I really got to thinking about the importance of trust in relationships today. I am not just talking about the trust in a marriage here either. I am talking about the trust in absolutely every relationship we encounter in life.
I have a tendency to enter into most relationships with rose-coloured glasses. I can't help myself. It is a bit naive I know, but I do like to believe that people are inherently honest and sincere. I have been caught out from time to time but not enough to have turned me into a suspicious, distrustful or paranoid being.
Today I was caught out. For about 3 years now I have been shopping at the local Thursday markets here in town. Over time I have become familiar to several of the vendors - some, more so than others. There is the older kiwi couple I buy my garlic-stuffed olives from and the perennially smiling Asian woman who has the freshest herbs and sweetest cherry tomatoes and the couple who own their own avocado farm. There is a dour couple who seem hardened but have the market cornered on the two items they grow - bananas and sweet potatoes. Then there is my favourite of all - the fellow that looks like Jesus (the long blonde hair, blue-eyed version) who grows nothing but dragonfruit. His dragonfruit are a thing of beauty - pink and green and unblemished and sweet as they get. He sells them priced according to size. I always buy his largest at $3 a piece. One of his $3 fruits is a generous feed for two people. I reckon it is worth the extra .50 cents for the jumbo size.
I have spent a bit of time getting to know "Jesus". He is what you would refer to as a calm spirit. He exudes a zen-like inner peace that I have found very appealing. Turns out he has even written a book (self-published) that essentially outlines his philosophy on life as he has come to see it based on various teachings of ancient and modern religions. He is clearly a man who lives and follows a spiritual path. I like him. I even downloaded his book and planned to read it soon. It is a book that needs to be slowly digested, so I have been saving it for a holiday on the beach.
I arrived a bit late to the markets this morning and when I got to his stall, there were only a few medium-sized dragon fruits left and some small ones; his large fruits were all gone. "Wow, you don't have much left today, looks like you have had a busy morning. No large ones I see." He agreed that he had been busy and that he was also getting low on his harvest and that he only had white fruits today, as the reds were not ready quite yet. He went on to tell me he would likely have red next week. I reminded him I preferred the whites anyway and he said he knew that, so it really did not matter to me that he had no reds this week. I was reluctant to settle for the smallish few that were left, but figured it was better than no dragonfruit for the week, so I bought what was left and he even threw in a freebie small one. He often does this for me as he knows I am a regular customer who pays the premium prices for the pick of his crop and I appreciate his generosity.
We had our usual friendly exchange and I moved on. I decided at that point that I wanted to go back to a stall to pick up a nice looking cauliflower I had passed by earlier. Normally "Jesus" would be my second last stop along the street. After a few minutes had passed, I came by his stall again, and to my surprise, he had filled his table with three new boxes of beautiful dragonfruits in every size, including the jumbo fruits he knows I prefer. I glanced his way. He saw me and diverted his gaze. I tugged on Steve's arm. "Did you see that?" "See what?, he said. "Check it out - Jesus has just replenished his table! He has every size and plenty of them!"
And that was it. That was the moment, my trust was broken. Just. Like. That. I felt sucker-punched, jilted, duped, cheated and shocked. But mostly what I felt was hurt. Here was a man who had convinced me of his altruism. He had for over two years been building a lovely vendor/customer relationship with me that I had come to appreciate and I looked forward to our pleasant exchanges and now he had lied to me. He had not run out of large dragonfruit at all. He just wanted to sell the dregs before pulling out a fresh batch. Sell the dregs to me. He could have told me he had better ones. He could have further enhanced our relationship by making me feel special. Instead he risked our bond. I walked back to my car feeling disappointed and deflated. He was not special after all. He was just like every other seller out to make a buck. Could I blame him? Isn't that what anyone selling anything is all about? Had I myself throughout my own life in sales, not done the same thing? How could I cast a stone?
I had put him on a pedestal. He had even told me once that his fruit were particularly beautiful and sweeter than other mass-produced dragonfruits because he put his heart and soul into the growing of them. I believed him. Mostly because I actually believe in that sort of thing, not just because he said it. I do believe it is possible to pass along loving energy into things we create. I believed he was doing what he loved and nurturing his dragonfruit crop in this way. I still believe that. I will still buy his dragonfruit. What I won't do again now, though, is fully trust him. He broke that trust today. I don't feel like a special customer anymore. I feel just like any other customer with money in her wallet.
Like any relationship, once the trust is broken, you can never really go back to how it was before. Even marriages that survive an affair - are they ever really the same again? It is impossible really. All you can really do is move forward and try to embrace what it is now - not dwell on the past indiscretion(s). This is difficult for most people. I count myself amongst them. I left my first marriage knowing I was never going to be able to live with the knowing.
Maybe we need to lower our expectations around trust since being trusting is really just setting yourself up for disappointment. At some point in just about any relationship trust is broken to some degree. Some breaches are just easier to get past or forgive. The truth is, we are all capable of damaging the trust whether it is between friends or family or clients or customers or any of the myriad of relationships we have in our lives. The sad part is that until we are all genuinely able to trust others and be trustworthy ourselves, the world will never heal.
And where money is involved, trust is even more difficult to maintain.
I wonder if "Jesus" has given any thought to this "moment" that occurred today, and if so, how is he reconciling it in his ever-evolving spiritual journey? Will he feel the same ease with me next Thursday during our weekly exchange, or will something have changed? When he says good morning, will he look me in the eye? Will he be able to read the change in mine? Will there be an awkward discomfort between us now?
Who knows? Maybe "Jesus" will be asking ME for forgiveness.