This past year I have wanted to be a person who builds bridges between myself and others. I think it is the most important thing we can do at this time. Our society just keeps becoming more and more divided, and we all see it. But are we willing to do the work to heal the divide? Can we build bridges between ourselves and others with different perspectives? My last post was about self-censorship. It seems to me that it is going to be very difficult to build strong bridges if people won't even speak truthfully about their own feelings and beliefs.
My struggle is very personal. I've tried to open tough conversations with some people I love and it didn't go well. One person has cut me off, so there isn't much I can do about that other than process the normal feelings of grief - anger, hurt, and sadness - that come with the death of a relationship. As much as I want to talk things out, you cannot force someone to talk with you without becoming a stalker! So respect the boundary, I must. <- Thank you Yoda.
The other people have not cut me off. We are still in contact and things are civil. But things have changed for me. As I see the propaganda being pushed for vaccine passports, it is impossible not to have a feeling of dread. It is impossible not to think about what many people believe about "people like me".
It's really hard letting relationships go. Even if you aren't completely cut off from someone, some things inevitably change the relationship.
I felt the need to do something. But because my preferred method of resolving differences has been shut down - namely, communicate the crap out of things - it was difficult to know what to do. Do I become a bridge burner? Do I completely cut the relationship off myself in an attempt to protect myself and my family? I needed some relief.
I finally found a solution. I don't have to burn bridges. But I don't have to actively maintain the bridge either. I can "let it go." If it rots, it rots. If railings fall off, that's ok. Planks need replacing? Not my job.
This analogy has been really helpful for me. I don't have to completely burn the bridge to find peace and focus on what's important. I can leave the bridge there, and maybe someday my loved ones will be ready to work together with me to repair the bridge. I look forward to that day.
What does this mean practically speaking? It means that I don't put a whole lot of effort in and I don't expect anything. I am free to put my energy where I really need to put it. I can say no more easily to superficial contact if there are other more important things I need to tend to. But if I want to engage in that way, that's ok too. It means I can be flexible in how I interact. The truth is, I don’t want to invest much in relationships where I can’t be myself and I feel like conversations about topics that are most important to me aren’t welcome.
I hope that this imagery may help some of you struggling with similar relationship dynamics. I know it has helped me find more peace this week.
How have your relationships been impacted this past year? What has helped you navigate difficult relationship dynamics?