What It's Like To Need Closure With Everyone Who Leaves You
There are a ton of things I do that aren't good for me: I choose men who are assh*les. I lock myself away from the world, sometimes for weeks at a time. But as sucky as those things are, they don't destroy me nearly half as much as my nagging need for closure does.
Closure. That pesky little thing we all want but don’t necessarily get, or even deserve. Every relationship or friendship I’ve ever been in that's ended has ended with me penning a sweetly-worded letter to the person I've chosen to say goodbye to.
The thing is, most of the time, the receiver of the letter doesn't ask for an ode to what we had, but I can never end things on bad terms. I can never just walk away from something I once embraced completely. I demand closure, even with the people I've grown to hate. Those well-wishes hardly do well for either one of us, but they're still better than silence.
My therapist will tell you my need for closure is deeply rooted in something beyond my control. "Fear of abandonment," she told me, "happens when one or both parents left your life early on in childhood. And it's dictating your relationships."
Yes, my parents are divorced. Yes, my father left when I was just a baby, and I guess it's affecting the way I handle my fall-outs with people.
See, a lot of us are trained to see things either in black or white. Guys -- well, at least the ones I’ve been with -- have no problem experiencing the world in shades of gray. Hell, I’d even go far enough to say they prefer shades of gray. Sure, their propensity for gray could reflect nothing more than my questionable taste when it comes to love, but there’s something to that gray area. Some people simply like keeping doors open and boundaries undefined.
Well, not me. I need boundaries. I need things defined; I'd always rather get rejected than be ghosted. Rejection hurts, but it's at least it's a form of closure.
Friends, the Ides of March are finally upon us, and I’ve already officially forced closure with three people this year. The first person was my ex, with whom I’d had a four-year, off-and-on, can’t-quit-each-other kind of relationship. After reading his diary and finding out more than I wanted to know, I realized it was time to cut him out of my life for good.
But how was I going to detox from someone I spent two years trying to quit? I needed to calculate the right kind of goodbye for a wrong kind of love.
And so I wrote this piece. Not for pity. Not for sympathy. And not because I secretly wanted him to find it one day. But because writing it was my way of closing the door forever on what we once worked so hard to create. It was about accepting a way out of something I slowly unfolded into. And it was my way of finding peace at night, because peace certainly wasn’t finding me.
Next up in line after my ex was one of my best friends. I didn't want to, but I had to "break up" with her. I could smell the end coming before it came. I wondered who would be the first to realize we were slowly drifting apart, but we both realized it at about the same time.
I was shell-shocked when she confessed she was just going to let us fizzle. How could she let us fizzle? We spent six months getting to know -- and I mean really getting to know -- each other's insides. The force holding us together was practically magnetic. And then the magnet lost its strength. But just because it got weaker doesn't mean the six months we spent learning from each other weren't worth it.
For me, closure is like a funeral. Why do we have funerals? To commemorate a loss. To recognize something important that happened -- something that played a role in shaping who we are -- and find a special place for it in our minds and in our hearts.
No, no one actually dies with closure, but there is a death to commemorate, and that's the death of a relationship. Finding closure is about letting go and making a thing of it so moving on feels even remotely possible. Because if there isn’t any closure, it never really feels like it’s over.
Words didn’t need to be said. Rarely in life does anything really need to be said. But that doesn't mean there are certain things we want to be said.
And so, I wrote my ex-BFF a letter. It said that I was sorry we're no longer a good fit, that I was grateful to her for teaching me things I didn't know, and that she would always be important to me.
A few weeks back, I ended things on my own terms with my f*ck buddy. I was all dramatic about it, too. And, OK, this past weekend I may or may not have slipped up by f*cking him one last time. (What can I say? I’m f*cking human).
But when I did say goodbye, I was letting him know that "goodbye" meant he no longer had the right to get to know me. It was the end of our pillow-talk era and the beginning of a f*ck-and-dash era. Hey, I'd rather it end on my terms than his. Because I sought out closure, I now have the upper hand.
Because how does it seem fair not to say goodbye to something meaningful in a way that’s equally meaningful to you? It doesn't matter if it wasn't meaningful to the other person. You know what's in your heart, so it only makes sense to share it.
So, there you have it. These are the confessions of a girl who forces closure. But there's a loophole. Chasing closure is like chasing the wind: Even when you think you’ve got it in the grip of your hands, you never really do. Because even once you’ve said everything that's been silently stirring in your head, there’s never a guarantee the person on the other end will respond in a way you want him to, or even hear what you say.
Half the battle of gaining closure is being honest; the other half is receiving honesty.
At the end of the day, though, I can say I did my part. I still lie awake at night thinking about those three people that once meant the world to me, but at least I don't have to lie awake wondering what would have happened had I said everything I was thinking.