Is Closure Overrated?
What is closure?
- The idea of acceptance and being at peace about things that have happened—often injustice or loss.
- An ending of a chapter of life—finality and letting go as one transitions to a new phase.
- An answer—typically often to why? for the purpose of letting-go and bringing clarity out of confusion and vagueness.
- Knowing why something has ended and having moved through to a place where you no longer feel emotional attachment or pain.
Closure is important. That being said, there are some things for which there is not closure. Some grief and loss is too great. It doesn’t matter how important closure is if the loss is beyond closure—it may not exist. The good news is that closure is not a requirement for Acceptance.
Whether closure exists for you is personal, though I think Left Behind Spouses are a group for whom closure is possible—it exists for most of you. What’s overrated and unfair is expecting others to give it to you—regardless of whether they should or they owe it to you. It’s not an unfair expectation for a long-term relationship when the other person is not going through their own personal crisis of identity, but a person in midlife crisis may be acting mean, cruel and irresponsible, but the roots of those behaviors are about the crisis. Those behaviors are what they are presenting publicly as they avoid what is inside. One of the key components of midlife crisis is the urge to abandon. That urge can be likened to a monarch butterflies urge to migrate. The monarch doesn’t know why, they only know they must.
Is closure important enough that you should then go and find or create your own closure? I want to help you figure out how to create and give yourself closure. I’d like you to be able to do this for yourself even if you are fortunate enough to have an MLCer who is not running from offering you some sense of closure. I think it would be irresponsible and cruel if all I did was tell you to create your own closure and then leave you to it. Something has and is being done to you, not by you. Being left to find closure without direction is just a continuation of the feeling of having no control. What you need are actionable ways to find and create what you need.
Why is Closure So Important?
Why do humans feel the need for closure? Without it you have an open loop in your life story. We don’t like loose ends and open loops; we like resolutions with enough answers and clarity so that we can avoid the same problems in the future or recognize and learnt to resolve them if we begin to repeat history. I get it. For me, I got my answers by gaining an understanding of midlife crisis and the psychology of infidelity. But that was what worked for me, what works for you might be different.
We have a need for understanding, it can help make sense of life and avoid what has not worked while embracing what has worked. But when we must create that understanding for ourselves, we pull from all areas which may be overwhelming and confusing. Without external closure we may try to fill in the reasons on our own and often we point the blame at ourselves.
What may exacerbate your own feelings of guilt and blame is that your MLCer may have given you an answer, but it’s not the answer you want. It’s not complete enough or it doesn’t make sense or it’s not accurate. Maybe it’s not fair because their reason was something you could have fixed had you known. Or, like your own answers to yourself, their answer is all about how everything that went wrong was your fault.
Without closure there is a giant hole in your life story and you don’t know what to do with it. Missing is the why and the how and if you can’t answer why or how, you may wonder whether something is wrong or missing with the previous parts of your story as well. Suddenly your life is full of doubt. If you were so bad at not understanding what was going on in your past, then how are you going to figure these things out in time for the future?
When what has happened was out of your control—happened to you—this sort of thinking can lead you down a dark hole; it does not serve you. Of course, your marriage wasn’t perfect and you own your contributions—positive and negative, but were your imperfections worthy of destroying your marriage? If they were not, then it’s not about you even though it is being done to you. Unfair, I know.
Repair or Closure?
Are you afraid of or avoiding closure because what you really want is repair?
For some of you, repair is a requirement. You are refusing to accept, create or find any sense of peace or even acceptance until your MLCer pulls their head out of their…you know… and returns home. Most who feel this way are in the early stages after Bomb Drop and you will get through this level of attachment. Now please let me be clear, when I talk about finding or creating closure or peace and Acceptance, I am not saying that you must then agree with ending your marriage, or perhaps disagree with how it happened, but now come to a place of agreeing and ending your Stand. Standing is a personal choice, but being a Stander will not ever a guarantee of reconciliation.
Closure doesn’t mean you are giving up or giving in; it doesn’t mean the chance for reconciliation is gone. It can help you come to a place of peace and Acceptance which bring you to a place of feeling stronger emotionally. It is not the same as forgiveness, but some of the benefits overlap. Both closure and forgiveness can be about not longer holding anger and resentment; they are instead about letting-go of the negative energy and need to feel angry or justified.
When you are fearing closure because of what you feel it might mean, you are holding yourself back and you are not benefitting your Stand. When you’re relying on someone else to give you closure, you’re seeking external rescue. I want you to take back control, take back your power and take charge of your life! You absolutely must repair yourself in order to repair your marriage. That does not guarantee marital repair, but the personal repair and healing of you is a precursory requirement to a possible marital repair.
How do you do that?
Well, the first thing I have to say about that may be something you’ve heard before and are tired of hearing it. You need to work toward Detachment. I hated hearing that too. Maybe you fear it because you don’t understand it, maybe because your MLCer also fears it—and senses you detaching which feels like you are moving away and thus giving up. Detachment is the most important tool in your toolbox—whether you choose to Stand or not. I also feel that you need to come to a place of Acceptance; I personally feel Acceptance is more important than closure. This is where the Serenity Prayer comes in.
Birds of a Feather Syndrome
I understand that though healing is welcome, it may also be scary You may heal faster than your MLCer. You become stronger, more confident, empowered, self-assured… while they continue to sink and wallow. They then notice this and may become curious and interested, but they also sense the distance increasing as you advance further and further ahead in your journey.
The alienator actually told Chuck that he needed to choose her because I was already strong and would survive. I was also strong enough to not fear that distance and found her statement rather laughable. But in the beginning days when your pain and vulnerability is raw on the surface, that distance is frightening and you fear your own growth and healing. Sometimes you want to stay stuck so if your MLCer returns, he or she will be sure to find you. Birds of a feather syndrome is dangerous. Do not allow anyone to hold you back from your full potential and consider that when you do allow it, you are holding them back as well.
Closure does not have to mean an ending; it can simply be about an understanding and gift you give yourself. You may not learn why—other than the MLC psychology reasons. Your MLCer might not ever apologize to you. Sure, you are owed an apology, but that is not within you control. Focus on what you can control.