Last updateWed, 20 Sep 2017 9am

Whom can you trust?: Haugh About That?

Waving my pink poodle skirt with all the fervor of a matador preparing to tease a raging bull, I blinked my 20-year-old eyes and gave a come-hither look to indicate, “I’m ready!” Little did I know that the blind trust I had in this moment of divine faith would be shattered with one short twirl.

In 1972, I was spreading my theatrical wings in the musical “Mame” at the University of San Francisco. Wildly dancing the jitterbug under intense lighting, the routine was perfectly choreographed, from the flip of my blond curls to the syncopated tap in my toes. We’d practiced the number flawlessly over and over, but as Murphy’s Law would have it, there are exceptions to any given rule.

Jumping onto his frame, coiling my legs around the waist area in a vicelike grip, I let go of my arms that clung to his neck and dropped backward. Spinning fiercely, my hair sweeping the stage floor, I mentally prepared for the dramatic dismount with confidence. But instead of landing on my feet, my partner lost his grasp and I went flying, arms and legs flailing in all directions, landing on a balding man’s lap in the front row.

“I’m so sorry,” I whispered, humiliated, before slithering back to the stage, hoping no one noticed.

Catching up with my partner, who continued dancing as if I’d never left, my eyes screamed, “I’m going to kill you.” But at the same time frightened, I wondered whether I could ever trust this boy with my safety again.

When I was a little girl, Pollyanna was my middle name. Receiving my dad’s optimistic outlook on life, I constantly played the “Glad Game” and wanted to find the good in every situation and every person. Unfortunately, this left me filling many a Kleenex, because human nature can’t help but disappoint sometimes. Despite the pain it caused, I continued to believe. Then, in 2001, my good nature was blindsided, thus disintegrating my trusting nature.

Divorce is never easy, even when both parties are in agreement. When a massive storm cloud sits precariously over a wounded heart too long, you’re left wondering if the sun will ever shine again. Anger and resentment obscured my view, and the quality I loved most about myself dissolved in my bucket of tears.

During that painful period of my life, I walked around wrapped up in the unfairness of it all and went to great lengths to protect my fragile ego, negating my belief in others who deserved better.

Then one day I finally cried, “Enough!” I’d given too much power to a broken dream that blocked the core of who I truly was. It was time for Pollyanna to come home.

Trust has been called many things: an emotion; a way of thinking; a subjective, conscious experience. I prefer to think of it as an expectation, something I look forward to.

When I decide to put my faith in someone, I’m living with a heart wide open, ready to love freely. Through this, I expect in return a beautiful experience with another equally giving soul.

I’ve learned that trust should never be given blindly. Age and wisdom have taught that the recipient must be worthy, and that living with a suspicious, unforgiving mind only creates darkness. I’ve made peace with the past and found living in the light far more desirable.

Today, I continue to dance without fear that I’ll be dropped on my head. Sure, missteps may happen, and a toe might get squashed along the way, but placing the power of faith in another nurtures confidence to continue to perform, free and triumphant.

Jackie Madden Haugh is a Los Altos resident. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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