Wanted: Bridge Builder

I am obsessive. Not about hand washing and things like that, but with events, conversations, situations that caused me angst. They play over and over in my mind, like water in a fancy waterfall–always moving but never getting anywhere. The adage “build a bridge and get over it” is apropos but inexplicable. Just how does one do that?

Last week I got engrossed in a conversation and neglected to introduce my husband to the other people there. They are all folks I know through my work and he doesn’t know them. They know of him, but he’s never been introduced to them. Afterwards he mentioned this to me. I’m still upset over my actions six days later. Is he mad? No. Am I upset? Yes. Why? Because I did something that hurt him, even if only in a passing way. If he knew how often I think about how I should have acted in that situation, he’d probably think I was certifiable. And maybe I am. Because I certainly can’t let this go like I think other folks are able to.

This “letting go” skill that people have? I wish I had it. Instead, I feel stuck on this side of so many situations without the skills to get over them and get past them. The irony is that the many actual horrible things that have happened to me rarely cross my mind. I suppose some wonderful coping strategy is at work there and I’m grateful for that. But still, all these silly “everyday” types of human interactions that create the soundtrack of “should’ve, could’ve, would’ve” in my mind is wearying.

For example, a few weeks ago I was driving. I was leaving a parking area that is in desperate need of new painting. The arrows painting in the lanes have mostly worn away, leaving ghosts of driving directions in their wake. Two things happened. I made a left hand turn and then quickly moved to the right-hand lane to make a right-hand turn at the next intersection. In my blind spot was a car. No one  and no vehicle was hurt and I’m sure she felt better after yelling at me to learn how to drive. But since then, I’ve played that scenario out over and over. Where had she come from? She hadn’t been in that lane when I checked my mirrors before approaching the intersection. How did I miss her? And why did I decide to change lanes so quickly? I could have killed someone!!!

That’s my world. It is a world filled with self-doubt, negative self-talk, and microscope-esque hindsight. If only it came with a bridge builder.

I really want to learn to grow for experiences and then let them go. File them away and stop letting them get in the way of my thoughts. But I have no idea how to do this. So if you know a bridge builder who’s available, do I have a bridge I need building.

4 thoughts on “Wanted: Bridge Builder

  1. What a great post, Kristina. I, too, often feel burdened by small things I could have done better. I’ve never thought of getting over your problems like building a bridge but I think that metiphore is a good tool to keep in your tool bag for when your facing a dilema.

  2. Kristina, I so relate to this post—and wearying is just the right word. Mindfulness meditation has been enormously helpful to me with this kind of thing, with the breath as a bridge.

  3. Great post. We can’t control our feelings, and any effort e.g. to suppress them only makes things worse, but we can influence our thoughts by working to acquire new thought habits. So you can build your own bridge, e.g. with these questions:

    What really happened?
    (No self-criticism here! Just: we were at a party, and I didn’t introduce my husband.)
    What would I have wanted?
    (Maybe: To be supportive…)
    How do I feel about this?
    (Maybe: Sad because support is really important to me.
    Maybe:Angry with myself because I really want to be sensitive to other people’s needs.)
    How can I do better in future?
    (See Rosenberg)

    Or more generally:
    What can I learn from this experience?
    What can I be thankful for? ( A narrowly avoided accident, or that your relationship is so close that your husband easily forgives you?)

    The last is perhaps the most important, as nothing lifts our mood like thankfulness.

  4. Wow. Stop that right now. there that fixed it all better, right? Oh yeah. This post. Yeah, that thing, only completely different. Been going to a mindfuness group as well. different perspecties, ….

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