This Is Us

Choosing to Trust — Or Not — Is a Lifelong Balancing Act

After my trust was abused in my marriage, I learned to trust myself

Katy Friedman Miller
Human Parts
Published in
10 min readJan 29, 2021
Photo: Dennis Harper/Flickr

Suspicion is the companion of mean souls and the bane of all good society. —Thomas Paine

The porn videos sitting on his bedside table were the first thing I made note of. The one on top was “Poke-ahantas.”

It wasn’t unusual for a paid caregiver to answer the door at a hospice patient’s home and usher me, a hospice social worker, into the bedroom. Mr. K wasn’t in his bed, however.

I’d never met him before; he’d just begun receiving home hospice care the day prior. The nurse’s opening notes said he was born in the former Soviet Union and according to the paperwork, he was 50 years old with end-stage colon cancer. She reported his English was good. No mention of the porn.

“He is in the bathroom,” the caregiver noted as she turned to leave to go back to the kitchen, and she rolled her eyes as she did so, while simultaneously shouting toward a cracked door, that I assumed was the bathroom, “The social worker is here!”

She left me perusing the modest porn library. I stood awkwardly with my laptop computer in hand and my bag of paperwork over my shoulder. I sighed.

“Come in here!” Mr. K shouted from the bathroom.

“I’ll go get your caregiver,” I called back tentatively.

“Not her. You come in here. I want to talk with you.” His accent was thick and his voice reminded me of the bad guys in thrillers from the 1980s.

I peeked into the bathroom. Mr. K sat on the toilet with a shirt covering his private parts and a newspaper in his lap. Pooping, I assumed. I held my breath. I glanced at him and then back down at the floor. As a social worker, it wasn’t really my purview to do bathroom stuff.

“I’m going to sit here and talk with you here,” he declared.

“I really can wait till you’re done — wouldn’t that be more comfortable?” I suggested.

“Not for me,” he said. “Do you have some kind of questions for me to answer? I answer them…



Katy Friedman Miller
Human Parts

I’m a grief therapist and former hospice social worker. Sharing stories from life, death, and work and where they all intersect. TEDx talk at