So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Adieu

anyone who knows me well will recognise the title of this piece as my fave song from the Sound of Music and the song I have requested be played at my funeral. however, before anyone calls the services, this isn’t a suicide note and I am not dying. at least not faster than I have been at any other time in the last 37 years. nor is it an announcement of the end of Sarah Mann’s Evil Plans. sorry, not sorry.

what it is, it the closing of a few doors; on creatures that have hidden in the wardrobe and kept me up at night; on bogeymen who have robbed me of dignity and planted the seed of doubt; on timewasters who have sapped my energy and taken the best of me.

Photo by Jan Tinneberg on Unsplash

who are these immense wastes of space? well, firstly and foremost, the tangible entities of gallbladder and oesophagus underwent the long-overdue surgery. as the drain was ‘withdrawn’ from my stomach on Friday, it also took with it a pervasive sense of suspense and uncertainty. whether the op is partially successful or leaves  me a wholly new woman (at the moment, I am a holey new woman because: laparoscopic surgery. geddit?), the one thing I can be completely sure, is that I am no longer waiting for the surgery that could have fixed internal issues any time in the last 10 years.  this is much to be celebrated and celebrate I shall, as soon as I can:

  1.  leave the house
  2. don’t have to exist of a puree diet

look for your invite to my leaving-the-house house party. or something along those lines.

the other is far harder to confront for a number of reasons. it’s the realisation that not all friends are created equal. friendships all have their own set of t&cs, which are rarely discussed but each side has an idea of what they think is the give-and-take. those people who are special, unshakable in their love and loyalty, I will forever be grateful to. you don’t necessarily live in each other’s pockets. it could be months or years between seeing them. some of them understand that radio silence is not an insult or that space is sometimes necessary.

but you also outgrow friends. sometimes friends outgrow you. I don’t have a problem with that. people move on; life stages, geography and our base needs change. but what I have had to say goodbye to this week is a staunch belief that all of my friends think, no matter my faults, that I am worth a farewell. historically, since I’ve had long periods of illness, I have seen groups of friends drift but generally, this has been amicable and down to specific circumstances. “can’t go clubbing and get off your tits anymore? we’ll be in touch.” “not got a child yourself? we’ll catch up in 18 years.” “I think you’re a cock womble and I don’t need a cock womble right now, capiche?” it’s fine. you just “turn and face the strange.”

but there have been four occasions in my life where the departures of friends have been much more malevolent; the damage of a break-up badly handled scars which will probably outlast those of last week. whether their role in my life was creative partner, life partner or wtf partner, the one thing that I held to be true was that we were friends, above and beyond all else. one of them happened this week. I only found out that we weren’t friends any more when I discovered they had blocked me on Twitter. it turned out after a frantic search at 1 am, while off-my-face on pain and burping like a trooper (I have some sexy post-operative side effects), that they had also blocked me on every other communications platform. I cried myself to sleep and had a shitty day when I woke up the next morning. now, this friend was not a good friend – as I said not all friends are created equal – but I had been there through their serious illness and we had a legacy going back nearly a decade. so, as you can imagine, to be denied a goodbye or any kind of bust-up, at a period in my life where I am specifically vulnerable, seems shit-to-the-nth-degree to me. I’m not even sad or angry, just shocked that I am disposable. also, he’s nearly 50 ffs. grow a pair already.

all the four achy-break-ups have been while i was at my most vulnerable, and often when those people would have known that (one day, ask me about the ex who went up a mountain to escape me) or people who I had been there for the troubled waters. sure that all had their reasons. I can say with 100% certainty, I am not perfect. Cos humans be flawed, muthafuckers. I don’t expect people to like me all of the time, if at all, and I am aware my friending style hasn’t developed much from pre-skool:

Them: Hello.

Me: Let’s be friends!

I have also friend dumped people and know it can be frigging difficult when people don’t get that your drawing a line in the sand, and they can’t step over it with you. few people take rejection of any sort well. but I hope I have always been honest with them. or you know, just have the courtesy of drift. stay responsive, meet up occasionally, until it peters out. that seems the British way of doing it.

and it’s humiliating. being dumped by a friend immediately draws adult you back into a playground past where Anne Pomeroy stole your best friend and they played horses without you, while you sat under an apple tree in the orchard and sobbed*. I assume this is universal, right? in all seriousness, I defy anyone not to have a version of this in their childhood, the effects of which still rankle to the present day.

so what is the answer to friend dumping for dumper and dumpee? DON’T HAVE FRIENDS.

only kidding. who would I go to brunch with? also, i kinda like the ones I’ve got. generally, one thing illness has taught me, is that they really special ones, don’t bugger off. they hang around and you find the terms on which you are friends, whether that’s a lunch once a month, or talking endlessly on text before making arrangements for the weekend.

To the dumpers, I say, suck it up, assholes. don’t just ghost. act like a Mann and tell someone what is going on – who knows, it might even save the friendship in some capacity if that door is still open. if not, at least the other person hopefully knows it’s not them, it’s you. remember that the world is horribly small – what can you do to make it such that you don’t both dread bumping into each other at an experimental electronica gig or in the basement of your local comedy club.

To the dumped: Ouch. Yes, all the ouch. Let yourself mourn, and depending on the person, that friendship maybe something you look back on with some sort of emotion. but whatever you do, keep on moving. find new things and new people, celebrate the ones who are still with you and accept that it’s not you, it’s them. they were probably not good for you and, maybe for reasons unclear to you, you weren’t good for them. sh-it happens. now get back to your life.

as a dumpee, that’s what I’m going to do, because I’ve been carrying around the excess baggage of illness and crap people for a long time now. because: Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes.

peace and love xx

*yes, I was bought up in an Anne of Greengables-esque hearty life, involving scrumping and playing hide’n’seek in a hollybush. don’t be jealous, darlings.

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