Growing Up Means Learning to Say Goodbye

· September 25, 2015

They say that growing up means learning to say goodbye. Not goodbye for now, see you soon, or maybe later. It’s a goodbye without return, without turning back. It’s a loud goodbye, with an accent and a period. The period is what is so hard for us; ellipses are so much easier…

We prefer to leave things in stand by, just in case. Goodbye is a grown up phrase. Finding ourselves in a place of no return is painful; it forces us to come face to face with choices and possibilities and leave them behind.

It’s a goodbye that reverberates in our soul, the kind that hurts.

I’ve never dared to say goodbye. But not doing so means leaving a window open to pain, disillusionment and disappointment. Hope is the last thing we let go of, but if it’s a lost cause, it’s better to let go — take a deep breath and release.

Growing up means saying goodbye to the person who broke your heart, who tore up your soul. But instead you say “See you later,”  because the coldness in your chest scares you, leaves you feeling vulnerable, broken on the floor.

It doesn’t occur to you to say goodbye because you think you can only feel a variation of two states: fire or cold. You don’t know any different because you’ve never learned how to feel something different. Because you haven’t dared to say goodbye.

You think your heart will freeze and you’ll never feel it on fire again. And you might be right. But the best thing that could happen is that you never again feel that all-consuming fire. There’s another option, one that’s neither so cold nor so suffocating.


A middle way that’s gentle, comforting. That’s not abrasive or frigid. That can fill your chest and fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes.

And you get there by saying goodbye to someone who hugs you so hard that your heart breaks. Maybe not next week or next year, but the time will come when you learn how to say a real goodbye, with all its consequences. Then your soul will be free to welcome the person that you truly deserve.

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Little by little you’ll learn to say goodbye to those who’ve taken advantage of you, of your friendship and your trust. To the ones who sold you out. Goodbye to the people who are here today and gone tomorrow. The ones who search for the shadow in others because they’re incapable of radiating light themselves.

These selfish, egotistical, sad people are the ones who deserve a goodbye with an accent and a period.

Surround yourself with people who’ve also learned to say goodbye, because with them you can be sure of your friendship. They’ve suffered, they’ve cried, and they’ve let it go.

They know who they are and the best thing is, they want you by their side, despite your idiosyncrasies and your flaws.

When you learn to say goodbye you’ll build real, enriching relationships.

Your circle will shrink, but you wouldn’t trade a single person within your new, smaller circle for all the gold in the world.

They say friends are the family we choose. Say goodbye to the people you can’t call brother or sister.

Fear of being alone sometimes pushes us to use ellipses, to say “see you later” instead of “I don’t want to see you ever again.” Maybe for this reason we stay in relationships that don’t support us, that don’t help us grow, that don’t complete us. Being alone is a necessary step to figuring out who you need by your side. The worst thing is to surround yourself with people and feel alone.

With so much noise, we can’t hear our own feelings, as if we’re listening to an old radio that’s out of tune. Listen. Get away from the noise. Your time is valuable. Don’t waste it with people who don’t deserve you. Learn to say goodbye. Free yourself and make space for the new.

Because, as songwriter Joaquin Sabina said so well, “There are plenty of reasons for both of us to say ‘go with God.'”