A story – never written, nor read;
A promise – never made, nor kept;
A song – never tuned, nor sung;
Unsaid words, unaccepted truths,
The portrait that never came to life;
A sharp nib dipped in tears –
Just the impressions remain on the blank page…
In our lives, some people occupy a large space, and leave behind marks that are indelible. The relationship does not matter. It can be romantic, platonic, emotional, professional, or of any other kind. But, what happens when we are hurt by these people? How do we deal with a separation? We all get our hearts broken at some point in life. In moments of pain, the best thing we can do to ourselves is to leave the incident behind, and move ahead.
Nonetheless, it is the leaving behind part that’s most difficult, isn’t it? We feel the desperate need to close a chapter, and believe firmly that until we get the closure, we won’t have a solid reason to forgive, forget and move on with our lives. The need for closure in our minds does not entail a failed or broken relationship alone. It could be about small things about a person. Has it ever happened to you that an incident keeps bugging you, and you can neither confront the other person who occupies an important part in your life about it, nor erase it from your mind? Even smallest of things, like a joke, an advice, sympathy, a meaningless fight, etc. have the power to poke us.
Moving on with life after a relationship gone wrong is probably the hardest thing to do. A toxic relationship that has come to an end, a disturbing situation with someone you hold dear, a rejection without a reason – they all leave you devastated. Days and months of crying later, you may still find yourself lonely in the crowd. You cry a little while laughing. You never know when you might lose your temper. You walk around like a whole other person. There’s a tear that appears in the corner of your eyes as you sit in the bus.
The allure and illusion of closure
The idea of closure keeps us going on like this. The allure of closure inhibits us. We live with the illusion that closure lies in a confrontational conversation with that someone. You could be looking for an apology, or wait to apologize for what you did. You could be spending hours, days and years, replaying the conversation in your head that could be. You even live with the hope and delusion that you will come face to face while walking down the street, so you can see the person looking as miserable as you are.
You may never actually get what you’re hoping for.
In fact, you may never see the person again. Even if you do have that one big conversation, it may not answer all your questions. Even if it does answer all your questions, you may not get the truths. Even if it’s the truth, it may not be satisfactory. There is no right or wrong, no truth or lie. Don’t hope deep in your mind that just because you found something wrong, the other person did too. Chances are, that person you hold culprit thinks s/he is right. Chances are, whatever you say to explain yourself will make no difference. That leaves you to make peace. Even his acceptance will not change what you went through.
To see that the person has had no change of heart, no remorse, no forgivingness, will definitely leave you bitter. Is there any reason to flog a dead horse? On the other hand, your offender’s repentance and change may actually leave you more miserable, as you feel that you’re not with the person to witness the change, that someone else could do and experience what you couldn’t.
Before you pursue the truth, ask yourself if you are ready to know what the rift between you and someone you hold dear. How would it feel to know that he left you because he found love, respect and peace from someone else at a time when you treated him badly? How would it feel to find an old diary that documents all those times she thought you were lying, finally leading her to end everything? Would you be able to handle the idea that you’re the reason your relationship is so different today, especially at a time when you’re probably blaming yourself already? How would it feel to be blamed for something that you know was clearly not your fault? In a vulnerable condition, is it really a good idea to get your faults and mistakes pointed out?
Control your impulses.
During this phase, your desperate desire to seek closure and emotional conclusion can lead you to do things which you are likely to regret later. You will feel the strong desire to send a text, to call, to end up at their doorstep, to stalk, let yourself be hurt, wait outside their door, walk in the rain down the same street where she once held your hand, or eat alone at that rooftop restaurant where he took you on your first Valentine’s Day.
Before you become a desperate stalker in your pursuit for comfort in conclusion, stop. Accounting for wrong behavior, apology, explanation, admission of guilt – you may believe that owes you all this, or that you it all to them, but the other person may not. Fate may not. You’ll probably never get that apology, or the chance to explain your side of the story and clear the air. The misunderstanding will probably never go.
What if we don’t get closure?
Take a look at the world around you. The earth is still moving. Stars are still sparkling every night. The rains will come after the scorching summer. People are still getting along with their lives. Life moves on. The truth is, even from your own mind, the memories and the intensity of the pain are fading away. You probably want to hold on to the pain as a reminder that it was all real. However, think about it: you’re still here, whole, after everything. It’s time for you to take the first step, and let go of the idea of closure from someone else.
How do you snap the book shut and eliminate the urge to peek inside?
It’s like reading a bad book. If you don’t like it, you need to close it and throw it away. Give yourself your own closure. You can have your own ritual, like burn, throwing away old stuff, and cleaning the house to get rid of clutter as a symbol of decluttering your mind. Delete contacts. Write. Writing always helps. Be it your thoughts, or poems, a letter with your explanations or vitriol. Write a story with an ending that you would want.
Go and do the things you always wanted to do. Bring a change to your life. But be sure that your change is so not dramatic that you become a different person. Don’t let a person or a situation get to you so completely that when you look in the mirror, you don’t recognize yourself. A haircut is alright, but you need to rethink the tattoo. A tour might be helpful, but selling off your house might be a bit much. Life is all about changing, and learning lessons. It’s about facing tough situations and coming out stronger. But don’t change your principles, or become a cynical person, with your faith in love, friendship, etc. all gone.
When going gets too tough, then grieve. It is said that there are five stages of grieving. Being in denial is not unnatural. Take your time to deal with what has happened, instead of rushing past it, trying to ignore your feelings. But, once you start to feel the first wave of pain, anger is likely to follow. You’ll hate yourself, you’ll hate the other person. In fact, you’ll hate everyone around you. The couples who hold hands on the streets, Facebook photos of friends hanging out together – they will all remind you of your failure. Once the anger subsides, you’ll start bargaining, and keep wondering how you could have done things differently.
Soon, when depression swallows you whole, blaming yourself will be part of the process. Your mind might find closure by finding someone to blame, even if that someone is you. Or, it could really be you. You just have to accept it. Sometimes, it takes a lot of time to arrive at the stage where you can accept the reality – that you will not get closure from someone else.
Once you get over the phase of curling in a ball, the ‘me-time’ phase begins. It is actually a good idea for you to take time to spend with yourself. You’ll learn more about yourself, and enjoy your own company. You can read, listen to music, write diaries, pursue photograph, compose songs, interest yourself in higher studies. After that, you need to come out of your hiding and be with people, not to replace someone, but to enjoy the company of others and know how much some people love and need you. Cry. Don’t hold back your tears to shed at the right moment, when you hope to get comforted. Cry before your tears dry up inside you.
Your confirmation to get on with your life must come from within you, instead of expecting it from someone else who does not think s/he doesn’t owe it to you, and refusing to live. Sometimes, relationships end or change. People change. You have changed, and will change more. You have to learn to be ok with that. You have to pack it all up. Everyone has a baggage, and so do you. You have to learn to be ok with that, too. Once you’ll find closure from the idea of closure, it will be a lot easier for you to close the chapter, and begin a new one.
Image: Marc and Angel, Elite Daily