There is something that I hear a lot of us ladies talk about a lot. I myself have talked about it a lot at times, fixated on it, hoped for it, pinned plenty of emotional irresponsibility on it. And that, my friends, is “closure.”
For the purposes of this post, I’m going to define closure in my own words. Closure is a fictional and fantastical thing at the end of a relationship. It is an imagined event that will make the breaking of this relationship seem final and complete.
I am going to speak from my own experience since that’s what I know. I have, in the past, longed for closure after certain breakups. The longing-for-closure always, always came, however, from relationships that I did not choose to end. If a guy disappeared or dumped me, then I needed closure. I have even been known to embarrass myself and demand closure, as though these men would have been like “oh yes! let’s get together and have closure.” I mean what the hell kind of guy would be into that? And what does it even mean, anyway? I’ll tell you right now that guys who bow out by avoiding phone calls (or exhibit other lame practices) are also not going to show up for closure. And every time I dumped someone? I certainly didn’t need any closure. Good riddance, dumped guy.
I rarely hear about men discussing closure. It’s mostly a female thing (in my experience). However, some men might agree to meet for this elusive “closure” thing if they feel like it could provide one last opportunity for them to get in your pants. So beware the man who agrees to meet for closure’s sake.
Here’s the thing, ladies, and I say this with love: closure is a myth. It is a terrible, terrible myth that sends us back to emotionally abusive men and shitty relationships that we were too good for, anyway. Closure is a euphemism for “I am not ready to let go; you hurt me; please be accountable for my feelings; let me have a little bit more control over you before you disappear entirely.”
Real closure, or that sense of completion, comes from only one place: yourself. And it is a tough and lonely process. There are no shortcuts. You have to let that go. That is closure. Here are some signs that closure has already happened, regardless of mutual conversations or meetings: He stopped calling. He is dating someone else. You are dating someone else.
One of the big lessons of growing up, for me, was realizing that closure is a myth in many ways, not just in romantic situations like I’ve discussed. A lot of things in life just end, whether we are ready for it or not. Not everything waits for us to be ready; not everything is served to us in perfect portions that are easy to digest. Sometimes things end suddenly or disappear without warning, and we have to accept it. Sometimes these things (or events or people) leave an air of mystery behind, or in worse times, they leave an air of abandonment and violation. Again, there is no remedy for these kinds of things. Closure is not a conversation, ritual, or ceremony. Closure is a decision you make.
I’m writing this post because I’ve been there. And I have lots of friends who have been there. I have friends that are there right now.
In situations like this, I often think about stories. The best stories that we read or watch are not tidy and neat. In fact, it is a lack of closure and a plethora of heartbreak that fuels some of the best, most riveting stories. The tragedy of truth. Sometimes it’s helpful to step back and look at the events in our lives as stories; it all makes more sense that way.
Isabel Allende, one of my favorite authors, lost her 29-year-old daughter due to medical negligence in a hospital in Madrid. Her daughter had been in a coma, but it was not the coma that killed her. It was a brief power failure that caused a lapse in her daughter’s oxygen, leaving her brain-dead. However, the hospital did not inform Allende of this, and it was only after she wrote a memoir about her daughter (no doubt, to provide some kind of closure for herself), that she received a letter from a guilt-ridden nurse in Madrid (who read the memoir) informing her of the error and the power outage.
This illustrates, to me, the brutal nature of love and life. I think about the almost lethal ache for “closure” or “one last chance” that Allende must feel in this circumstance. In contrast, it illustrates to me how silly it is to call for “closure” when we have been wronged by some jerk that we unfortunately dated. We think it will make us feel better, but it never will. It only prolongs the inevitable. Closure is a fabrication. It is what we cling to when we don’t want to face the pain of real loss.
To all the women out there seeking closure where you were rejected, I say this: stop. You are loved in many other ways and places. Closure will only bring you down over and over again for as long as you seek it. To soothe your itch for resolution, consider writing it all down (your story). This will provide more closure than any conversation ever will.