Confession # 87: Can I Really Trust You?
She looked at me. She has known me for years, but has always kept her true feelings at arms length from me. I was asking her to share something, asking her to be vulnerable and she didn’t know if she could.
“I want to be your friend,” I told her. “I want you to be able to trust me.”
Looking away she asked, honestly asked, “Can a Haitian really be friends with a blan?”
“You tell me,” I told her.
“I don’t know,” she said. “Blans always talk. If I talk to you, how can I really trust you to keep it and not just talk?”
Days later I sat in this girl’s room talking to her about a friend of mine from America.
“I have a question for you,” she said, interrupting my story.
“What do you want to know?” I asked her.
“Why is it that blans have so many friends?”
“You have lots of friends,” I replied.
“No. I have my family (signaling to the other teens at Emmaus House) and a few friends from school, but that is all. Haitians, we don’t have a lot of friends. But blans are always talking about all their friends.”
“Why do you think that is?” I asked her.
She began laughing.
“That’s easy,” she said. “We don’t make friends with each other because we are all scared of each other.”
I’m not going to pretend to understand the background of her first question or the reasoning behind her second. As a Haitian who has been raised around blans all her life, her observations between the people in her own culture and us probably stem from previous experiences. Whatever the reasoning, it is clear that both are based in one underlying issue: a lack of trust.
I’ve been advised by many Haitians before to be careful and not to trust anyone down here fully. “You can trust a little, but always be watching your back,” they say. Not trusting people, not always giving people the benefit of the doubt, it isn’t a natural tendency of mine. Yet here I am- I’m living in a culture where trusting in your neighbor isn’t vey common.
Being surrounded by a culture who has difficulty trusting in people of their own nationality, learning how/who/when to trust others AND trying to earn/prove your own trustworthiness can be a challenge. Trying to show my own teens that they can trust me, teens who I have known for years, is a daily routine.
We don’t make friends with each other because we are all scared of each other.
Can I really trust you?
I told this girl (the one I mentioned above) that I wanted to be her friend. Not only that, but a friend she could actually trust. I’ve done countless things to deserve her trust in the past. But her fear of being vulnerable runs deep and wide and is affirmed by a majority of her culture. And I am caught swimming in her deep waters of fear, doubt, and uncertainty. Can she really trust me?
I pray that one day she will.