burning bridges

I was trying to explain recently to the was-bund (it’s a working title) why it is that I don’t accept his recent offers of hugs. Why they make me laugh uncomfortably, shy away, and suggest maybe a high-five instead. He’s always done well with metaphors, and on the drive home the perfect one occurred to me.

He burned our bridge!

When we form relationships with people, any people, it’s very much like building a bridge. Maybe it’s just a quick, impromptu log bridge that connects us to the neighbor down the street or a co-worker. Other times we work hard on our bridge and make it strong, even beautiful, like with a friend. And a dozen times a day we toss a few rocks in the stream and jump across quickly.

I thought our bridge was pretty sturdy. It wasn’t pretty, or fancy, or something that was an obvious engineering marvel. It had some random pieces, and lots of repairs in varying stages of completion. But I was proud of it. And it was familiar.

I think if he had just left back in January when we started talking about it, we could have closed the bridge down for awhile and restructured it. Even back in March, when I wasn’t invited, he could have just stayed gone. The bridge would have been there, but it would have been obviously unsafe.

Instead, he set fire to the whole thing.


In a way I’m grateful. I would have kept trying to make repairs. Maybe would have tried putting on some paint or some planter boxes in an effort to make it better. Would have wasted time and energy on a bridge that it now appears to me was probably not structurally sound.

But I’m also angry. And confused. How can you be friends with someone who has such obvious disregard for your emotional well-being. How do you connect with someone, be vulnerable with someone, who destroyed what trust and faith in them remained. If they wanted a connection, even just of a different kind, wouldn’t the bridge have had value still? Even if only as a relic, a ruin, something broken but beautiful in it’s own way.

Now we’re going to have to rebuild that sucker, which in the long run will be better for all of us it seems. But right now I just don’t know how much effort to put into it. What will the new bridge look like? How much traffic does it have to handle? Maybe a drawbridge?

It’s gonna have to cross a pretty wide divide.



3 thoughts on “burning bridges

  1. It is really beautiful metaphor. And don’t let him (or anyone else) tell you that what you are feeling isn’t ok. You don’t have to be friends to co-parent well and frankly, as you said, friends don’t behave the way he has.
    Right now, boundaries are so important. And frankly, he needs to learn that actions have consequences. He doesn’t have the right to your friendship and to be rewarded for his crappy behavior.


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