A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

These Extraordinary True Stories Will Remind You About the Power of Trust

Taking a leap of faith and trusting someone else is one of the scariest things you can do, but these people's stories prove that it's worth it.

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I trusted my trainer—and he saved my life

“As an athlete, I’ve always worked hard to push myself to my limits and with that usually comes some aches and pains. So last year when I started to feel some muscle soreness after a tough workout at first I didn’t think it was a big deal. I was training for a marathon at the time, so over the weekend I’d done a 13-mile run. The following Tuesday I hit my favorite CrossFit gym to do a workout that involved a lot of upper body weight lifting. My trainer told me to take it easy on my body, but I figured I’d be fine and powered through it. Afterward, my trainer noticed a slight swelling in my arm and said he was worried. I tried to brush him off but he insisted I drink a lot of water and check in with him in a few hours. Sure enough, by that afternoon the swelling had increased and I headed to the doctor. I still thought he was making a mountain out of a molehill but I trusted my trainer so I did it.

“The doctor took one look at me and diagnosed me with rhabdomyolysis, a life-threatening condition where muscle overuse causes kidney failure. (Fact: Rhabdo turns your pee brown! Here are 10 more things your urine can tell you about your health.) As they gave me IV fluids to flush out the toxins, my doctor told me that if I’d waited even another 30 minutes, we would have been having this discussion in the emergency room. Things were touch-and-go over the weekend but I made a full recovery, thanks in no small part to my trainer. I was a very experienced CrossFitter and still hadn’t seen any problems. Thankfully I had a great trainer I could trust; he saved my life.” —Katrina Plyler, Tuscaloosa, AL

Trust is important. So we conducted a survey to find out which brands American’s trust the most. Meet the heroes of the Trusted League, these are the most trusted brands in America.

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I trusted my therapist—and caught my husband cheating

“After suffering through several years of a difficult marriage my husband and I finally decided to try marriage counseling. One day our therapist suggested a one-on-one session with me. He told me that my relationship wasn’t healthy and I needed to get out. I still remember his exact words. He said, ‘If you told me you were going to stay, I’d ask you why; if you told me you were leaving, I’d have no questions.’ (Worried about infidelity in your relationship? Here are 12 subtle signs your mate might be cheating.)

“At the time I wasn’t ready to believe my marriage was over, but I trusted that he knew what he was talking about. I took his advice seriously and began the painful process of divorce. I discovered that my husband was cheating on me, even while we were in counseling, and I realized my therapist had been so right. What he said that day led me to change my life in a major way and it has made my life so much better in many ways. I’m so grateful I listened to his wise advice when I was too emotionally caught up in my relationship to see the problem myself.” —Marcy Wright, Sacramento, CA

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I trusted my dog—and I’m still alive

“Ten years ago I adopted my dog Rudy from a shelter just days before they were going to euthanize him and we’ve had a special bond ever since. As a single woman in her 50s, I’ve found his companionship really meaningful. We have a lot of rituals together. For instance, every night we have a little bedtime snack and then I get in my bed and he gets in his doggy bed right next to mine. But a year ago suddenly Rudy didn’t want to do the routine. Every night when I got in bed he’d jump up on my bed and start licking my face, even though he knows he’s not supposed to. I’d get mad and make him get off but the next night he’d do it again. Soon he was jumping on my lap to lick my face every time I sat down.

“I was considering taking him to obedience school when it suddenly dawned on me that he was licking the same spot on my jaw over and over again. I felt my jaw and it seemed okay and I didn’t have any pain but it was so out of character for my dog that I decided to just trust him. I made an appointment with the doctor and felt silly telling her why I came in but she agreed to do some tests. Well, it turns out I had osteocarcinoma—bone cancer—with a tumor in my jaw. It couldn’t be felt from the outside but somehow Rudy knew it was there. I just finished chemo and radiation and I’m doing much better now but the doctors said if I’d waited until the tumor was big enough to be felt, it likely would have been fatal. I saved my dog’s life and now he’s saved mine!” (Shocked? Don’t be: Here are 13 astounding things your dog knows about you.) —Linda Baker, Seattle, WA

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I trusted God—and it paid off

“When we first became Christians my husband and I kept hearing about tithing. At the time, we were living paycheck to paycheck, just barely getting by. We were donating about $20 a week which felt like a huge sacrifice at the time. But we kept reading the message in the Bible, Malachi 3:10, and decided to just trust God that if we were obedient He would take care of us. It was a huge leap of faith but we started giving at least 10 percent of our income in tithes. Sure enough, not only could we get by but our financial circumstances kept getting better and better. We’ve been tithing ever since and never looked back!”  —Keri Kuhlmann, Minneapolis, MN

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I trusted a career coach—and now I have the job of my dreams

“My first job out of college laid me off after just a few years. It was part of a brutal merger and lots of my coworkers also lost their jobs. Part of our severance package was a career counseling service but I didn’t want anything to do with it. I was frustrated, depressed, and blamed myself for not being good enough. I was convinced I was a terrible worker and no company would ever want to hire me again. About a month after the layoff, I was wallowing in my misery when a career coach from the counseling company called. He told me to just come in and talk to him. When I said I thought it was a waste of time, he told me to trust him and just try it. Plus it was already paid for so what did I have to lose?

“I went in and met with him. Not only did he totally revamp my resume but he gave me a ton of good advice. He helped me see how unhappy I’d been in my previous position and that I really wanted to focus on a different area in my field. I ended up going to graduate school on his advice to get an advanced degree in a more specialized area. My new resume also got me a lot of interviews and within a couple of months I was in a graduate program for professionals and working at an amazing job. It’s been nearly 10 years and now I say that getting laid off was the best thing that ever happened to me—that and trusting that career coach.” (Want some good advice of your own? Here are 56 secrets life coaches won’t tell you for free.) —Jason Anderson, Seattle, WA

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I trusted my doctor and my gut instincts—and it saved my son’s life

“Due to several health complications, my son was born five weeks premature. I thought everything was fine but a week later I was changing his diaper and found blood in his stool. In a total panic I called the pediatrician and she told me it was probably just blood from nursing due to a cracked nipple. In my heart this didn’t feel right so I looked around for a second opinion. The second doctor took me seriously and suggested a scan just to be cautious. I decided to trust him and we discovered that my son had necrotizing enterocolitis, a very serious intestinal illness common in premature infants that can sometimes be fatal. Time was of the essence. If we had waited even one more day he could have died. He was admitted and treated for 14 days in the hospital. Today he is 13 years old, thanks to my trust in a fantastic team of doctors and in my own motherly instincts.” (If you’re inspired, here’s how to tap into your own intuition to help your health.) —Lisa Randolph, Richmond, VA

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I trusted my baby—and we both survived

“Vomiting when you’re pregnant usually isn’t that unusual, but when I was 21 weeks along and suddenly gained 30 pounds while vomiting every time I ate or drank I knew something was seriously wrong. I went into the hospital hoping I just had the stomach flu but was shocked when they told me I was in acute heart failure. (Nausea is just one of 10 silent symptoms of heart disease!) After a few days of testing the doctors told me that the only way to save my life was to abort my son. I was heartbroken. There was nothing wrong with my baby boy, and after they decreased the amount of fluid I was retaining, I felt pretty healthy too. Yet, I was told that if I chose to keep the pregnancy both of us would likely die. (Here’s how to find a doctor you can trust.)

“It was an agonizing decision. I didn’t want to die but I felt strongly like my son was telling me it would all work out just fine. Every time I saw him in the ultrasound I had a powerful feeling that he was fine and I would be fine too. I decided to trust him and my body and kept the pregnancy. My son Ethan is three now and we both are doing great! Labor and delivery were textbook perfect. I ended up getting a heart transplant when he was 6 months old and have recovered well. Two weeks ago, we had our second baby, this time with a surrogate. Every night when I tuck both my kids into bed, I’m grateful all over again that I trusted my little guy.” —Ali Barton, Dedham, MA

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I trusted my husband—and now our marriage is stronger than ever

“Like so many people, this past election was incredibly difficult for me. In the months that followed, I became completely obsessed with political news coverage. All day every day I was glued to my phone, reading news sites and social media constantly. Understandably this didn’t make me great company. Politics was all I thought about, all I wanted to talk about. And my husband and I fought about politics a lot.

“Then a couple of months ago my husband sat me down, telling me my behavior had gotten out of control and he was worried about me—and about us. “I don’t want this election to be the reason we get divorced,” he said. “You need therapy.”

“At first I was defensive but then I remembered how much he’d always loved me and what a great husband and father he was. I knew I needed to trust him. Once I tuned out the political noise I realized my husband was right—I was stressed out, angry, sleepless, and neglecting the most important people in my life. I was obsessed. Making myself sick by constantly poring over the latest on social media wasn’t helping anyone. It wasn’t that my husband didn’t respect my right to my beliefs, but rather that he hated watching me suffer so much.

“Since then, I’ve been able to disengage with politics and re-engage with my family and community. Trusting my husband saved my mental health and my marriage.” (Here are the signs you can trust your partner.) —Natalie Benson, New York City, NY

Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Charlotte is an award-winning journalist who covers etiquette, relationships, psychology, health and lifestyle. She has written more than 50 etiquette stories for Reader’s Digest, spearheading the site’s popular Polite Habits and Best Messages series. With a knack for capturing the essence of an interview subject, she also specializes in human-interest and “as told to” stories. In addition to Reader’s Digest and The Healthy, her work has been published in Shape, Cosmopolitan, Women's Health, O Magazine, Fitness, Redbook, Seventeen, What to Expect When You're Expecting and more.