Breakups and Recovery

Burning Your Bridges (With a Smile)

Sometimes you just have to turn around, give a little smile, throw that match and burn that bridge.

I’m not saying this is always easy, or that you really feel much like smiling. Sometimes you think you might dissolve in a mist of helpless tears, but it’s the past that’s trying to carve that out of your heart, not the future.

phoenixThe future hums, like a mother comforting her child in the dark reaches of the night after the bad dreams. Let it hum to you. Let it call to you. That’s what you want to follow.

And go ahead. Let the match drop onto the bridge behind you. You won’t need to go back there again today, or any day. You remember the lay of that land, but it isn’t where you’re going to live any more.

Burn your bridge.

Let the fire against the night be beautiful; let it make you more beautiful in its light.

And let the future come.

Share your story

Have you been through a particularly rough breakup, struggle, or bad time where you just had to light that match and burn that bridge? Share your story (or offer your sympathy to others) in the comments below…

xoxo Claire

14 comments on “Burning Your Bridges (With a Smile)

  1. I am in pain, crying and trying to heal after a heat breaking text. My ex and I were so good together, had a great connection, chemistry. We made each smile, and happy. He was so sweet and easy to talk to. We enjoyed each others company, planned mini vacations and he talked about us doing things in the future. 6 days ago he text me that he and his ex were talking about getting back together. They did more than talk, they did it. It killed me! I cried two days and nights straight. My heart was full of pain and it burned and ached. I couldn’t stop thinking about him, I still can’t, It has only been 6 days! I don’t know what to do to get over him. I destroyed everything he gave me and anything that reminded me of him. I deleted our text and his number, plus pictures. There is nothing here to remind me of him but my memories and the fact that we sat on my couch together, laid on it too the last time he was here, Monday, 1/12/15. I am not getting rid of my couch! I am talking to two men, not dating anyone. I am not ready to date . I can’t be the cheerful happy me that I normally am. The memories bring so much pain to me. If I try to talk to someone about him, I cry, I am crying now. I was falling in love with him and he hurt me so bad.

    • Claire Casey

      Oh, Donna, I am SO sorry to hear it. I wish I could hug you hard. Now is *definitely* time to call in the girlfriends and use your support network to help you begin to process everything. Endings hurt so much, don’t they? Thanks for sharing your story. Much love to you, darling. xoxo

      • that’s a problem because I don’t have any girlfriends. I have really no one. My daughter is busy with a husband and two kids, I live alone in an apartment, on disability, don’t have money to just go out on my own. I am a loner, although I am a sociable person. I have been talking to MEN about this because they have a man’s mind. They tell me to forget him, but that is the problem. I can’t just forget! My mind and my heart remember him well. I will just suffer til the pain ends. Sit home alone, thinking of him and cry. That is my life now.

        • Donna, I just went through something a little bit similar! You’re not alone!

          The one I am heart-broken over didn’t even really have my true attention until the first time we met in person after 3 months of sporadically chatting via text and phone. I met him ONLY to validate within myself that his interest in me was unfounded. He wasn’t incredibly charming and, at first, I thought he was kind of funny-looking…lol.

          But when me met, and he smiled at me…I was lost…

          It was bad timing as, the very next day, his ex begged him to try again and…for his kids’ sake…he agreed.

          Chiding myself for crying over nothing.

          I, too, am chatting with new men, and going out on dates…it’s hard because my heart isn’t really, really present.

          I am doing so for three reasons…a distraction, good practice, interesting and stimulating conversation so that I’m not sitting at home alone…and a secret fourth reason that…what IF…one of these men is the next “right one?”

          What if the next man who smiles at me…makes me “lost”?

          • I am seeing someone now, taking it SLOW. He was talking to me through the entire ex thing and was understanding and patient. He is a loner. His wife tragically was killed 16 years ago and he has worked long and hard to raise their 3 kids alone. I don’t want to hurt him, so we talk daily and I share with him my feelings and pain, so he remembers we are trying to be friends and build on that. I am afraid he is moving too fast because he text me how sweet and beautiful I am and how he loves holding me and kissing me. I told him today we had to stop that. Just a hug and move on. FRIENDS. I am NOT ready really to give myself to anyone. I am still loving my ex. We are talking and he is coming to talk to me about what happened and I have questions that need answers before I can have closure. I really want him back and if he would just let her go and come back, I am there, I mean, he still has feelings for me so if we got back together while we still care, it would be good. I KNOW that isn’t going to happen. I was just saying. Thanks for all the kind words and support.

          • kelNAILSit

            Just play hard to get. Don’t go overboard with it. Most, not all men, but most like the chase. After three years of being with the man I am with now, I still keep him on his toes. Examples: Don’t always answer the phone right away. NO, do not always make yourself available. Let them chase you, let them wonder. Men love mysterious women. You pick the man you want. The way he treats his mother is the way he is going to treat you. Do not let a smile make you feel a tiny bit lost. NO! NO! NO! Sometimes smiles are up to no good and sometimes not. How old is the guy(s) you are dating?

            Words of advice for everyone (including men) Never ever mess with a man/woman who is married, separated… or even tells you he/she is going through a divorce. He/she will never ever leave the spouse. And if they do, keep this in mind: If he or she did cheat on the previous wife or husband, they will do it again, and don’t let that be with you.


            Someone who tells it like it is.

  2. I am 29 years old and spent most of my teenage years and 20s (until 27) with the person I thought I would be with forever. He is a wonderful person with a huge, sensitive heart but a bad childhood and a debilitating depression fueled an addiction from which he’s been struggling to recover for the last decade and from which it was impossible to make us work any longer. I finally left just over a year ago after his second suicide attempt and didn’t realize how broken and lost I’d truly become. My confidence was shattered; I know i am an attractive woman and have always gotten attention from men but learning to see myself as worthy and developing confidence has been an uphill battle and a process I am really trying to work on. I have been seeing another man just under a year and it has been a roller coaster. When its good it is full of passion and fun and great sex and affection; I’m the first girl he’s brought to spend time with his family, we spend every weekend together, we laugh and make each other’s dreams come true a bit and I feel confident, playful, sexy and creative; but occasionally he withdraws and it confuses and hurts me. I try to express myself in non-blaming ways and to choose my words carefully and with love when something hurts me – normally i do well here. but he has failed to tell me he loves me or to allow or participate in discussion about our relationship. He seems to withdraw when the convo gets real, even though I make real attempts tp keep it light and open and non-pressured. It affects my confidence and I feel frustrated when I want to make progress and fail, then I just feel like a spinning wheel and its taking alot for me right now not to go off the track. I know if I can keep myself centered and continue to grow in love for myself my confidence will stabilize – it’s just been a hard process with such a “hot and cold” man.

  3. The bridge I am trying to burn with love is the one that shattered my sense of worth in the first place.. i am “over” the relationship and person but still carrying the affects

  4. Claire Casey

    I know this doesn’t begin to touch the amount of PAIN involved, but I’ve always loved this quote by CS Lewis:

    Getting over a painful experience

  5. Love it so much!!

    • we all know we need to let go, but that is easier said than done!!!! I’ve been trying to let go for two weeks come Friday. (Tonight is Wednesday)

  6. Try trying to let go for 22 months. After being together almost 13 yrs. (married for 10 yrs.)
    my husband left one night and has never looked back.
    I spoke to him by phone ONE time, one month after he left.
    After that I only got short answers to a very few e mails.
    I’ve had ABSOLUTELY NO contact with him in a year now.
    I don’t even have the true knowledge of where he is.
    I can only go on what his family has told me,
    they say he is out of the country, South America to be exact.
    He hasn’t asked for or filed for any kind of legal separation or divorce.
    How I HATE that word.
    Our 12th wedding anniversary is coming up next week
    and I’m spending it wishing he was here and wondering
    A) where he is B) what he’s doing C) who he’s with (if anyone)
    and D) if he ever thinks about me, about US, and if he does, WHAT does he think.
    I’ve never left a comment like this anywhere before, don’t know why I am doing so now.
    I KNOW that I NEED to move on and accept that this is my life now…
    but in the back of my mind remains the thought that if he hasn’t done anything
    to legally end our marriage, maybe it’s because he doesn’t really want to end it.
    Then I think about just how crazy THAT thought is.
    Anyway, that’s most of my story and I’ll go on about my business now.
    Wishing everyone with a heartache better days ahead.

    • Claire Casey

      Dearest Connie… I’m so very sorry to hear your story. You’ve written it beautifully, and the pain and loss (and even hope) are so clear and sharp. I wish I had a magic wand to make everything right for you, but I don’t. And you are in a particularly difficult spot, with no information about him, and an unclear path forward. I hope that soon you will be able to find some emotional guidance and (especially) some legal counsel to let you know what your options are, and what kind of timeline they would fall on, because I hate how completely stuck “on hold” things feel right now… Lean heavily on your support system, and find your wisest sisters and other advisors as you seek to win back your life and dreams. Sending you my love…

      • Claire, thank you for your reply, I really wasn’t expecting any kind of response to my post.
        I sometimes tend to write my thoughts down hoping that they’ll get out of my head ☺☺
        More often than not it doesn’t work out that way, but occasionally it makes it easier
        to go on with my day to day business.
        If I could find somebody with that magic wand you speak of…or a time machine…
        wouldn’t that be absolutely wonderful…but if wishes were horses we would all be riding.
        I have made ultimatums for myself for the past 22 months, telling myself all kinds of things,
        IF I can make it until I’ve spent EVERY holiday in the year by myself I’ll be ready to move on.
        IF I make it through THIS anniversary or THIS birthday or THIS whatever THEN I’ll be ready.
        But…I’ve done all of those things and then some…and I’m still not ready to truly let go.
        I even went to lunch with a man that my son in law introduced me to…twice…
        and my son in law told me that he (the man) really liked me and wanted to see me again.
        But all I could think about, while we were having lunch and doing the question and answer
        routine, was “What am I doing here? This man isn’t who I want to be here with.
        He’s not my husband, and that’s all I want, my husband.”
        That was when I had been alone for about 15/16 months. My head said I should have been ready to move on after that long, but my heart just wasn’t going to listen to that.
        As much as I tell myself that I’ve never been a needy person, that I’m a strong and independent woman that doesn’t need (but wants) a man to be complete…I surely feel like I’ve become a ‘needy’ person since I can’t seem to get my act together after this long.
        Don’t get me wrong, I live my life day to day and I do the things that have to be done to live.
        But I am always thinking about my situation, regardless of what I’m doing otherwise.
        I could talk all day on the subject and go around in circles but it doesn’t get me anywhere.
        If you have any words of wisdom to share I’d love to hear them, especially since two days from now is a holiday and the day after is my 12th wedding anniversary (2nd one alone).
        Thank you again for your kind words.

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