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Finding Closure

A Step by Step "How to" Guide

Would you like a step by step guide on how to find closure? 

That would be amazing if life worked that way... If you could just decide one day...

“Well I’m ready to feel some closure, I will immediately begin to feel closure now, thank you.”

Ever since I can remember, I have been the one with the plan. I am the one with 5 and 10 year goals with three alternates and a contingency plan for worst case scenarios. I think and pray about something before I do it and I listen to my gut for the right choice. I know what the right choice is by this sensation I actually feel, it’s like this clicking in sensation. Sort of like cogs in a machine. Which doesn’t really make sense, because cogs shouldn’t really click, but that’s still how I visualize it.

When I feel this sensation I immediately know, I’m making this decision. Some of the bigger decisions I’ve made in my life, have relied on this sensation. The decision to tell my parents about a person who hurt me when I was little, I felt it then. And I dreaded knowing that I was about to say something, I was 11, but the monument of what I had to say felt like it would burst out of me on its own. And it did.

When I was 18 and I decided to move Arizona. I felt that same strange feeling right before I made the decision. I put together a plan, I had a job waiting for me, and even though some things went very, very wrong, I had a contingency plan—and I left for Alaska.

I was in Alaska for less than 24 hours and I had lined up my next job. That choice led me to work for the Governor’s Office in Alaska, which was one of the greatest experiences I could have ever hoped for, and set me on a career path I am very proud of.

Then, when I was getting ready to get married, my gut told me not to do it. But I convinced myself, it was last minute jitters. And I convinced myself to ignore the urgent sensation I had, that I needed to run. But when I felt my gut telling me I needed to leave, stronger than I had ever felt before. The words forced their way up from my gut and clawed their way out of my mouth. I hadn't meant to say it, but my gut must have known. 

I did my best to be honest with myself and others about my feelings throughout the  but as the anxiety wore off and things began to seem like they would come to a close, I was still left with some conflicting emotions.

And as I always do when faced with something unexpected, especially feelings, my first reaction was to try and ignore them. But if I continued to do what I always have done, nothing would ever change. So instead, I decided that from now on I would learn to pay close attention to what I was feeling, and like everything else I do with my life, I started to analyze them...

What am I feeling?

The confusion was coming from these incredibly intense feelings of sadness and guilt I kept experiencing. I accepted that the divorce was imminent within four months of separation, when I realized that he must have been serious about getting divorced.

There is some irony there, I had told him I wanted a separation, but it did not have to end in divorce. When I left, I didn’t really believe it was over. I believed, deep down, that we would find a way to work through whatever was going on. However, it became clear that he would only seek marriage counselling, if I was living with him. I was feeling confused about things I experienced in the marriage and I believed distance was the only thing that would give me the perspective I needed. That distance quickly made it clear that we absolutely should not be together, I still sometimes felt sad about it though, and wondered if he would change his mind. Instead, he kept my belongings and my car from me as well as our savings account. I worked through all of this, I processed it, I grieved and I mourned, I sought therapy and I began to move on. Truly… Yet, I was still sometimes so sad for him, so then that leads me to the next question…

Why am I feeling sad and guilty when this was the right choice?

The answer dawned on me when I saw an article about a man who had been arrested in a 30 year old cold case murder, due to new DNA results and technology to analyze family trees.

Of course, that’s when it dawned on me, right?

It dawned on my when I read about this, NOT because I’m trying to compare my ex-husband to a murderer, God knows, he wasn’t all that nice to me, but I’m not that bitter.

No, instead, as I was reading that article about a man who probably did commit the murders…My heart hurt for him. I was thinking about how much anxiety he must have felt over 30 years of going un-found. I was wondering if he felt some sense of relief when he was arrested? And I realized something about myself in that moment.

I hate to see others hurting, regardless of who they are and regardless of whether or not their suffering is deserved, or even if I am just imagining what their suffering must be like. I feel bad for people who are out of their minds on drugs, screaming at me incoherently. I feel awful for people on death row. And I feel sad that I married someone who clearly had expectations of me that I did not live up to. I'm okay with that, but I still sometimes feel sad for him. And that is because...

I’m an empathetic person.

I am capable of caring about others' feelings, and honestly, I’m incapable of not caring. The only regrets I carry are the ones regarding hurting others.

As well as I seem to express myself, I’ve spent my whole life burying every negative feeling as far down as it could possibly go. However, whereas every choice I’ve made has helped me become stronger, better, smarter, advanced my career…

I never really learned how to deal with my feelings, which meant I also didn’t know that one of the most important things we seek as humans, but the hardest to find…

Is closure.

Months ago I had considered writing a letter about my feelings for my lawyer to give my ex when the time came for the transfer of property. I often think that others will be moved by my feelings, which has never proven to be true during a break up, so I don’t know where I picked that up from.

But, I genuinely thought it would help ME to share with my ex, how his easy dismissal of our relationship hurt me. However, it dawned on me….

If he didn’t care about my feelings when we were married, he obviously wouldn’t care during the final stage of the divorce.

The first four months of our separation I knew that if he contacted me to talk about working on our marriage, I would have accepted that. I felt that it was my responsibility. So even after a meeting at the bank ended with him scaring the shit out of me in front of the banker, and the banker having to intervene. Needing to block his number and inevitably telling the reception in the building I work in to be absolutely sure not to let anyone claiming to be my husband upstairs…

I still felt like I owed him something.

But, once it dawned on me that it was done. I went on a trip alone and began to go through all the stages of grief. I got wasted in Ireland and ugly cried in my hotel room hysterically drunk texting my best friend, my brother and someone I don’t remember who, about how awful it felt to realize…

I just wasn’t worth it to him.

I wasn’t worth effort or time and the one thing I asked him to let me do, that I thought would save our marriage, he said no to.

That part was incredibly painful. It is soul wrenching to realize that even though you are the one who is unhappy with the way things are, you still think you need to try and save what you have. And yet, you are so disposable to this other person who claimed to love you one day, but the next just seems to have completely turned it off.

Of course now, I realize, this is not love.

And I accepted that not only did he not love me, not really, when I got to the acceptance stage, I decided I didn't need to write a letter. I didn’t need to give him any opportunity to pop back up in my life. I just wanted all of it to be over.

I began to accept that there are things I will never know, I will never know if he was having an affair, I will never know why I wasn’t worth it, I will never know why I didn’t matter. And bottom line, I just wanted to be divorced, the process in Canada takes forever and I honestly have considered writing the legislature about their archaic laws (LOL). 

So the morning of the transfer, one year and three-ish months after we separated, I woke up feeling good. I knew we wouldn’t see each other, I was nervous, but prepared. He had thrown some last minute disruptions to the plan my way, but I had told my lawyer that I would just take care of the things he was hesitating on. I still felt sad, and in an odd way, bad for him, but I was allowing myself to feel that way. After all,

I am an empathetic person.

Yet, I was still seeking that SOMETHING that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I wondered if he would write me a letter, if he would try and say something to me, if he would have some last minute explanation for his cruel behavior. It makes sense to me now...

I was seeking closure...

Why wasn’t I good enough, why didn’t you love me, why didn’t you care about me, why did nothing about me ever matter to you.

So when I got to my lawyers office, and I heard her say the words,

“He left this letter…”

I thought I was going to throw up. My entire body started buzzing and my gut clenched, terrified, but curious.

I reached for the letter and glanced down.

And burst out laughing.

You see, he did not write me a letter. He wrote a letter to the bank. As if the court order was not good enough, and the form that he himself filled out for the bank… No, he insisted that I provide the bank this letter, that expressly forbade them from giving me anything more than what the court order stated….

As though I would forge a court order somehow, for goodness’ sake. It dawned on me then,

He only ever cared about money.

He didn’t care about me, he married me, because he saw someone who could contribute to his retirement goals and take care of his parents later in life. In the end, all it came down to for him, was money.

And that simple realization after all of the hurt, unkindness, sadness and worry was like a cool drink of water after being lost in the desert.

Because it wasn’t ever even about me, not really. 

I don’t feel sad anymore, I feel like I have closure. I feel ready for this part of my life to be over, and even though this was not on my life plan, I’ve readjusted. And I can honestly say, I’m changed for the better.

I’m more confident, I’m softer, I’m kinder, I’m a better listener,  I’ve learned to put others first in a way, I wasn’t capable of before, I know my own worth and I’ve moved past some very serious trauma in my life.

Throughout this process, he has continuously tried to tell me that I am doing things that are illegal, he has tried to tell the court that I have hidden assets in the US, he has tried to tell me what sort of bank accounts to set up, what sort of phone plan to have - all after we separated. And I would feel fear, fear that he was right. Fear that I would be in trouble, the hidden assets accusation terrified me. But of course I don't and he has the burden of proof.

And yet, I was still finding myself feeling SORRY for him.

But in that moment, when I looked at his letter, my instant reaction, was laughter. His one last attempt to control me failed. His attempt to send me on an errand I don't need to complete for him and am in no way obligated to do... was one last pathetic attempt to assert his dominance over me. And it did not work. 

I am not the same person I was last year. I am finally.

Myself.

So, here is what you have been waiting for. Your step by step guide to finding closure:

 Step 1. You don’t.

When you have found yourself and when you least expect it,

Closure finds you.  

And when she appears, she is gentle, kind and oh so sweet. Because until you complete your journey, closure is just a distant concept, far out of your reach and something no other person can give you. She will help you laugh in the face of all that once frightened you and you will move forward with your head high, and your dignity intact. 

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