Girlfriend Goodbye

Ending relationships that no longer served me in any good way has always been a skill of mine. Where others would agonize over emotional vampires, I had already not just packed up my toothbrush but was a good number of miles out the door, singing ‘Hit the road, Jack’. Not that I cartwheeled out the door, you understand (Ok. To be very honest, I did a handful of times. Maybe even 10 handfuls of times.). But I could spot a deadweight a mile away and I knew to leave.

It was also usually my role to pack for a friend and stay by this war-shocked moaning groaning friend, while she clutched one ply tissues wet and gnarled with tears and all body fluids known to humankind–dumbfounded, unable to comprehend why she has to leave, raking coals and rending her garments while wailing lamentations. Not a pretty sight.

Which reminds me: single ply tissue–who the hell invented this miserly miserable piece of matter? Is it solid, liquid, gas? What was it meant to do? Clog our tear ducts and cause kuliti? Line our nails? Cause pulmonary embolism? What? When you buy single ply tissue, you are the cheapest bastard I know and that is that. I judge you severely when I go to your bathroom and this is what I see. Please do not invite me to your home if this is what you have. Or at least warn me before I go so I can bring my humane 3-ply.

But I digress.

It’s not that I was always graceful in defeat. I wish I could tell you how much I wish I was–specially when I recall the awful long-drawn out goodbyes I beat out of a relationship. If I gave you the impression that I was Jackie O when I walked away, I am sorry. Nothing could be further from the truth. I was oftentimes bloodied to a pulp and my heart would look like ground meat fresh from the butcher. I could’ve given Sisa a run for her money.

But because I lost my mother early in life, I knew how to take care of myself in ways you guys don’t–you who’ve not known a motherless day in your life.

I must have been in high school when it dawned on me that I had to take really good care of myself because no one was going to do the job for me. Pops would pitch in occasionally–and with the biggies—like camp in the lobby while I took the medical boards exam. But the regular run-of-the-mill stuff, I was all I had.

There was one time though pops suddenly dropped by in my dorm in UP at the very minute I found out my college boyfriend had cheated on me and I just sobbed my heart out to my pops and my macho pops (who had an eye for the chicks himself and must have been uh-oh’ing all over the place now that I think of it)–well he just helplessly embraced me  and had the saddest (mortified guiltiest?) look on his face and he said the silliest things to me too, ‘Never mind. You will be a doctor soon.’ is what I remember the most. That was his battle cry to me, his ‘SPARTAAAAAA!!’ ‘ HAYUP KA MAGIGING DUKTOR AKOOOO!! AT DI KITA TUTULUIN, SUPOT!!!’ Something like that. Well this guy and I are great friends now and he has no idea it was my father who helped me pack my bags that time. Well, honey that explains why I got over you quick, to your regretful astonishment. Resbak ko si Lord.

A brother helped me pack my bags too. He saw me crying the following day by the gym while waiting for this guy and he took me aside and said, ‘You are not thinking now so let me think for you.’ Then he took me by the hand and ever so sternly but gently too said, ‘Do not let this guy see you cry, ok? He is not worth it.’ or some such cliche that worked marvelously for me and for which I’ve repeatedly paid forward by using this brother’s exact same line. It is goodness, you know, to take your friend by the hand and say, ‘You are not thinking now so let me think for you, ok?’

So this is what I learned from the guys in my family basically,the stance of leaving–with some measure of dignity. And lest I give you again the misimpression that I was a poised and dignified Jackie O, let me disabuse you of that notion now. Nothing could be further from the truth as I said.

The truth is though, at some point, I found my way to that thread of dignity and clung to it. And walked away. Bedraggled and like I had just come from a cat fight, yes. But I still somehow walked away, limping with the one shoe I had left on. Ah well, this is the way to love, no? Amore!

However, the one thing I had not done, had not learned to do was let go of girlfriends. I had no reason to for a very long time. All my life, I had, thus far, been given an unfair proportion of smart, funny, loyal girlfriends.

But in midlife, when tectonic plates shift and people change in the most profound of ways, someone’s bound to get left behind and someone’s bound to feel the need to soar and not have extra baggage weighing her down.

And this was what happened to me. My plates shifted and I no longer found it wise to take along everyone from my childhood with me. I couldn’t, in any case. I would’ve loved to but found out this was virtually impossible.

I could no longer pretend I was ok with the small-minded, judgmental chitchat that passed off as ‘friendship’ with old friends who had refused to evolve and grow. I could no longer bear another evening of small talk that insulted so much of what I now found sacred. I saw that I only had this much time to have the life that felt like mine and I could no longer squander this precious time on people who weighed me down. 

And I could finally see who I was clearly.  

And my joy was deep and my dance, from the soul. And I saw that this confused, this puzzled,threatened and hurt some friends from way back.  I had also learned to surround myself with the most life-affirming women I had ever known–so wise, so compassionate, so funny! Goddesses!

I would try to bring them up to speed, these old girlfriends and for those who saw through all that puzzling change because of their love for me, I was deeply grateful. A joyful jig was in order. I knew I got to keep them. YES! *fist pump!* We could journey on.

But for those who I had become nothing but a puzzlement to, and who sought to shrink me to dimensions they could understand by whatever methods they had in their armament (specially if this  armament was by being moralistic and judgmental, wow, my two most favorite traits in a human being), I knew the road had ended for us. And I finally had to learn to say how to say goodbye.

In so many ways, saying goodbye to an old girlfriend is sadder, much much sadder than saying goodbye to a dude you clinched with. Saying goodbye to a dude just feels like saying goodbye to a dude. It is wrought with delicious drama that might even be addictive to some sick bastard.

Saying goodbye to a girlfriend,on the other hand,  just feels heavy and the heaviness can be pervasive. You don’t just say goodbye to a girlfriend of decades when you say goodbye to her. You say goodbye to chunks of your childhood that she had access to, secret corridors and bay windows only you both share. And I’ve not heard of anybody getting addicted to this pervasive heaviness because there is nothing remotely pleasurable about it–no possibility of make up sex or kissing in the rain or  tearful reconciliations. None of that. And I understand how so many of us just continue to drag on and on these emotionally exhausting relationships that weigh us down and give us nothing of value –rather than making that line in the sand clear to the both of you.

But clarify it you must. at the very least, to yourself. This is the preferred method for most of us. ‘We’ve had some falling out.’, they say. Like a potato just slid off your grocery bag. Passive.

As for me, I prefer the clear line in the sand. Go no further. We are done. Step back. In the end, I feel this is the kinder, more respectful way. I prefer it over silly backbiting in any case. I find I have lost my taste for this in midlife where I used to derive so much pleasure from it in my younger years. There simply is no time for cheapness when you see that your time is severely limited and there is so much you still want to do and there is so much that life asks of you. And when you see how terribly interesting and fascinating human beings are and the story of their lives and how sanctimonious judgment is just so off (except where one ply tissue is concerned).

So in the end, I swallow my bitter pill and own up womanfully. I say goodbye.

Saying goodbye to an old girlfriend, I’ve learned, can deteriorate into small minded spitefulness and so I’ve learned to say goodbye with as much respect as I can muster. And as much focus as possible.

I see an old girlfriend I’ve had to cut ties with on Facebook. And she is a study of graceless dishevelment where I am concerned. She drops what she thinks are zingers and one-liners she thinks will hurt me and that validate my decision to cut ties with her over and over and make it so clear how she has no idea who I am now. A woman scorned, through and through. And all I want to do is put a coat over her shoulder and say, enough. It’s ok. Our season is over. I am grateful for all that we had. Let go now. And in the meantime life marches on. Go now. Have your day in the sun. I wish you well.

And I have been on the receiving end of this cutting of ties too. And while it hurts so much –specially if the girlfriend in question is one you love deeply and would love to grow old with, in the end, I own up womanfully as well and put a cloak over her shoulder and say, it’s ok. Our season is over. I am grateful for all that we had. I can let you go now. And in the meantime, life marches on. Go now. I will miss you so bad. But I can let you go. Have your day in the sun. I wish you well.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Marilyn says:

    i can relate to that..yeah some friendship hurts. super like reading your story.


    1. thank you marilyn. there are some losses though that feel JUST RIGHT. you will be sad but it is fine. i think once you are able to let go what it is that must be let go of, the universe will reward you with awesome human beings as friends. that is my story. 🙂


  2. Tina De Dios says:

    SPOT ON Dra Wee !!!!! This is like prophylaxis for me. Thank you !


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