The lessons in good-bye: Coming out of the shadows

I suck at good byes.

waving goodbye

Which is kind of funny, given that I’ve moved so much and that means good byes.

I’m finding that I suck at good byes because I’ve never fully embraced what they mean and the exchange that can possibly happen in the midst of leave-taking.

The past two weeks have been about good byes. Because I just finished my first year of clinical experience. I had three amazing supervisors who carry so much wisdom and who simultaneously created safe space to learn and also pushed me to become better at what I am doing. My supervision group was small, but mighty. My clients are amazing teachers, pushing me to really look at my role.

This round of good byes in my life has had to be done differently. Partly because of the role that leave-taking has with clients, but also, recognizing that saying good bye is hard for me means it’s something to become more aware of in my life.

In saying good bye to my individual supervisor that I realized how crappy I have been at this in the past. Because it’s usually something I avoid doing. And part of it is because I have not wanted to own the fact that my presence matters. Rather than take ownership of my role in someone’s life (as a friend, lover, co-worker, student), I try to duck out in the shadows. I don’t say anything until I can’t help but say something and then, it’s in passing. When I’ve left Starbucks stores in the past, that’s the tack I took, always surprised when customers were upset that they didn’t know and that I didn’t say anything earlier. “But, I’m just a barista,” I’d say. “I don’t matter.”

In this process, I have to own that what I do matters I matter. It’s not just what I do. I, as a human being, making a connection with another human being, whether for a moment or for an extended period of time, my presence matters. Good byes are a marker of the end of something, part of which is that connection one has with another.

In acknowledging good byes, and working to embrace that I matter to others, I work to acknowledge the ways that others matter to me. Not in gushing fake ways, but in genuine ways where I can be authentic and truly be in the moment and experience the deep richness of what has transpired.

How do you handle good byes?  Is it something that you’re good at?

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