Feb 20, 2023Liked by M Tamara Cutler

My mother avoided a scam today. I mean, today, the very day this post arrives in my email. I trust the universe to show me ways and paths, so clearly I must share about my mother's not trusting.

Here's the scam: someone (this guy had a heavy accent, and right from the beginning, Mom suspected he was trying to make himself difficult to understand) who claimed to be from Verizon called and demanded $130. He said her service would be turned off unless she paid up. Mom, whose Verizon service had legitimately been turned off a month ago (long story, involving an old account that we keep trying to close but that Verizon resurrects every once in a while) was immediately in high anxiety. Her TV, phone, and internet service are all Verizon. She's so frail she can't get up from her chair without two people lifting her. The TV and phone are her world.

Scared as she was, she didn't lose her wits, which, at 92, proves her to be an amazing, strong woman who's a good role model for her three daughters. The guy began bullying her about the money and that's what made her suspicious. Finally she asked where he was calling from. He refused to answer. She hung up and called me.

So this is a little story not so much about trust as it is about knowing when not to trust.

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Feb 21, 2023Liked by M Tamara Cutler

They could have met during the war: he, a former military man and she, who once worked for said military. Only it was 40 years later, and they met in the wilderness of social media.

He made the first move, commenting on her looks. She responded, flattered and curious. He looked dignified, comfortable, well-fed. He said he lived in a warmer state and recalled her homeland fondly. She asked about his daily life.

And she asked me to look him up, and I did, alarms going off.

Concluding that his photo was stolen, his identity a fabricated pastiche, his hints at meeting part of a ploy to steal – I advised she break off communication immediately: Trust me mom, this guy’s a scam.

Her brusque reply: Oh, it doesn’t matter. It’s fun writing back and forth. Who cares if it’s the truth?

I hung up the phone, feeling guilty and sad.

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“So, what you’re saying, how it works is I choose whatever I want to eat, serve myself off the bar, keep the toothpicks holding those creations together, and pay the bill at the end. How can they possibly keep track of what everyone takes? The place is absolutely packed,” I said as we maneuvered our way to the plates of tapas piled high. The Basque people call them Pintxos, complex ingredients and flavors held together by a toothpick, built on top of a slice of bread. “Wow, baby eel on a smoked red pepper? Melted goat cheese and caramelized onion? Don’t mind if I do!”

Color-coded toothpicks neatly stack up in front of me. When we’re finished, I’ll take them to the owners and settle the tab. Tell them how professional everything was. Now this is my element. A fair trade built on artful taste, honesty, and accountability. A timeless combo.

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Two marriages with broken trust being the culprit of their ruptures. I could always sense a lie somewhere, not a distinct one, but very broad ones, as they seeped into every crevice of intimacy.

Repair of this broken trust (there was many) was a real inside job. On one hand, I was told they couldn’t be honest about their lies due to fear of my reaction. I was to angry. I accepted this. But then I felt a familiar label: scapegoat. Which only would spiral me further into anger. This could not be my final resting place in making peace and healing!

What I keep learning is one persons issues with honesty isn’t about me. I haven’t told a lie in decades. But I also was not trustworthy. My emotions and feelings and unmet needs ran the show, and they needed my attention, I had to FEEL the truth that my trust is earned and another’s privilege to enjoy. And that no relationship is promised. Victimhood of another’s trustworthiness- or lack of- was not going to be the hood I wanted to live in. Discernment comes with age, but mainly the question : What keeps me in the loops of agreement to be manipulated, used and duped? Well, the part that needed all my trust and love. So I went in, and got her. I trust openly and I forgive easily, but when we are done, we are done.

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Feb 21, 2023Liked by M Tamara Cutler

“I don’t trust her as far as I can throw her.”

I was fourteen when somebody said that about me for the first – and last – time.

The whole of Year 10 was going on a trip. When I arrived at school, I was surprised to learn we were having one lesson as normal before leaving; I’d thought we’d be out all day, which is why I’d only brought in a packed lunch and lipgloss.

My first lesson was Physics. Mrs P always made me sit at the front of the science lab. ‘Lab’ sounds white and shiny; it was actually a dark, old classroom with scarred wooden benches and rickety stools.

Mrs P told us to get out our exercise books, so she could check we’d done our homework. Oops. I tried to explain myself, but she didn’t believe me. “I’m going to ring home about this. Go and get the number from Reception.”

“Miss, why don’t you get the number off her?” someone asked as I walked out.

“Because I don’t trust her as far as I can throw her,” I heard Mrs P say, after I’d closed the door.

Had I done the homework? I don't remember!

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Feb 21, 2023Liked by M Tamara Cutler

There's an afflicted young man that walks swift laps around town, passing our home regularly. He's usually in one of two modes of pronounced conversation with himself - chatty and cheerful or unmistakably agitated. “I will ZAP you!” I once overheard. Local merchants assure me he is harmless and very polite. There is often a bottle in his hand and his malady may be self inflicted, I do not know, but I decided we should be friends. In December, after making my annual cookie deliveries to these local merchants, I finished with one spare bundle and could hear the young man rounding the corner. I reached into my bag.

“I would like to give you some of my home made Christmas cookies. I'm American, that's what we do, bake Christmas cookies.”

With some involuntary movement, he accepted and pushed them to the bottom of his pocket saying something I did not quite catch and then he looked me straight in the eye and said, “I live in The Silverdale Hotel behind the Tesco, do you know it?”

I automatically replied,” I think I know the one. I live in the bright yellow house on Church Lane.” It seemed like the right thing to do when he had trusted me with the knowledge of his home address.

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Feb 21, 2023Liked by M Tamara Cutler

My husband got lonely and adopted Freya from the local animal shelter in Virginia while I was in Connecticut of a month selling my mother's house. In Freya's eyes, he was her savior, not me. Never mind I was usually the one who took care of her, feeding her twice a day, hosing her off when she came home muddy, grooming her. She reserved her Princess Di look—chin down, eyes up—for him. Until the Sunday she got bitten by a copperhead and ended up spending the night at the after-hours-only emergency vet clinic. The next day, my husband and I divided the labor: he cleaned out the woodpile where we thought she'd run afoul the snake, and I did the pick up and drop off, from the clinic to our daytime vet for further monitoring. Led by a vet tech carrying the IV bag, Freya entered the clinic's lobby and looked at me, muzzle down, eyes up. Her Princess Di look. Freya died last month at the age of fourteen. To the end, my husband was her savior, but both of us had her trust.

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Feb 22, 2023Liked by M Tamara Cutler

After two false alarm visits to the Doctor and being sent home, I held onto the contractions until 9pm. I said this is for real! We sped off to the hospital and I was immediately taken into the delivery room and examined and sure enough we were on our way.

The Doctor arrived in a tuxedo as he had been called away from an event. The delivery went rapidly and before I knew it, I was in a recovery room with a little baby with black tousled hair and the sweetest expression who was sniffing and routing around seeking my breast. She found it and clamped onto my nipple and began kneading it just like a little kitten. I was looking down upon her in wonderment realizing for the first time that here was a lifelong commitment and responsibility. She paused and when she opened her big black eyes and fixed them upon mine she silently expressed her trust in me and confidence that I would always be there for her.

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Feb 23, 2023Liked by M Tamara Cutler

My brother saved our lives once. We were on a road trip in my dad’s blue Volkswagen Beetle. He drove us from New Orleans to Dangriga, where he lived on and off, eventually reaching Belize after a longer than expected drive through Mexico’s jungles, mountains, small and large towns, and coastal areas.

We hadn't spent much time with our dad, so more than a few times I wondered why my mom let him take us on this journey. Does he know how to take care of kids, I asked myself.

My brother saved our lives on a mountain in Mexico. The Beetle got a flat, and our car veered left, off the road. My brother, in the front seat, lurched to the side and grabbed the steering wheel to brace himself. Doing so righted the car’s course, steering us back towards the mountain road instead of off of it. After the car stopped we got out and looked at where we were heading. The Beetle, with us in it, could have plunged off the side of the mountain into a deep mess of trees and rocks, and I wondered how my mom would have ever found us down there.

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We were a tight knit group of 9 year old girls, barely held together by a thread that would sometimes start to fray, should one of us do or say or act the wrong way. Unfortunately little girls can be total dicks to each other and thus, came my turn to be shunned.

We had been having a fun Sunday afternoon, playing games in Colleen Eisman's garage. The game began as "Pass the cap", where we were simply tossing a red knit cap from person to person. There were 6 of us. Deanne Corley had the idea that we should toss the hat over the track of metal high above our heads that made the garage door go up or down.

She threw the cap to me and I shot it up in the air, seeing it land on the track getting stuck up there.

"WAY TO GO SHIRLEY!", she shouted, and told the others to "Come On!", all following her down the driveway and leaving me stunned and confused as to how fast our friendship had crumbled in one quick mistaken toss. I ran home crying,

The next morning the gang never showed up at my house to get me on our daily walk to school.

As "Walkers" we had a route where the farthest girl, Amy, would make her way to one house to get Kirsten, then those two would grab Deanne, then Colleen, then Maryanne, then me, but not that morning though. They skipped me and after waiting for an extra 15 minutes my Mom told me I needed to get going before I would be late for the school bell. I walked by myself stunned and saddened.

When I arrived at the elementary school I saw the 5 of them, all waiting in the line to be let in once the bell rang. I walked to the end of the line and then heard a "Hey Shirley! Come here!", to my joy. I ran up to them and Deanne held out her hand and said "We are sorry for yesterday...Do you want a Tic-Tac?", holding a small clear plastic package with bright orange candies inside. I enthusiastically said "YES!" and held out my palmed hand. She poured a handful of them and I popped then right into my mouth to the cry of laughter and howls. "WE FOUND THOSE IN THAT TRASH CAN! YOU'RE EATING GARBAGE!! HAHAHAHA!" I started to immediately spit out what was in my mouth as tears started to roll down my eyes and I turned to run home.

Like I said earlier, little girls can be the most terrible dicks and I've never forgotten how long it took to trust them, or other groups of women, again.

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