Posted by: itneverrainsinseattle | April 26, 2010

Matters of Trust

I screwed up my knee this past Thursday. Torqued it during a martial arts class. It was a stupid mistake on my part (resisting when I should have yielded), but the laws of physics don’t really care about intention or worth. No bonus points for meaning well. No pass for being a good guy who just made a mistake. The extended knee is designed to only move in one direction; mine was forced to move in a different direction. I went down, my leg when awry, and my knee went askew.

After I was able to do more than simply writhe on the floor holding onto my leg, I managed to get up and walk it off. Well, limp it off. I walked. I sat. I walked. I sat. I got back into class. Still felt wobbly on the knee. Walked it off some more. I declined to participate in most of the drills, but I did participate in some. Mostly, I took it very, very carefully.

But at the end of class, there was a very simple exercise that I figured I could probably manage. The idea was to practice our “forms” (memorized routines) gently, but with reality. Okay. My current form includes a very simple kick early on. You stand on one leg, throw a side kick with the other, then switch and kick in the other direction.

I stood on my right leg and lifted the left leg to throw the kick. My right knee [deleted due to graphic content] and down I went.

I get the willies just thinking about it. I mean… the leg isn’t supposed to do that.

So I’ve been taking it as easy as I can on that leg. I still went to my temp job on Friday — if I don’t go to work, I don’t get paid (I’m a contractor, not salaried) — and consulted with an ER doctor friend of mine on the phone (and a lovely young nurse-in-training friend who gave me similar advice). Basically: take it easy for a few days — rest, ibuprofen, ice, and more rest and more ibuprofen — and then see an expert if it still hurts.

Well, Saturday was the birthday party for one of the kids, and I took it as easy as I could… but I still did a lot of standing and walking. Moreso than I clearly should have. That evening, while limping from the living room to the kitchen, I felt my knee hyperextend. Yikes!

I’m not telling you all this to gross you out, nor to lead the chorus in a round of “Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me.” While it is something that is happening to me, and it complicates my immediate plans (it’s hard to submit new “loan modification” applications when you should sleep rather than drive into the office to get the paperwork you need), there’s another aspect of this that’s on my mind.

It’s a matter of trust.

I can’t trust my right knee to do what it’s supposed to. I can’t trust it to keep me up. I’m afraid to walk on it, not so much because of the pain, but because it has let me down. Literally. The pain is manageable, but the lack of trust… that’s something else.

And so it is with my Soon-to-be-Ex-Wife.

Penny has given me no reason to expect that she will decide to up and go to court to try to sue for full custody of the kids, or alimony, or the like. In fact, all indications are that she genuinely wants what is best for the kids, and understands that an amicable parting is best for all of us. Let’s take that further… she has given every reason to believe that she wants and expects us to still be best of friends once we go our separate ways. [A prospect that I’m not quite so sure about.]

And yet, many of my readers here have picked up upon my fear that things may not play out as amicably as they could and should. Why do I fear her suddenly turning mean, when she’s given me no overt reason for thinking she ever would? When, in fact, she never has been mean. [Unintentionally cruel, perhaps, but never deliberately mean.]

Part of it, certainly, is the horror stories one hears all the time about divorces turning ugly despite the best of intentions. Some of those stories have been told in the comments section here on this very blog.

But I think it goes more to the distrust that comes from disappointment. From being let down. Despite how carefully I treaded, she let me down. And as I’m learning with my knee right now… lack of trust can lead to fear. It can lead to worrying about all kinds of what-ifs. What-ifs that, well, are conceivable, even if they aren’t actually likely. Sure, it’s conceivable that I’ll need surgery, or that now I’m a candidate for arthritis before I turn fifty. Not likely, but it’s conceivable!

Penny let me down. My right knee has, more recently, been letting me down. The solution, as I’ve mentioned before, is to prepare. Seek more information. Talk to experts and take appropriate action.

…And to rely more upon the other people (and my other leg!) who support me rather than let me down.

I’m still learning, my friends. But I’m doing what I can to continue moving forward. Well, at least, limping forward. Hobbling forward.

And on that note, it’s time for some more ibuprofen and some more rest.


PS: One of the blogs I enjoy following is DelightfulEceentric. I swear, I started following it before DE recently found herself in a break-up. She has said something interesting that rings particularly true to me: that the notion that “trust is earned” is perhaps not the best way for us to look at life. Rather, to some extent, trust should be the default until proven otherwise. I’m sure I’m not putting it as eloquently as she has, but you understand the gist of the meaning.

Penny has let me down, yes, but I refuse to let that sour me on trusting in the future. And while I will proceed carefully in this divorce, I will not let suspicion lead me to act badly as a preventative measure. While I vent my fears here in this blog, I still prefer to act with guarded optimism. To pursue an amicable parting to whatever degree makes sense. Just as I rail at the notion of my knees getting old prematurely, I likewise hope to resist getting any more bitter or grumpy as I age.

Bitterness is the arthritis of the soul. (You can quote me on that one.)



  1. Trust is a really tough one for me, too. I tend to make people work to earn it – it’s no my immediate default. I guess that comes from being let down too many times by too many people.

    Not that I’m saying it’s a good thing….it’s simply how I operate.

    Hang in there – and take care of that knee!!

  2. Hmmm.

    Yeah. I have trust issues. I’m damaged. Of course I do. When meeting new people, I tend to be somewhat leery until I get a sense. And there’s only one or two people in this world that I really trust. And we know one of them has broken that trust in some ways…yet still…I trust him not to hurt me, not to make bad decisions, not to cruel intentionally or otherwise. So far, so good. (We’re still working on his bromance…)

    I have founf that you don’t really know a person until you break up/separate/divorce. It’s natural to be concerned. I’d be more worried if you thought Penny was never going to show her teeth.

    So be prepared and be ready for anything. I’m rooting for you as always. And wishing you a speedy recovery.

    Big hugs!

  3. Yep, it is perfectly natural to worry about this stuff. I remember being nervous to ask my ex-husband something and he was like, “Don’t you trust me?!” and I couldn’t answer that. I did before but now… I wonder. Even still, I wonder. Why would he want to do anything for me if he gets nothing in return? Yeah, I feel your pain.

    Speaking of pain, look into homeopathic Arnica to help with your knee. They will have it in pill or gel form at your local health food store. It will help with the healing process.

    Take care!

  4. 🙂 I think my belief that trust should be given outright instead of earned simply comes from the fact that I am (as I mentioned in my most recent post) an eternal optimist. I still believe in the good in people…or maybe it’s simply that I HOPE for the good in people, because a lot of the time, particularly when it comes to friends, I’m really cautious about motives. But when it comes to myself, I simply can’t let myself hold back. I feel like I’m doing myself a disservice if I do.

    Oh, and I get the knee thing, too, although you probably haven’t read back that far. Going on two years now, with a bum right knee. I’ve gotten to the point that if it’s not better this summer, I’m determined to blow it out completely, so at least then I have something to actually FIX. I’m sick and tired of being gentle with it. There comes a point when you get tired of being nice and just say, “Screw it, I’m going to be a hard-a$$.” Just remember that, if the time comes.

  5. That is a great quote…llove it.

  6. Penny and your knee: you trusted both to do something you should have known they could not.

    You already know why your trust in your knee was wrong (“resisting when I should have yielded”), yet when you accepted Penny upon her return to you prior to your marriage, it wasn’t her you saw, but the one you wanted her to be.

    Soon, your divorce will put stress on Penny like she has never had in your relationship. She is trusting that she isn’t going to be taxed in a manner that violates the laws of marital physics, just as your knee had no reason to expect the strains you put on it. She will react as your knee did, causing you great and costly pain that isn’t going to go away anytime soon.

    It’s too late for your knee. I just hope that the damage you did is something that doesn’t require medical intervention. It isn’t too late to prepare for the most extreme possibilities when it comes to Penny. Just have everything ready for use if it becomes necessary. If it doesn’t, no harm was done.

  7. Great quote. I agree with the previous comment. Sometimes the issue isn’t about trust so much as managed expectations. Everyone should be realistic about others’ limitations and recognize that you can’t always hold your loved ones to the same lofty standards as you hold yourself.

  8. your optimism is inspiring in spite of your fears and it truly is a nice quote. good luck with the knee and the divorce.

    (uh, btw: i have a great knee doc in seattle if u need advice)

  9. In a room of 500 attendees (all people who worked together in some form or fashion), we were once asked to all stand. Then the situation was posed: “Stay standing if you automatically trust someone (until they give you reason not to), and sit down if you do NOT trust someone (until they give you reason enough to earn it).”

    Neither way is better/worse than the other, but it was a big eye-opener and explained a LOT. FWIW– the room was about 50/50. Hmm. Maybe that’s a key demarcation topic to ask someone right up front.

    I suppose it’s just a matter of how emotionally available someone allows themself to be. Going through life not trusting (protecting from some kind of hurt that might or might not happen?), is just plain sad and will give whoever a lousy life.

    Hear! Hear! for the Trusters!

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