Trust is easier said than done.
For some reasons, we tend to record one bad experience as a rule for all what will happen in the future, should a slightly similar experience present itself.
The habit of expressing gratitude for all kinds of experiences is difficult to accept: being thankful for even a traumatic experience seems counterintuitive. However, only practicing gratitude can build a trust muscle that will flex enough to turn bad experiences into learning experiences.
I remember the first time I learned how to mistrust a grown-up: I was a child and had been going regularly to the dentist because of many issues with my teeth. The dentist was a wonderful man and his assistant a sweet and gentle younger man who never failed at holding my hand when I was asking him to do so if I was afraid of what the dentist wanted to do in my mouth. Both of them were kind and giving me time to ask questions and get my answers before they could start working. I never suffered any pain and it was never a visit that I was fearing, even if they were very frequent visits.
I remember one extraordinary day that my mom took me to another place, not the regular dentist, we did not have to take the metro (I am talking about the time I lived in Paris), we walked to that place, and I can still point the building to whoever would ask me. I don’t remember the name of that dentist, and I don’t remember why I had not been taken to MY regular gentle dentist, but I just remember that he abruptly told me that “it would not hurt me” and started to quickly operate on removing a tooth in the back of my mouth after he cauterized with some blowtorch or so it seemed to me, that scared the hell out of me.
The pain of this tooth extraction felt excruciating.
I was out of that place very quickly for sure, and in tears and furious that I had been lied to. I resented the entire world and my mother for the betrayal. Because of such experience, I learned distrust very young and I started to add suspicion, wariness, and doubt to my outlook on adults who were not listening to me, or giving me time to process. Even when they were not dentists! I extended one bad experience to all slightly similar experiences: someone may have little patience with me because in a hurry, not because of me, and I tend to consider the person as menacing or threatening me. It made the world a pretty difficult place to navigate and to compensate, I became too naive and unsuspecting of real abusive behaviors when they came my way.
In the Jewish tradition, we learn of a wonderful character named Nachum Ish Gamzu because his favorite quote was “גמ זו לטובה” gam zu l’tova which means “this too, is for the good”. There are numerous stories about him, both in folk tales and also in the Talmud, and he fascinated me because of his attitude in life that made it possible for him to turn the most horrible adventures and experiences into something natural and positive. And everything actually turns out good in the end if we learn to trust that it will: because each story can be read with different angles, and some unexpected outcomes of the misery come to light when least expected (or remain unknown but will unfold in the future).
So in the end what good was this evil dentist? I am telling the story today! and pain is always forgotten: no need for us to add the mental and emotional pain of resentment and anger. Let us trust others and give them the benefit of the doubt to release our fears, and this too, will be for the best!
This year, I have committed to a daily blog in English to participate in @imabima’s project of Elul. I will dedicate my endeavor for the רפואה שלמה complete healing of מרדכי אלעזר בן חנה מרים (Mordechai ben Chanah).
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