Monday, May 30, 2011
Trust: A Sadie Story
The 'a' in Dave was drawn out but the word was distinct. Then, quickly following that success was 'Oe'. Sadie, Ruby's little sister, had just said our names for the first time. It was an incredible feeling, like we were called into being with the breath that had formed the words. Sadie clapped her hands with excitement, there were two new words in her vocabulary. Other than 'ma ma' and 'da da' we were the first people she put names to ... that's a very, very, nice thing.
Sadie is very different from her sister. Ruby was born to interact with the world and the people in it. Sadie, watches the world and experiments with the people in it much more carefully. She does not seek out people and their approval very often and lets people in with great care. Even now, she comes to us very cautiously and spends very little time wanting to be held or touched in any way. We've had to learn to show her affection and caring in ways that she accepted. We both knew not to feel rebuffed by her distance, she's a cautious kid and in many ways that's a really good thing. We both knew that she would form attachment to us in her own way and her own time. This trip seemed to be the time. She sought Joe out to put on her shoes, something she hates, and sat quietly allowing him to help her. A mammoth act of trust. Later the same day, she sought me out to climb on and to play 'try to stick the soother in Dave's mouth' ... a game she found very, very, funny. It was terrific.
There is a difference between trust and compliance, there is also a difference between trust and necessity. This is something I understand both as a service provider and as a person with a disability. Because we provide service to a person with a disability does not mean that the family trusts us - we provide most often out of necessity rather than desire. Because a person with a disability answers a personal question does not mean that they trust us - many times people with disabilities engage in trusting behaviour, as separate from trust, because they've been taught to, not because they want to. These are different things.
Trust is earned.
Trust is never given freely.
Trust is at the foundation of both friendship and love.
I remember watching a documentary about gay relationships and they asked a young gay man his definition of 'love' ... he answered by saying that, to him, love was 'a combination of lust and trust'. I thought that was much more profound than it seemed at first. Indeed, I believe that he got at lot right in that answer. I too, believe, that more marriages are destroyed because, not because of a loss of the former, but because of a loss of the latter. It's a powerful thing trust.
I realized in the moment that Sadie reached up to play 'put the soother ...' with me, me Dave, me a person with a name, that it meant something bigger than any other interaction that had happened previously. Now I was not an anonymous person in her life, I'm a person with a name. A person who can now be held accountable for my actions. A person that can be called to task for any violation of trust, any purposeful hurt. Of course my desire is to always be worthy of trust, always be careful in my interactions. But now, I can be named. I can be held accountable.
Sadie reminded me, again, in a concrete way of the powerful role that care providers ... parental or rental, that people have in the lives of others. We are placed into their lives to provide a service that works best when trust is earned. I remember the first time I was assisting someone with dressing and they said, afterwards, 'Thanks, Dave' that I had been named. That I was in a relationship wherein my actions could be attached to my name, that my reputation was attached to my actions and that, ultimately, my reputation would be all I had at the end of days. I wonder how many 'moms' and how many 'dads,' who desperately wait for their baby to say their names, realize the implications that come with being named. I hope they all do. I hope we all do.
All Sadie had said was 'Dave', all she had done was reach out for me, and suddenly, the world changed.