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My Goodbye

This worn out, old notebook has traveled with me across the country and through decades of my life. It started as a class journal my freshman year of college in York, Nebraska, complete with notes marked in by my professor, and is now a permanent fixture in my purse. The first entry is dated January 15, 2002 with the most recent jottings scrawled a few weeks ago as I was brainstorming for this website.

Apart from my teenage journaling assignments for a Family Relations class, this notebook also contains therapy writings from over the years. A love list for myself, a love list for my partner at the time (and still current partner, though we've had periods of separation), and my Goodbye Letter to myself. Writing this Goodbye letter as a counseling exercise became a true turning point for me, an opportunity for authentic self-reflection in a period of deep despair that I had fearfully avoided the majority of my adult life. It also developed into a personal mission statement.

It took me a couple days to write, partly because it was exhausting and partly because I had a lot to say to myself. Years of bad behavior, selfishness, deceit, manipulation and pretending could not longer be allowed to endure unscathed. It was time to get real about being real.

I have only read this out loud a handful of times, but I refer back to it in times of struggle. When my boundaries get blurred or I feel overwhelmed by my flaws, going back to the foundational expectations that I created for myself in this time of contemplation is reassuring and therapeutic.



January 21-22, 2020


Dear Self,


Welcome to your goodbye letter. For your entire adult life, you have been fearfully accommodating to others, falsely confident while painfully insecure, cheap, attention seeking, a liar, masked perfection, competitive, uncaring of others' feelings and your own.


You have used and allowed yourself to be used, hurt and been hurt. Used unhealthy methods to cope. Been unfaithful and angry. Crazy and anxious. Put yourself and others in harm's way. Lacked the ability to love. Carried garbage in your heart for far too long. Made decisions based on unspoken expectations, assumed. Drank way too much. I'm here now with a list of things you refuse to do and refuse to tolerate any longer.


I refuse to compromise my nos and yeses. I will not give false answers to make others happy, to maintain relationships, to accommodate. In the past, this has led to self-misery, 2 failed marriages, too-long relationships, lies and basically a double life.


I refuse to allow alcohol to be a coping mechanism or crutch. I will no longer drown stresses or anxieties, anger or hurt. I will use communication, skillful language, outlets, self-care, motivation and purpose, task completion and true love in place of alcohol.


I refuse to just be a mother because of birth. I will be a loving, caring, supportive, interested, time and energy giving mom. I will put Blake's interests and well-being above my own without compromising any boundaries that may need to be in place with other adults. I will teach Blake that boundaries are okay, that no one is perfect, and I will share in appropriate time my failures and successes in hopes of giving him life ammunition to make better decisions than I've made.


I refuse to waste time with attention seeking behaviors. I will have a hot plate, not a stove with back burners. I will not be afraid to cut off those who do not respect my boundaries, level of communication, or relationships.


I refuse to feel insecure in my love relationship. I will continue to recognize my value and if my partner chooses to disregard that value with their actions, I will not be afraid to end that dynamic without fear of loneliness or failure. I will value myself with love and forgiveness. I will not beg or plead or compromise myself to accommodate anyone else.


I refuse to disrespect my relationship. I will put in effort, communicate, trust and love. I will not cheat and will not tolerate cheating. I will be present and engaged. I will be honest.


I refuse to react as a child. I will respect my parents without catering to them. I will be honest and appreciative without enmeshment. I will say no when I need to and yes when I really mean it. I will continue pleasantly separating without blame for what they did or did not, could or could not do. I will take responsibility for reacting to unspoken expectations and will not begrudge them for my failures, even if I made those decisions (consciously or unconsciously) to appear perfect and accommodate my upbringing.


I refuse to be held hostage by triggers. I will honor my emotions and give them the time they deserve without slipping back into the mindset and anxiety of the past. I will discuss or contemplate my triggers for continued growth rather than get stuck in an emotionally reactive cycle or physiological response mode.


I refuse to be stagnant. I will continue seeking opportunities for growth, joy, and experiences in all aspects of my life -- Work, parenthood, family, love, self-care, and education. I will be present and open. I will be intentional in my self-development, growth, and spiritual seeking and growth.


Reminder to self -- When you slip, feel like being lazy, trip or fall, fail -- remember the joy and peace you feel when you are true and honor yourself, your boundaries, your child and your relationships. The benefits outweigh any fleeting moments exponentially. The sense of pride in self-control, presence, intention, and honesty is all worth it. Your anxiety is decreased, intimacy and appreciation of those you love is increased and experiences every day are intensified and memorable. Your time and energy is not ever wasted when it is focused with love for yourself, others and is intentional.


The old Amanda felt worthless, like a failure, and had too-high expectations. She was a faker, a fraud, an actress, a liar, a manipulator, uncaring, too caring, weak, fearful, had masks for every situation. She had good intentions with underlying selfishness as the ultimate motivator. She was miserable.


Not You! You are calm, joyful, true, honest, realistic, steadfast, truly caring, confident, present, real, resilient.


Goodbye to the old. The old person, the old mindsets, bad habits, hurts, selfishness.


Hello!! Hello to open doors, open heart, open mind, peace, calmness, love, joy -- all more than you've ever known or allowed yourself to experience before. Finally, 36 years later, you are the beginning of a person to be proud of. There is so much more to come!


I love you more than you know at this time,

More than I know...


AmandaMarie



To this day, every time I reread this letter, I get emotional, because I know since writing this, I have faltered. But I also know how far I've come. When I do get self-consumed or when my anxiety spins out of control, when my triggers start alarming, when I'm craving a drink or overcome with impatience, it is a blessing and a gift to be able to go back to rock bottom and speak to myself again through these words from a place of sincerity, love, and hopefulness.

As I continue to battle myself from day to day, in ways both big and small, I am very grateful that I am not still drowning in the waves of my self-created storm. Self-improvement comes in the smallest steps, leaping bounds, firm decisions and, as Oprah says, "Aha!" moments, all of which are completely personal and individual to each one of us. Although this avenue of vulnerability and transparency is terrifying in itself for me, if I can help someone find the glimmer of light in their own storm, I am thankful.


"Maybe you went through it and survived

just so you could help someone

else make it through."

~TobyMac


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