This post is dedicated to anyone who has come out of a relationship -- good or bad -- and searched for a way to say good-bye to someone who isn't there anymore. It was written some time ago as I struggled to help a friend find closure from a relationship gone wrong without having the opportunity to say good-bye.
For such a little word, good-bye carries a mighty wallop.
Good-bye can mean, see you in a while, or see you in a year. It can carry us into the night on the hope of tomorrow or it can sweep all hope away as we look back and see there will never be a next time, another day, or a new tomorrow.
For those who have journeyed into the valley of an abuser, good-bye is a word fraught with the fear that once spoken it can never be returned. In its silence we fear the door is always open as we stand upon the precipice of tomorrow without him or her. In our sorrow, it lays frozen upon our tongues, our minds numb in the fear it might slide out on a breath of air and change our lives forever. Terrified we might slip, we pack our hopes and dreams into that one little word and stuff our pride and dignity into the cracks of our pain seeping in beneath the door held fast against our fear.
And all the while, we search for the perfect last words that will either make it all right or make him hear us, just this once, before he slithers off into the past from whence he came. And as we flounder in the depths of empty words and promises, we pray that there will never be a time to say good-bye but rather welcome back, I've missed you. Spiraling into the darkness of the painfully long good-bye they began when they said, hello, we silently hold onto the word that will set us free and stumble through the words of begging them to please not say it.
But destiny waits for no man, and the door we fought so hard to keep firmly closed always finds a crack through which it can be opened, until, eventually we must face the reality that we will never have the chance to say our fond farewells. They have already left. Gone in search of new tomorrows. Of some other happily ever after, without us.
In their passing, we are left holding the shreds of our battered hearts in the basket of our dreams, frozen in time. Alone, forlorn, we whisper, good-bye, into the empty space that lays before us, hoping they will hear the soft promise of our hopes they will find 'out there', that which they could never find in us. We peer into the darkness of the lengthening shadows, our tears puddling around our feet, falling into the river of our sorrow. We flail about in desperation searching for solid ground as our fear of drowning rises with our tears as we cry out for one last chance to say good-bye. It’s such a little word but it keeps us stuck on the dream of wanting them back so that we can say, Good-bye. In the end, there are no words to answer our despair, just the good-bye we whisper to ourselves as we pick at the scab of our wounds that never seem to heal.
To begin again, we must accept that we will never find the key to unlock the secret door of their understanding. It resides somewhere in the dark, beyond the edges of the light.
As our acceptance of our truth grows, beneath the scabby, jagged-edge scar of our disbelief, new skin is forming. If we leave it alone long enough to heal from the inside out, we will understand that it was our shadow we feared, for in their darkness our light was blocked. We breathe.
In time, one day not yet here, we will lift our heads and see, the sun is shining. Into it's beckoning warmth we will step into the light of finally knowing, the only way to say good- bye to what can never be, is to accept it never was.