When I was a child, I was afraid of bridges. My family camped a lot and often we would hike hills and trails in far away places in deep forests with rivers and ravines. Inevitably there would be a bridge across a gap that we would need to cross. They always, always looked unsafe to me. They looked rickety or creaky or just plain dangerous. I never liked the idea of being suspended in the air and I was terribly afraid I would slip through cracks or open sides and fall to my death. Funny thing is, now bridges are all I build. So how did that happen? How did I go from “big as you can imagine” fear to “this is what I love?”
I know exactly when it began to shift. We were camping with extended family, everything was wonderful. My favorite cousin was there and we were having so much fun, until the bridge came upon us. We were all out for a walk and the others didn't hesitate to cross. Even my younger siblings stepped carelessly onto the wooden bridge while I froze inside.
I was too ashamed to admit that I was terrified, so when the fear came flooding through me, I held it in tightly and pushed it down deep into the dark basement places where no one else would suspect such big fear lived. I reached out and took a firm hold of the handrail and then, only after I was holding on tightly, I took that first step. With each step toward the middle, the fear built within me. It was trying to escape from the basement, trying to leap out of my body. Now I was afraid, fighting to stay alive as I crossed this chasm, and fighting to hide all of that from everyone around me.
It always got better after the halfway point but the fear stayed until I was well past the bridge and back on firm ground. This time at about the three quarter mark, my Aunt Pat walked up to me. She bent down and whispered into my ear, "you are afraid of bridges, aren't you?" It was the first time anyone had ever noticed! I was amazed. Her love peered deeply into me and she saw what no one else had been able to see. She did that a lot.
For the first time in my young life I admitted to someone that I was afraid of bridges. She smiled and told me she was afraid of bridges when she was young too. And with that, I felt understood. She may have taken my free hand, I'm not sure. What I do remember is that she gave me a tool to help me the next time. She told me it helped her to look ahead, look forward and focus on taking the next step. That's all, don't look down, just look forward focusing on each single step.
And with that it got easier. I was loved, I had been seen, I had been understood, and I was given a tool to work through my struggles. I felt so much love in my heart that there was little room for the fear. When we crossed back over that bridge on our return, it was much easier for me and every time after that, it got easier and easier until soon enough the fear of bridges was completely gone.
Paradoxically, I now help others cross bridges. Bridges to the spirit world, their intuition, their shadowy basements. Bridges to their higher self and their true nature, bridges to their emotions and clear thoughts. I guide people over deep chasms of pain and doubt. And I use the same techniques - letting them be seen, understanding where they are at, and feeling so much deep love that there is no way but across. I teach people to move forward, focusing on where they are going. I connect them to breath and focus their attention on each single step forward.
That day I learned that it's in the smallest of life moments that the biggest shifts can come. Who would have thought that a little girl crossing a wooden bridge would become such a huge life lesson? I still think back on that walk and that crossing as a one of the first times I was truly seen and loved for just who I was--a scared little girl trying her best.