The Closure Myth

***I’m gonna start this bad boy off with a disclaimer: This is my experience. This is what works for me. This is what I have learned. I will never need everyone to agree with me. I share my writing in hopes that people can find something for their journey in mine.***

Closure is a myth, but progress is not.” – Frank Ochbergs

A lot of people don’t agree with me on this one. That’s cool. Listen, there are many layers to what I’m about to get into here but the fact of the matter is, the closure that people typically search for is a myth. I say that because the closure we actually benefit from (much like everything else in the art of self-care and healing) is a personal choice.

You cannot wake up one day and decide you want to move on and, voila, you’re there. But you can choose to put in the work to get yourself there.

Many seem to be under the impression that closure is something that finds you for you to eventually experience and therefore recognize that you are ready to move on. It does not happen to you. You aren’t granted closure by another’s actions. You give yourself your moving on moments.

The reason this is so difficult to achieve is because most of the time, if we’re being perfectly honest with ourselves (which, hi, we should be), we don’t want to close that chapter. We keep ourselves hanging on the line because we are scared to let go. This leads us to confuse other emotions (typically anger or hatred) for closure. Being mad at someone is not closure. It can help aid you in the process of moving through the steps but it is never a final feeling because there is no final feeling.

I used to go to kickboxing classes and roundhouse a bag that I was imagining to be whatever or whomever I was battling the most at the time. It felt… okay? I would leave feeling good because I had gotten in a good workout but I never left feeling like I had problem solved because I hadn’t. That’s because closure doesn’t coincide with problem solving the way that we want it to. The problem is that we are in pain. The bigger problem is that there isn’t a complete and matter-of-fact resolve to our pain.

If the love of my life cheated on me, that would be a problem. The mathematical resolve would be to break up with them. So, why wouldn’t I feel better after doing so? Because I would still be dealing with the trauma of distrust and crossed boundaries as well as the inability to just shut off being in love with them.

There have been plenty of times I thought I had found closure from a relationship only to be smacked in the face unexpectedly by heartache by a randomly triggered memory. What does that mean? It means I still have work to do. It means I still have some emotions to sweat out. It means there are some sensitive connections that were buried for awhile but now deserve their time to be exhaled from my system. 

Wether you can look back on an ex fondly or full of fiery rage, you are still looking back on things. You are still pulling from your memories with them to shape your newer experiences. I think of that as a good thing though. 

It’s the same with any situation that typically requires closure: the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship, being let go from a job, etc. Anything that requires moving on should always stay a part of you in some capacity. If it was worth caring about at some point, then there are moments that shaped you and you do not need to close the door on those memories in order to move forward.

I’m not saying you should spend your entire life secretly in love with your ex and never try to move past them. I’m saying you have to provide the moving on for yourself. You can’t wait for some big talk with them or some grandiose “Aha!” moment. You can, however, allow yourself to feel. You can choose one night a week to stay home with your thoughts and just feel and deal. Feel and deal, baby. It sucks. But it works. 

While going through a tough break up, I took my one night a week for about a year. I did not execute this perfectly, but I was adamant about providing myself with a weekly emotional outlet. It definitely got easier as time went on. I would make plans for the following night so I had something to look forward to. That really helped. But my nights in were for feeling whatever was building up. It wasn’t like I would force feelings or watch sad movies to make myself cry. I just wouldn’t distract myself with friends or activities. I would clean my apartment and acknowledge that it used to be our apartment. I would play with my cats and acknowledge that they used to be our cats. I would sit on what used to be our couch after cooking on what used to be our stove. No matter how much I redecorated that place, it was still always going to be our place. And, as a person who was rarely home, giving myself one night a week to experience my loss was necessary to grieve my best friend not being in my life anymore. 

Now, this isn’t to say I wasn’t sad and conflicted the six other days of each week, but it was a lot easier to focus on work, or rehearsals, or celebrating a friends birthday when I had been able to cry things out distraction free the night before. When you let yourself become a human pressure cooker, you’re eventually going to explode. If you allow yourself some type of controlled release, those explosions begin to happen less frequently.

Another extremely important tool for achieving the mythical unicorn that is closure, is *drumroll* JOURNALING. You know I love my journals. Journaling about the positive aspects of a turbulent breakup (i.e. your growth, your self discoveries, finally finishing that TV show he hated, etc) can be truly empowering and lead to self confidence, personal achievements, and some stellar new habits. 

I’m not saying I did everything right. I’m saying this helped me. A lot. Closure was never going to just happen for me. It still hasn’t. I just never realized that that was okay until now. I’m still going through discoveries. I am still not ready to let go of my independence or fall in love again. I’m not done being just Emily yet.

To further backup my point of closure being a myth, I will now end this blog post abruptly with no real final thought.

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