23 Mar 2011

Good-bye To All That - Word of The Week

(Goodbye nUsed to express an acknowledgment of parting. Etyderived from the phrase "God be with you. Earlier forms of the expression,  God be wy you, god b'w'y, godbwye, god buy' ye, and good-b'wy)

I am standing on a train, pulling out of the station, watching a figure waving to me from the platform. The setting sun silhouettes her against the mountains. She is smiling and we are saying goodbye. I do not think we will ever see each other again and the golden light that surrounds us feels like a blessing. It's okay to say goodbye and to be leaving part of myself behind.

She is so young, so hopeful - and so happy for me. I have never seen her smile before, or feel anything other than numb. Her hair drifts in the breeze and rush from the train but she does not push it behind her ears. I can see her squinting in the light to see me, from behind thick, clunky glasses. Normally so awkward and clumsy, in this moment of parting I see her for who she really is; beautiful. She is finally serene and at peace, no longer hurting or fearful. We are no longer the same person and although the parting has been painful - we have been so close, so inextricably entwined for so many years - it is the right thing to do.

As when any relationship ends, we have moved through the process first of denial, then anger, bargaining, grief and now we have reached acceptance. It has been a hard. gruelling journey. We were stuck in denial for so long we didn't even realise we'd decided to split. But then the anger finally hit and I knew we were on our way. The exhaustion of living a life in fear and anxiety, when one person gets fed up of the other, there is nothing left do but leave. And though the leaving hurts so much - and you question the decision you've made - when you get to the other side you know you've made the right decision. We don't love each other anymore - I don't think we ever did. I need to love myself for who I am now - and not how I was then, which is why I'm leaving her behind and getting on with the rest of my life.

I've pictured myself on this train many times and I've had the sensation that I've been travelling someplace, but I've never felt in control or certain of what was happening. But now I've been able to see what's I'm leaving behind and more importantly, I can see what's up ahead. And that's not clear, but  seeing it for the first time, makes me realise that for once, I'm optimistic about the future.


So, I've kind of fictionalised the WoTW today. It follows on from my piece on Identity last week and I felt I needed to complete something that I was trying to get across. I had a counselling session today and I had the most amazing breakthrough. I've always been a little wary or dubious of psyche tuning, but today's session has left me feeling released from so much *stuff* that I've been carrying around with me for so long.

The girl that I'm saying goodbye to is me - but me when I was 14/15, it's so weird to finally be shaking her off. I'm sure you're all wondering why I was carrying her around with me in the first place (not literally obvs) but I guess I felt so strongly that I needed to identify with the person I was then and that nothing and no-one would change me.

To give you some context, I had a shitty time as a teenager. I was bullied at school, I ridiculed myself for this for such a long time, as it seems like such a cliche, but it was so intense and so hideous. I was so ostracised, told I was ugly and worthless for so very long (approx 6 years) that I believed it. I won't lie, I think I went a little crazy at that time - wouldn't anyone? I dabbled in self harm, I had suicidal thoughts - I have for so many years - that stem from feelings of such utter uselessness and frustration with myself.  I dreamed of running away so many times - even from my life as an adult - because I couldn't bear to have to talk to other people, to cause problems. I've always identified with the narrator in Anne Tyler's Ladder of Years for this reason. Even after I left school, even now, I still cannot believe that I have any value. That anything I have achieved has not been the result of some fluke, some luck, but actually maybe possibly because I am talented.

What i'm trying to say is that, for years I have clung on to my personality as a teenager, the person I was then because i felt so defensive of that identity and insisted that she was worthy of having friends. But actually, that's not fair to me, because I'm not that girl anymore. I'm 15 years older and er, possibly wiser and more mature. So I'm saying so long to all that. To the self-hatred and self-harm and anger. To not valuing myself, to constantly fearing the worse and wanting to run away when stuff gets shitty. No more will I picture my life without me, no more will I say to husbando that he'd better off with someone prettier/cleverer/more groomed/less wimpy/better all round because dammit, he's with me, he has been for 9 years and no-ones holding a gun to his head to stay.

Instead here's to just accepting that you know what, I'm just maybe an anxious person, that I'm okay, I can write, I am good at my job. I'm a good wife and a friend. Maybe I don't have a crystal clear idea of identity but does that really matter - as long as I hold tight to a few key precepts - love, honesty, integrity - then why commit myself to an identity - aren't we always growing and learning and um, changing? I'm not the same person as I was when I was 14 and that's a good thing.

So goodbye 14 year old me, I hope that you can rest now. Hello 29 year old me and welcome to the rest of my life.

Thank you and good night.

Stupidgirl has left the building


  1. Well done and good honesty there.
    Kids are all gits - and that is a fact!!

  2. I can empathize with this Becky. I was a lively and fun girl who married someone who crushed the lively and fun, who kept it squashed for 26 years. I have two forenames Alison Bridget. Bridget was the one who was crushed, Alison (Ali) is the fun and lively girl, now a woman. I am SO glad I set her free. Enjoy your life with a light heart and confident that you are the wonderful person you are.

  3. Simon - too true! Thanks.

    Ali - no - that's awful. Good for you to have liberated yourself, I think you're amazing petal x

  4. Yes, we are all growing and changing and learning. So hurrah to you for finally allowing that 14-year-old to remain and rest where she belongs - in the past.

  5. Let me tell you, having taught in a few schools, I know that almost every kid gets bullied. Need proof? Ask a school counselor. They deal with it all. The difference is that some kids are more sensative and the cut goes deeper, where as others just shake it off as natural and unavoidable. True, no one can measure another's pain. Still, I'm glad you were able to shake it off...It's true what they say...Living well is the best revenge...You're creative. You produce a successful blog..You're 'known' in the world of social media and can monetize any time you feel like it...(not that you have to, but you could) and that's a whole lot of good stuff.....And the BEST PART....you're still under thirty!

  6. That was really beautiful, and something I identify with strongly. I had similar experiences to you at school, and I'm still trying to shake them off 10 years later. I still have this niggling little voice in my head that tells me that I'm not worth anything, that no one actually wants to talk to/spend time with me, and that it'd just be better on everyone if I kept my head down and stayed out of everyone's way. I know I've moved on from then and I'm a different person now, and I also know that almost all kids get picked on at school and that none of it was really personal, but that doesn't make it a whole lot easier.

    Well done for letting it go, you should be proud. I hope to be able to say the same at some point - I'm working on it!

  7. Good for you Becky. Definitely some advice there that I should take... although, I'd like to think some of my 16 year old self is worth keeping around.

  8. I suspected something of the sort, partly because it's the story of my life, and partly because of how you call yourself "stupid girl." It could have been a clever device, but I suspected that it was more because of today's story. It always bothered me to see you refer to yourself as "stupid girl", because judging by your writing, you obviously are not! I hope that at some point you can change your moniker to reflect your new-found belief in the real you! Good luck!

  9. I read 'freedom'. Enjoy.

  10. I've written 3 comments in here since you wrote the post, and then deleted them. We can never escape our past we can only learn from it or get trapped in it. I'm glad you got out of the trap x

  11. Should explain to people - I've been having a similar epiphany this week so it's been very difficult for me to comment :)