Left

I realized a long while ago that it’s harder to be the person left behind than the person who is leaving. Assuming they went willingly, it is generally easier on the one who goes somewhere else. Whether that’s the buddy at work who quits, the good neighbor who moves away, the child who goes off to college, the spouse who vacates the marital home, or the loved person who dies.

I think it’s because the person left behind experiences the absence acutely and regularly. They see the co-worker’s empty cubicle. See the child’s room with their posters still on the walls, their trophies and knick-knacks sitting on the shelves. Go through the practical matters of funerals or sorting through and dealing with the deceased’s belongings and mostly, try to fathom and cope with the huge hole left. They field phone calls and mail for someone who’s moved on. They no longer commiserate with their neighbor during snow storms or electrical outages, or chat over the fence in fair weather. They sleep alone in the bed once shared with the other person.

While they may miss you – except for the deceased, who, no matter your beliefs about what happens after death, probably doesn’t miss anyone – the leaving person will have lots of new stimuli occupying them, or minimally, they won’t consciously or unconsciously expect to see you.

That’s the rub. It takes awhile to stop looking in the old places you still frequent or live in, expecting to see and hear what you used to. There’s a confusion that occurs, when you catch yourself about to do something you once did – and you realize you can’t. It’s over. They’re gone.

I know the sayings about doors shutting and windows opening. About old goodbyes leading to new hellos. How every new friend was once a stranger. Yes, I know all that. Like you, I hear these sayings. And you know what? I don’t care. Painful is painful. Difficult is difficult. I don’t have to paint it up pretty, spin it so it’s more palatable. I’ve lived enough to know. You miss the good ones. You just do.

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14 thoughts on “Left

  1. Devin K Pope

    Oh I could just feel the pain in your writing. Sending good energy your way. As the person who has done the leaving, I completely agree that those left have a harder time. Part of what I like about moving is all the distraction it provides. The newness keeps my mind busy.

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  2. Andrew Davis

    It’s my job to help people adapt to things no longer in their control, and try to envision a present world that allows them to better cope-
    but often, the person who left them behind is their former self. I seen that realization devastate a person.
    We do miss the good ones. And sometimes we seek to capture the best parts of a previous relationship in current relationships. When do we let go? When do we find closure? How do we move on, for example, when the person that left is staring back at us in the mirror?
    Sometimes, in discussions like these, the pill goes down hard.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. writerinsoul Post author

      I see what you’re saying; leaving parts of one’s self behind probably is a topic that could be another post. Personally, the parts I’ve jettisoned I don’t miss; the rewards for having done so are too valuable. However, I can see that people who are reluctant to change or who require intervention (like professional assistance) to do so, would likely grieve the loss and be tempted to revert back to old ways.

      I guess I’m fortunate in that I don’t try to recapture old relationships in new ones BUT have not been too wild about being on the receiving end when I sensed/knew someone else was trying to project onto me things from their past (for better & worse).

      Liked by 1 person

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