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Nkem Says: You Do Not Need Answers From an Ex to Get the Closure You Need

Nkem Ndem

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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?

Nkem Ndem is a dynamic freelance writer and editor who can be reached for copywriting, editing and proofreading. She is also a content creator (web, T.V, radio) who has had stints with Jumia and SpiceTV Africa e.t.c. Now she works at Glam Africa as Online editor and BellaNaija as Features writer. E-mail: [email protected]; IG: @kem_dem; Twitter: @ndemv

33 Comments

  1. bolintin

    June 28, 2018 at 4:54 pm

    A Big fat NO…….. I will wait for comments

  2. Ceejay

    June 28, 2018 at 5:39 pm

    Interesting… It’s a topic I can relate with. My last relationship thought me that forgiveness is for me and with these knowledge came the closure I require to move on and let go.

    • King Bae

      June 28, 2018 at 5:54 pm

      I concur Ceejay. Sometimes, their actions are all the closures you need. Forgive and keep it moving with a clean heart, and watch God do amazing things for you. I am definitely smiling in total peace right now. Moved on!

    • Lola

      June 28, 2018 at 7:12 pm

      Love this! 0 Reply

      Lola June 28, 2018 at 7:07 pm
      I want no enemies or any friendship just moving on is the best. For me i kind of do a personal rehab, switch off my phone and go to a friends house for some months in order to fix my mind on sth else, gradually you get tru becos the more u seek for closure the longer it takes to heal,its like scratching a wound u just expand it. Keeping an ex is like saying you cant live your life without them, even if its amicableLET YOUR EX GO, ITS OVER MOVEON..

    • Joy

      June 30, 2018 at 8:36 am

      Just what I needed to hear… I don’t think I have completely let go. I guess its a little difficult cos I get to see the person every now or then or cos people around me constantly talk about him. Lol, and for some annoying reason I want answers to questions i already know

    • marvel

      July 10, 2018 at 9:47 am

      Dear Joy, I was in your shoes. As in eh, everyone talked about him, we shared the same office, meaning I had to see him all the time. It was hell. But I made up my mind that I wasn’t going back. Ultimately, it was God that helped me. When in my heart I wanted him to get hurt, I voiced the opposite, that God should bless him and make him happy in his own relationship. It was difficult and took a long time but I’m glad that it paid off.

  3. Random

    June 28, 2018 at 5:45 pm

    Brilliant article. Easier said than done but reeking with sour truth.

  4. Udegbunam Chukwudi

    June 28, 2018 at 6:34 pm

    In my opinion, sometimes that closure is what we need to decide whether we want to remain cordial with the ex or enemies for life

    • Seriously

      June 28, 2018 at 8:28 pm

      I totally agree. I think closure is needed in some circumstances. I ended my relationship. We’ve been having communication problems, and the timing(different states, both in school and working). I talked and texted him I can’t do it anymore. No animosity just cordial not the way it used to be but we remained friends.

      Weeks later, another guy friend who knows both of us told me, oh my ex and this girl dated(I know this girl very well) I don’t have problem with his exes but this particular girl was someone I’ve asked him about before and he said nothing happened between them. I thought, so he’s a liar and dishonest too. Was the whole relationship a sham or what? He has always being honest, truthful even when it hurt and uncomfortable which is what attracted me.. So, I was disappointed.
      I needed closure if he’s someone I will continue to be cordial with, say hi when I run into or just completely cut him out of my life.
      So, we spoke on the phone for a long time just going over everything. And he reassured me it’s not true. My problem wasn’t even if there’s another girl but to be truthful. Only to find out the other guy was just trying to sabotage because he’s interested in me and wanted me to break up with my ex.
      I will rather know that our problem wasn’t because of another person but just between us. It’s better that way. Assuming, I didn’t go back to talk to him, I would have believed the other guy’s lies then ruin everything

    • dj

      June 29, 2018 at 9:33 am

      you dont need all that . you are ex for a reason (my reason or yours) but pls stay in that reason and let me focus

  5. Lola

    June 28, 2018 at 7:07 pm

    I want no enemies or any friendship just moving on is the best. For me i kind of do a personal rehab, switch off my phone and go to a friends house for some months in order to fix my mind on sth else, gradually you get tru becos the more u seek for closure the longer it takes to heal,its like scratching a wound u just expand it. Keeping an ex is like saying you cant live your life without them, even if its amicableLET YOUR EX GO, ITS OVER MOVE ON..

  6. Engoz

    June 28, 2018 at 7:57 pm

    In the mean time, guard your heart during the relationship. There are too many heartbreaks in the world for a person not to guard their heart during the relationship. Heartbreak can even elevate blood pressure, lol. Don’t totally release yourself before the relationship is destined for exactly what you want out of it. Practice some cynicism and love with caution. Of course, he will shout that you are not like a ‘girl’ that is in love. By that, he means all sappy eyed and semi-foolish. He will be ‘alright’.

    • Kamer sista

      June 28, 2018 at 8:56 pm

      I feel sad that I totally see what you mean and it’s exactely what I am practicing now…And yup, Just few days ago someone told me I was “not being a girl”. LOL

  7. BlueEyed

    June 28, 2018 at 9:31 pm

    Ah this one hits close to home. I have finessed the art of moving on, in some cases in the past I would just have a good beat down, feeling sad/crying/Ice cream and watching a romantic movie/ then by the morning I will just resolve to removing that ex from my mental pace and physical space (Block! Delete! Unfollow!) One week later;
    Ex: Hi
    Me: New phone, who this ?

    Lol.

    OAN: One thing I have noticed with my exes is how they lose guard each time they coincidentally see me or bump into me, they act like lil school boys looking at their crush, I just laugh keep it light and keep it moving.

    • Iyke

      June 28, 2018 at 11:04 pm

      A girl could meet 4 men she’s dated and in their midst act like nothing happened. She’s emotionally mature to introduce an ex/exes and act like it’s no big deal.
      Men on the other hand can’t deal. Whenever we see our ex/exes, even if we are with the most gorgeous babes, our hearts jump…we just don’t know how to handle it. We always have this fear that she’s coming after us.
      Per being friends with an ex, or seeking for closure, it’s not worth it in my opinion.The signs obviously MUST hv been there before the actual breakup.
      Trust me, you know you’ve grown when you’ve learned to make peace with goodbyes and move on quietly while genuinely wishing your ex the best. It doesn’t have to be a war!

    • Dayo

      June 29, 2018 at 9:23 pm

      @Iyke, not sure what sort of males you run around with, but frankly my only interest in exes would be perpetuating Okafor’s Law!

    • John

      June 29, 2018 at 8:45 am

      @blueyed

      Damn ,how many exes do you actually have???
      Maybe the problem are not with them but you in particular.
      Maybe they are all giggling bcos they see you as a joke

      Easyoo before you have your own football team and start shouting men are scum or wait!!

  8. Californiabawlar

    June 29, 2018 at 1:29 am

    I’ve found that I only need closure when my self esteem’s not tiptiop. I’ll be looking for explanation/feedback to make sure it wasn’t me. That I wasn’t stupid to have been with this person. That I wasn’t ‘dumped’ because – pick anything I’m insecure about.
    But when I’m feeling fly and feeling myself, hian! Straight delete! No explanations needed… I safely assume you must have been a fool not to appreciate my awesomeness.

    No one wants to admit it but breakups and disappointing relationships take their toll on your being. You have to actively guard yourself like @Engoz advised…tbh, I jejely don’t define relationships anymore. I told the dude I’m seeing now that I don’t want to be his girlfriend cos I don’t want to go through another breakup ??‍♀️ That ig things don’t work now we can just slow fade out of each other’s lifes. He looked at me like was crazy. Na hin sabi! Until I see that you’re truly ready to be committed I’m not entangling myself again biko.

    • John

      June 29, 2018 at 8:49 am

      A Yoruba demon will love your type sha.

  9. MrWhicher

    June 29, 2018 at 5:03 am

    We won’t now turn into robots for the fear of heartbreak. Caring about someone and not needing closure are mutually exclusive.

    • Engoz

      June 29, 2018 at 3:47 pm

      A…beg, women go crazy aka looking for ‘closure’ during a heartbreak because they know what they had invested in the relationship emotionally. Men actually have been using this tactic of practical cynicism and even inform the upcoming boys to do the same. They advise them not to be emotionally invested or committed in relationships until they are sure. We will all be ‘robots’ together, lmao. Luckily for me, I’ve never been heartbroken, but I have seen what it can cause. You owe it to yourself to protect your mind, soul and body first before anything.

    • MrWhicher

      June 29, 2018 at 8:10 pm

      Engoz, society expects men to stand tall. That doesn’t mean that we don’t hurt. Society won’t even allow us to go seeking closure.
      We can all form robot but we all still need closure. I’m not saying that people should drive themselves crazy over closure. I’m only saying that closure is good for our emotional well being.

    • Ada_ugo

      June 30, 2018 at 12:08 am

      @MrWhicher, the other person who was supposed to care about you, but chose to leave without closure… doesn’t the principle of mutual inclusivity apply to them? Abeg leave matter; women have learnt to guard their hearts

  10. watching

    June 29, 2018 at 3:02 pm

    I disagree, a friend of mine had a guy marry and still be with her while his wife was in a different country. She broke things off for different reasons but when she found out mehn she was furious and still wonders y? She has moved on and is married but still cant understand. why keep a relationship and even fight to be together after it ended when you have a wife somewhere? I am not understanding too oooo

  11. Ada_ugo

    June 29, 2018 at 8:28 pm

    I don’t dwell on such things, for me it is simple – a guy who doesn’t feel like he needs to explain that things aren’t working between us is not worth my time. Next please.
    I’ve surprised myself in the past by how quickly I have moved on. Like me, a whole royal priesthood before God, somebody will now be making me wonder what happened. Abeg, I no get time… lol

  12. maty

    June 29, 2018 at 9:28 pm

    in your own interest move on.
    put the closure on your owm mind.
    it has ended it has ended close the chapter and move on.
    you will just be hurting yourself because the guy keeps feeling fly on top your emotions and it will hurt you more.

    just move on. GOD will heal you

  13. Zee

    June 29, 2018 at 11:14 pm

    Love this post, very precise and accurate.

  14. Ada_ugo

    June 30, 2018 at 12:09 am

    @MrWhicher, the other person who was supposed to care about you, but chose to leave without closure… doesn’t the principle of mutual inclusivity apply to them? Abeg leave matter; women have learnt to guard their hearts

  15. Pea

    June 30, 2018 at 2:49 pm

    Hmmmm… So close to home. This is just what I need right now

  16. Taiwo

    June 30, 2018 at 6:42 pm

    Sometimes you are the one to give yourself closure. My ex cheated on me with his coworker, I didn’t know at the time but I felt it in my bones that sth wasn’t right with them. I asked and he swore on his mother’s life. I obviously got proof later bcos he and the girl fought and she literally forwarded all their chats to me. I simply chatted him and sent everything to him and let him know he didn’t deserve me in the first place. I still pray for his mother tho, I hope she is alive. But it hurt like hell man

  17. aj

    July 1, 2018 at 3:55 am

    My people closure is over rated. Like someone said guard ur heart even when you are in the relationship. This is what helped me to almost get over a guy I was talking to for 2 months when I discovered he was in a committed relationship I blocked him on WhatsApp and the website I met him on. Chai but I can’t lie the thing pained me.

  18. be a robot I agree

    July 6, 2018 at 1:00 pm

    so many truths in comments so far.

    I really dont know what has changed or if its our culture but so many men take for granted what they have till they dont have it or till she moves on emotionally then he is interested. I mean a lot seem to want what they cant have/dont have anymore

    Guard your hearts, you can ‘act’ like he is the best thing since sliced bread then ‘switch’ to being cool/cold/a robot but within you, guard yourself.

    Please have another interest. Keep being positively busy.

    We broke up or should I say he did the silent treatment, I was gunning for a scholarship hustling to meet the criteria, sincerely busy. Got it and was now hustling to meet up with travel requirement. He sends me an epistle, calling me cold and so on. At first I didnt get it. Until I realised of late that I was the only one communicating (texting him at every stage which he didnt reply any or return calls, before he ‘epistled’ me..) I saw it had been one sided lately. I didnt even have time to process where he was coming from,and bam there I was in a different time zone.,with a new and very supportive friend, who doesnt do mind games/silent treatment..

    There are waay to many broken hearts, some seek closure, some stalking ex’s so abeg protect your hearts, for my ex, the one day I had to talk things over with him, he came with his buddy knowing we needed privacy to talk, and I just had no time left and no more interest in him.. When he decided he was ready, I was at a hen’s party, it was loud and I couldnt hear him, clearly not the best environment but My ex started obsessing calling so many times, I guess he couldnt blieve I could move on and be happy, He would go on to stalk my social media. Then the lady he was seeing the period he was dishing me silent treatment, got my details and messaged me to ‘leave’ him as he suddenly is not speaking to her yet she sees he is all over my instagram. very long story, Talk about drama.. Dont know if its closure or to assure a fellow female but I told her I was several miles away and to never contact me again.,
    Maybe its a culture thing, my new friend didnt have that much ego and was genuinely interested in me and in us being together, I am still guarding my heart a bit as experiences of women of the past have thought me a thing or three. That said I am not stupid enough to throw away a good thing. Blocked, deleted ex everywhere but we have mutual friends in common who he sends to intervene..

    Ladies have an interest, pursue a hobby..there is something out there for everyone whether 18 or 70yrs! Be in charge of ‘you’ do not put him as number one, it may shock you and you may not recover. Emotions, hard earned finances . Life has its shocks so you dont need to bring one to yourself by completely letting go. Change the narrative for future women.

    Someone mentioned above comments that men mastered this art yonks ago and indeed tell each other,this ‘craft.’ I think, in our culture, deep down in their hearts they keep their options open/remain uncommitted hence why a ‘dedicated&loving’ husband (even religious head,pastor mog) married for over 15 years with special tributes on each wedding anniversary, goes on to remarry 1-5 months after loss/divorce of wife…and when the media asked him what the biggest loss in his life, refers to some OTHER loss than his wife..Ice cold!

  19. Chekwube

    October 3, 2018 at 4:11 pm

    Why letting go is hard to some people especially women is that they have been sleeping with their ex.Immediately you start sleeping with someone it will be hard to let him go.its very bad pls don’t let any man who has not officially married you to see your nakedness. You are at loose.

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