I was seeking closure within hours of the unexpected text my husband sent informing me that he was leaving. Feeling powerless at the lack of communication and information, I sat in front of the fire pit feeding photos, notes and letters into the hungry flames.
I hoped that the ritual would help me find acceptance that it was over.
But my pursuit for closure had only just begun.
Months before walking out on me, my husband ended a job. He gave them two weeks notice, had a sit-down meeting with the owners where he explained his reasons for leaving and he maintained open lines of communication so that business matters could be transferred smoothly.
I received none of that courtesy. And for the better part of a year, I fixated on that fact, convinced that I needed him to provide explanations and even excuses that would allow me to close the door on our marriage.
I became obsessed with understanding the “why” behind the marital explosion, certain in my belief that this was key to moving on. I played around with labels – narcissist, sociopath, addict – in a bid for understanding. But none of those designations brought peace.
I was frustrated. Furious, actually. I felt as though he had stolen my voice by sneaking out without contact and that he carried my chances for closure with him. It was the heartbreak that kept on giving.
Finally, I grew tired of the snipe hunt for closure as the legal proceedings wound down without any real answers or resolution and he continued to act as though our marriage had never happened.
And so I shifted my focus, putting my energy into me instead of funneling it into the black hole that he had become.
And the strangest thing happened.
I found peace.
And isn’t that what we really mean by closure?
Closure is an acceptance of what has happened, a sense of power over ones own well-being and a feeling of moving on.
And none of those require the participation of the other person.
You have everything you need to create your own closure. Here’s how –
Understand the Limitations of Explanations
It’s easy to get caught up in the belief that as soon as you receive an apology, you’ll be able to move on. Or that once you hear that you were the love of their lives, you can let go. Be honest with yourself. Is thereanythingthat they can say that will erase the pain? Are there any words powerful enough to bring everything to an emotionless close? The words you seek are the ones you need to hear, not the ones that they need to say. Once you accept the limitations of any explanations that your former spouse can give you, it’s easier to move on without them.
Find or Create Meaning
We naturally seek to find order and purpose in our surroundings. And so when something, such as divorce, is discordant, it causes pain and confusion. Look within the ruins of your marriage for some hidden gifts. Maybe you now have an opportunity to move back to the city that always felt like home. Perhaps you’re finally getting in touch with who you are. Or it could be that this rock-bottom is turning out to be an impressive foundation for a new and improved you. If nothing is immediately evident, create purpose in your post-divorce life. When something has meaning, it’s easier to accept the changes that had to place to get there.
Write the Letter You Want to Read
I know this sounds strange, but I promise it is one of the most powerful exercises you can do. Write a letter from your ex-partner to you, saying all of those things that you need to hear before you can move on. Don’t censor yourself, allow the words to flow and probably the tears too. And once it’s written, read the letter. And then read it again. Keep reading it until you believe the words within. After all, what you’re looking for is really just proof that you were loved, that you will be remembered and that you are worthy of love again. And you don’t need anybody else to tell you that.
Start Your Next Chapter
Life isn’t like a book; you can start the next chapter even while you’re still wrapping up the one before. Don’t fall into the trap of waiting to live until you’re healed. Invest your energy into your life and allow the healing to happen alongside. A big part of closure is releasing some of the pain from the past. And a great way to lessen pain is to focus on cultivating joy.
Don’t Obsess About Closure
Are you stalking your ex’s Facebook page in a quest to see them looking miserable? Are you endlessly dissecting the end of your marriage looking for explanations and reasons? Are you giving the detritus from your marriage more power than it deserves, destroying pictures and hiding trinkets? This obsession with finding closure will only serve to delay it. Closure comes from living in the present, not from being consumed by the past. If you’re struggling with this, try instituting boundaries – delete social media accounts, have a plan for distraction when your mind wanders into dangerous territory and redecorate your space to create a clean slate.
Don’t Take it Personally
I eventually realized that my own roadblock to finding closure was that I was taking my ex’s actions personally. He not only did these things, but I was convinced he did them to me. Because of me. Over time, I started to understand that I was just collateral damage in his own battles, not a target to be obliterated. And that was a powerful realization. When it’s no longer about you, it’s much easier to let go and to move on.
You have the power to flip the sign on the past to “closed” as you step powerfully into your new life.
And on the other side, here are three times where you shouldn’t seek closure.