I don't think I am normally overly emotional, maybe quite the opposite. However, I cannot deal with goodbyes well at all. This did not use to be such a problem, but with a sensitive child who watches my every move, I would like to do better.
I do believe in showing my emotions rather freely, especially those of love. Yet, whenever I have to say goodbye to friends and loved ones who I may never see again or won't see until many years later, I cannot help crying... a lot. My reactions seem strong compared to those of others around me. I think this may have something to do with my losses in my early teens, where no one was there for me, helping me deal with the situations, so I grieved alone, feeling totally helpless. It is as if I learned to say goodbye "in a wrong way" while being a hormonal teenager, and now don't know how to reverse it.
An older gentleman once told me that his wife -while she loved me- never cried when we said goodbye, as she thought of my emotions so much more than her own, and did not want to make things worse for me. This makes sense to me, but I am nowhere near learning how to put someone else's emotions before my own in such a way that it would make it possible to control myself better. I just cannot help the tears and would prefer not needing to say goodbye, in person, ever.
What are your ways to cope, when something makes you (what feels like) overly emotional? Is this a matter or learning or maturing, or am I just doomed to be bad at this forever...
I would welcome any thoughts.
I'm curious about this- what is wrong with tearful, emotional goodbyes? Why is it bad for your daughter to have that example?
What I'm seeing in your post here is a belief that you should be doing something other than what you're doing and that your perfectly understandable difficulty with goodbyes, considering your history, is distressful to you. Is it possible that the shame you are feeling about being tearful is making your goodbyes even more difficult for you?
Just some food for thought. I am happy to write back if you'd like to respond...perhaps we can find you some relief.
Lesley Reid Cross
self-connection supports connected parenting
Hi, OP. I think the PP asks some very good questions. Can you tell us more about why you're concerned about the impact this will have on your little one? Are you thinking about what she'll notice when you say goodbye to someone else or how you'll handle goodbyes to her?
I am very easily moved, in general, and am also a person of emotional goodbyes. I've found that talking with my DS, 6, about what I am feeling is a tremendous help for his understanding. For example, when we drop my mom off at the airport at the end of a visit, I am always teary as she lives far away, we don't get to see her often, etc. When DS was 3 or 4 and noticed this, he asked me why I was so sad. I said that I love grandma a lot and I miss her when she's at her house, and that I am sad to say goodbye, but I will feel better soon. BTW, I also have to offer similar explanations about crying during reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Charlotte's Web. :)
By the way, I don't mean to trivialize what you shared about some of the deeper, traumatic reasons for your emotional goodbyes. I am sorry you had to grieve alone as a young person. Maybe if you find a way to share your feelings, or some version of your feelings, with your daughter, she will feel safe sharing her own feelings with you.
If your tearful goodbyes really bother you and you want to change them, have you considered trying to act, like on a stage? Make up a little script for yourself and then try to follow it?
I find this useful if I am going into a situation where emotions may run strong. Inside my head I may be having strong emotions, but outside I try to act in a different way.
This can be masking positive emotions as well as negative ones. For example, if I did well in something and was feeling really happy about it, and I was near someone who had suffered pain and loss, I would try to mute my joy a bit.
Another example is when my DD was little and started to take a school-bus to nursery school. The first few times, she would cry when it was time to get on the bus. I was sad inside, but believed that going to nursery school was good for her, so I remained outwardly calm and smiled as I put her on. It was an act. But, it was a successful act and after a few times she stopped crying and got on the bus w/ a smile and I smiled as I put her on in earnest.
Also, maybe you can try and read a bit about stoicism?
"The Stoics did not seek to extinguish emotions; rather, they sought to transform them by a resolute 'askēsis' that enables a person to develop clear judgment and inner calm.Logic, reflection, and concentration were the methods of such self-discipline."
I guess another thing you can try and tell yourself over and over again is that "All things pass" and that's OK.
Letting yourself feel is a good thing. Being so concerned about others feelings that you think you need to stuff your own... big no no. Do you think maybe you might actually be in a healthier place than most?
I say this because my brother always cries when we part. We only see each other every few years, but it brings up emotions of being ripped apart as kids. We were really close. As in sit outside the bathroom door and wait for each other to finish close. We hated to be apart. And when we were we ached for each other. I remember saying good bye to him when I was 14 and he was going back to dads for the rest of the year and I swear to god the heart ache I felt was worse than any other imaginable. And I cried, maybe for days and was told to knock it of I was being overly dramatic. And I stuff those feelings now. I wish I didn't. I wish I could let them flow like I did then. My brother doesn't stuff his feelings though. I called him for help when DD1 was born and the guy dropped his world to be with us for her first year. I can't tell you how awesome that felt. Pretty sure I smiled that whole year just having him there.
I see you are aware that you struggle with goodbyes and that you are aware your child is watching and learning from your example,
So I guess like the other poster before me stated you may have to do acting, What would a more manageable, positive goodbye look like for you? Or what would you envision yourself doing in front of your child?
I'm grieving right now and so I have to admit I've had to "fake it" to pull myself out of bed and show my kids what I want them to see, that mom is ok, that mom is going to go to school now to go to work now, because I need to and it's what is expected of them too. that's not to say that there isn't a time to fall to pieces and cry in my pillow as they are becoming accustomed to that too. And my daughter said "Oh mom you are so LONELY." They really can understand and it's ok to cry sometimes.
They just know mom has a tender-heart.When my kids have to go visit their dad It's ok if I get a little misty when they get on the plane, they don't need to know I bawl all the way home from the airport 80 miles without some sort of couple activity planned for my husband and I when the kids are away visiting my ex for Christmas.. Now nobody will witness that. But I can also make a plan to go get a pedicure or something right after the goodbye which is more like "Love you, have a good trip, be good, see you ___". And I don't linger in the terminal waiting a long time for their flight.
Then I think some mindfulness about what makes saying goodbye so hard? Is it the intensity of the love that you have for the other people, anxiety about what happens to them when they leave, previous losses, that you don't know when you'll see them again, that they are going off to war? Then you do the work around that.
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