by Elise Stephens
Burning and Rebuilding Bridges
Burning and Rebuilding Bridges
Something that’s always been pivotal for me in relationships, friendships, any kind of human connection, is making things right after things turn sour. The temptation to let everything go up in flames after a bad fight and just walk away is huge for many people, but I have yearning that pulls me in the opposite direction—I walk right into those flames.
Rebuilding a bridge hurts and it’s harder than walking away, but I’ve spent much of my life doing just this. Maybe it’s because of who I am – my mother always called me a peacemaker.
I remember when I was in college I told a friend that it didn’t matter how much recognition and awards I got (I was a smarty pants in school), if things weren’t “right” with my friends, nothing else mattered.
I can sense tension in a relationship a mile away, even if that particular friend or significant other refuses to talk to me about it. I have trouble sleeping, thinking clearly, and doing my job, etc, until I have found or made peace with that glitch in the relationship.
This part of me factored hugely into my writing of Moonlight and Oranges. Lorona’s fierce determination to see things through is what makes her such a different and challenging woman for Kestrin. She’s seen the horror of a bridge burned and left smoldering in her own parents’ divorce and she’s not interested in creating another devastation of her own.
Kestrin, on the other hand, has left such a long line of burned bridges and failed relationships behind him, it’s hard to see Lorona through the smoke, but he tries very hard to clear the air.
I’m not so naïve as to think that every relationship is salvageable. I’ve had a friendship go dead for years before anything began to slightly warm again. And even now it’s only lukewarm, but hope is alive again.
Friendships that have fallen out can revive, but both parties have to be willing. Love affairs that have broken off can return to understanding friendships. I’m on good terms with every man I’ve dated and I’ve never had a vicious breakup. I’m not saying that was all my doing, but that’s my story.
I cried for each of my break-ups, but deeper than getting even or wishing he would jump off a cliff for making the worst decision of his life (choosing not to be with me), I always felt a burning desire to go further and make things right between us. Often that meant apologizing.
With my ex boyfriends, I was very interested in still being friends. With my family, I can’t live with the idea of being so angry that I never talk to them again. It’s just not an option for me. And with my husband, I try to never go to bed angry at him. It’s too awful to be so far away from the person sharing my bed.
There are also definitely those relationships that are so toxic, we’d be fools if we didn’t run away. But I want to challenge us to look at what terms of peace might look like and see if it’s just our stubborn pride and anger stopping us from making that peace happen.
Bridges should be rebuilt far more than left in the ashes.