Burning Bridges

I've heard it said that once spoken certain words cannot be unsaid that it's impossible to get past the pain of them. Once upon a time, I even believed it. I don't believe it anymore. Life has taught me that people feel things in a moment that don't represent how they feel in general. Which one of us hasn't thought something perfectly awful about someone we love? Which of us hasn't had a moment or two of gross unfairness or wrong-headedness?

So, what leads to the idea that we cannot recover from rashly or harshly spoken words? I think it's pride, plain and simple. Surely, we're not so fragile that we can be irreparably undone in a moment. Words hurt, it's true. I even wrote a blog about it, called Sticks and Stones and Broken Bones. Hurtful words spoken over a lifetime or the course of a childhood can cripple the hearer, but that is not the same as words spoken between adults, words that should not have been said. Perhaps we can't snatch them back again, but we can ask for or extend forgiveness.

Another thing I don't believe in is the concept of burning bridges. Once again, why can't we get past "bad moments," even horrifying moments? Should we subject ourselves to evil people, of course not, but we can get past doors slammed shut. We can tie a rope to a burned bridge and leap across.

When I was growing up I spent a lot of time at the rivers and lakes that surrounded our home. One of my favorite spots had a massive tree with a rope tied in it. We would inch our way across a perfectly extended branch, grab hold of the rope, and swing right across the water, then free-fall into it. What's to stop us from doing the same thing when confronted by a burned bridge? :) Pride? That's probably the biggest factor. But if we're willing to ask for or extend forgiveness, we can swing across and free-fall back into a broken friendship or family relationship. That being said, the fact that we can doesn't necessarily mean that we should.

I'm glad that I've come to a place where I recognize the truth that it's possible to heal from having spoken or heard hurtful words that it's possible to swing across a burned bridge. Perhaps we won't find a foothold on the other side, but that shouldn't prevent us from trying if it's what we feel. We're not responsible for how other people react, we're only responsible for our own actions, for being true to ourselves.

©Just Kate, May 2010

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    About Me

    I love laughter, wickedness, fearlessness, irreverence, and kindness. I love road trips where I can prop my bare feet up on the dashboard. I love the feel of sunshine warm against my bare skin, the smell of the mountains and the roar of the ocean. I love to read. I love to challenge conventional thinking. I'm a huge fan of spirituality but have little tolerance for religion. I love to talk faith and philosophy. I love children. I get bored far too easily. I love debate and people who don't try too hard. I love it when people aren't afraid to disagree with me and know why they believe what they believe.

    Music

    Things that sound like music to me: rain on a tin roof, the trill of birds first thing in the morning, the coo and gurgle of happy babies, the beat of African drums, the roar of the ocean as the tide ebbs and flows, the sound of a rushing river, unrestrained laughter, the wind moving through leaves, the tick-tock of my grandma's old clock, the crash of thunder, a quiet whisper in my ear, the contented purr of a cat, the musical ting ting of wind chimes, children laughing, the sizzle sizzle sound of something yummy cooking, and the rustle of dry leaves under my feet.

    I also enjoy many musicians and bands including: Ray LaMontagne, Jason Mraz, The Black Eyed Peas, John Mayer, James Carrington, CCR, REM. My favorite genre is acoustic folk/rock.

    Favorite Quotes

    "We are what we repeatedly do; excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." —Aristotle

    "The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering." - Ben Okri

    "What we think, or what we know, or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence. The only consequence is what we do."—John Ruskin