Suppose it never comes – complete closure. The moment it feels as if you’ve done what needed to be done, said everything in your heart, gave it the time to percolate and kept the feedback window open for an adequate amount of time. And it feels right. Really right. Balanced, like your mind and body after yoga or deep breathing. Complete closure. Ahhhh.
And then…what? You feel better? A sense of pride? Stronger? More prepared for the next let-down? In thinking about the things that have caused pain or sadness in my life, I remember having a desperation for closure with a handful of messy situations. Now, looking back to a rough breakup many years ago, it seems so trite to have yearned for closure – when what I really needed was to look at myself, stay more open and not close up at all. Part of the definition is ‘the very act of closing something, usually unpleasant, so that you are able to start new activities…’
Is closure another way for us to avoid personal responsibility and uncover who we really are? In our culture, there is such a powerful push for us to move on. Close it up, and move on. From my experience, that doesn’t help me in the long run. I can’t just turn the channel, swipe, throw it away, and avoid looking at the parts that didn’t turn out the way I wanted, or turn out at all. I know, they’ll return in another shape or form.
“You dodged a bullet,” people have said to me repeatedly since my fiancé detached in a moment and left.
There was an argument during the Jewish holiday while we were traveling out of state to visit his family. I was upset that he hadn’t kept his word on a financial issue, and he was never at ease when I was angry. He demanded an apology that angered me further, as I felt unheard and he was gaslighting. “You’re ignoring my feelings again!” he yelled, taking off the ceremonial ring he wore and slamming it on the counter. “I’m done.” We then spent the entire day amongst his relatives while he gave me the silent treatment. I thought he needed to cool down. We’d deal with it after some space, and after the holiday, away from his family.
That evening, during an hour-long drive to a concert together that I had arranged weeks earlier, his countenance was stone cold. He said that he didn’t want to be around me and dropped me at the show alone. I was a wreck. I got plastered. He had waited to drive me back to his family’s house. Drunk and hurt, I lashed out at him. He remained silent, while recording me from his phone.
“You’re not fucking coming in the house,” he snapped as he pulled into the driveway and bolted out of the car to lock me out. Returning with a bag stuffed with my things, he dropped me at a hotel and told me to take the bus back home the next day.
In shock and hungover, I spent the following day of weary bus travel without hearing from him. When I walked into our home, all of his things were gone. I called him, struggling to speak through heaving sobs. “There’s nothing to talk about,” he interrupted, and hung up seconds after I told him that I wouldn’t survive the night, a threat he had never once heard.
A few weeks after he left me for dead, he picked up his remaining items from the house. Mostly the kids’ room stuff (all of which I bought and set up), and personal mementos I gave him over the years like cards, notes, photo albums, artwork the kids made, and framed pictures like the photo of us kissing in one of our favorite places – the focal point on the gallery wall of our dining room. He put every item into clear plastic trash bags and left them on the street that trailed 10 feet long, directly in front of our house. Trashed, just like me. Left for someone else to clean up.
That’s moving on. That’s also someone without a conscience. Someone unlike *me* entirely.
“He’s not worth one more minute of your sadness,” friends say when I’ve shared that he immediately jumped into a new relationship, and requested that all of our mutual friends drop me from their lives too.
“Don’t you dare tell me to move on,” I respond. It is not in any way because I still have feelings for him and dream of us back together. It is because I was under his spell that I began to distrust my own intuition – and this digging into who I was with him has been critical, a self-examination that could have only happened from not quickly “moving on.”
I dig, pull out the rocks and brush away the dirt – and those are the moments that feel really right. Because resolution or closure…can only happen when we’re hardly moving at all.