish or bland. I’m not an open book and I’m not an instant hugger. I try to read people and see how much truth permeates through and out of them. Kinda like with my nine-year old son. He’s so easy to read. He hasn’t yet mastered the art of fibbing and that can be exasperating at times. But I digress. My issues with trust started with my Mom and has meandered throughout all aspects of my life, both personal and career-wise. This suspect-able (not a word, but go with it) behavior continues, thanks to Mama. I don’t say this with malice or bitterness. Maybe a pinch of sadness. Well, at least for today, anyway.
It’s truly amazing how much we, as a people, are forced to trust in both direct and indirect ways. When I say indirectly, I mean perfect strangers. Every day we get in our cars and we trust that the drivers next to/behind/and in front of us, are not going to smash into us. We trust pilots will get us safely to our destination. In a more direct way, we trust our kids’ teachers and the schools to keep them safe during the day. We trust our babysitters or nannies will take care of our children and not be inappropriate or lazy or neglectful. We trust the people who bring us our food . . . unless we’re talking about fast food and then, well . . . there’s that. Lastly, we put trust in our parents to make the right decisions. To love us, to guide us, to be there for us . . . and to tell us the truth, no matter what.
My Mom’s birthday was last month. I tend to not really think about her on the “day of,” but rather in the days right before or following. Just like the anniversary of her death, or during the holidays. It’s never on the day.
She would’ve been 78 years young. And I miss her. Very much. But only before 4pm. After 4pm, the dark cloud of bad memories fall upon me. After 4pm, I envision her picking up a mug and pouring vino inside it, keeping up with the charade of how it’s “coffee.” After 4pm, the woman I know as my intelligent, funny, warm Mom is . . . gone. The woman after 4pm becomes known as Ms. Untrustworthy.
As common as a Lifetime Movie, high school was the toughest at home. She began drinking when my Dad left and brought in a spectacularly horrible man. A liar in his own right. About his work, about his feelings for my Mom, about his motives. He was a manipulator and to this day, I’m still not sure what my Mom was doing with him. As she used to say (about a lot of things), “I’m taking it to the grave.” And she did, well . . . along with her ashes. She was a chameleon in a lot of ways. She loved to play mind games with strangers. She’d talk of plane rides where she would become a different person. Without pause, she had a new name and a new life.
When my Grandma got sick, she moved to Idaho to take care of her. I would visit often and on one of those lovely sojourns, I remember going around the house, looking at all the art on the walls. I thought it would be a good idea to write down the history that came with each of them. My Mom provided me with detailed back stories. One piece came from a local Hermosian artist, bohemian kind of guy that my Mom begged my Dad to purchase. There was the painting done by a close family friend. His inspiration came from a dream my Mom had about losing her teeth. It wasn’t until a visit with my Dad years after my Mom died that I got a different story. Everything she had told me was not true according to him. Now, you could say that maybe it was my Dad that was getting it wrong. After a lifetime with her, I immediately realized that she had skewed the truth and I have to be honest, it made me laugh. The Hermosian was actually a San Franciscan (again, not a word, but go with it), a local artist by the name of Pasquel Cucaro. It was my Dad who loved it and purchased it. Actually, knowing my Dad, he probably bartered for it.
When my Mom told me she was going into a six-week program to get help in order to stop drinking and pick up the pieces of her broken life, I was so proud of her. But years later, I found out that it was a lie. She was given a choice. It was either jail or rehab. Yeah, I’d choose the latter, too. I got why she didn’t want to tell me about the jail option . . . embarrassed, ashamed, but really? A painting? I had a lot of “huh” moments with her because her lies ran the gamut, from the out-and-out obvious to the more subtle to even watching her (in the moment) try on a spontaneous lie. Round and round she’d go. Exhausting. Unfortunately for me, she took most of the true-ish answers to the grave. Hmmm, unless my brothers know some . . . middle? Older? Have something to share with me?
Funny enough, I’m not a liar, myself. I think children often go the extreme opposite direction of their parents, yes? Don’t get me wrong, I’ve certainly lied a time or two . . . or three or four . . . maybe more, I haven’t kept score. The point is, it’s more about others and how they affect me. I find and have found (to this day) that I listen to people’s stories about themselves with a dubious hat on. Always questioning motives and truths. Especially when you’ve worked in entertainment. Truth is a very, very loose term. I worked with someone who was constantly afraid of making new friends or getting into relationships because it was proven time and time again that eventually the person du jour would want something from them other than their friendship. And they were always proven right. Sadly, I could relate. That’s more about people’s motives, I know, but it seems interchangeable with trust, doesn’t it?
I often wonder if I’ll unconsciously teach my son to invariably question everyone and what comes out of their mouths. It’s good to be on guard, but at what point does it become unhealthy? Deep down, I think he’ll be just fine.
Hemingway once said, “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” I agree, Ernest. And for me, I think this self-exploration is beginning to open me up, give me confidence I never knew I had in me, and in turn, I’m feeling better about myself.
And hey, when you get to know me? I’m anything but bland. Trust me.
This article was reposted from It’s Rebecca, not Becky . . . Or Is It?