Leaving is a funny thing, especially when you have to leave someone behind.
It creeps up on you unexpectedly no matter how much time you have to mentally prepare yourself for it. It is like a weight in the back of your mind during the build up to leaving but in those final few days before departure the reality sets in. The daunting feeling that you have to do something you aren’t ready to do. That you have to move on with your life while you leave the life and people behind that you love. A life that you have settled into and struggle to remember what exists beyond it. A life that will continue after you are gone except you won’t be a part of it anymore.
Leaving Rio after three months
I always thought that leaving Rio this time around would be easy. I’d had three months here to enjoy myself but also to prepare for what comes beyond the trip. I thought because it wouldn’t be a flying two week visit I would be ready to leave, ready to get back to ‘normal’ life. However, after three months in the city I couldn’t remember what normal life was. I’d become so involved inside my life there that it’s hard to look beyond the bubble. To imagine what I was doing before I arrived and what I will be doing now I’ve arrive home.
Leaving Rio was so much harder than I ever imagined it would be. After spending the most amazing three months in Rio, living with my boyfriend everyday again and being fully immersed in expat life there, I just didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want to have to go back to a long distance relationship. I didn’t want to only have FaceTime dates. I didn’t want to never use the Portuguese I’d learnt, in daily life again. I didn’t want to not know when the next time I will be back, will be. I just wanted to stay. I wanted to continue to be part of the life I had built there. To continue to see my boyfriend everyday.
For once, I just wanted things to stay the same for a while longer.
And so, I found myself upset before we even left for the airport. I kept pretending I wasn’t leaving. I avoided saying goodbye to everyone because I didn’t want leaving to become real.
But of course the departure came and the airport goodbye was the hardest thing. I just didn’t want to let go, I didn’t want to have to board the plane alone. So I held on tight and cried my eyes out before I could find the courage to let go. To walk through security and immigration with tears rolling down my face and my eyes red raw. I walked through the airport at the slowest pace trying to avoid the inevitable. I boarded the plane feeling like I was finally coming to terms with leaving, and then we took off. As the plane wheels lifted off the ground, I crumpled into my seat and completely fell apart. Not caring that the guy next to me must have thought I was crazy. I knew at that point I didn’t want or need to be strong.
Leaving is a funny thing.
Sometimes you can be ready for it and it is easy to stay standing through it. Other times the feelings it brings are enough to leave you feeling crushed. To consume you for hours or days or weeks. There is no warning of how you will feel until the departure is upon you and you actually have to say goodbye and let go of his hand. No matter how long you have to mentally prepare yourself to leave something behind it doesn’t get any easier. You just have to become stronger. To deal with it the best way you know. To pick up the pieces when you land at the other end and make the most of the good things.
Returning home is always strange, it may only have been a few weeks or months but you feel like you have changed so much. Yet, home still feels the same, your friends and family haven’t changed and you have to learn to fit in. You have to take each day as it comes and slowly build another life because you are a different person to the one who left. That life no longer has a place for you.
Do you have any tips of how to deal with leaving or have you experienced similar feelings?
This is such a beautifully written post! I completed my Erasmus year two years ago which inevitably made my four year relationship long distance for the first time. The leaving never ever gets easier i sobbed my heart out every time! I agree with everything you have said, trying to place yourself back into a place whether you’ve been gone a month or a year is so much more difficult without your significant other by your side. Keep going with the face time dates and make plans to see each other again – make it possible and smile 🙂 I mean you might not be a scrap booker but for all the places I’ve ever been to and left I absolutely love to have a hoard of photos to make my way through and stick down! ‘Just keep swimming’ ?✨
Thank you so much for your kind words Abbie. Knowing that other people find the same things difficult is comforting. I totally agree about having hoards of photos to look back on during those hard times.
Oh Jodie, this must have been so difficult for you. I can’t even imagine how you’re coping. I was in this situation in Australia and saying goodbye at the airport to someone I cared about so much was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. It also doesn’t seem to matter how much time you have to prepare yourself, it’s always going to be difficult to leave. I hope it gets easier for you, but you’re right, focusing on the good things is one of the best ways to make the situation better.
Thanks so much Emma. It is so nice to hear someone else who has had to do the same and found it as hard as I did.