How do you feel about goodbyes? Relieved, sad, couldn’t give a toss. It’s something that I’ve never really thought about but I do know I have been totally shit at them. I probably still am. Is there such a thing as a ‘good’ goodbye??
The past week I’ve done quite a few goodbyes, good-bye Therapy Foundation Course, goodbye play, goodbye way of life for just under a year, goodbye fellow travellers on the journey of the foundation course.
When I think about it, my last few real goodbyes have left me feeling pretty shit about myself, as I if there was something wrong me, like I was some kind of unlovable monster with two heads that was really undeserving of any kind of care at all.
Last week, I said goodbye to my fellow students on the foundation course all I can say was that the tutors prepared us extremely well. How? We talked about it! We talked about the fact that today was the day we were going to say goodbye. There was lots of visualisation, lots of letting go, almost ceremonial actions. The writing of notes to each member of the group passing them to each other in silence, reading what each one of us had written about the other and expressing an instant reaction to that. Nothing was hidden or swept under the carpet. Only a few of us will be moving on to the next stage of the course, so for a lot of us, it was a final goodbye as we all came from different parts of the southwest!
I left not feeling like shit, I left not feeling like I had shut down and become cold to the fact that this was the last time I would be seeing some of these people, of going through the motions devoid of allowing myself to feel anything except a the burden of responsibility that its my fault they don’t like me enough to keep in contact….
I felt, celebrated, loved, emotional, so bloody emotional and we were allowed to feel those things until the natural time came to say goodbye – (for some of us it was midnight in a grimy club after beer had been consumed…. hardcore til the end…. 😉 )
It got me thinking about the first time I encountered the finality of goodbye….
I don’t remember it of course I was one and half years old, when the porters came to take me down to theatre for my first open heart surgery I was bouncing around the bed laughing my head off. The nurse couldnt’ believe that I had already had my pre-med and it became very clear that it was going to take them more than the average dose to knock me out…. So they gave me a bigger dose and that’s when I went limp. As I say I don’t remember this story, this is my mother’s story and I cannot, cannot, imagine how horrific it was for her, at what happened next.
They had to peel me off her as she held it together. They had to uncurl my arms from around her neck, and unclasp my fingers from her hair and put me on the trolley to take me to surgery. No goodbye. As I say mentally I do not remember that goodbye, but I think the conscious collective and even my own body may think otherwise….
So for me, the first time I came across the whole meaning of goodbye, the whole finality of goodbye was when I was 6years old at my second operation. I was still trying to get to grips with what was happening to me as I found myself being wheeled down to theatre, watching the ceiling of the corridor slide over my view, if I titled my head back and rolled my eyes upwards I could see the upside down faces of my mum and dad as they followed the trolley down. I did not realise that they would not be coming in with me to the theatre itself……the goodbye was rushed, I had cottoned on pretty quickly that this were I was meant to be brave and that what happened here, how I was coping with this goodbye was crucial for them getting through the next 4 hours.
Hindsight is a funny thing isn’t it? I came back from that goodbye sore, groggy, thirsty and wired up to machines. I had lost four and half hours of my life and I didn’t know where… but I had come back. I wonder now if unconsciously we had all slammed into that goodbye as if I always was coming back, that what was going on in those 4 1/2 hours of unconsciousness was just not important. I was back and that was main thing. Goodbye shmuwdbye, I’ll always come back. Maybe if we’d talked it through, I wouldn’t be so shit at goodbyes now. John Bowlby would call it an abandonment issue… I’ll leave that up to you to research and make your mind up.
Anyhoo…. I also worked on a show last week, I staged managed a show calling the cues to lights, sounds and visual effects. The play was called Pornography, it was about the week leading up to the 7/7 bombings in London, the week of Live8, winning the Olympic bid… it was a very powerful, emotive production. To me the play was about grief, I watched the play nearly every night in my job as SM, each night a different character spoke to me about their grief, the whole play spoke about the power of the not goodbye, I cried every night at the end of the play.
So yes, goodbye course and fellow students, goodbye production and wonderful hardworking talented cast, goodbye words of an amazing play, goodbye vision of the director and production team, I have been allowed to sit with all these goodbyes and feel what I feel and I feel ok. I’m not a crap person, I’m not shit at goodbye at all. You’re great, I’m great but our time is at an end, time to go and good go with you.
Until next the next blog update of course…. 😉