When Bridges Blow

cbingham-bridge

For some reason I don’t make too many little mistakes.  When I make mistakes, I make big ones.  When I fall, I don’t scuff my knees, I break bones.  When I do damage to bridges in relationships, I don’t burn the bridge, I blow it up.  This way of life really kind of sucks, to be honest.  I have no hope of friendship, usually, after I leave a mistake behind – most often, the other people involved view me as an enemy.

I am the son of an amazing single mother who remarried a great man, who I now view as much my own father as anyone else would their own biological father.

No matter what my parents did for me, I was always left with a void.  Not a void of lack of love or concern, but only the void that a biological father who walks away from his family can leave.  Left with a feeling that regardless of how many times I was told that I was good enough or cared about enough that one of the two people that should almost automatically feel that way – didn’t.  Or worse yet, didn’t care.  The void manifested in a constant seeking of approval from others.  Ironically, the harder I tried to find approval, the more I found void.  I didn’t realize until much later that this void could and would never be filled by my pursuits nor the affirmations of others.

Never wanting anyone to have the slightest negative opinion of me for fear that my “true worthlessness” (my perception created by my father leaving) might be exposed.  If I could make others happy, they might let me stay around and they might continue to express that I carry some positive value.  Always on eggshells, never willing to take too big of a risk.  For taking a risk might leave me standing alone, the place I feared most.

I got tired of this inability to walk barefoot around others, to really share with others who I was because of the fear of exposure or failing to live up to expectations.  Ok, I wasn’t tired, I was exhausted.  That is when I started to make big mistakes.  Huge mistakes, actually.  Bigger mistakes than I thought possible in my lifetime.

In an instant – Love for me turned to hatred.  Friends became enemies.  Sanctuaries now dangerous places.

I jumped from meek to arrogant in one leap. I started making decisions that turned into huge mistakes, and before I knew it, I was buried in a mass of mistakes that was suffocating but liberating at the same time. The liberation that can only come from a life of running that is suddenly no longer moving forward.  Choosing to make these mistakes allowed me to take down the walls that I built around me. Arrogance took hold in a way that I said to the world – “I do not care what you think anymore.”

If I was going to burn a bridge, why not just blow it up?  I quickly found, though that living on an island with blown up bridges all around is not a place anyone wants to be, regardless of how arrogant, independent, or self reliant someone might consider themselves.  I needed others – we all do.  Predictably, the ones I needed most were on the other side of the chasm, and now I was left without a bridge to cross.

“The life we end up with is simply an accumulation of all the choices we make.” – Darren Hardy

What I realized is that healing starts with humility.  When I make mistakes, the first step is for me to own it.  I apologize to God, to the people that I hurt, and I do my best to work with them at equal height (not from my knees groveling) to rebuild the bridge I destroyed, to heal the broken bones and to move forward humbly.

“Right actions for the future are the best apologies for wrong ones in the past.” – Tyron Edwards

It doesn’t always work, but I have realized that amazing things happen when I start by accepting that I am at fault, that I am 100 percents responsible for my behaviors and the outcomes around me.  I don’t control all of the variables, but I do control myself and most importantly my reaction to the environment that I’ve mostly created.

It takes a lot longer to rebuild the bridge than it does to blow it up.  Don’t be fooled into thinking that the reconstruction is any less dangerous or harmful than the destruction.  The process not only begins with humility but must continue throughout.  I’m focusing on one board at a time, working hard to place each board correctly.