" SpiritofSaltSpring:BC:Canada:GulfIslands:SaltSpring:Salt Spring:

October 13, 2011

Closure? No Such Thing But Inside of You

You don't really hear the word used all that much any more. It used to be that you couldn't turn around without someone spouting off emotionally about how they just needed closure. "I'm doing this because I really need closure," they'd say, referring to the belief that some process external to themselves or definitive interaction would give them the answers they are seeking, the peace they long for, and that they'd finally get to "the bottom of everything".

After enduring more than a few roller coaster rides of emotional chaos in my past, I can guarantee anyone in search of closure one absolute. Here it is. Are you listening? Repeat after me. The only person who can give you closure is yourself.
Now,  it's not that I'm saying there is no value in seeking answers or that healing can't be gained from interacting with an individual that you have unfinished business with, but as someone who has endured the suicide of a man I loved and launching a complaint against a "professional" counsellor, I'm not a big fan of the "I just need closure" sentiment any more. 

You need closure? Give yourself permission to grant it to yourself. Do whatever it takes, as long as it has nothing to do with self medication, addiction or violence in order to resolve the disappointment and ambiguous feelings, the disbelief, the shock, the anger, the fear and the grief. That's what therapy is for.

Sweat lodges. Marathon running. Silent meditation retreats. Yoga. Skydiving. Or, ideally, quiet and wondrous acceptance that life is short and every moment you spend embroiled in emotional chaos and pain is a moment that you're handing back to the past in lieu of the present and the future.

The last time I had the burning thought that I just couldn't move forward without some "closure" (and it was a burning and enduring thought at the time), I ended up in an arbitration that required lawyers, testimony, cross examination, the subpoena of my personal journals from 1993 and more soul searching than an astronomer on the verge of a Nobel prize discovery or a new solar system.

To be fair, it was a process that did bring closure and personal strength and the recognition that I had done everything I could to get an individual who in my heart I believed to be someone different than he must have been to explain how he could know better and do what he did. But, it also brought emotional exhaustion at that time and resignation, specifically as it pertains to men and love.

What it didn't do was give me any of the answers or the kind of face-to-face conversation I would have preferred to have with the individual I was seeking to get closure from. While I was seeking something more like what I imagine might happen in a restorative justice process, I got nothing of value except knowledge that my inner voice is the most important one; one that I most need to listen well to, hear and trust absolutely.

The reason this whole focus on closure for me has even surfaced is that the word, closure, has had a resurfacing of late. It has come up in interviews on radio and TV as the Missing Women Inquiry gets underway. It came up while being bombarded by the media circus around the 10th anniversary of 9/11. It comes up time and time again in listening to reports by victims of violence trying to find a way back from their anguish, to the life they used to know and will never know again in the same way. Think Air India.  And, painfully, it comes up every time a First Nations person looks at their shattered present and is stuck in the tragedy of their clouded childhood betrayals.

Closure. If some interaction has already happened, it's over. Give yourself the self-love you're seeking to create a better reality, anew.