Root of My Distrust

March 21, 2017

Distrust is the belief and expectation that someone else's motives are sinister and a threat to our own.  My tendency to distrust most people is driven by the self-centered belief that almost every person is out to get me, which entails that I believe everyone is thinking about my demise all of the time. One might think that this is an egocentric way of living, and that would be right,  but it also happens to be the safest way to live because I am never ever surprised. 

Some of the most ordinary people are those one should never trust.  For example, one should never ever under any circumstance trust a doctor or dentist.  I first discovered my aversion towards medical professionals  when I thought I had a cavity.  As soon as I looked up what dentists do about cavities, I came upon all of these articles that explained how some dentists told people they had cavities just so they could drill into their teeth and subsequently get more money.  And since none of these patients know anything about being a dentist or dental care, they just go along with it because they don’t have any way to verify if what their doctor is saying is actually true. It was from that moment, me crouching at my computer with a toothbrush in my mouth, that I realized how scary medical professionals are.  I have seriously considered becoming a doctor just so I can know that I am not trying to achieve some ulterior motive when I diagnose myself.  So next time your doctor tells you that you need a flu shot or a cavity fixed, I am not saying you should run out of the building because they are lying, but I am also not not saying that.

The origin of my distrust is rooted deep within me. Maybe it was just the way I was born, but I think it partially comes from the stories and cautionary tales I was told as a child.  My father used to always tell me and brother the fable of the frog and the scorpion. The scorpion asks the frog if he can hitch a ride across the river on the frog’s back.  The frog says, “How do I know you won't sting me?”  and the scorpion exclaims, “Why would I do that?  If I sting you in the water we both die.”  The frog thinks this is a legitimate reason for him to trust the scorpion and decides out of the kindness of his heart that he will give the scorpion a lift across the river.  The frog is swimming to the other side of the riverbank with the scorpion on its back and when they get across, they hug and they are friends forever.

But in reality that doesn't actually happen, because this is a fable, and something bad must always happen in a fable.  Instead, the frog feels a sharp pain and starts to go into paralysis as he is swimming. He asks the scorpion “Why did you sting me? Now we will both die because you can’t swim!” The scorpion hisses out as he sinks into the water, “IT'S IN ME NATURE!” 

The moral of this story is that everyone is terrible by nature and no one is to be trusted. This is of course not the official moral but it’s what I absorbed from the story at a young age.  Thanks to my dad and Aesop, my concept of trust sank into the river and died along with the paralyzed frog and the deceitful scorpion.  My aversion toward trusting others was created by one of Aesop’s twisted stories, and I am sure I am not alone since most of Aesop’s fables involve the warm hearted animal dying when it decides to be nice to another animal. 

My distrust is not something I can solely blame on other people.  It partially has to do with my very overactive imagination and gullibility.  My parents once took me to a carnival when I was a kid, and I won a game.  The carnival worker handed me a piece of sticky taffy as a prize. As a child, I had a belly that stuck out and a squishy face, so my parents decided that if I ate this last piece of candy I would probably burst.  Since my toddler mind couldn’t grasp the idea of not eating something for purely health-related reasons, my mom came up with an idea that will forever haunt my memories. She told me that the candy was poisoned.  While this may seem like a minor lie, I built it up into my head as a giant conspiracy of all the carnival people gathering in a dark room to put glass in the candy.  I don’t know why I thought putting glass in candy was so scary but it was the most frightening thing I could imagine since I was only about six. The glass would scratch up my stomach and throat and I would… not die but have a  stomach ache and my throat might hurt.  I don’t know why I thought my made up vision was so awful, because I didn’t suffer that much, but it was pretty frightening to imagine this group of shady, suspicious carnival people gathering to try and poison me… with make my stomach hurt.  It was then that I developed another aspect of distrust, which resulted in me becoming suspicious during the most trivial moments, towards the most random people.

It’s normal to think that if someone expects the worst in people, when others do something good, it comes as a pleasant surprise. But if someone is dedicated to distrusting people, when people do something nice, like give out a piece of candy, they don't get pleasantly surprised, they think that everyone is trying to poison them with glass, or trying to paralyze them in a river. 

Distrust is like a cushion that keeps me from hitting the ground when something bad happens because my brain saves me a little bit from the surprise and shock. My cushion just happens to be blown up very big and seems to show up even when I don’t need it.

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