With the fervor of a matador preparing to tease a raging bull, I waved my pink poodle skirt. “I’m ready!” I blinked with my twenty-year-old eyes and gave a come-hither look.
In 1972, I was spreading my theatrical wings in the musical Mame at the University of San Francisco. Wildly dancing the jitterbug under intense lighting, the routine was perfectly choreographed from the flip of my blonde curls to the syncopated tap in my toes. We’d practiced the number flawlessly over-and-over, and I had it down to a perfect science
Little did I know that the trust I had in this moment of divine faith would be shattered with one short twirl. Murphy’s Law meant there would be exceptions to every perfect moment—no matter how hard you’d practiced.
Jumping onto my partner’s frame with blind trust, coiling my legs around his waist in a vice-like grip, I let go of my arms that clung to his neck and dropped backward. Spinning fiercely, my hair sweeping the stage floor, I mentally prepared for the dramatic dismount with confidence. Instead of landing on my feet, my partner lost his grasp, and I went flying, arms and legs flailing in all directions, only to land on a balding man’s lap in the front row.
“I’m so sorry,” I whispered humiliated before slithering back to the stage, hoping no one noticed.
I looked up at my partner, who continued dancing as if I’d never left, and my eyes screamed, “I’m going to kill you.” At the same time, I was genuinely frightened and wondered if I could ever trust this boy with my safety again.
When I was a little girl, Pollyanna was my middle name. Inheriting my dad’s optimistic outlook on life, I constantly played the “Glad Game” and found the good in every situation and every person. Unfortunately, this left me filling many a Kleenex tissue. Human nature can’t help but disappoint sometimes. Despite the pain it caused, I continued to believe that inherently—even after I looked up at my dance partner from the lap of an unsuspecting audience member. But, in 2001, my good nature was truly blindsided, and for the first time in my life, I saw my trusting nature disintegrate.
Divorce is never easy, even when both parties are in agreement. When a massive storm cloud sits precariously over a wounded heart too long, you’re left wondering if the sun will ever shine again. Anger and resentment obscured my view of the world, and the quality I loved most about myself dissolved in buckets of tears.
During that painful period of my life, I walked around wrapped up in the unfairness of it all and went to great lengths to protect my fragile ego, negating my belief in others who deserved better. Then one day, I finally cried, “enough!” I’d given too much power to a broken dream that blocked the core of who I truly was. It was time for Pollyanna to come home.
Trust has been called many things: emotion, a way of thinking; a subjective, conscious experience. I prefer to think of it as an expectation, something I look forward to.
When I decide to put my faith in someone, I’m living with a heart wide open, ready to love freely. Through this, I expect in return a beautiful experience with another equally giving soul.
I’ve learned trust should never be given blindly. Age and wisdom have taught that the recipient must be worthy and that living with a suspicious, unforgiving mind only creates darkness. I’ve made peace with the past and found living in the light far more desirable.
Today, I continue to dance without fear that I’ll be dropped on my head. Sure, missteps may happen, and a toe might get squashed along the way, but placing the power of faith in another nurtures confidence to continue to perform, free and triumphant.
We’ve all had moments when our hearts were broken due to the selfishness of another. How did you overcome your pain, or have you?