When I first moved out of my parents’ house to study in the UK, I cried like a baby all the way to the plane, but I kind of figured – yeah, this one time I can allow myself this little bit of weakness. The truth is, though, that over six years later every time I do get on a plane back here I still cry and by now, if I am to be honest, I don’t believe I will ever stop. And that is precisely because I suck at saying goodbye.
Some people are very good at facing the inevitable end of things. I am not one of these people. I never will be. I have run away from goodbyes all my life and when they finally do catch up with me, I just collapse under their weight and enter a very long period of post-break-up slander, even if the only thing I said goodbye to was a brand of jam I like.
(I shall never forget my favourite kiwi jam… When I was a little girl, I didn’t quite understand what Limited Edition means; it was a very hard lesson to learn)
I am not sure I am ready to talk to anyone, especially to myself, about the levels of denial I sustain every single day, but quite a big chunk of that must be me pretending things have not finished. Rationally I do know this is insane, but 9 out of 10 times I stick to the good old rule of not saying goodbye = no goodbye. Things we don’t mention do not happen, right?
There are only three goodbyes you will ever get out of me. And one is not even a real goodbye.
Let it die… a long and lonely death
One of the nastiest habits I have is leaving people, things and places behind. I am aware of this and yet I have never done anything to stop or at least contain this. I wrote an entire post on how to survive a long-distance relationship, yet I am still amazed I survived my own one. Yet I did.
I do not say goodbye. I run.
I would make a great book heroine, avoiding responsibility, roots, basics, staying away from confrontation and the pain of building something more material. The thing is, I get bored of everyday struggles; I find tedious a life in which we all create ever-lasting bonds and communities; I need change. But I never grew enough human decency to face the people I no longer need in my life and tell them that.
Calling myself a Disney villain was not a joke. I do leave most people behind, never saying goodbye, never even trying to reunite with them.
Sometimes I wonder if I would even remember to talk to myself if I didn’t carry me everywhere all the time.
Let it burn
One thing I am particularly good at though – unfortunately – is burning bridges.
Some people just… say their goodbyes, stay kind and sweet and for the rest of their lives send each other birthday cards. And I am not just speaking break-ups here; if you do press me to say I don’t want to know you anymore, you’ll hear that even if all we are sharing is the queue for some fresh tea at the office every morning.
I go for a bang. Always. All my red, panic diodes turn on and before I realize it, I am part of the biggest argument in the history of the world that ever started over a cartoon character’s eye colour.
There is no going back from that state, so in a sense it is a goodbye, right? No one said that saying goodbye must be pretty.
But it could be. Please?
Let it stay?
But by far the worst thing I do when it comes to saying goodbye is pretending it never ever happened. We have all been there. I refuse to believe I am alone; well, I can admit I may be doing it more often than others.
That’s probably why you are still looking at my photos from Malta, over and over again, as if my brain can’t handle the simple fact: the holiday is over.
That’s also why I cry every time I fly to the UK. I never said goodbye to my old home. I never told myself properly that what used to be is never coming back. That I am never going back.
Instead of dealing with things properly, I live little goodbyes; slow poison may hurt less but it does kill one in the end – but maybe secretly I hope something else will get me before one of these goodbyes will. That I will never have to admit some things are lost forever.
Life can change, you will say. That is exactly what I say. That life changes. That nothing is forever. And that is how I can carry on like this, refusing to move on, full of black, empty holes that I patch over, instead of filling them up with something else.
I told you. I suck at saying goodbye. Not only because I am a terrible person; but because I am scared. Because goodbyes terrify me. Because ends feed all my worst nightmares, even when they are, in fact, a relief.
Because saying goodbye does not always mean there is nothing that can be done about it anymore – it is owning up to the idea that there is nothing we want to do about it anymore.
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