Thursday, August 12, 2010

Burning Bridges: The Art of Razing a Family

Here is a random cyberspace frustration posted by someone I know of, but don't know.

So aparently my father went in for an emergency surgery last night, and no one in his family had the Common decency to tell me, HIS SON, that this was happening, is he allright? I wouldnt know that either because no one can be bothered to pick up a telephone. This is the most disrepected by a family member I have been ...and one of the rudest things that has ever happened to me. Feel better dad, hope your allright?

I know very little about this individual (I will call him "Bill") and even less about the family dynamics. The scenario I'm about to create has nothing to do with Bill, in particular. I am hoping that if you are a bridge-burner this post will at least cause you to stop and think.

My impression is that the male gender in the U.S. is often groomed and socialized not to work through and process relationships but to simply cut our losses. Typically, many men don't salvage; we sever. I'm not suggesting that there aren't women who do the same, but if there is a rift in a significant relationship most women attempt to "talk it out," whereas many men matter-of-factly "walk it out"--right out the door, never looking back.

I'm hoping Bill isn't one of those who years ago began distancing himself from those who love him. A long time ago his wife or his family noticed he was slowly withdrawing. He'd bow out of a family function. He'd have an excuse not to attend a family gathering. He'd get invitations and he'd attend once in a while just to keep everybody off his back. They would give; he would take. Slowly, his brother quit asking. His wife, after countless occasions of being spurned, couldn't handle the disappointment and she, month-by-month, didn't include him because she knew he had his priorities and she wasn't one of them.

He was burning his bridges.

In light of his disinterest his siblings, one-by-one, adjusted to the fact that he wasn't going to reciprocate in these relationships, that their efforts to connect were being ignored. His parents were heart-broken over his removing himself from the family circle. They would reminisce about how caring and loving he used to be. Now they wonder where they went wrong, where he went wrong, and if it will ever be made right. And they, too, no longer initiate contact nearly as much they did. The hurt outweighs the hope.

He's burning his bridges.

If he insists and persists on his course there could come a day when he will have sufficiently burnt his bridges that a family member will undergo a grave crisis or tragedy and the family circle from which he removed himself will draw close together for comfort and strength, while he is out of the loop by his own choice. He will be angry and offended that no one called. He will be hurt by, in his eyes, their lack of inclusion when, actually, a long time ago he excluded them.
He will blame them now for their insensitivity. He can rant and rave all he wants, but the damage has been done.

He burnt his bridges. And now he's living in the smoldering ashes of what could have been.


Anonymous said...

This one hit home - we have people in our extended family doing this for many years - I may even be guilty of it. Really enjoyed this blog and I sure hope it gets posted so you will know I enjoyed it.

Bongo said...

We all burn bridges at one time or another..some for good some not so good...I know I am and relationships are so complicated..We(most) expect so much from each other..and do nothing to reciprocate.I believe this post is time we realize our part the damage is done...How many are going to stop ..think..and change it?

Steve said...

Time is running out for all of us. It would be to a person's advantage to build their bridge before the other party completes their wall.

Anonymous said...

Forgiveness is the release of a prisoner...only to find that prisoner was you.