Monday, 18 January 2010

Saying goodbye

I’m not a particularly demonstrative person. I’m not really a hugger, unless I’m either a) drunk or b) upset, in which case you’ll need a crow bar to pry me from you.

You might think that I’m therefore a pretty cool, calm and collected number. I’m not, I’m a ragbag of emotions and can go through the day experiencing dizzying heights of giddiness, before crashing into a malaise from which I can’t be shifted.

This doesn’t make for a good combination. I have all these emotions and no outlet for them, so they buzz and buzz and buzz around inside me until they eventually come screaming out at amazingly inopportune moments.

When I’m upset the first thing I’m likely to do is make a joke. Usually an inappropriate one. It's a great avoidance technique. “Me? Upset? I don’t think so. Here enjoy some witty banter with me so I can prove how not upset I am.” The defence mechanisms are well and truly raised.

And this is something I’ve done from being a wee thing. If I’d done something bad and my parents gave me a smack for it (this was back in the day when you were allowed to discipline your children, nowadays I’d be on the phone to Childline and have been incarcerated in a foster home before the redness had disappeared) I would refuse to acknowledge that I was hurt. I would apparently stand there with a defiant look on my face, my bottom lip trembling, but no tears would be shed. Their solution? They used to tell me to go and stand in the corner and be sad at which point I would dissolve in to sobs and cry myself in to hysteria.

Wow. I’ve never realised that story sounded weird until I just wrote it down.


This unwillingness to show emotion was brilliantly displayed when it came to saying goodbye to The Americans (yes I am still banging on about them). I’m horrendous at goodbyes and I have no idea why. Just dropping Fred and Lily back at Mum’s house makes me want to curl up in to a ball and howl. It’s the ultimate test for the part of my brain that doesn’t want me to show any feelings.

So I said goodbye on the train platform. Hugged them both. Did a comic run down the platform while they walked down the carriage to find their seats, followed by an impression of the Burger King (when I said I used humour as an avoidance technique I didn’t say it was a good). And then I promptly turned around and left. I could have stayed and waved them off but I know my limits. The emotion was desperate to make its escape. Mostly out of my eyes.

As I walked back through the station I was relieved that the train they were catching was at 7am so there weren’t many people around to see my squinty, red, watery eyes.

“Don’t show emotion in public. Don’t show emotion in public” My brain chanted.

“But I can’t hold it in!” Said my eyes.

I had to do something incredibly normal and mundane to stop this leaking.

So I went to Tescos.

(I recommend going to Tescos at 7am to get your shopping done, there’s really nobody there)
And amongst the washing powder I found myself calming down. “

“There now. Well done. You didn’t show emotion. You’re a winner” crowed my brain.

So I came home and started cleaning. I didn’t really know what else to do. And all was fine until I emptied the dishwasher and broke a plate.

Cue floodgates.

Every bit of emotion I had repressed came flooding out in mourning of the plate. It’s not even a nice plate, it’s a crappy plain white one I got from Asda when we first moved in together and didn’t have anything to eat off.

The rest of the day was marked by periodic bouts of crying. I cried when I got the last text message from them to say they were about to board the plane. “NO MORE TEXT MESSAGES!!!” My emotions cried out.

My brain tried to be rational. “It’s fine. You live in an electronic age. You have Facebook and e-mail and all kinds of wonders with which to stay in contact with them. It’s not like it used to be. It’s like they’re there in the room with you.”

“BUT THEY’RE NOT IN THE ROOM WITH ME!” The emotions wailed.

That’s the thing I realised during this last trip. Yeah it’s great that there’s all these methods of keeping in touch with people and saying hello and checking in and sharing things. But it’s rubbish once you’ve had the real life thing. It’s not that same as being in the same house and talking face to face. In fact it’s a poor substitute.

I tried to do some sums to figure out how long it would take me to save up to go over to American and see them again.

And I cried.

The boyfriend came home and asked me how I was.

And I cried.

And so on and so forth until every last bit of emotion was cried out of me.

And that would be why I make jokes rather than let my emotions show. It’s much less exhausting.


Petit Filoux said...

Oh no!!!! Well I hope you've got it all out by now ;-)
I'm quite the opposite sometimes, I'm more likely to cry for nothing and everything. Ridiculous, trust me. And I'm ashamed to add, it might come out more at a certain time of the month. Translate: massive gash to my ego to admit that. Boo ;-)

The Curious Cat said...

Oh dear, you poor thing...I know how you feel - it just takes a little thing like a broken plate to break the flood gates...and I know how hard goodbyes can be. I remember when the Canadians left our home in Peru to go back to Canada. The house was so empty afterwards and I mourned for two whole days and cried non-stop. I even did this once on holiday when my parents and sister left early and I was left with my boyf and brother. I missed them not being there on holiday - even tho I was going to see them in a week - stupid eh? Empty spaces effect me like that though... Emotions are good - don't try to suppress them too much - they'll always find a way out and sometimes if you bottle them up when they explode they can be more damaging... xxx

Dreaming,talking,eating always said...

Firstly,I sob at any given chance,a simple Pampers advert can get me weeping.

On the topic of saying goodbye though, I do find it so hard. I connect to people quite quickly and really struggle with bidding farewell.
When deep down you know you won't see a person again, I want to get better at being glad I met them and had a ncie time with them,instead of being sad that we have to go our separate ways

Lovely post!

Flitterbee said...


"Yeah it’s great that there’s all these methods of keeping in touch with people and saying hello and checking in and sharing things. But it’s rubbish once you’ve had the real life thing. It’s not that same as being in the same house and talking face to face. In fact it’s a poor substitute."

Truth. said...

There is sometimes nothing worse than to have to say farewells! I am exactly the same and use humour to keep it all in! Sometimes quite inappropriately! suzie xxx