“Sometimes you get the best light from a burning bridge.” Don Henley
To burn a bridge means to be entirely done with something. It’s an affirmative act which cannot be reversed.
I’ve been guilty of not burning bridges that should have been burnt. It’s painful to end relationships or situations that no longer work. It’s easier to bob along aimlessly in a state of dysfunction than make a clean break.
When I did manage to finally light the match, it was because of a simple realization: eventually everything must come to an end. It wasn’t easy to admit that something I put a lot of myself in was over, but at least I could stop spending time and energy trying to resuscitate it.
Also, with a bit of distance from the dysfunction I was able to ask myself questions. What was my part in why this didn’t work? Why did I let myself feel trapped for as long as I did? What responsibilities did I fail to meet? Being on the other side gave me the space I needed to learn and grow from my mistakes.
You’re not done with something until you choose to be done with it. Make the decision, light the match and see the light.
Choosing to be done with something wakes us up. We get back to making choices. We take steps on our own behalf. We replace dysfunction with acceptance and clarity.
That “best light” you get from a burning bridge, that’s enlightenment. Are there bridges in your life just begging to be burnt? What is the light illuminating for you about letting go and moving on?
Survival > Existence,
Seven Thoughts on Embracing Change
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Wonderfully said. My most recent posting discusses me ultimately burning a bridge that a support group built — on their own terms. I agree that burning some bridges can be quite healthy. I love the opening quote you used!
Good for You for Knowing When Enough was Enough
Thank you! I love that quote too. I read it and was immediately inspired to write this post. I read your post and can’t believe how awfully you were treated. Dysfunction of that magnitude deserves a bridge burning. Good for you!
Survival > Existence,
i read about you and your blog on marie’s weekly round-up. i am so glad i found you! i am not a blogger – my life is too complicated with both my husband’s cancer dx’d in 2009 with multiple myeloma, and then my dx in 2011 with ST IV metastatic BC. my stock in trade is commenting on both myeloma and breast cancer blogs to pay it forward in giving support, empathy, encouragement, sharing parts of our story that may help others, learning, listening and doing all i am able to participate in initiatives to wipe cancer off the face of the earth. it gives me great fulfillment to be able to do so, and it came about at a time when i had to burn bridges and let go of 3 dysfunctional relationships – with 3 of my sisters. i knew it was the right thing to do, but it was very painful. i did feel relief, but i went through all the self-examination you described in this post. i learned so much about how dysfunction is often symbiotic. in my case, i needed things that my sisters were not equipped to give me. each time, without realizing that i was yearning for the love i had for them to give me in return, i fueled the dysfunction. if i needed support during the 2 stem cell transplants my husband endured, when i was feeling on the brink of being a widow, they were not there for me. but while i felt abandoned and confused and heartsick, they weren’t at all upset. they seemed to thrive on the drama, to be curious, but not at all thoughtful or loving or concerned. but i coudn’t see that each time i reached out to them for comfort and support, they were pushing me away. the smoke of those burned bridges brought many tearful and heartbroken times. not once since they found out about my diagnosis have they ever asked anything about how i have been faring – no e-mails, no phone calls, nothing. so it all just had to end. and finding the love, acceptance and support when bloggers read my comments and respond to them has given me a whole new world of purpose, for which i am so grateful. i feel acceptance and have clarity now, and i am at peace. thank you for sharing such an insightful and wise perspective.
You Deserve the Support You Need to Heal
I’m so glad you found me on Marie’s blog and are here at WWGN. Burning bridges is a painful process, but the clarity and peace you speak of is well worth it. It’s great that you’ve been able to set aside the drama and find support from others who really get what you and your husband are going through. Finding others who get it is a vital part of healing and you completely deserve that support.
All my best to you and your husband. I hope you continue to contribute to WWGN and I look forward to hearing from you again.
Survival > Existence,
Oh, Debbie, the timing of
Oh, Debbie, the timing of this is perfect. I’ve been told so many times not to burn a bridge, but sometimes a bona fide ceremonial bonfire is what’s needed. I can’t begin to tell you how free I feel having fled a toxic, broken culture. I absolutely refuse to celebrate being half a century in a place that neither honors me as a human being or respects me as a professional.
Thanks so much for writing this.
The universe conspires to assist …. yet again.
a ceremonial bonfire
Seriously, you have no idea how perfect your timing is Debbie. I have been cautioned so many times NOT to burn a bridge, but this time it felt tremendously freeing to burn it to the ground. I refuse to begin the second half of my life in a toxic place where I am neither valued as a human being or considered as a professional. Whoever wakes up and says, “I want to work work in a toxic and dysfunctional environment when I grow up?”