I’m not sure how to say good-bye. I mean, I know how to audibly say it, but to actually mean it baffles me. To actually end something, cut someone out of my life, change a bad habit, and walk away from something knowing when you say those words that it is over. I am terrible at good-bye.

Over the past few years I have lived a lot of good-byes.

I look at good-byes in two different ways. There are those you choose and those that are pushed upon you.

When I quit my job and moved across the country I chose that good-bye. I knew I needed to make a change, start over, and rediscover me.

The week before I left Fargo, ND was full of great coffee dates, special dinners, and tearful goodbyes and hours spent filling boxes. This was a good-bye I chose. I chose to leave a place and people I loved so dearly.

With the good- byes you choose I find there is often a “peaceful” feeling somewhere within the hard parts. Mine was found while sitting around Justin & Ashley’s kitchen table about 2 weeks before the moving truck was loaded and ready to go. We celebrated my 25th birthday with a Greek dinner, laughter, sarcasm, and joy. (That sounds cliché, no?) But seriously, it was a divine moment. I was at peace with my goodbye.

Then there are those goodbyes that are pushed upon you. These are the ones you wouldn’t choose on your own; breakups, burnt bridges, broken friendships, loss of a job. There aren’t very many smiles and laughs when you get dumped or lose a friend… believe me.

There is not a day in my life that I don’t think about a friend I have lost. Now, they didn’t die, but for all practical purposes… they have. They are no longer in my life. There is no contact, no Facebook friendship, no text messages or silly pictures exchanged any longer. It’s excruciating. I don’t use that word lightly either. It literally is one of the strongest feelings of loss I have ever encountered. Everything in my life reminds me of them; my drive to work, songs on the radio, stupid street signs, jokes on the radio, they all hurt in their own way.

I think you feel more ‘loss’ when you don’t choose to lose something or someone. The act or feeling of having something stolen from your life is like ripping the stickiest band aid off an open wound. It’s jarring, painful, unpleasant, unwanted, unwelcome, and un-fun. No matter what you tell yourself, you grieve the loss and you go through all the stages of grief. You feel angry, overwhelmed, empty, joyful, at peace, and destroyed.

I know. I’m using a lot of adjectives, but there is no other way to encompass the entirety or immensity of the emotional roller coaster you travel on. Worst part? I don’t even like roller coasters.

This is supposed to be the part where I summarize all the wonderful, inspiring things I’ve learned, but I’m going to be very honest. I haven’t learned anything. I’ve learned that this whole things sucks. That there isn’t a day where I don’t want to pick up my phone and laugh with my friend. That no matter how hard I try to delete them from my past they are permanently imprinted in some of the most influential moments.

I’ve learned it’s OK to mourn, to cry, to be angry, to write out my emotions and seal a letter they will never read. I’ve learned that if I could take back or change anything in my life up to this point in order to make this loss a non-existent reality… I would… in a heartbeat.