The funny thing about these blogs is that they’re usually about a month behind my current feelings or situation. When I was writing my last two blog posts, I was excited at the beginning of the month, but by the time they were posted on the 27th I felt distant from them. So here I am on March 5th, starting this blog post. This time, I really hope I can’t relate to my own feelings by March 27th. They aren’t exactly the nicest feelings to have. Long story short, I had to say goodbye.
This is a topic I’ve been meaning to write about for a few months now. I’ve learned something about myself in that time, from both recent events and looking back at my past: I’m absolutely terrible at goodbyes and at ending things.
The only goodbye I like is the Irish goodbye. It’s basically when you leave a party or social situation without saying goodbye to anyone. You just slip out the door unnoticed and go on with your day. I’m a fan of the Irish goodbye because I’m an introvert who’s not the best at small talk- and if I’m ready to leave a social setting the last thing I want to do is talk to even more people. I just want it to be over quickly.
But real goodbyes never work like that. There is no easy way out. You can’t just forget everything and get on with your life. The thing about goodbyes: they kill possibilities. What could be becomes what can never be. And that sudden elimination of chance, of possible options, can really mess with your mind. It can leave you obsessing over a situation and its now impossible outcomes for ages.
I’m very much a person who lives in the past. I’ll replay memories hundreds of times, and I’m constantly thinking “what if” and wishing for a time machine. A lot of these moments I replay happen to be goodbyes, or some sort of ending. Because so far, I don’t think I’ve had one of those that worked out the way I wanted it to. There are thousands of types of goodbyes, all painful in their unique ways. But I’ve experienced two types: the sudden and the slow burn. I’ve tried countless times to decide which one I prefer, but I’ve come to the conclusion that they are both piles of suckiness.
The only good thing about a sudden goodbye is the certainty. You know you’re saying goodbye, and you know it’s for good. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a surprise. Maybe you saw it coming for a while. But words are said, actions are taken, and you know that something is being cut out of your life. Certainty is a relief, especially for an always-confused teenager like myself. But it doesn’t mean it won’t hurt. That moment can haunt you for a long time. You know the one. The moment when all you can see is their back. And their feet, choosing to walk away. Leaving you there, grasping for words, stumbling to the closest comfort you can find. That’s sudden goodbyes for you.
It’s not just people and relationships. Anything in my life that ends abruptly leaves me feeling like this. I remember crying over a tree in my backyard being cut down. It was tall and old, and some of its branches hung right over my bedroom. Every time a storm came, my parents were worried that the large tree branches would snap and fall right into my room. So, they decided to get it cut down.
I was 9 or 10, probably a little too old to be crying over stuff like that. But it really affected me. I couldn’t handle the idea of never being able to climb it again. I didn’t want my yard to look so empty. Strangely, I even missed the uncertainty of those stormy nights. But I knew it needed to happen, and that it was better for me in the long run. As much as it hurt to say goodbye, it would have hurt a hell of a lot more if a tree limb crushed me in my sleep. There’s probably a metaphor in there somewhere.
So it hurts, there’s pain. The sudden goodbye might feel like a punch in the gut, the break of a bone, or the twist of a knife. It heals with time and effort, but it always leaves a scar, a reminder of that situation and the pain you felt when something you loved was essentially ripped away from you.
Then, there’s the slow burn. Or the silent goodbye. The goodbyes that are left unsaid, never explained or finalized. Sometimes there’s never even a reason for this. Those are the hardest ones to deal with. This type of goodbye seeps into your mind and silently chips away at your heart. It’s always there. It’s a cloud of fog that produces a constant stream of “what-ifs” and questions you don’t have answers to. Distance, time, and silence only amplify it, create more pain for it to feed on.
All of the usual bad guys show up to the party: anger, sadness, regret, guilt. But this time, one more decides to tag along- confusion. You could probably look at the root of that, say it’s bad communication or poor planning. But when confusion is thrown into the mix at a goodbye party, you don’t even know if it’s a goodbye party anymore. Basically, it can make you go insane. It’s a different kind of pain, but it doesn’t hurt any less.
I don’t think I’m in a place to give advice about this subject- seeing as I can’t even handle saying goodbye to a tree, never mind an actual person. But I’m going to try- since I’ve realized something while writing this. I think the only way to survive a goodbye is to acknowledge two things: an end and a beginning. If you’ve just said goodbye to something, you’ve most likely been focused on what has ended. But there is always another side to that. A goodbye always begins something.
Figure out what your goodbye is beginning- even if it sounds negative or sad or pathetic. The only thing that matters is that it is a beginning. You have time to change and confront the challenges that come with starting over. Endings are final, definite, and leave you no more time. If you think that’s all you have, it’s so easy to become hopeless. I’ve said it before, but life is a series of timelines, and you never quite know which ones are beginning as others are ending.
Saying goodbye is a necessary, bittersweet experience that everyone will have to deal with multiple times throughout their lives. As humans, we’re not immortal. So it only makes sense that our relationships, and things in our lives that seem constant, aren’t immortal either. In the words of Robert Frost: “Nothing gold can stay.”
Here is a short playlist of songs I listened to while writing this blog that I feel are relevant.
Goodbye, for now.
P.S- If you understand the reference in the subtitle, we can be friends.