As we were in the middle of the calculated dance of a heated argument, strategizing our premeditated words to hurt the other, you told me that all I know how to do is say goodbye. That I don’t really give others a second chance. You had mentioned several instances in my life in which you thought that I had clearly turned people away and said goodbye. You told me how you thought that was cruel and heartless.
I’m too good at goodbyes.
You brought up a time when I was in high school. How a dear friend had hurt me very deeply, and how, two years after going our separate ways, that old friend had came up to me one day and apologized. You claimed that when that old friend apologized to me, I still couldn’t forgive her because I would rather just “cut people off” from my life. While you got most of the story correct, I did not tell that old friend that I did not forgive her; instead, I told her that I did forgive her but would need time to get over all of the hurt and lost trust.
After our intense exchange, your words haunted me. I thought about it more and more.
I’m too good at goodbyes.
Was I really the type of person that just walked away from everything? Was that really the only thing that I know how to do? Did I just let go of every relationship when I thought it wasn’t going to work?
As I thought about it and analyzed the various events from my life, I thought that, perhaps, there might be some truth to what you said. Looking at my life under a microscope, I had realized that there were several people that I did say goodbye too. But I think the most enlightening thing for me was that I realized, more than anything else, that it was a defense mechanism.
Not to excuse the behavior, if I really truly am too good at goodbyes. I have seen a lot of heartbreak and sadness in my life. There have been many people that have left my life. From losing my aunt and my grandpa, and my sister walking away from my life. To the group of friends that turned on me in my first year of high school and told everyone that they “kicked me out of the group,” and the friends who turned against me after I stood up against a teacher in high school and they all began to bully me, to the several people that hurt me in college, to the (negatively) changing relationship with a very close relative and the numerous hurtful things that have been said against me. While I in no way want to just jump to saying that I was just an innocent victim in all of this, I just know that I have seen a lot of this hurt before, and each time I just stop the hurt before it gets to be too much.
In fact, just recently, a favorite artist of mine, Sam Smith, released a song that deals specifically with this topic. He talks about how he is “too good at goodbyes.” In his song, Smith talks about how he doesn’t get too close to people, even when they mean a lot to him, just in case they “leave [him] in the dirt.” And just like me — who had a person tell me that they thought that I was being cruel and heartless — Smith replies to the individual who thinks he’s being “heartless” and “cold” that he’s just “protecting [his] innocence” and “[his] soul.”
When I listened to Smith’s words, I realized how completely true they are. Just like Smith, I, too, want to be able to be close to people and have meaningful relationships, but am too hesitant about the potential hurt. When that hurt comes, I quickly try to dispel it before I ultimately become too hurt, so like Smith, it’ll lead to fewer tears and, perhaps, the “quicker [those] tears [will] dry.”
So if this person is right, if I am too good at goodbyes, then I don’t ever mean it to hurt the person; I think it’s just me trying to save myself from another heartbreak. Because while I put up a strong exterior, inside I am easily hurt. I think it’s just my heart kicking into a flight response because it doesn’t know if it can handle it; and if I remove myself from the situation sooner rather than later, it allows my heart to take care of damage control quickly.
And I realize that this is no way to live. I shouldn’t be afraid of getting too close to people just because I’m afraid of getting hurt, or letting go of a relationship too quickly because, again, I am afraid of getting hurt. It’s merely the defense mechanism my heart has adopted so it can prevent any hurt.
But I don’t want to be like this. And I know that I will have to try to find a way to reverse this natural response that my heart always turns to. So, to the one who says that I am too good at goodbyes, maybe you are right. Maybe it’s time to change.