Last year I had to say goodbye to certain people in my life. It wasn’t easy, it was never enjoyable but it was certainly necessary.
I said goodbye to a family member, I still see them now and then, but I said goodbye to the relationship we once had. I said goodbye to accepting the lifelong dynamic, the ingrained behaviour, the treatment I had come to accept and expect. I said goodbye to the dramas they brought to my door, the arguments, them leaving, screaming and slamming doors. I said goodbye to having my hopes raised and dashed over and over. They had become someone I could rely on only to let me down. They had hurt me so many times that I found, to my surprise, my well of empathy filled with dry dust. For so long they had disrespected me, my opinions, my needs, my lifestyle, my wishes and my boundaries until one day it occurred to me- why am I throwing so much love, care, help, patience and understanding towards someone who never returns it? someone who never considers how their actions affect others? someone who it never occurs to, to take responsibility for their behaviour and own it, see it, apologise or make amends. I cannot share my life with the those who lack empathy or accountability. For nearly forty years I did, but no more. Life genuinely is too short for that. So for what time I have left on this planet, I will not waste my time, energy, love, care and empathy on those who aren’t responsible for themselves, aren’t awake, aren’t aware of how their words, actions and behaviours affect others.
I said goodbye to a partner, a lovely human in many respects. A human I had a few wonderful years of shared experiences and growth with. Years I am so grateful for as they changed us both for the better I believe. For a while I believed I might marry this human, but as time went on, those old marriage vows would sing in my head ‘for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death us do part’ and I knew this human wasn’t that one. They showed me that when times got hard, when money was tight, when myself and my children got sick, when we were asked to care for a family in need- in absolute crisis. He ran away, he could not take the pressure or responsibility and he stopped being by my side and holding my hand and being on the same team- he left it all to me. And I thank him for that, as he taught me my own strength and resilience. But he also taught me that he was not my human, not my partner. My whole idea of romantic love has changed since then, I am questioning everything and it feels good- that throwing out of old ideas in light of new evidence. He showed me my values, it became very clear he did not share them, but I needed this lesson. I know who I am and what I want so much more now. I wish him all of the happiness in the world and I know he does me. So it is goodbye to what we had, but I hope we can share a day now and then in each others company as we still have a huge amount of respect, love and fondness for each other and I don’t believe in permanently closing doors on good people.
At the very end of the year I had to say goodbye to a friend. Not someone who I had a lot of physical contact or time spent in their physical presence with, but someone I had many conversations with over the years. Someone who had shared my journey as I had shared theirs. Someone who I was always willing to succeed, overcome obstacles, win battles, someone I was proud to know and hoped much happiness for. Someone who even recently had said such kind and beautiful things to me at just the right moment. Someone who I felt cared for me as much as I them. But sadly that someone had begun to focus all of the passion I loved them for on a cause in such direct opposition to my own ideals. I’d always loved how outspoken and direct they were- like a dog with bone and so brave. But when they began to focus so intently, so loudly, so publicly on ideas that fuel a storm already hurting marginalised sections of our society…I had to wonder- where has your empathy gone? It was as if being ‘right’ and winning an argument meant more than who that hurt. Everywhere I looked they were talking about it, arguing about it, making friends with others who support their view- Some who had even more extreme views and cared even less about the derogatory and hateful language they used. It was so sad to witness. Sad for me but sad for the fact that my child, my best friend are in the very group that was being maligned, distrusted, talked about, argued over, having their existence, mental health, rights to enter certain spaces, their intentions, needs, private lives and genitals?! debated about for all to see. At first I thought maybe I can retain the friendship but just not look at what they are saying about this because it’s too painful and because I did not want to lose them as a friend. I thought I will unfollow their rants, I won’t engage in these discussions and I will make it clear I am done talking about it. But that didn’t work, it was unrealistic. I can’t engage on a photograph of a cute dog, follow their life story and forget about the fact that they feel it’s OK to demean people I love. I couldn’t be friends with a racist on the understanding that they don’t mention racist crap around me, so I’m not sure why I thought I could be friends with someone and compartmentalise their Transphobia- and that was my learning. Love me- love my friends and family. Do not disrespect or hurt those that I love and expect me to stick around.
With age comes experience and many realisations. Sometimes I am shocked at the simple stuff I simply hadn’t learnt until now but I am aware of how much more I have to learn. But I see it now- I see how each of these stories has shared properties- these people did things which were in direct opposition to my values and how I wish to live my life. They pushed my boundaries and struck against my values with such force it made a painful, discordant clang that I was unable to ignore. This is not about wanting friends and partners who think
and feel the exact way I do- that would be terribly boring and unrewarding. But this is about respect, empathy, responsibility and care for fellow humans. It’s about needing my loved ones, my close ones to be accountable for their actions and be the kinds of people who lift others up instead of putting them down or seeing them as beneath them to begin with. I won’t apologise for saying goodbye to people who do not fit in my life.