A life lived transferring from one school to another, from one country to another, forces a kid at an early age to build solid defenses around their heart. After the first nearly inconsolable crying session upon learning that I would not be spending sixth grade in the same school after just a year, I learned to put barriers around my heart — that it was better not to be too attached, that it was better to not make friends at all.
Despite that way of thinking, I have made few friends who have stubbornly stuck with me; and for the longest time, I thought that that was the way to go for me forever. Make acquaintances and keep them at arm’s length, then just stick around those one or two who have made themselves comfortable in my life. I am very thankful for them, and they have remained good friends until today.
However, the thought of making many friends took a long while for me to accept again. I do enjoy my relative solitude and my smaller group of friends, but I never thought that I could connect with many people again. I had gone up to the point of believing that relationships are purely utilitarian. The thought that parting with people as an inevitable truth just nagged at the back of my mind, and I dreaded the pain of saying “goodbye” yet again.
I left my previous job just like that. Only my supervisor and my manager knew. Granted, I made a bit of a mess, so I was forced to take an immediate resignation. One day, I was there, I ended my shift, gathered all of my things from my locker, left the office, and I never came back. I thought that my colleagues of seven years would not miss me — I was just another face in the revolving doors of a call center. I thought that they would not notice my leaving.
But I was wrong. It was I who did not want to miss them, it was I who did not want to be noticed because I did not want to have to explain why I was leaving. I did not want to face the “goodbyes” and parting words because I knew that it would just make me cry, and I did not want to cry because of parting anymore. I believed that the less words said would be better — like a bandaid ripped clean right off.
Yesterday, for my second job of three-and-so years, I handed in my 30-day notice, and by a combination of long public holidays and terminal leaves, my last day of work is tomorrow. It is an improvement, if I might say so. At least, I won’t just disappear.
And I still dreaded it — parting ways.
The thing is, in the least three-and-so years, by God’s grace, the healing process started. I learned how to openly welcome people in my life again. I learned how to accept more people and call them “friends”. I worked and sang with these people. I even formed an afternoon walk habit with a colleague, and I felt that my workday was not complete without it.
I told most of said friends of my resignation, and I expected them to respond in a flippant manner, telling me that it’s no big deal, good luck, shake hands, see you around. But that was me putting my walls up again because of that nagging bit of dread. What I expected did not come true. What I got instead were words of encouragement and affection, well wishes, hugs, and prayers and blessings.
Then I cried.
I said I would not cry. I told myself that if I do cry, I would do it at home. I almost cried when I got my first few hugs, but when my Bible study friends prayed over me and gave me their blessings, the dam broke.
I will miss them, my colleagues who became my friends. I miss them already. I hate leaving friends, and I hate them leaving me. It hurts, and crying is not doing any favors to the cool and classy oneesama persona I have worked so hard to cultivate. Instead, I revert back to being this little fifth-grader who just wanted to keep her friends. Besides, it is really hard to be cool and classy when your blue masacara’s all messed up.
After complaining about ruined makeup, I realized that crying confirmed the fact that I am healing. The icecaps have melted from my heart and internal global warming caused my eyes to overflow. I have learned to take my walls down when it came to friendship. I have made more friends in the last three years than I did in the past decade. Leaving this job was a difficult decision. I have my reasons, but I truly wanted to stay because of the friends I have made.
Tomorrow, I will leave with a heavy heart — heavy only because it is full of gratitude and love for the people who did bear with me and my weird, full of hope that I will make new friends; and full of anticipation I will see my friends again, picking up conversations as if we never parted ways at all.