Posted in Lessons Learned

Crossing The Bridge

This picture hangs in the counseling room at my office.  Everything in my office has a special meaning.  Tools I’ve gathered throughout my career. I use these tools to teach my clients how to take steps in their lives.  To make their lives better than where they are the first time that they meet with me.  I teach the tools and they choose whether they care to use them or not.  I don’t have their answers.  They do.  They just don’t know that.

Monet’s Bridge has special meaning to me and also for many of the people who have attended the various support groups that I’ve facilitated over the past 20 years.  I’ll share with you the tool that this picture helps to teach.

Language of Letting Go – Melody Beattie

“Picture a bridge. On one side of the bridge it is cold and dark. We stood there with others in the cold and darkness, doubled over in pain. Some of us developed an eating disorder to cope with the pain. Some drank; some used other drugs. Some of us lost control of our sexual behavior. Some of us obsessively focused on addicted people’s pain to distract us from our own pain. Many of us did both: we developed an addictive behavior, and distracted ourselves by focusing on other addicted people. We did not know there was a bridge. We thought we were trapped on a cliff.
Then, some of us got lucky. Our eyes opened, by the Grace of God, because it was time. We saw the bridge. People told us what was on the other side: warmth, light, and healing from our pain. We could barely glimpse or imagine this, but we decided to start the trek across the bridge anyway.
We tried to convince the people around us on the cliff that there was a bridge to a better place, but they wouldn’t listen. They couldn’t see it; they couldn’t believe. They were not ready for the journey. We decided to go alone, because we believed, and because people on the other side were cheering us onward. The closer we got to the other side, the more we could see, and feel, that what we had been promised was real. There was light, warmth, healing, and love. The other side was a better place.
But now, there is a bridge between those on the other side and us. Sometimes, we may be tempted to go back and drag them over with us, but it cannot be done. No one can be dragged or forced across this bridge. Each person must go at his or her own choice, when the time is right. Some will come; some will stay on the other side. The choice is not ours.
We can love them. We can wave to them. We can holler back and forth. We can cheer them on, as others have cheered and encouraged us. But we cannot make them come over with us.
If our time has come to cross the bridge, or if we have already crossed and are standing in the light and warmth, we do not have to feel guilty. It is where we are meant to be. We do not have to go back to the dark cliff because another’s time has not yet come.
The best thing we can do is stay in the light, because it reassures others that there is a better place. And if others ever do decide to cross the bridge, we will be there to cheer them on.
Today, I will move forward with my life, despite what others are doing or not doing. I will know it is my right to cross the bridge to a better life, even if I must leave others behind to do that. I will not feel guilty. I will not feel ashamed. I know that where I am now is a better place and where I’m meant to be.

From The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie ©1990, Hazelden

Sometimes I have to be reminded of the tools and that I can still pick them up and use them for myself.  That I have a life journey of my own to follow.  There are many people I’d like to have along on my journey, but they have journeys of their own to follow.   My new path is beginning to take shape.  It’s exciting and kinda scary.  I don’t know what’s ahead on that road.  Probably life.  Happy days, sad days, excitement, fear, successes and trials.  As I share my plans I have some friends who say.. “I’m scared for you”  or “I’m worried.”  And there are other friends who say, “Go for it, I know you’ll be fine.”  And even others who have been saying, “Look me up when you get here, I can hardly wait to see you.”

But, of course I won’t be going alone.. I’ll be blogging all along the way.  So you’ll all be with me as I cross the bridge.


12 thoughts on “Crossing The Bridge

  1. I like this. The question is.. do we burn the bridge behind us so we aren’t tempted to run back across it? Hmmm crossing has never been a problem for me, it’s staying there that’s the problem lol.

  2. Hi Lisa,
    In the past I’ve burned bridges that I’ve crossed. And sometimes I regret doing that down the road. In the reading by Melody Beattie… she talks about being on the other side of the bridge and waving, encouraging and cheering on those that we had to leave behind. We become their inspiration. So if we burn the bridge.. we lose part of the gift in crossing over.

    I think when I’ve gone back to that cold dark cliff, it’s because I loved someone so much that I was willing to give away part of my well-being. Going back to the cliff was a painful reminder to me that giving myself away isn’t good for me or for them. And it doesn’t ever achieve the desired or hoped for result.
    Ultimately, it’s much more loving for everyone if I don’t go back across the bridge.

  3. *** oh wow, i sure needed to be reminded of this,,, thank you so much for sharing*** this is kind of like “group” , i sure do miss that phase when you were a part of my “journey” through life ~~~

  4. When you mentioned ‘group’ I counted back 22 years that I’ve facilitated relationship-based support groups. I began in Clear Lake and then at Mercy Hospital for several years, and finally in Forest City and Algona.
    I’m glad you enjoyed this. And thank you for reminding me of some good memories.

  5. Monet is my favourite painter…thank you for this post Jeannie. It can get lonely as you cross the bridge and scary but when you reach the other side you feel so much better…your light adds to those that have crossed and hopefully that lights a path for others to follow. Sometimes the bridge isn’t as big as we think it is. You will be more than fine…you will fly and live and have fun as you are following your purpose…love you xxxx

  6. Jane,
    Actually once I saw the bridge again I felt so much better. I’ve crossed that bridge before and I know the wonderful gifts on the other side. Now I’m excited to be moving forward once again. Life feels better already.
    Thank you for your inspirations!
    Jeannie xxxxx

  7. Wow, I don’t know why that just made me so emotional! It’s so important to know…it’s ok to cross the bridge. And to be reminded not to go back to the other side because people need to see you in the light so they know there a better place :). Such a great post as usual.

  8. What a wonderful post, Jeannie. An inspiration. I crossed that bridge years ago and never looked back.

    The two ends of the bridge remind me of negative/positive…

    Maxi says: Nurture the positive and love will grow; feed the negative and it will destroy.

    Blessings – Maxi

  9. I have an incomplete interpretation (copy) of this Monet in my entrance hall. I see it every day when I leave, and when I return again. It reminds me that I will never be done crossing bridges until I cross the one that takes me out of this body.
    Sharing this with you has made me feel less alone in the world. Thank you!

  10. Nicole,
    You my friend are not alone. Like you, I believe that there are many, many bridges in life that we cross. Not just one. This particular bridge that I’ve just crossed, I wont have to cross again. But there will be other ones on the journeys ahead. When the going gets scary, we can hold hands.

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