It’s 9:12 am…
In about two hours, I’ll be leaving to go to my Dad’s to help him pack up the rest of his things and clean the house. Once this is done, I will stifle the tears, say my goodbye, give him a huge hug, and watch him drive away.
The first time I did this, I was seven years old. My parents had separated and my Dad left to start his new life in New York, which was a few hours away from where we were living in Pennsylvania.
I’ll never forget the moment he sat me down, looked me in the eye – and told me that he and Mom were divorcing and he would be moving out of the house soon.
Now, believe it or not, at such a young age, I knew what that meant.
I had heard the term divorce before, although I don’t remember where, when or why.
I only knew that for some reason, it would bear some significance in my life.
I had asked him, sometime within the previous year if he and Mom were going to get a divorce. I had no idea why I felt the need to bring it up. I guess my instincts were communicating with me back then – and propelled me to inquire about whether or not I might be affected by this rather unpleasant idea.
He said no…
…and I believed it (because I wanted to).
I think he wanted to believe it too.
But a year later, the writing was on the wall.
I was going to say goodbye to my Dad.
So I did.
I gave him a hug, didn’t know to stifle the tears – and watched him drive away.
It was gutwrenching.
And today, 36 years later, I’ll be doing it again.
The 7-year-old version of me cries inside as she revisits this memory.
The about-to-be 43-year-old version of me is crying openly as I write these words.
Both versions of me are reliving one of the most painful experiences of my life.
That Was Only the Beginning
A year and a half ago, my husband and I moved to a small, country-like town – luckily only about 4 hours away from my Mom, step-dad and sister (and their dog – who also owns a piece of my heart).
They had actually moved out of the country back in 1998.
That was another heartbreaking moment in my life.
But with time, I got through it – just like I did when my Dad moved away.
While I know this may sound a bit melodramatic, the truth is saying goodbye (or see you later, etc) is devastating for me.
Watching my family sell the house, pack their belongings and move away – not knowing when I would see them again – was very difficult.
I accompanied them to the airport, knowing this was it.
I took one last look at them before they went on to board the plane – with no return date anytime in the near future.
My reality as I knew it was over.
I might have flipped out sometime later on that evening, but I really don’t remember because it was all one big dark blur.
For a while, I felt alone, abandoned and broken.
It didn’t help that I was in a failing relationship, bankrupt, broke and fat.
At the time, I didn’t know how to be independent. I had never lived on my own before, nor had I been in a position to have to rely on myself completely.
However, once they moved away, I knew I would have to grow up quickly…
…and that was pretty damn tough.
I had friends, but I didn’t want to be a burden. I also couldn’t promise anyone I wouldn’t be a liability to them if they did take me in for anything longer than a couple of weeks – as my track record hadn’t been so great up until then.
I went through a long period of deep depression, panic, and loneliness.
I missed my family with every fiber of my being. My heart was broken, and I was scared.
I was in a position where I had no one to count on but myself to survive…
Yet, I somehow managed to do just that.
What I Learned From Adversity
The period of time in which I am discussing was challenging.
I can easily recall memories of me, sitting on the floor in the public bathroom of the shopping center I worked in – having full blown anxiety attacks from missing my family, especially my mother.
After a while, though, I eventually stopped hurting so much and I (finally) began to feel better.
I changed jobs, moved into a cute little apartment in South Beach and went on to meet the man I was to marry.
He and I had to say goodbye to one another a few times during the beginning stages of our new relationship (which started off as a friendship) because he lived in another state when we’d met. There were arrangements to be made, details to settle and to be honest, I knew he wasn’t exactly in love with the area I was living in at the time.
I wasn’t ready to move out of there just yet though for a number of reasons, so it was anyone’s guess if he would be willing to relocate to be with me.
With each and every parting of the ways, I watched him drive off – never really sure if I would see him again.
My heart broke with the uncertainty of whether or not our separation would be permanent.
But none the less, I had to let him go.
It was at this time that I understood that to love someone, you had to let them do what they felt was right.
I was an emotional basketcase – knowing the love of my life could become a memory…and I had to make the choice to not let him in on my feelings.
See, I didn’t want to manipulate him, nor anyone else in life any longer.
It was the first time I had EVER practiced the “art” of owning my feelings and not using them to control others.
I put on my brave face, said my goodbye and hoped that if he were to return, it would be for no other reason than because it was meant to be this way.
Eventually, our relationship settled into something solid and we were together.
Soon after, I said so long to my friends and he and I moved away to begin our new lives.
New Beginnings – and Subsequent Endings
The change of location was tough. Everything was so new…and different.
But I grew accustomed to my new surroundings, made a few friends and married my guy.
And as if I was being rewarded for having gone through what felt like a lifetime of separations from the ones I’ve loved the most, I received the news that my family was moving back to the states.
I was absolutely elated!
This was a dream come true for me.
My husband was cool enough to leave the state we had moved to a couple of years back so I could be around my family again… and the memories of those painful goodbyes had finally let go of the hold they had over me.
We lived within close (enough) proximity to my folks for just under 10 years. I enjoyed the time I was able to spend with them again – watching my sister grow up and simply being close enough to see them whenever I wanted.
There is nothing like knowing you can get in the car and go down the street (even if it’s 30+ minutes away) and spend time with those you love. My family became part of my social life again – and for the 10 years I was lucky enough to enjoy this, I never stopped feeling gratitude and deep appreciation over the fact that they came back to the states.
Back to me.
But as life would have it, things began to change.
I had shifted my perspective in regard to my life – and the world in general.
The area we were living in no longer felt like a match to where I was internally.
I felt it was time to move on. To start something new…
But this would come at a price.
I would have to say goodbye again.
My heart broke in pieces, but this time, it was different.
I would be the one leaving.
It’s one thing to know you will be separated from those you love. But it’s another thing to be able to completely identify with what it feels like to be left.
When someone leaves you, you feel the energetic imprint of their absence.
Everywhere you go, you are reminded of them being with you. When they’re gone, it leaves a void.
I am familiar with this void. It has caused me so much pain over the years – and now I would be the one causing this for others.
The amount of guilt I felt over my decision to move haunted me through every second of this transition. Sometimes, it still does.
They had just returned…and now I would go.
Those 10 years of being so close to them again flew by so quickly – and now it was over.
The excitement of starting a new life somewhere that felt more compatible with how I wanted to live was tainted by the sacrifice of leaving those I love behind – to miss me, long for me and watch me go.
Just as I had to do with them, my Dad, and my guy – all those years ago.
But they did let me go – lovingly at that.
I get to see them often enough, but of course, it isn’t the same as it was when we were local.
The goodbyes are more frequent, but at least the distance doesn’t involve plane reservations.
A Surprise – And Another Goodbye
After 6 months of living in our new town, I was blessed with some wonderful news. Something that would bring a sense of comfort to being away from my family – which still hurts.
See, when I had said goodbye to my Dad all those years ago, we were only a few hours away from one another – so at least we got to see one another every few weekends or so.
However, my Mom, my brother and I moved to Florida a year later, and my visits with my Dad lessened substantially.
I had missed having him around in my childhood because of the distance, so what was about to transpire was like a dream come true.
My Dad and step-mom decided they needed a change – and this meant they would move to our state to retire – and live only about 15 minutes down the road from us.
This was not only the most exciting news I could have possibly received in general, but since watching my Dad drive off 35 years earlier, it felt like things were coming full circle.
I watched him leave, and now I would welcome him back.
They pulled up to their new home where I sat and waited eagerly to greet them. They got out of the car, my Dad hugged me and said “hey neighbor!”
This was one of those life-altering moments that I could have only dreamed about.
I had said goodbye to my close family members so many times, it felt like I was being rewarded.
I had such hopes, plans and dreams.
We would spend holidays together, make plans to do things and just hang out.
But what was more important to me than that was this one little thought…
…my days of saying goodbye to my father at the airport were finally over.
Yet, after several months of being away from those they left behind, intense feelings of homesickness and a variety of other factors that made them realize their decision to move was a mistake, they decided it was time to go back home.
I love them so much and only want them to be happy.
So as much as this hurts, I know it’s time to say goodbye again.
Putting it All Together
When I started writing this post, I was anticipating the parting of ways.
As of this moment, all of that has already happened.
I followed my Dad to the place he where rented his moving truck so he could get his vehicle properly secured to the back of it.
It was time for him to go.
He gave me a big hug and said, “I love you very much Dana”. I knew this was tough for him too.
I choked back my tears and said I loved him too, and to please have a safe trip back.
As I watched him drive away, I heard a small child whimper “bye Daddy” from behind the wheel of my own car.
The tears came freely – and I drove home in silence.
I sit here and share these thoughts with you – knowing that my goodbyes may not be as dramatic or as permanent as yours have been.
Perhaps you’ve lost a loved one through death, divorce or some other permanent ending to a relationship to someone who was dear to you.
You may be reading these words thinking –
“She’s lucky to at least still be able to communicate with those she’s discussed here. I’d give anything to have that luxury.”
I’m aware of that – and so incredibly grateful for the fact that yes, I can still speak to them, see them and be with them – even if they’re far away.
And if you’ve said goodbye to someone you’ve loved, regardless of the reasons, I want you to know I am thinking of you right now – and sending you love.
Sometimes we can’t help it when others have to leave us. Other times, it appears as though we may be able to implement some form of control over the situation or the individual.
In my case, I had to learn to let go of those who felt the need to go on their way – regardless of how it might affect me.
And considering I used to be someone who used her emotions to attempt to control the will of others, I’m happy to say I’ve outgrown such destructive and selfish behavior.
The reason for this has to do with Love.
To love someone, we have to let them go – even if it hurts like hell.
We don’t own anything in this world. We only have ownership of ourselves – but only if we know this and practice the behaviors that allow others to live as they choose, even if it makes us feel sad.
I’ll be the first one to admit that I’ll be using the techniques I’ve shared in my recent post about coping with feelings of depression.
I know I’ll have some days that will be filled with tears. Today has already proven to be one of them.
I’m also aware that I’ll have to retrain my brain to realize I no longer have loved ones living down the street from me. It takes a while to become acclimated to a new reality once you have become accustomed to things being a certain way.
It’s that feeling of shock that washes over you. It’s an emotional jolt – and knocks you off your feet when it hits.
So while I have no control over the circumstances themselves, I do have some influence over my response to them.
My coping techniques will be as follows:
- I will feel my feelings completely, but will not ruminate in them.
- I will encourage any residual internal pain from the past to make its way into my awareness in an effort to enable healing and freedom.
- I am using this opportunity to express my creative nature and to hopefully connect with and positively impact others through sharing my own experiences, transparency and vulnerability in this post.
- I will treat my body well by staying hydrated, minimizing caffeine and sugar and choosing high-quality foods for health, nourishment and self-empowerment.
- I’ll watch or listen to material designed to raise my consciousness – whether such things prove to be inspirational or just flat out funny.
- Resume my workout schedule (as I was pretty busy and active last week helping my folks with their move).
- I’ll reach out to others. Not to spread negativity, but to connect.
- Include some of the messages of others who have written some wonderful material whether it’s in regard to personal development, Spirituality or saying goodbye. I’ll post them below.
- The most important one of them all – send nothing but love and the desire for peace to those who have gone on their way.
It brings me comfort to know there will be joy in my family’s decision to return to their former home.
They’d realized the move wasn’t right for them. They weren’t happy. I love them so much that I only want the best for them. Knowing this decision will bring them peace is comforting to me.
Besides, the relatives they left behind experienced the pain I am feeling now when they arrived here – and knowing they will have their loved ones back makes me happy.
There would have been a time I would have resented their choice to leave because of how it would have impacted me.
Now, I only have Love.
If you are going through a rough patch, especially because of a painful goodbye, check this stuff out –
- Where Is God When Our Loved Ones Get Sick by Gabe Berman. This is an incredibly moving and personal story about the loss of a loved one through illness.
- Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsh (film or book – but I’ve only seen the film so far). I found his story moving in general.
- I Can See Clearly Now by Dr. Wayne Dyer. Demonstrates the ability to see the big picture when looking back with an open mind and sense of acceptance.
- Spiritual Maturity Website by Felicity Neale. I’ve gotten a lot out of this – especially the section about The Law of Detachment.
We’re all connected.
I can see clearly now in regard to my own feelings of loss and sadness.
The lessons I’ve learned have been painful, but without them, I would have never experienced the contrast necessary to enable me to feel the gratitude I can now appreciate thanks to the years that were filled with adversity.
We always have a choice in how we wish to respond to the upsets and disappointments in life.
We can accept, expand and connect, or we can shrivel up and wither away.
Iammyimagination.com is a growing community designed to help us all to live our best lives.
Each and every one of us has something to learn from one another, and it’s my sincere hope that you’ve found something in my story that you can relate to, received comfort from or be inspired by.
In regard to endings, I think the lyrics to this song by Semisonic says it best…
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end…”
How do you deal with goodbyes?