Sam Smith says he’s too good at goodbyes. Me too.
I used to pride myself on being the stronger person – that I’d be the one who would get over a relationship faster. I’m the one who feels less. I’m the one who loves less. I’ll get out before it’s over.
In the game of relationships, I had to be the better player.
But in the pursuit of proving myself, I forgot to ask: Even if I win, what’s the prize? So I found out the hard way, one day, when it was Game Over and I didn’t get to say goodbye first.
Player 1 left, and I was left hanging.
Everything people said about breakups was true. There’s nothing more maddening than to have clichés come true in your own life. I finally understood why people use the term “heart-wrenching” – it felt that way.
Even the air I breathed felt thinned out – it was suffocating, and I didn’t know if I could ever recover as all the lights in my world started to dim.
I wanted time to stop. I wanted everyone else to stop what they were doing. How could life go on like that?
But on the outside, I tried my best to function. I smiled, I ate, and I worked. But with my bedroom door closed, in the very room where I heard him say goodbye, I could barely manage to stand.
For days, I laid on the floor in my room because I couldn’t do anything else. I don’t think I’d ever felt this much pain in my life. I was angry and I was mad. But I knew I had to stay alive.
So I ran to a quiet room – to meet with God. It sounds like a cliché, doesn’t it – “Yeah, go to God.” But it was the only thing I knew could save me from the overwhelming grief that threatened to swallow me up.
I sat there with a box of tissues. I didn’t ask for answers, I didn’t even ask why it had to happen. I simply asked for His presence.
God didn’t show up like a genie, because my pain didn’t go away immediately. He didn’t come in a rushing wind, or in any dramatic fashion, and my heart was still in pieces.
But in my brokenness, I saw my desperate need for God. God was my lifeline and I refused to let go.
You will cry a lot, but don’t let go.
My road out of the confusing fog of pain was a long one, and it wasn’t always clear if I really was walking out of it. But I was thankful for the drab routines. It was in the winding journey of showing up for work and my small conversations with strangers that life began to form again in the shell of a person I had become.
Everything in me screamed for isolation, but God knew that I needed people. So at my new workplace, without even mentioning my newly-broken heart, I began to experience healing – just by being in the company of people.
In the months ahead, I learnt to laugh again. And I learnt to feel. The raw and fierce pain wrapped up in my heart helped me to empathise with others who are also hurting, others who are also in pits of despair of their own.
In the messy aftermath of aborted relationships, failure and regrets are never far away. But I now know that grace and mercy are also never far away.
There are days when I felt like I’ve moved on, and then other days when out of nowhere, my old friend grief comes by and reminds me of the things I don’t need. Don’t you wish for complete closure? Don’t you want more answers? You’re a failure!
When anxiety wants to take over and replay the unpleasant memories, I’ve learnt that the only way out of it to refuse going down that path.
Unlike Sam Smith, I don’t think I need to be good at it, but I have to say goodbye.
Heartache is always just one ingredient in the nasty concoction of lost love. In the messy aftermath of aborted relationships, failure and regrets are never far away.
And from my own experience, I know that grace and mercy are also never far away. It came in the form of work that kept me occupied. It came in the quiet knowing that I’m going be okay. It came in my resolve to want to be okay. It came in God’s outstretched arm to me.
I don’t know how He did it, but God used every bit of my pain to bring me closer to Him. It wasn’t wasted. I could have easily gone the other way – further away from Him and deeper into the grave of self-pity – but I’m grateful that He saved me from that.
The girl who wanted to be good at goodbyes was simply afraid of being unloved. I used to believe that I wasn’t worthy of love because I’m not pretty enough. I believed that who I am wasn’t enough. I believed that I had to carry my family baggage of divorce forever.
I wanted to be proven wrong – to find someone who would never leave. I had to learn that that’s a job only God can do. He alone can love us perfectly and give us worth.
When everything fell to the ground, I was destroyed. But bit by bit, over 6 months, God spoke His truth into me. He relaid my foundation when He told me that I am loved by Him, no matter what happened in the past.
He got me to rethink the notion that I had to carry my family baggage forever, because it just wasn’t true. So I surrendered it and finally accepted the new life that He gives, and left the old one behind – for good.
So … I don’t have to be good at goodbyes anymore.
And neither do you. If you’re going through a similar experience – you’ll be okay, because God loves you, and His love is a dependable one (Romans 8:38-39). If you doubt that God loves you, ask Him to show it to you. Let God– not another woman or man – prove it to you.