by Anna

The last lesson of my recent basic counselling skills course is here and I am really not concerned at all. At the end I will simply get up, maybe exchange a few more contact detail or not and leave. That was at least the plan.

When the end was physically there, however, I was hardly able to get off my chair.

Why is that I wonder?

During today’s lesson we obviously spoke about endings. Our tutor explained the four different stages. First comes the preparation, for us to be ready, the warning. Next comes the disengagement, the actual end where at times we can encounter denial. Then there is the separation stage in which we or others leave or move away which can bring up quite a few emotions. And after that we will face a new beginning, goals, anything new.

But when do we know that we are ready for a new beginning?
How do we say our goodbye?

There are good and bad ways of saying goodbye. I usually run away, avoid this situation at all costs because something in me doesn’t like the sadness of it. I rather pretend that we will see each other again at some point or another and to just keep it light as that. A quick wave or hand shake, a few nice words, a smile, even a hug will be acceptable but I don’t like to think about the potential incident that it could in fact really be the very last time ever that I see that particular person. That thought would simply crush me. And I don’t even know why.

Once again this is a thought that has settled somewhere in my psyche and I will leave it for another day to ponder on the complex mystery which is the human behaviour.

Now, this I think was a bad example of goodbye. A good one would probably be when you look a person in the eye and express how much you enjoyed their company and you might exchange a good hand shake or a deep hug, maybe even a kiss depending on what connection you had and you make sure you don’t leave anything unsaid and you lovingly release them to follow their path wherever it may take them.

Ok, this was a very deep version of a goodbye. There are also endings that we don’t even notice. There are endings all the time. Pop, another second has passed, gone, ended. Now a minute has just ended, the morning is already over and this day will soon be over too. The week usually goes ever so quick and by the way we are already in April so March has ended so did work yesterday and I haven’t been a teen for years and so on and on and on…

Another classic example would be when we go shopping, get out of the car and all we think about is our shopping list. We didn’t even waste a single second thinking about the car journey that has just ended or that we indeed left the house before we even got into the car.

And what is worse? To leave or to be left? Observing my own reactions I believe that it makes it worse the more we are attached emotionally. When I moved town when I was about 12 I wasn’t really paying much attention to what I left behind, I instead looked forward to what was about to come. Whereas my friends I left behind in that house told me a few years later how much they were crying because they were so sad that I wouldn’t be around anymore. And how distraught was I when a good childhood friend of mine suddenly had a much better friend and I wasn’t her first choice anymore. She surely wasn’t as sad as me, she had something new to look out for.

I have realised that I miss out on valuable experiences by not ending things properly. I never had a leaving party at any of my places of work, I don’t get any feedback from my patients at work because I just run out of the door when my shift is over and there are many unresolved problems with people where I never explained my point of view properly partially because I didn’t know how to at that time.

So all these thoughts and considerations suddenly weighed heavily on me while I was clinging on to my chair at the final end of our last lesson. And our tutor had kindly reminded us constantly throughout that this lesson would end precisely when it was set to end and that after that it will never be the same again.

Of course this was all part of the course, a learning experience, raising awareness, but it brought up sheer panic in me because all this previous fear that I had been avoiding by not engaging in too deep a goodbye now bubbled up to the surface like a hot mud pool.

And how did I deal with it?

I didn’t really. I instructed myself to pay more attention to it in the future but I am still quite bad at it. I think there is something else locked away inside of me that needs shifting first before I can engage in a proper and meaningful goodbye.

Maybe it starts by valuing more what we got and live every single moment of life as if it was the last.

I am working on it 😉