The (underrated) proper goodbye and its lifetime impact
Updated: Jan 11, 2021
I started weaning off my 2.5 years old from breastfeeding recently. It has been a gentle process (I learned it the hard way from weaning my first - another story for another time).
I gave her all the reasons why she shouldn't be drinking milk from Mummy and she seemed to be convinced. "I am a big girl, I dont need to drink milk from Mummy anymore" - she declared.
The past week I have been noticing her resisting her own desire to nurse, but I intentionally ignored or quickly diverted her attention to something else. I was fine with letting her nurse a little bit, but I was afraid of undoing all her progress so far. Hence, I too resisted my own desire to ask her if she wanted to nurse.
Today, I noticed some signs again (just signs, she didn't say nor ask). I felt so bad that I finally told her "If you want to nurse, you can tell Mummy ok?" She let out a cheeky happy smile, with some shyness. She said ok but when I asked if she wanted to, she said "no".
In the evening, when we were ready to sleep, she crawled out from her bed to mine and hugged me, showing some signs of wanting to nurse again. This time, I decided to not ignore or distract her but told her up front "If you want to nurse, you can tell Mummy ok?"
With the cutest shy face ever, she nodded her head and said "I want to "bú" (Vietnamese for "nurse")
"Because I can say I want to"...
I was quite surprised, coupled with a bit of concern "oh no, the last one week of so-called successful weaning will be a waste".
I asked her again "but you are already a big girl, are you sure you still want to nurse? And I may not even have milk anymore".
"Yes, i want to" with a smile and shyness still on her face.
"Why do you want to nurse?" I asked
"Because I can say I want to".. 😅😂
Well, I started it. With a bit of reluctance, but quite a relief that my little girl no longer had to hold back her needs and wants, I let her latch on.
It felt a little awkward at first, yet it felt right. We looked at each other feeling amused.
She was done within 1min. Normally, when she latched on, it was a must to switch and latch on both sides. Today, I was ready to let her switch but she spoke confidently "I don't need the other side".
I thought "wow". She moved on and I am still here contemplating if that was a "proper goodbye" that she needed to officially wean off breastfeeding, with a good memory and feeling.
As adults, we face all sorts of situations and setbacks which we choose to let go without a proper closure..
Hadn't I offered, she probably wouldn't have had the "encouragement" to ask for it, she probably would have just buried this "unmet childhood needs", perhaps feeling deprived. She may grow up learning to do more of the same - forming the foundation of how she sees life and asserts her own needs, in other words, a prolonged (or even lifetime) impact; while all she needed was probably just a proper goodbye, a proper closure.
As adults, we face all sorts of situations and setbacks which we choose to let go without a proper closure. A relationship, a friendship, a business, an argument, a disappointment... Sometimes we walk away from things and people feeling a proper goodbye is too much to ask for, or too much to handle, so we choose to bury it deep down pretending it could go away some day. In contrast, a proper goodbye may be just all we ever need to start coming to terms with the pain, the loss, the memory, the love or in my daughter's case, the end of a sweet familiar feeling and habit.
This applies to our past too. There are memories or aspects of our lives which we prefer not to wake up, not realizing a proper goodbye, to relive the experience in full, to feel all that we were supposed to feel, is all we need to move on with peace and alignment.
When you feel ready for a proper goodbye, it's the start of a new chapter...
The incident today with my daughter reminds me of the proper goodbye/closures I still owe in my life, things I could have said but didn't, unmended relationships, broken agreements - each represents an unacknowledged part of me.
How about you? Have you been neglecting a part of yourself, or resisting a proper closure for your broken heart. When you feel ready for a proper goodbye, it's the start of a new chapter, with more peace and alignment - also a reminder for self :)
Bonus story 🙂 Everytime I think about "goodbye", I remember the tightest and warmest hug I have ever received - from a grandma I got to meet during my exchange program. She gives the best hug. She and her son love welcoming exchange students to their home for meals and tea. They showed us their garden, brought us around and treated us like their family. On my last day in town, she gave me the tightest and warmest goodbye hug, which I can still remember so vividly after more than 13years. I cried buckets cycling back to my hostel that last night, thinking I may never see them again. I still feel sad about it but that tight hug warms me up everytime. It was a proper goodbye that I needed, and still serves its purpose till today. ♡ Hug your loved ones tightly ♡
If you are going through an emotionally challenging time, need support to manage recurring anxious jittery feelings or simply want to learn more about emotional wellness, don't hesitate to reach out. I am offering Pay As You Wish emotional coaching sessions as part of my 2021 goal to sharpen my skills and spread awareness about emotional wellness (and power!). Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org