One of the worst feelings in the world is going through a break-up. It doesn’t even have to be romantic, it could be between you and family member or you and your workplace. There is this stifling, overwhelming feeling that comes and just sits on your neck. You feel the insatiable need to know why things happened the way they did. What caused them to happen? Why did he/she terminate the relationship? What did you do wrong? Was there a chance that thing could have gone differently?
You have so many questions and you are sure that once you just sit down with this person and get these clear-cut answers, it will be easier to move on. Basically, you seek closure.
Unfortunately, seeking closure is one of the worst things about the human psyche. It is never as easy as it seems. It tricks us into thinking that we are undergoing a justified experience but in reality, we are just temporarily suspending the emotional work we know we have to do. We come up with reasons, we conjure up issues that never existed, all in search of an answer, a reason to tie those lose ends together. The idea of “closure” is an endless cycle that doesn’t make you feel better or help you move on. When you finally get a nice moment of “closure” with your ex, you realize you want above everything else to get back together… and if your supposed meeting for “closure” ends on a sour note, you’ll think to yourself: “I still need closure.”
So where does it end?
Recently, I listened to a cousin lament over a relationship that had come to an end and how she really needed to sit down with him one more time to properly wrap up the relationship. This is the same cousin that had traveled to the mainland to sit down and get closure two weeks earlier, only to spend the night with him and leave the next morning because they have a big fight.
The truth is, most times when people say: “I just need closure”, what they’re usually saying is: “I just want an excuse to see my ex again.” Seeking closure (the real kind) requires mental discipline and some serious soul-searching. Moving on from something or someone is a solo act, not a physical thing or an action requiring someone else with a parallel agenda. In other words, you do not need answers from an ex to get the closure you need. You can’t be like Lot’s wife looking back and trying to relieve the past, because that is just going to leave you feeling salty. In fact, look at it this way: closure is no longer needing the answers.
Insisting on closure is a rich formula for forever carrying baggage from previous relationships. It took me a long time to learn that some things are not meant to be tied up into a neat little bow and put away. In 2014, I was in a “relationship”, and when it ended, I wasn’t ready for it to end. I made up every excuse in the book to get closure. I did everything I could think of. I even sent him an e-mail with a subtle ultimatum. Eventually, I stopped trying to have “the talk.” I stopped trying to say, “I hope you have a great life” or the cliché “everything happens for a reason,” when I really meant, “I hope someone hurts you as much as you have hurt me.” I realized that no words that would bring me to a perfect resolution. I was fighting with a story that was already written down, instead of accepting it for what it was. I had to let go of resentment and of controlling the outcomes. The thing is, when you accept someone/something and stop trying to control an outcome, you get peace. I learned to just trust life.
Most people will never experience the closure they are looking for, and even if they do get closure, it won’t come in the way they want it or expect it. For some people, closure means having the person who wronged them admitting to their wrongdoing and apologize. And for some others, closure means getting back at the person who wronged them or at least witnessing something bad happening to that person.
Here’s what I think: if your closure comes in the form of an apology from that offender, why not write your own apology to yourself and create a plan to move forward? If closure looks like revenge to you, set out time and figure out why you need that sort of satisfaction. Why isn’t walking away enough?
Bottom line: the best kind of closure is the kind we give ourselves. It is not dependent or reliant on another person. It is whole, and it makes us whole. Simply mourn, and then let go. There is the undeniable satisfaction that comes with knowing that you didn’t need any part of the person you are leaving behind in order to move forward with your life. It is the greatest closure you will ever know.
Have you ever tried to get closure? How did it go?