In the last seven years, one thought has been extremely persistent in my mind:
What if I burn every bridge from me to the rest of the world? What if I go a bridge too far?
I’m going to let you all in on a little something here: many times when I have a blog entry ready to go, my mouse pointer hovers over the ‘Publish’ button for a few seconds as my heart jack-hammers into my throat. Then I take a deep breath and click the button to publish. In all the time I’ve been doing this current blog for the last year or so, I haven’t had anyone come at me for anything I’ve written. I haven’t had any angry, or ugly communication from anyone. Yet I have feared that for so long because in my past, when I tried to open up just a little, I got a hard shot across the chops sometimes in addition to very hard push-back. I internalized this for so many years as being my fault in some way, and that imprinted hard and deep into my mind. So in turn, I’ve been trying to de-construct that imprinting and create something better for myself.
But last night at around one-thirty in the morning as I laid awake in bed, this thought came to me:
What if the bridges I’ve always been so afraid of burning completely were never really there in the first place?
I’ve thought about this question since last night and what it means to me is this: the bridges I’ve been so afraid of burning never truly existed. They were bridges I wanted but have never had in my life. Now I know I put up barriers on any attempt by anyone to make a bridge to me but in explanation, I did that because my efforts at building bridges haven’t really gone that well. I used to blame myself for taking shots across the chops for trying to express my feelings and stand up for myself because I always thought I’d done something wrong. It’s taken me a long time to realize that although I am just as flawed and as fucked-up as anyone, wanting those bridges yet not truly building them wasn’t wrong either.
There’s a line from a book I recently re-read yet again, the book ‘Carnal Innocence’ by Nora Roberts:
“Sometimes we hurt more for what might have been than for what is.”
For the last seven years, I’ve had to work through what I now call a de-construction, a de-construction of a life I’d led that wasn’t sustainable, or good for me. I think this is more commonly known as ‘burn out’ but I like my term better because if you can de-construct something, then you can build it back better, stronger, and truly sustainable. It’s not easy to de-construct your life, your thoughts and feelings, your beliefs about yourself and work through the facades you created but in the end, it’s worth the knowledge that is gained because that knowledge can NEVER be taken away from you.
Seven years ago this month, my pain levels shot through the ceiling. I had two disks in my lower back there threatening to blow themselves out and my pain level was way off the charts, so much so I don’t quite remember everything from the month of April 2016. By the end of that month I realized one thing: I couldn’t go on like that anymore. And yes, I walked away from that job at the end of May 2016 to nothing and in the years since, I’ve been busted down to nothing. I know there might be people out there who would love to have a go at me and tell me I should have known better or done something else or some bullshit like that. I’ve been afraid I would retreat if that ever came to be, but I know this: I won’t retreat.
In the last seven years I’ve had to learn how to mourn not just for what was, but for what might have been, and what I wanted but never got. In this mourning process I’ve learned bridges that are built on perfectionism or never being good enough deserved to be burned to the ground because in reality, they were never truly there in the first place. They were one-way tickets to people and places that you can walk away from while doing just fine on your own.
To those reading this who have burned out and had to walk away from things in order to save your life, I understand exactly what you’re going through. I want you to know you can get through it, and you will come out better for it. I call this ‘de-construction’ and once you de-construct what you need to then you can build back better and create something that is stronger, and sustainable in the long run. And if anyone comes at you with any shit about what you’re doing or why, shrug your shoulders and give off your best Generation-X vibe like me and say, “Whatever.” Then follow it up with this: “Fuck off and work through your own fucking shit like I’ve worked through mine.”