Closing the Door on Closure
This is one hits me right in the heart.
Even writing the title, I can feel a part of myself tensing up.
Over the weekend, I was watching a segment of Oprah’s “Super Soul Sunday” with Brené Brown. I have read, watched, and listened to so many Brené pieces that I genuinely didn’t think she was going to say anything that surprised me.
That’s when she said casually,
“In order for forgiveness to happen, something has to die.”
I remember reading that line in “Rising Strong,” her book from 2015, but it didn’t resonate with me then the way it does now. Maybe that’s because at the time, I was in the trenches, picking up the shattered pieces of my broken heart after I had self-sabotaged and thrown a wrench into my beautiful life.
I was so privy to pain, even if it was of my own making, that I didn’t stop to think about forgiveness, closure, and letting go. I always thought that I would be in control of the closure. Making amends, talking it through, or getting back together eventually.
This past Sunday, that line hit me right in the gut.
What has to die?
She continued to expand on the notion that we need to go through the stages of grief in order to truly experience forgiveness or closure.
That’s when I remembered this painfully accurate quote, pictured above:
“Closure happens right after you accept that letting go and moving on is more important than projecting a fantasy of how the relationship could have been.” -Sylvester McNutt III
In order to truly experience closure, we need to truly and internally allow the idea of “what could have been” to die.
This also reminds me of something I heard in early sobriety:
“You can’t be in love with someone’s potential.”
Which means we need to grieve.
And this seldom is a graceful process.
Denial, bargaining, depression, anger, acceptance.
I don’t know about you, but I tend to bounce back and forth through the first 4 stages before finally landing on acceptance. Surrendering to the pain, surrendering to the grief, and accepting the reality of the situation as it currently is.
When I stay angry, I inhibit myself from flowing through the stages of grief. I harbor my resentment about the way a relationship or situation “should” have been, and construct barriers to landing in that sweet (but painful) spot of acceptance.
Thus, forgiveness and closure go hand-in-hand.
I need to forgive myself, the other person, the situation, the reality that I refused to accept for the longest time, the opinions of others, the unsolicited advice, the gossip, the rumors, the way that everything turned out.
I need to stop telling myself that I’ll experience closure after a conversation or an agreement. That I’ll one day wake up and say to myself, “wow, time really does heal all wounds!”
As stated in the linked article above, time doesn’t do anything but pass unless we’re willing to do the difficult work of leaning into the pain and feeling it. Dealing with it. Healing from it.
I need to grieve the life I was planning.
I need to grieve the naïve but hopeful romantic in me, who never knew the pain of heartache.
I need to grieve the family I acquired from my significant others.
I need to grieve the part of myself that still held onto the delusional notion that I was in control of the way my life ends up.
I need to forgive myself for that which I did not know at the time.
I need to forgive myself for consistently doing the best I could with what I had.
I need to forgive those throughout my life who held parts of my heart, and who have chosen not to hold them anymore.
I need to forgive the critics, the gossipers, the bystanders.
I need to grieve the idea of who and where I wanted to be,
And I need to forgive the real me.
And when I close the door on closure,
I open the door to myself.