the first goodbye and how I plan to deal with the rest


When I decided to move interstate to be with my boyfriend full time, I knew it would mean transitioning a whole heap of things in my life as I know it.

Instead of living 20 minutes down the motorway, Mum and Dad will be an hour-long flight away. Instead of seeing one of my best friends in the office every day, our catch ups will be over Skype, email and old-fashioned phone calls. Instead of looking over my back fence at the Harbour Bridge, I'll be watching the Sydney New Year's Eve fireworks on TV like the rest of the world.

These are things that will certainly be different to what I'm used to but they are also adjustments I'm more than willing to make if it means starting a new life in a new city with my boyfriend.

One thing that I was hoping would remain a constant was my job. My manager was hoping the company would approve her plan to keep me in my current role but have me working from an interstate office. Unfortunately the powers that be disagreed and last week I handed in my notice.

I love my job and the people I work with make coming into the office more fun that I think it's supposed to be! But I always knew there was a chance my manager's plan wouldn't come to fruition.

What I wasn't expecting though was the strange feeling I had pressing send on my resignation email. It wasn't that all of a sudden the whole move felt real, it was more a realisation that this is the first of many 'goodbyes' I'm going to be saying over the next couple of months.

I'm not great at goodbyes (not ideal for someone in a long distance relationship!) and I'm not just talking about the hard ones. Of course I don't like dropping my boyfriend off at the airport after a visit but - and I'm not proud of this - I'm also the person who'll slip out of a party without saying goodbye to anyone except the host because... well, I'm not really sure why.

"From the sublime to the mundane, the simple to the complicated, farewells are an inevitable part of life," says psychotherapist Diane Barth on Psychology Today. "They can be incredibly painful—but they don’t have to be devastating. And here’s something important to know: If you’re having a hard time with any kind of goodbye, you’re not alone."

When we get to the airport drop off area, my boyfriend always says "it's not goodbye, it's see you later" which is, of course, a great way to look at it. Hopefully as I say "see you later" more and more often over the next couple of months to friends, family and colleagues I'll be able to channel his positive attitude.

But if not, Diane has some tips to make goodbyes - no matter how big or small - a little easier.

  • "Recognise that mixed feelings are normal," she says. "The tricky thing is to find a way to make space for all of these conflicting and sometimes contradictory feelings. But the more you do open yourself up to the different emotions, the more you will be able to process the more painful ones."
  • "Feeling sad about leaving one situation, or anxious about moving into another, does not necessarily mean that you have made the wrong decision," says Diane. "Most of us have these feelings about even the best possible moves in our lives. In fact, the time that I worry about a possible problem is usually when a client tells me about an upcoming change without talking about some of the conflicts about it."
  • "Try to put all of your confusing feelings into words. Talk to a friend or a relative, but set the stage first, so that they don't get worried that you have either gone off the deep end or (more likely) made the wrong decision."
  • "Whether you are leaving a house or neighbourhood, a school or university, a job or a relationship, try to give yourself a little time to reflect on both the good and bad aspects of the experience," she says. "Don't try to pack in everything you have not done, or everything you meant to do in the short time you have left. And try not to turn it into an all-bad experience in your mind, something you are eager to get away from because it has been nothing but negative. This may make it easier to justify leaving in the short term, but will have problematic consequences down the line."

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