That’s Going in the Quote Book: #3 and #4

The newest in an ongoing series of Quotes I’ve collected. To see previous posts in the series, click here.

When one burns one’s bridges, what a very nice fire it makes.

Dylan Thomas

This resonated with me because I felt like I’d been burning an awful lot of bridges in my life lately. My father had died after the better part of a decade of no contact between us. Six months after his death, I’d left family and friends behind to move to another province. And a couple of years later, only a few months before first hearing this quote, my husband and I had separated.

Dramatic representation of how my life felt at the time.

Except I hadn’t been burning bridges. Not really. I hadn’t stormed out. I’d issued no ultimatums. There’d been no profanity, nor vituperation. My estrangement with my father had been largely his doing, I stayed in varying degrees of contact with those I’d left behind when I moved, and my split with my husband was so amicable that our eventual divorce didn’t even require a lawyer.

No, all I’d done was to finally start looking after myself.

This was a difficult thing for me to do. I’d been raised in a household with a pretty unstable father, so most of my energy growing up had been poured into not setting him off (an impossible task), and scurrying for cover when I did. What little I had left went into meeting my mother’s standards of how girls are supposed to look and behave, including her insistence that everyone else deserved more consideration than I did.

It was bloody exhausting.

I’ve always said that, while my father shouldn’t have been such a bastard in the first place, I owe him a vote of thanks for cutting me out in those last years. It gave me the impetus to put some distance between myself and things that either needed to change footing or go away entirely. For the first time in my life, I started to live the life I needed to be healthy.

And for a long time, I felt insanely guilty about it.

Which brings us to the next quote in my book.

Has anything you’ve done made your life better?

American History X

At some point in my journey, I realized that I shouldn’t be feeling guilty about my decision to look after myself. I still have a very strong compulsion to look after others, and making healthy choices for myself actually puts me in a better position to do that. Being the only one trying to maintain a toxic relationship requires a lot of time, a massive amount of exertion, and in the long run, it actually works against me. By choosing to make my life better first, it gives me way more juice to help make other’s lives better next.

Many more than ever before. The fact that I’m one of them is just a fringe benefit.

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