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Burning Bridges

Updated: Jul 12, 2022

orange and yellow fire with blue and orange sky background
Photo Cred: Benjamin DeYoung / Unsplash

Sometimes I think back on stories I’ve written, things I’ve shared, and am hit by a panicked wave.

Maybe I shouldn’t have said that! (cringe)

What if they read it (and hate me because of it)? (double cringe)

Does this make me look bad?

That was unspiritual of me.

At times, I carry guilt, or worry about reactions that haven’t happened yet, and maybe never will.

The long-lived saying — Don’t burn your bridges — spoke in my head like a nagging, crotchety nanny that had an aphorism for damn near everything.

I get it.

Anything along the lines of — Don’t be a dick — is valid. Be kind and all that.

But what about when you are a dick, you react badly, say the wrong thing, or completely lose your cool and yell at your kids? You say shit to a friend when you should’ve zipped the lip! You’re impatient with the cashier because your dog just died. You’re agitated for no identifiable reason, and the people around you absorb the brunt of your sour mood.

Not to mention all the bridges you’ve burned.

Because even if you’re bending over backward to please, be liked and avoid ruffling feathers and making waves, there’s that other turn of phrase — Not everybody is going to like you. Simply by being alive on the planet, you’ll have an opinion that pisses somebody off. You’ll have a friend, that at some point, won’t be your friend anymore. You’ll have a job you leave, maybe amicably, maybe not. Good for you, because it’s better to realize someone or something isn’t healthy than stay in it and live up to grump-nanny’s advice.

I look back on my life thus far, and most of what I see is ash. Charred remnants of the J.O.B.s, relationships and places I lit on fire and left behind. Like the job I walked out on, literally in the middle of my shift. Because of that, I’m on a shit list, banning me from ever working at an Outback Steakhouse again. And hallelujah, thank fucking God for that. I can’t think of a single friend I’ve fallen out with that I’d want in my life at this moment in time. If one or the other hadn’t burned the bridge, we would have kept the space for new friendships plugged, energetically rejecting fresh relationship dynamics that reflect our growth and true preferences. I can think of a few people, at least, that really don’t like me, because of what I’ve said or done. I wouldn’t take it back. I wouldn’t do anything differently. That was my best at the time, even if it was still shitty. That bridge needed to burn, I needed to either stand up for myself, make a move — or that’s what they needed, and I might not have understood it at the time.

We all fuck up and grow from it.

A lot of times, burning a bridge is the best thing for you. Finally saying NO to abuse or mistreatment of any kind. Making a career move that prioritizes your well-being (even if your boss resents you for it). Leaving a friendship that doesn’t ring the heart bells anymore, that you’ve grown out of or beyond.

You may want something different than what any given scenario is providing you, and that is good enough reason to burn your fucking bridge. In these faith-filled moments, you leap into your Self. Who needs a bridge when you’ve given yourself permission to soar?

Do it kindly or messily or straight-up badly, because you’ll learn from that and evolve.

How about we slip this one in crab-nanny’s arsenal:

When stuck, light a match.

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