“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” Stephen Covey
Trust is at the core of all human relationships. Without trust, there can be no respect nor loyalty. Trust is the glue that holds relationships together, as partners, as families, as friendships, as communities.
Steven Covey says that trust is, “the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”
When I used to drink, I lost a lot of trust in myself. Sometimes when I was drinking, I didn’t know what I was doing, I couldn’t remember some basic stuff about the night before, conversations, coming home, going to bed. Sometimes I’d wake up with a knot in the pit of my stomach that told me I’d screwed up royally the night before and would have to face some consequences. How can you trust yourself when you can’t trust your memory.
“Self-trust is the first secret of success” Emerson
At other times, I didn’t care what I was doing. In those moments, I couldn’t trust my brain to judge the appropriateness of anything I did. Normally, I’ve got a really good filter between my brain and my mouth, but when I was drunk, those filters just melted into the fog. It was as if I had a loudspeaker attached to my thoughts, no sooner had I thought something than it would appear in reality.
At these times, the only filters to what I was saying were my ears, which is far too late for pulling back an offensive comment or some sarcastic put-down. Then there were those cringing moments when even my ears were oblivious to the verbal diarrhea. Those were the times when I would wake up the next morning with enough sense that something was wrong, but I couldn’t focus in on the memory.
The only sure thing was my stomach telling me there was nothing to be proud of.
“those filters melted into the fog”
Have you ever blabbed about or spoken ill of someone while you were drunk?
Have you ever broken a promise or told a secret while you were high on alcohol?
I remember , many years ago, meeting up with a couple of mates early on a rare hot Irish summer afternoon in the beer garden of our local bar. We started out with a few beers and ended in the wee early hours of the following morning, all thoughts of work the next day long gone from my head.
The following afternoon, I thought is best to go for the cure, so I called around and arranged a meet-up. I hadn’t even a chance to take my usual spot in the corner when I was confronted by one of the barmaids. She asked if she could have a word and led me to out a side door.
She told me that she had overheard me talking about her the night before. Of course, I didn’t remember a thing. I had apparently been taking the piss out of the way she spoke, doing absurd impressions of her voice and some of her mannerisms. She was really upset and hurt. She told me that she had been genuinely shocked at what she’d heard.
I was absolutely mortified. I didn’t know where to put my face. All I wanted to do was run away and hide. I was completely reduced in front of her. I didn’t know what to say. All I could do was tell her that I was sorry, that I didn’t remember a thing.
But I knew that was meaningless.
How could I have done that?
She was someone who always had lots of time for the regulars, she always had a smile on her face, plenty of banter, and looked after us. Although she accepted my apology, I knew I had lost something.
“without trust, there can be no respect nor loyalty”
That’s not who I am. It’s just not how I go about my life. How many times had my drunken Mr. Hyde insulted someone, been dishonest, uncaring, heartless, callous, or crass. How many times had I done that to someone who hadn’t challenged the insult the day after?
Another area of my life where I butchered much of my credibility was with my son. Trust from the innocent is given in abundance, openly, and without question. A child trusts their parent implicitly. To a young child, you are God, what you say is Gospel, and you can do very little wrong.
I think it’s an inescapable and agonizing truth parents must face that at one time or another they have to break this bond of trust to a certain degree.
When our children are very young, we necessarily have to hide some truths to protect the developing minds which aren’t yet capable of understanding a lot of what goes on in life. We sugar-coat some realities to protect this fragile innocence as long as we can.
It’s a natural thing to do. But as our children mature and inevitably face how things are in the real world, much of that implicit trust will be eroded because we have to let go and let life take it’s course.
In hindsight, one of my most cruel breaches of that elementary trust was sending my son out into the world with the delusion that alcohol is anything but a deadly drug, that is to my enduring shame. Of course, hindsight is twenty/twenty.
If I had known what I was doing I wouldn’t have done it. I have always tried to lead by example. But when you don’t understand the example you are giving, you tend to lead into the same dark alley you’ve just taken yourself.
“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” Martin Luther King
Trust was something that I took completely for granted, until I stopped drinking. Until I didn’t use alcohol any more, I never fully realized or appreciated just how much my drinking affected the levels of trust that others gave to me.
It hit me one day, a couple of months after I had quit drinking, when my sister asked me if I’d mind babysitting my three lovely nieces. Of course, I would be delighted to do it.
Then I realized that this was the first time she’d ever asked me to look after them. Without a drop of alcohol in my system, without my brain being fogged up by my own toxic habit and version of reality, it was totally obvious why.
I didn’t get the trust before because I was untrustworthy.
I remember thinking, if I was untrustworthy for this, how many other things did my family not trust me with.
“how much my drinking affected the levels of trust that others gave to me”
This was a wakeup call to another negative aspect of my life as a drinker, another cautionary warning about never going back to that harmful lifestyle. But there was also an aspect of positivity that lifted my spirits and solidified my determination.
Being asked to babysit was a big sign that I was rebuilding that trust. I had gone from being the drunk of the family to being the person who could be trusted to take care of three young children, even if it was only for a couple of hours.
With a level head, not fueled or dulled by alcohol, it’s much easier to be the person you want to be. Self-respect is built around being able to trust yourself and being trusted by others.
Heres’ some questions to ask yourself:
- Where in your life do you take trust for granted?
- Where in your life have you lost trust because of your drinking?
- Who’s trust would you like to regain?
“I Cannot Trust a Man to Control Others Who Cannot Control Himself”
Robert E. Lee
Until next time…
Onwards and Upwards!