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    The pain of saying good-bye
    Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD posted:
    Saying good-bye can be heart-wrenching whether your separation is temporary or a permanent ending. The reason for this is that people are wired to reach out to and hold onto the person they love. Any separation, of course, goes against this desire. As you struggle with a separation, it can be very helpful to understand that there is a natural, predictable sequence of three reactions:

    Protest: You might to hold onto your partner by hugging or repeatedly calling or texting.

    Despair: If your partner still leaves or remains intent on ending the relationship (or you realize that you still need to leave), you will probably feel despair and give up trying to re-connect.

    Detachment: Often, people go from protest and hope to despair; and back again to protest and hope. Eventually, though, you will probably give up and detach.

    Have you been through this process? Or, are you going through it now? How do you handle or how have you handled - these struggles? For this and more information please visit Dr. Becker-Phelps on her "The Art of Relationships " blog.
    Mike_Murph responded:
    My girlfriend and I celebrated our one year anniversary in July. Unfortunately, I had to move from school back to home to look for a job shortly after. We spent every day together for about a year and a half, and now were separated (about 2 hours away).

    She still has a year and a half of school left, and I'm in the mix of job hunting and getting used to my home city again. Weve already visited each other once, but our relationship doesnt seem the same not being right next to each other.

    I still care about her and dont want to cut anything off, but its tough.
    1nt3rnalc0mbu5t1on responded:
    Im pretty sure we all can agree that ending a relationship can be very difficult. I was reading a book a while that was actually featured on this site, shortly after i had finished. "Anxious To Please," talks a lot about relationships both romantic and with family. The key point that I pulled away from everything was when the author said and ill paraphrase. All relationships eventually end, and when you think about it, it is absolutely true. As Doc mentioned above an ending can be temporary or perminant. There are couples who are together for 50 years, sadly one of them will pass before the other, sadly, that wonderful relationship came to an end. The book talked about how if you can go into a relationship knowing that one day it will ultimately end, it opens up the idea that you can be more free and fun loving, not knowing what tomorrow will bring.

    Mike, long distance relationships can be taxing and job hunting and her being in school can make it tough for your schedules to jive. There is an old saying, abscence makes the heart grow fonder. I have been in a long distance relationship and unfortunately it did not work out. Sadly i knew it wasnt working, but i didnt want to hurt her feelings, although eventually doing so. At the end of the day it is only 2 hours, be spontanious, call her on a friday and say, i want to have lunch/dinner tomorrow, meet me half way! If she misses you as much as you say, she should be willing, obviously if she has school or work that could be difficult, but its worth a shot. Best of luck!
    dfromspencer responded:
    I am going thru this right now, only with my best friend of eight years. My buddy is dying from cancer. I'm still in the protesting part. I text him all day, and call him frequently, or stop by to visit. He has been the best of all my so called friends. He has been a TRUE friend. Joe has been there for me, every time i needed him. And vice versa. No matter what, we have BEEN there for each other, and that is what a true friend is. Now, he's leaving me all alone.

    I'm so scared! I don't know what to do? I don't know what to say? All i can do, is pretend that everything is normal. He knows hes dying, and he seems fine with that. I think he is looking foreward to an end to his pain? Well, the end of his pain, will be the beginning of mine. Does that make me selfish? I guess i am, at least with losing my best, the only true friend i ever had! I feel that i am too old to go out and find a new best friend. Man, am i going to miss Joe!!!

    Maybe, this means i am in the despair stage? However, i will never give up. I will stay connected to him to the bitter end! Detach? Never going to happen! Joe will be with me, in my mind anyway, till my bitter end.

    I am not ashamed to say, i love this guy, he has been closer to me, than my own brothers. Where were my brothers when i needed them? Miles away, and with problems of their own. Not so with Joe, he was always "Johnnie on the Spot"! There in a moments notice. Be it financial, or just needing someone to talk to, Joe was always available. I'm crying now, can't see to type. Please give me a minute. Sorry about that.

    Can anyone help me? How do you deal with something like this? What do i say to him? How should i act around him? Do i go on like there will always be tomorrow? I do not know what to do? I feel so helpless.

    Please, somebody, anybody, help me, Dennis
    irishhottie responded:
    Dear Dr. Phelps I talked to my good friend about thigs with my boyfriend..lately and my parents. All of them said to break it off with him because a few months ago, he went on vacation and was stupid. He should have saved the money and bought a car and gotten car insurance;therefore so he wouldn't have to be under his moms a way. Thats one reason and the second reason, is that she treats him like a subordinate in his house. His mom pays for his cell phone, and tell him what to do. I understand that she is a single- mother but thats mainly her issue-I don't think that she even wants him to be happy. Third, she told him that he can only come and see me once a week because she will be paying for the car insurance on the car that his uncle is giving them. Finally, hes not putting in the effort into us! Just need help on what to say and how to end it or just say I need a break!! look forward to hearing from you soon!
    Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD replied to irishhottie's response:
    If you are ready to end it, then I'm not sure what help you need. What are your concerns in just telling him this directly?

    My general thought is this: If you still care and have positive things to say, then definitely let him know this; but say clearly (and with kindness) that you are ending it and why. Then stand firm.
    tmlmtlrl replied to dfromspencer's response:
    Hi Dennis, I'm so sorry for what you are going through. There is nothing wrong with how you are feeling either.

    I would like you to consider that Joe is feeling a lot of the same things as you are. He probably doesn't know what to do, what to say, how to act. He's likely putting on a straight face to be strong for all around him, including you.

    You should have a talk. Throw it all out there. Cry your eyes out! You don't have to have an on-going sappy conversation. But I do think you need to have that conversation. Your friend is going to die. You say anything and everything you possibly want or need to right now! He loves you too. I bet he will be thankful for you breaking down that wall, that uncomfortable wall. He needs to cry too.

    You only have one chance. That saying will never be as true as it is right now.

    Good luck to you. And you know we're here to help you too even if sometimes it takes a couple days.
    dfromspencer replied to tmlmtlrl's response:
    Thank you or responding. I have been thinking the same thing, especially now. I just left him for the time being, its late, and i have to go to work early in the morn. He is having some problems with his adult children. His daughter that just married, her husband stole his tools from his garage. He is very upset about that, so i didn't have "the" talk with him tonight. It will have to wait til wednesday night. That young man is lucky he is not close by!

    Joe thinks his son in law is into something illegal, also. So, for his peace of mind, i told him i would run a criminal background check on him. I don't know how that works? I hope he can't find out i did it? That could cause more harm in their relationship.

    This makes me soooo mad! How do you do that to someone you are supposed to love? He's not gone yet, couldn't they just wait? Stealing from a dying man, how low is that?

    Sorry, i'm venting here. I have to go to sleep now. Early morning drive ahead. Thanks again, i know you're right about that talk. As soon as i get back, i will.

    Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD replied to dfromspencer's response:
    Dennis: I'm so sorry I missed seeing your first post. How awful! I'm so sorry for what you are going through -- and, of course, for what Joe is going through. It does sound like you are doing everything you can to be there for Joe. Definitely let us know how your talk goes with him. And, please, always feel free to vent -- that's what we are here for!
    dfromspencer replied to Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD's response:
    Thank you, Dr. Becker-Phelps

    I did have the talk with Joe. He seems fine with it? He truely believes he will go to a better place. He told me he has been having these dreams where he goes to a place like this, only clean, and pure. I asked him if the people there had bodies? He said yes, but they were again clean, and pure. He told me it was all love, peace, and tranquillity. Wow! I have never heard Joe talk like that.

    After hearing that, there was no crying like i thought i might. Just an acceptance. I still fear the day, and those following his departure. My rock is crumbling, my life support is fading away. I feel lost already. My one, and only, true friend is leaving me, and i feel so helpless. What am i going to do without him? Just about everything we did, we did it together. Now what?

    I have always felt like i was a strong man. Now i feel so weak, so ineffective. Joe and i, we have always been there for each other. Always helping when needed. This time, i can't help him. I feel like i'm failing Joe. I can't help, when he needs it most. What kind of friend am I?

    This has taken me twentyfive minutes to write. Everytime i think about his eminent departure, i cry like a baby. That is not helping him. Nor me, it seems. So, i am going to close this, and go visit with Joe. I am so sorry if this is too long. Forgive me, for i know not what to do.

    tmlmtlrl replied to dfromspencer's response:
    Did you talk to him about your feelings? Dennis, this is as much about you as it is about him. I have a friendship like yours and I absolutely believe you need to express your feelings. Your level of acceptance will probably never be what his is because you have to stay on this earth while he leaves, but you do need some level of acceptance. It's ok to feel selfish. Selfishness isn't always a bad thing. It is important to be worried about you.

    I think when the time comes you will find solace in his feelings of acceptance and what he feels lies ahead.

    When the time comes may I suggest you pick a star in the sky to look to and identify Joe with? This way you will have something physical to look to and a way to talk with him. Maybe seems silly but it works for some people.

    After re-reading I see you do have a level of acceptance. It is the after that you fear. Honestly I have the same fear about my friend as she continues to smoke after watching her own mother die a very slow miserable death from emphysema. She was only 54. I believe it's the same path my bf is on and it angers me that she's.......grrrr. Nevermind, I just relate because sometimes I do think of those days ahead so your post hits home for me even if in the future.

    take care, I hope you have a nice visit today.
    dfromspencer replied to tmlmtlrl's response:
    Sorry this has taken so long, i just got back home today. I had to stop in and see Joe. He's looking healthier than ever. The nurse had just left, and she had said the same thing. So, Joe is in good spirits today, feeling better than last time i saw him.He has actually been doing more things than usual. Getting around better. He hopes it has gone dormant, or will? I would hate to see him get his hopes up, just to be let down. So, i told him to be cautious, but optomistic. He really does look better. His cheeks, and skin all look rosy again. Last time, he looked gray, and pasty. He does have more energy. Sooooo????

    I cannot wait till tomorrow! I have the whole day to spend with him. Early morning, i have to run up to the office, and turn in paperwork. After that, its Joe time.

    tmlmtlrl, i hear what you're saying. And i feel so sorry for you! You deffinately know what i am going thru. I hope your BF listens to you, and quits smoking. But, this is one nasty hard habbit to break. My uncle died from smoking, and then my aunt died from smoking. They both said they would never give up their best friend! Best friend being cigarettes. Nasty habbit, one i have struggled with for many years.

    Thank you sooo much for the advice! Tonight, i pick Joe's star.
    tmlmtlrl replied to dfromspencer's response:
    Very good to hear! I pray Joe has much more time on this earth. Each day is a gift.

    My bff's mother was one of those that would shut her oxygen tank off to smoke a cigarette. I personally have been 3 1/2 years smoke free and I feel great. It can be done.

    I thought of you today. I live out in the country and I went for a walk today. It was a very peaceful walk (and really needed as I had a bad morning). Anyway, I looked up and saw a dove on the powerline and it reminded me that I have symbols here that connect me to my loved ones passed.

    After my grandmother passed I had a dove show up on my front porch for a few days. My belief was that it was her spirit. When my children's father passed a dove showed up on the porch of his house and my son's best friend touched it. For years now when I see a dove it reminds me of my grandma and when I see a red tail hawk it reminds me of their father. Not just reminds me, but I take a moment and feel their presence and say hello and know they are watching over me.

    Like I said, it made me think of you, and I wanted to share that with you. I suppose it all has to do with perception and faith. I believe Joe will never completely leave you.

    Please don't get your hopes up too much. Dying people can have good days. I really didn't want to say that and you probably already know it. Just keep reality in perspective so that you don't suffer even more. Joe will be in my prayers. Take care.
    dfromspencer replied to tmlmtlrl's response:
    I was so very tired last night, i got up so late. It was almost ten am when i got up. Wow! I have never slept that long in my life! Now i am behind on getting things done today. And will be late to visit Joe. Grrr. As you so elloqeuntly put it.

    I decided to check this site out before i left, and here you are. Once again giving me some much needed advice/help. You are a kind, caring, giving person, and i thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    I know i cannot get my hopes up, and i hate that fact, because its true. Joe will not live much longer, and i cherish the time i do get to spend with him. And i am sure that you cherish the time you have with your bf. I really like your story! I too, believe that the doves were the spirit of your loved ones.

    Thank you so much for caring about me, and now my bf Joe. You and your bf will be in my thoughts and prayers. Thank you for helping to clear my mind.

    Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD replied to dfromspencer's response:
    Hi, Dennis. Just a quick message to let you know I'm thinking of you and glad for you and Joe to have this good time together (however long it lasts).

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