A Bridge Too Near

A bridge too far is a phrase allegedly spoken by an Allied commander during a WWII skirmish with the Germans. That particular battle did not go well for the Allies, and the commander suspected they had bitten off more than they could chew. Such is life. Best laid plans of mice and men, as they say. Good intentions pave the road to hell, as I say.

I suppose that good intentions are sometimes all we’ve got. Whenever I feel that my efforts have been inadequate, or I have fallen short and should have known better, I fall on my sword and rationalize that I meant well. I’m usually only trying to convince myself, it seems. Self-forgiveness is a Herculean task for me, even when facts bear out that nobody saw a thing and they can’t prove nothin’. More to the point, I find it nearly impossible to forgive myself for things proven to not my fault, when I couldn’t have know better, when I did the best I could. Perhaps that is the issue, I’m rarely convinced that I have done the best I could. If I had done the best I could, wouldn’t I have succeeded? Hm. That right there is some fucked up logic.

I was having a conversation with a friend last night about some of this self-forgiveness and perfectionism stuff, about making mistakes, about taking risks. About vulnerability and trust, trust in oneself. I trust myself to survive, but not thrive. These days, I trust myself to not kill anyone when rage overtakes me, but that was not always the case. More than 30 years ago, I was convinced that it would be merely a matter of time before I killed someone in a blackout rage. I knew that I could never commit such an act consciously, but could not be assured of what might happen in a disembodied state of emotional warfare. I knew that I could never premeditate such a thing, but truly did not trust myself otherwise. Particularly if inebriating substances were involved. So, that’s no longer a factor, and I am reasonably sure that homicide is not on my white board.

I suppose there are other far less dramatic things I distrust about myself…such as talent. Intellect. Aesthetics. Coolness. I have never been all that cool, at least I don’t think so. I can’t dance. My father couldn’t dance, and I don’t think my mother was cuttin’ a rug at any point, either. I never could seem to learn dance steps for any of the trending dances, like The Hustle. I feigned disinterest in such childish, silly things. Who wants to work that hard, right? I could not keep dance steps in order. It was just hopeless. Not much has changed, either, except that I kind of don’t much care at this point. I repeat – who wants to work that hard? But dancing isn’t particularly self-defining. I don’t think I’m talented at much of anything. There are some things I can do reasonably well, but don’t find my performance exemplary by any means. I can write an intelligent sentence, play a few musical instruments, do some problem solving but consider my level of prowess to be dangerously mediocre (my term, trademark pending). In short, whatever it is that I do, I do not trust that I am doing it very well, and that many others are doing it much better.

I say all of that to say I suppose I don’t trust that I have very much to offer, although some people say that I do. I do consider myself to be a good friend, but also a pushover and a people pleaser. I’m a magnet for narcissists and sociopaths, transmitting some kind of tractor beam that enables those kinds to find me in the middle of a football stadium filled to capacity. I describe that phenomenon as having the pyscho con guy who sells overpriced peanuts in the stadium finding me, sitting in the topmost row of seats in the whole place, and he sells me 3 bags of peanuts, and i don’t like peanuts. What. The. Fuck. So, once again, I remain…my own worst enemy. This pattern does NOT work for me, and I suppose it’s better than it used to be, but I still get my butt kicked from time to time when – knowing that I’m in a horror movie – I ignore all warnings, bolt past the running car in the driveway and sure escape, vault across an alligator-filled moat to triumphantly enter the dark castle that i convince myself is eerily beautiful and has stunning architectural detail, and then breathlessly break down several locked doors that lead to … the basement stairs. You never go into the basement in a horror movie. Everybody knows that.

So there I am again, in the basement, with the same person I always find down there. Different face, same person. Same asshole. Same old me. I gotta work on that.

Go ahead. You know the way.

Published by annzimmerman

I am Louisiana born and bred, now living in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Fortunately for me, I was already living in NC before Hurricane Katrina decimated my beloved New Orleans. An only child, I now feel that I have no personal history since the hurricane destroyed the relics and artifacts of my childhood. As I have always heard, c'est la vie. My Louisiana roots show in my love of good coffee, good food, and good music. My soggy native soil has also shown me that resilience is hard-wired in my consciousness; when the chips are down (or drowned)...bring it on.

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