To walk across a bridge that takes us safely from one place to another we need it to be strong. Steady. Reliable. Supportive. True.
How very lucky we are when an unforeseen, rare opportunity arises in life that challenges the character of those around us. The choice between principled right and wrong are then made. It doesn’t happen often but when it does, as painful as it can be when they fail that test miserably, it takes us on a journey into the realization of who and what matters most.
I once had a friend whose wife often boasted that her husband never burned any bridges. And why would he? That bridge may serve another purpose of benefit to him further down the road, just as she too benefitted him. The truth is he did burn bridges, they both had, they just both believed they’d never been caught.
Ironically, that same former friend (the wife) was the first person in my life to label and suggest to me that my (now) ex was a psychological and emotional abuser. At that time of her labeling however, I just didn’t see it. She saw it, she knew it, she was the very first to identify it because she’d seen it before, but when it all reached the visible surface and hit the proverbial fan, she and her husband both made no mistaking of the crystal clear choice of where they stood, and their loyalty was always with him, no matter the truth and circumstances. They had both made that similar choice with others before. It was then I shockingly realized exactly who I’d allowed into my circle and the reality of why they were there in the first place.
Life delivers many lessons to us from many sources. Some life lessons come through professional settings, some tougher, painful ones more personally. Some lessons will come through the “tongue biters and enablers” we all encounter, and others from the toxic, tormented souls they attempt to use for their own personal gain. Sadly, these “supporters” care nothing for the troubled soul they enable. The irony of life. The ones who truly care will all disappear. You see, the troubled soul wants desperately to avoid the mirror, and that of course includes anyone who is holding one, and users will always choose the one with more money, not the one who does the right thing.
Often the few unprincipled who are left remaining have no real attachment to the people they support. There is always something of benefit to these types of people, such as denial of their own remarkably similar issues (the old saying of birds of a feather flock together), or perhaps a potential source of client referrals. Sometimes it’s an association with someone they can use on a more social basis, or perhaps for the benefit of private air travel, or simply just to boast about having a connection with them and for who/what others may believe them to be. That is of course, until one day when “The Shadow” is in complete control (See my article: The Shadow Knows) and there’s nothing left of that tormented person for them to use any longer, or they finally get caught red handed in their lifetime of lies highlighting and demonstrating their absence of character, and being called out on it. The characterless don’t like being caught and called out. That is when the arson begins.
Speaking untruths of other people doesn’t deflect from one’s own character flaws, shortcomings and true self. It always amazes me how many people don’t believe that is true. If you’re lucky, life will provide you with an opportunity for those in your close circle to either step up and rally around you for the sake of truth, character, and integrity or very quickly, undeniably show you their toxic deficit and absence of character. We don’t always get to see one’s true character come out until they are no longer able to hide it. People who wear masks will eventually let them slip. People who play roles will eventually forget their lines.
Beware of the cruel belittlers of others (as I mentioned in my previous article, “Belittle, and You Are Little,”) and pay close attention to what they say. If they say it about others, they’ll say it about you as well. It’s usually a crucial mistake to excuse or overlook their ugly, false rantings.
Tragically some people, (especially those with hidden or covert Narcissistic Personality Disorders and disguised addictions) choose to live life on the surface, creating no real meaningful or loyal connection to anyone. All people are objects to the Narcissist. They remain in an infinite re-cycling state of new euphoria of new relationships/marriages until eventual discontentment, inevitably landing once again feeling empty inside only to begin that cycle of forged connection once again. Remember, every relationship with a Narcissist automatically comes with a expiration date. They’d rather have the familiarity of failure than admit their desperate need for help with their unimaginable, life-long inner pain, personality disorders, addictions, delusions, inferiority complexes, and alcoholism. The more desperately they seek to regain credibility once it’s lost, the further they sink into proving they have none. The generational family secrets of emotional, psychological and physical abuse many have hidden for a lifetime and will go to great lengths to keep hidden from others, but mostly from themselves. Many people live in fear, frightened of any exposure that could leave them facing a mirror they don’t wish to see. Sometimes one’s good nature and honest spirit irritates the “inner demons” of others because truth always sounds like hate to those who hate the truth.
Personality disorders and hidden alcoholism/substance addiction as well as deeper more subconscious secrets can be fiercely protected not only by the one who is suffering, by also by those who benefit from its propagation. Beware of close “friends” who are aware of these conditions but continue to enable and encourage mental illness, abuse, lies, dysfunction, and addictions to grow. When we truly care about someone, we address their choices and behaviors with them, we don’t encourage them to continue those destructive choices and behaviors without counsel and accountability. When they cannot handle that accountability, carefully reevaluate them and take a much closer look.
I recently recalled a past conversation between that same husband and an ex-wife of another mutual friend. The ex-wife had pointed out to him that he didn’t have any friends who were not all much wealthier than he and his wife. At the time I thought she was unbelievably out of line and incredibly cruel. On several other occasions my former friend (the wife) had spontaneously and out of context felt the sudden need to explain why she and her husband didn’t live in a certain neighborhood or belong to a certain club. On those occasions I was confused and miffed by the repeated topic, unable at the time to follow her conversation and thought processes. I thought to myself, no one has asked you for an explanation of why you live where you live. It had never crossed my mind or occurred to me to wonder such a bizarre thing, but it clearly consumed her thoughts. Funny how time, clarity, and exposure changes things. I now see these points quite clearly for what they were. This proverbial moth sees the hidden flames.
Back onto the bridge.
Quite often it is a better, wiser, more self-preserving, self-honoring choice to walk away from burning bridges. I have learned that to simply let it burn requires more inner strength, faith, character, self-respect and courage than is needed to try so hard to put out the flames in order to save the bridge. There’s an immense feeling of complete control, an inner peace and sudden calm that results from realizing it’s sometimes better to just let it burn. It’s especially true if you’re not the one who set it aflame in the first place. Why try so hard to extinguish the flames you didn’t ignite? Why try to put out an intentional fire, an arson you didn’t set? In these moments you realize it’s far better to leave it burning, otherwise you may innocently lose yourself in the process and become their collateral damage.
Within those remaining embers, emerges a life that is quickly shifting, much like the winds that feed the fire forcing you to rise like a phoenix from the eventual ashes of an intentionally set destruction.
The bridge wasn’t as it appeared. It was carefully constructed to appear to be a real bridge, but without the real functionality and stability of one. It wasn’t strong and sturdy, reliable and steady. When you finally look closely you see it was secretly deeply flawed, cracked, shattered, weak, and unable to function and stand on its own. It is completely falling apart, quickly crumbling and rapidly growing weaker with time. It wasn’t real. The fire was inevitable.
Within those burned bridges of the past lies a beautiful rebirth and refueling of all that was unknowingly taken. We simply can’t save some people from themselves and sometimes, quite often we just shouldn’t try.
So go ahead and let it burn. I promise you’ll be extremely glad and eternally grateful that you did. In time you will see the truth of it all. Everything you had inadvertently overlooked or completely missed (until the opportunity arose for a test of character) will become crystal clear when the smoke fades. The missing pieces of the puzzle always appear in time. Always. Every time.
So again, go ahead and let it burn. You’ll quickly see the many wonderful, strong, steady, reliable, supportive, true, and most importantly REAL bridges all around you to replace the weak ones you didn’t know you had. Your new bridges along with many preexisting, reliable and remaining bridges will be better and stronger than ever before. Character and integrity truly are everything. So stay close to the people in your life who feel like sunshine, not the burning flames. ☀️
“The friendship which can cease has never been real.” –St. Jerome
Grateful, thankful, blessed.
For T, N, M, K, A, S, D, G, L, W, P and to all my ever sturdy bridges. ❤️ Thank you, to eternity.