How to Get Closure On Your Own
I have two situations for which I will never receive closure. One person is dead and the other wants nothing to do with me. Being proactive, I go to therapy to lament and vent. When I started writing this piece, I searched for “How to get Closure” using Google, and up popped several selections. Many were sites where people talked about the need of one more conversation to understand, but the first site was WikiHow: “How to Get Closure: 6 Steps (with pictures)!”
I clicked on it. I thought if there’s a video I am going to laugh. No video. Next to “How to make a pirate costume” and “Are you a better volleyball player?” were these steps: Define Your loose Ends, Forgive, Apologize, Have a Symbolic Ceremony, Write a Story, Begin a New Chapter.
My first snarky thought was, “That’s it? Focusing like a micromanager and over-thinking until I can’t function because I am consumed with this isn’t the right answer?” Huh? Surprising!
I tend to (other than over-think) not eat, over-eat, lie awake at night, sleep a lot, workout until I can’t stand up, or a random oscillation of all of the above.
According to the article’s author, if I follow these simple steps, I can have closure by the end of the week and a pirate costume to boot. If you can get closure that quickly, fantastic! But for most of us it takes years, if ever. So, I sat with that.
How dare they break down how I get rid of my torture in 6 easy steps… AND with pictures?! I re-read it fully expecting to laugh at the pictures again… and you know, it has a lot of weight to it: I’ve done all these steps and they do work as corny as it sounds (think of the ceremony step). But I still struggle with closure, because the closure words will never come from them, it has to come from me. I don’t get one more conversation. My conversation is with my internal dialogue, but it can be biased and skewed. Let’s review the steps shall we?
Step 1: Define Your Loose Ends
That’s pretty simple for me. Why did you…leave me, beat me, hurt me, fire me, do this horrible thing, etc.? I didn’t have a problem defining the problem and who I lay the blame on.
Step 2: Forgive
Forgive? Can I just move on to Step 3: Apologize? Hmm, no, back to Step 2: Forgive. Can I do that? Does forgive mean forget? I can’t forget. I react differently to people because of you; so, forgive? Never! I will however, forgive you for not knowing better, for being a victim yourself, or being young and dumb. Forgive lets me off the hook for always being angry. I did have to teach myself to forgive. My motto, “Fake it until you make it.” It seemed hollow at first.
Step 3: Apologies
Right your wrongs. I am so sorry I didn’t speak up. I made my apologies for running when I should have communicated. If only I had just communicated correctly, ugh. That brings me back to forgive. Forgive myself.
Step 4: Have a Symbolic Ceremony
Mine was a burn-it-all-let-it-all-go-up-in-smoke- (no, I did not burn down my house) ceremony. Others have funerals, memorials, a tossing out of material. As for the burning ceremony, I had another situation I was dealing with, and when it was over I was still hanging on to paperwork and notes for some reason. Well, I finally came to the point where I wanted no more of my energy wasted thinking about those papers every time I ran across them. I called my closest friend who knew all about it and we sat around one fall morning and burned every single piece of those papers in my chimenea. Then, I think we had coffee and a sweet thing. I let it go.
Step 5: Write
I did write: a story. I poured my heart on to the pages. I wrote scenes replaying things that I needed closure on. Amazing therapy! I wrote and still write letters that will never be sent, never read. I get to say what needs to be said. I do actually read them to my therapist and she listens quietly, hands me tissues, and then she brings in the reality. The words I hope to hear in response to those letters, if I sent them or if they could reach beyond the grave, won’t be the words I get to hear. This is the space where apologies and forgiveness are needed, and it is my job to again forgive them and myself.
Step 6: Begin a New Chapter
Oh, shut up! Seriously, this is easier said than done. We hold onto the grief and the need for closure so tightly. How do I begin again? How do I move on? Learn from this? I hate the way all of it sounds. So cliché! However, (and I feel silly agreeing, it sounds so contrite) we all can use this moment to start again or change something. Here is a moment where you get to change, and change for the better. I won’t treat a person like that person treated me, nor will I let it happen again. It ends with me.
If none of this sounds helpful, then you see my dilemma: how do I tell others how to get closure when I can’t achieve it for myself?
I keep struggling. When moments pop up and I want to pick up the phone to hear that person’s voice when that person won’t answer, I cry. I lie in bed and I think of the “What ifs” and my internal voice pops up and I have fake conversations with said person (sometimes arguments). Nothing makes those moments easier. Once again, this is where apologies and forgiveness is needed, and mainly for me. Deep breaths, pet the cat, listen to her purr, and mentally push the thoughts from my mind because closure doesn’t come at three in the morning.
Some situations are easy to let go, some take time. I know I’m not done…I wait for closure… I get closer…
I get more confident each time knowing I can handle letting those two people go – permanently.