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.