on not saying goodbye
I’m horrible at goodbyes.
They haunt me. I hate them. So much of my life has been regrets about not embracing them. Mostly because I hate letting go. Or life is so crazy and overwhelming that it just goes too quickly. Or the completely unexpected happens.
And there you are. Holding her shoes. And you never have another conversation with her.
When I decided to leave Colorado (and it was clear it was actually happening this time), the one thing I decided I had to do was say goodbye to my beloved soulmate. To my childhood. To my parents. To all the people I’d been.
I made plans–many plans–for roadtrips–to write documentaries and write a love letter to this place that held me so close for all of my life.
Only change happens and the places that were special disappear. And cats get cancer, and you spend your entire savings trying to save her…and you win…and then have to take care of her–every day–making it hard to go anywhere when it’s just you. And time just runs away–no matter how many postponements. No matter how many good intentions.
So, I didn’t write that documentary. I decided it needed more time. And this wasn’t forever. I could come back–do it right. And I didn’t go on any roadtrips this year. Instead, day in and day out, I nursed this sweet girl back to health. And she is so good right now. Cancer free for almost 9 months now. Diabetes regulated. IBS in check. Holding. And while I was always packing or purging or cleaning in these months, I was also procrastinating the big things. Carefully avoiding the things that would inspire too much emotion.
I wasn’t ready.
I so often am not ready. Not for goodbyes, at least. With every single move of my adult life, I am always the one packing frantically as the movers knock on the door–or doing it all by myself–failing hard and realizing I need to hire some help.
But always holding on till the very last minute. Always pulling my best impression of Wonder Woman. And it always works out. Even if my entire body ends up bruised–and I lose a toenail.
This time, we had so much time. But when I started this journey, I didn’t realize how much would change. How hard it would be just to keep up with my life–to practice daily self-care and be kind to myself. I didn’t expect so much change, and change is overwhelming–even when good. I found myself paralyzed often. I had no good excuses and plenty of good intentions. And oh, how I knew that I would kick myself so hard for not tackling this early–for waiting and putting so much more stress on myself.
And when I criticize myself, I am the worst kind of unkind. As a people pleasing, perfectionistic control freak…in recovery…well, trying.
But then Sunday happened. And it was exactly what I needed. Permission to go. The grief I’d been processing suddenly lifted and I felt the kick in the pants I needed. And ever since then, I’ve been pushing–getting an amazing amount done…but still avoiding a few key areas. At first, I felt so much better. And then, yesterday, the anxiety built up and I found I was utterly spent. It was an emotional weariness–not physical.
Work has been particularly crazy this week. And packing before work, at lunch, and until 1 am when I get up at 6 am has been hard. But work itself has been stressful as I’m holding down the fort. My beloved coworker’s water broke yesterday at barely 28 weeks and she welcomed her sweet baby–who will be in a NICU for a while. I’m holding her stuff together, along with my own, and also pulling lead duties while helping a desperately struggling account that keeps getting worse. The amount of mental effort of all of this along with processing this move has just felt like too much. Add to that the fact that all these things here had a deadline of later this week–when my roomies would be here…and needing my help with their stuff.
Tonight, it just became so apparent that I was heading toward paralysis and a breakdown if I didn’t practice some radical self-care–quick. I knew I had a dental appointment tomorrow and I might be in pain after. I knew I was already sick from overworking myself. And I realized all these deadlines were mine. That the only reason I had to do any of this by that unreasonable date was because I was trying to make room for goodbye.
And it just became really really clear. I didn’t need my goodbye. Self-care was more valuable to me.
A long time ago, after years of not visiting my father’s grave, I went finally and realized he wasn’t there. His body was–sure–but my father had never once left my side in all the years since his death. I was reminded of this every time I lost my keys, whenever there was a crazy storm, and by the rainbow he delivered the day I scattered the last of Mama’s ashes at Never Summer. Oh, and the countless times I legit should have died and didn’t. On his death bed, my father told my Mama he would never leave me. He kept his promise and I’ve been so grateful–even during the years when I still hated him.
When I scattered my Mama’s ashes, the wind carried her across the meadows of Never Summer. I have no doubt she is all over Colorado, and for me, everything here reminds me of her. Though I rarely feel her presence in my life–like my father–she shows up sometimes in my dreams. But the reality is my mother is the heart I wear on my sleeve. She is so much of who I am.
We have these memorial sites where we go to pay our respects. These places that remind us to remember those we’ve loved. But I’ve never needed a reminder. Every day of my life, I am my parents’ daughter, and I’ve only got to look in the mirror to visit them.
The funny thing is that this whole thing–all of this anxiety led me to one of the biggest lessons of my life today–and a newfound peace that I never expected to find. All these years, I’ve regretted not saying goodbye. But there is no real goodbye. I’m stuck with them. I’m stuck with the little girl I used to be–with the place I grew up in. It’ll go with me no matter how far away from home I get. It’s in my DNA. It’s in my emotions. It’s my lens.
It’s just another see ya later. And I’ll always be back. Even if it just means coming back to my heart and remembering where it started beating.