Trust. It’s everything.

12/27/95–On Military Route “Arizona”- A sign warns of mines that were planted in a field during the Bosnian war. In a report published by the Bosnian and Herzegovina Mine Action Centre, it stated, ” In Bosnia and Herzegovina there is still remaining more than 80,000 mines/ERWs. Mine problem is present in 129 municipalities/cities, or 1,398 affected communities/settlements.”photo, J.R. Lopez, New York Times.

By Caitlin Kelly

If you’ve been reading Broadside for a while — thank you! — you know I’m generally an openhearted person.

I like people and approach new situations, professional and personal, with a sense of optimism.

Working as a journalist means I have to quickly put strangers at ease and gather useful information from them. We have to establish trust fast — something of a contradiction.

Working as a journalist also means assuming most people are not lying to me, or want to do me harm in so doing, because a journalist who publishes lies is someone with a very short career. So we fact-check when possible and seek out sources whose background and credentials are as legit as we can find.

When it comes to personal relationships, trust is also paramount, at least for me.

My first marriage, to a physician, lasted barely two years; he bailed and remarried, quickly, a fellow therapist (!) he worked with and with whom he spent a lot of personal time. I was wholly reliant on him financially, so I had to trust him. I had little choice then.

Jose and I have spent time apart. I traveled alone for six weeks in Europe in June-July 2017, as blissful as I could be. I love solo time and traveling alone, exploring to my heart’s content.

I had an amusing evening in Berlin, sharing a table with three handsome young men (all co-workers), one of whom (as part of the conversation!) took off his dress shirt.

It was all good fun, nothing more.

Trust is the basic foundation of every interaction we have, from infancy to death:

— our parents

— our physicians

— our caregivers

— our teachers and professors

— our school/college administrators

— the police

— the courts

— our clergy and religious leaders

— our political leaders

— activists

— our relatives

— our romantic partners/spouses

— our employers

— youth group leaders

— our co-workers

— government agencies whose job it is to regulate/fine/shut down offenders

If you’re a person of color, or non-Christian, or gay, you have now become a target for hatred — with more and more deaths-by-vehicle, targeted by sociopaths or a pervasive police brutality that is deeply shocking, if no longer surprising.

You can’t even go out for a bike ride or a walk trusting in your personal safety.

And, as I’ve written here before, trust can be quickly shattered, and is difficult to regain….after dating a con man in 1998, being laughed at, literally, by my local police and D.A., my worldview would never be the same again.

My family relationships, too often toxic through anger and alcohol, taught me to be wary of intimacy.

Trust also underpins every freelance personal and professional relationship:

— our friends

— our colleagues

— our clients

— our agents

— our editors

— our social media networks

I spend a lot of time (too much!) on Twitter, where I have some 5600 followers, including some very senior people in my industry.

I’ve made several very good friends with people I still have yet to meet face to face, whether in Brazil or Tennessee.

So this past weekend, we did!


A gay couple, one of whom works in our industry (journalism) and her partner, came up to our home and shared a long lunch that started at noon — and ended at 5:30.

We all took the chance of getting together and hoping we would be as we are on social media — fun, funny, playful, smart, interesting.

We were and we did.

I call these Twitter blind dates, not that we want a romantic thing, but we go into them really only knowing a tiny profile photo, a bunch of tweets and LinkedIn profile. Hoping for the best!

I’ve done this many times, never disappointed.

With a retail expert who lives in Virginia.

With a travel blogger and an archeologist (2 people) in Berlin.

With a pair of travel agent sisters in Zagreb.

With a fellow blogger, in London,

We’ve been repeat house-guests a few times, and that also requires trust — that we’re quiet and thoughtful and don’t smoke or do drugs or will break or stain or ruin things. We bring food and drink and a gift and we always send a thank-you note.

We also trust our hosts to offer us a clean, soft bed. To let us have quiet alone time. To offer good food. To not (as one did to me?!) leave a filthy cat litter box beneath my pull-out bed.

I also once house-sat for a family of four headed to Tuscany from Vermont — unpaid. I was perfectly happy to walk their small affectionate dog. I was not at all happy to also get stuck watering their large garden in a heat wave and (!?) cleaning their pool.

That friendship died with this abuse of my time and energy. I trusted them to be fair with me, and they were not.

Do you trust easily?

8 thoughts on “Trust. It’s everything.

  1. Jan Jasper

    Another great post, Caitlin! I would think that with the wide variety of experiences you have had, you would by now have a very finely tuned ability to judge people. I would think that at this stage you would rarely get a nasty surprise, of course that could still happen though.
    I have long admired your ability to forge bonds, not only professional but also personal friendships, through social media. I complain about social media a lot but I think for people who work solo at home it’s an important lifeline.
    I have to often trusted the wrong people, but my judgment has improved with age

    1. Thanks!

      I have to make snap judgments about people, for sure, and am good most of the time….dating the con man really shook my confidence in that ability.

      I enjoy social media — as someone alone in the burbs with a few pals and a husband gone on-site 7 days a month. It gets lonely!

      I also withdraw much more quickly than I used to.

  2. I trust my inner circle..not to be perfect, but hopefully to be honest. Outside of that I have come to completely distrust most of the press which makes information gathering a lot more difficult. It’s funny (not funny, but ironic) that you brought up being hit by a vehicle..this happened recently at a gay pride parade down here and the press immediately insinuated the LGBTQ+ group was targeted ..probably because the mayor did as well..loudly and immediately. Twitter went crazy.. hashtags vilifying the governor and comparing Ft Lauderdale to Charlottesville were trending within hours. The problem is the poor man who hit these people was himself part of the parade and had suffered some medical issue.. but the cat was loose as they say. And so it goes.. we are whipped up again, too embarrassed (or committed to our “side”) to retract or even be relieved that the nightmare scenario we imagined turned out to be false. –Back to your question.. trust is based in truthfulness. If we don’t value or practice or commit to truth, trust dies in utero. I feel for this next wonder they are gripped with anxiety.

  3. “With a fellow Canadian blogger who lives in Paris and who took me to a great Parisian bistro where we spent New Year’s Eve sitting up at the bar, drinking great wine and chatting our heads off.”

    Why am I not surprised that you didn’t include me?

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