The Bridge: To Burn or Not to Burn

Well, after my past post about wanting to connect to people…I’m going to write this post about burning bridges. #situationalirony

I was talking with a friend the other day about burning bridges with ex-lovers. I am a huge fan of letting it burn. Sometimes I throw some dynamite in the mix just to watch the chunks of wood or stone (depending on what your bridge is made from) fly. In fact, usually that dynamite is needed to effectively destroy a stone bridge.

When people talk about “burning the bridge” with someone, I always imagine each person on their own island (no, man is an island) with hundreds of various kinds of bridges connecting the edge of their island with other islands which contain a single inhabitant. The closer you are to a person, the stronger material your bridge is made from, and the better repair it remains in. In my imagination, this ranges from a single rope to a thick, steel-enforced stone bridge. So when I talk about burning the bridge with someone, I really visualize it – setting a torch to that rope and just watching it float away as ashes, or lacing the entire complex structure with dynamite and lighting it and watching the chunks fall into the ocean below. Or sometimes, a more subtle approach is needed, so I slowly paint the bridge with that explosive paint they use in films like The Italian Job (remake), and then I just have to wait for the right moment to press the button and the entire edifice crumbles into the water below.

I think you can probably tell from the detail in which I fantasize about burning bridges that I feel pretty strongly about it.

There are people out there who would advise to never burn bridges.

I think that sentiment is true. Once after breaking up with me, an ex of mine pleaded that we would still be friends because he wanted to always be there for me as a friend if I ever needed him, for example, if I was passing through town and needed a place to stay. Thing is…if I was passing through town and needed a place to stay, I would get a hotel. Or sleep in my car. Or drive through the night. I guess I’d rather swim than keep some bridges around.

I realize this makes me sound incredibly vindictive. Maybe I am.

But I think it’s because I’m incredibly passionate. And loyal. So when I care about someone, the bridge goes from a rickety rope bridge to the Golden Gate in just a few key conversations. I’m so loyal, my picture should be next to the word in the dictionary (and I’m not just talking about romantically here. Talk to the friends I’ve had for 26 out of my 28 years of life). Because of that, if something goes wrong in the bridge’s construction, it’s going to affect the health of my entire island. Like lead poisoning.

If someone really messes up with me, my blood pressure is going to skyrocket every time I see their picture, or their name, or hear about them from other friends. It’s simply not healthy. But if I burn the bridge (aka unfriend on Facebook, unfollow on Instagram and all other social medias, delete phone numbers and email addresses – once I even got a new phone number because I knew they’d try to text me and ask why I unfriended them), then in a matter of weeks, sometimes even days, I can go from “that person is the worst human being I’ve ever met and they don’t deserve love” to “we had different priorities and their life choices make me sad,” which as you can tell is much calmer and happier. After reaching that point, I usually don’t care about running into them again or hearing about them from mutual friends, cause I ain’t even mad.

So I burn bridges for the sake of my emotional health. But more than that, here’s the reason why I think bridge burning should be more widely considered:

I have talked to a lot of people who are afraid of burning bridges because it’s “rude” or “mean” yet they get anxiety every time that name shows up on Facebook or their phone. Sometimes these people from their past can make them cry years after the fact, when they think they’ve finally moved on. Why, why would you allow someone that kind of power in your life? Why would you even give yourself the option to be hurt like that again, repeatedly? Leave that baggage at the claim – you’ve got too many adventures to go on to waste energy carrying that around.

And as long as we’re talking about connecting with people, if you are carrying that overweight luggage around it could seriously get in the way of new, better pursuits. For example: My first boyfriend broke up with me during Christmas break after my first semester of college. Because I was determined to regain that relationship (even though I realized it was a burden in my life – I just didn’t know any different), I totally missed out on the attractive, exotic, Nigerian poet who pursued me ardently the next semester. That could’ve been an epic adventure of my lifetime, but instead it’s a sad story with an abrupt ending.

Basically what I’m saying is: alleviate yourself of unnecessary weight. Burn those bridges. Be free; be yourself.

I suppose the best advice out there about burning bridges is this:

Always evaluate the consequences of your choices before you make the ones you can’t take back.

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