Throughout our lives, we’ve all likely had a shared experience of having a certain person (or maybe a few) who have wronged us, cheated on us or betrayed our trust in ways that render us different people.
The very thought of that person’s name can conjure feelings of anger and bitterness, that leave us tense with frustration, as we seem unable to let go of the resentment we feel toward them.
The person that inflicted this hurt could be a former lover, friend or a family member. We’ll spend time wishing that they would disappear from the face of the earth, taking along all of our memories of them. You may wish that you could simply erase them entirely from your history. Since we can’t do that, unanswered questions tend to plague us.
Despite not wanting to take them back into our lives given the opportunity, it’s human nature to wonder and sometimes obsess about those unsolved questions. These questions haunt us, so much so that they compel us to search for closure.
Whether they left you without explanation, broke your heart, dumped you unfairly, betrayed you, used you or manipulated you, dammit, you want closure. It’s only fair! But what is closure, really? Is it a feeling of validation and completion? Is closure an apology? Is closure a conversation where the other person takes accountability for their wrong doings and expresses a sense of remorse? It is all of the above?
If your relationship was indeed good, and the person that you were with was truly great, I guarantee you, you wouldn’t feel like you need closure. In normal, healthy relationships, both people share in the responsibility of the demise of the relationship. The break-up is not sudden and out of the blue. Both partners have tried to make it work and compromised, often spending months, if not years, working on finding possible solutions to try to resolve the issues and save the relationship.
However, the relationship you were in wasn’t truly great, despite you possibly believing that it was. It must have lacked the essential component of communication, at least on their part, or you wouldn’t have been left blind-sided and feeling the need for closure.
Being left suddenly by someone who you cared deeply for can result in you feeling stuck, wanting answers and even vindication so that you can, hopefully, stop obsessing and move on. You may contemplate calling or texting the person. Some of your friends may tell you that contacting them is a great idea and others may tell you “absolutely not,” which leaves you even more confused about what you should do. All that you feel is that you need to do something, because feeling helpless and motionless is driving you crazy.
Before you pick up your cell phone and make that call or send that text, consider this first: Closure is many different things to different people.
Some people associate closure with having the “last word.” This type of unloading and final opportunity to “stick it to them” may seem tempting and may feel great in the moment, but it will only lead to more bitterness, and perhaps even regret, once you have calmed down and come to your senses.
Other people associate closure with getting answers and putting an end to their obsessive wondering of what went wrong. If the person left you and you don’t know why, what makes you think that they are going to change and tell you their reasons now?
If by some chance, you reach your ex and they do agree to meet with you and give you the “gift” of the closure conversation, do you really think they are going to tell you the truth? They genuinely may not even know why they left, or they may have left because they have fallen in love with someone else. Do you really need to know this? No, you do not! Whatever they tell you, my bet is, it won’t make you feel better and probably will only make you feel worse. It has the potential to just add to the many unanswered questions you already have spinning around in your head.
As a final burden to bear, at the end of the conversation, you will probably hear those dreaded words, “I really did love you.” This will only open up a whole new can of worms, adding to your confusion and pain and will beg the question, “If you loved me once, then why aren’t you willing to try to love me again?”.
Closure to some people is the desire to have a distinct beginning, middle and end. But life isn’t always as it is in the movies. The good guy doesn’t always get the girl and the hero sometimes doesn’t win.
Sometimes endings are messy and not clear. As much as we would like to make sense of our endings and neatly organize them into the file cabinet in our heads, we have to accept that not everyone in life plays by the same rules. Now might just be time to create that junk file in your mind.
I hear so many people say that they don’t want their ex back, but that they just want the closure of knowing he or she still misses them. They may want to hear that he or she feels like they may have made a mistake. This is like wanting to stay in touch with your kidnappers. Who cares if they still miss you? They hurt you, they abandoned you, they betrayed you. They left you without answers. Whether they miss you or not, or regret their decision or not, should not matter to you now.
“If they didn’t appreciate you, they didn’t deserve you.”
You don’t need them to miss you to feel better about yourself or confirm your sense of self-worth. Do you really want to give the opinion of a disordered person who lacked the integrity and the decency to give you closure that much power in your life? Remember this person, the person who you are seeking to ease your pain by missing you, was the source of your pain.
Someone who is capable of leaving you without a real heart to heart talk lacks empathy and is manipulative. Some people, most often those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Narcissistic traits, purposely leave relationships denying their partners the decency and respect of closure. Why? It boils down to one thing and one thing only: Control.
By not giving you warning, by blind-siding you or not giving you answers or the ability to call them out, they escape having to hear your protests. Dodging these protests allows them the gift of avoiding any accountability for wrong doings that they may have made in the relationship. Thus, they remain in total control. This tactic also prevents you from moving on because you are so consumed with what went wrong and the need to find closure. They absolutely realize this and take great satisfaction in knowing that you are suffering. Your misery is an excellent form of narcissistic supply. The more suffering, the greater the supply.
You will never receive that sincere apology that you are hoping for. They will never take any accountability for any of their actions that contributed to the demise of the relationship. If you do decide to pursue that closure conversation, they will be icy cold and void of emotion. They will delight in your pain. They will mistake your need for closure as proof of how wonderful they are. Their demeanor will be nice, but slightly condescending. They will probably say things like they “wish the best for you” or “never meant to hurt you” or they “hope you find someone who makes you happy.” They may even add “the break-up is as hard on them as it is on you.” Meanwhile, they are likely already in another relationship with all the benefits of having a new emotional air bag to comfort them.
Their words will not be genuine and will not be intended to make you feel better, ease your pain or offer any answers. Their responses are meant to trick you into believing that they are handling the break-up with the utmost maturity, so much so, that they are more concerned with your future happiness over anything else. That’s because it’s easy for them, since they have already moved on, and they expect you to do the same.
Instead of hoping for an apology that you will never get or answers that are not going to be truthful and don’t matter because they ultimately won’t change the outcome, it’s time to look for closure in all that was left unsaid.
Try to uncover and identify the answers that you are looking for in their silence. The answers are all there if you are willing to read between the lines. Seek the closure that you crave from observing the person’s actions instead of their words.
Remember, “when one door closes, another one opens, but we often look regretfully at the closed door, so we don’t see the one that opened for us.” Alexander Graham Bell
Bree Bonchay, LCSW, is a psychotherapist with over 18 years of experience working in the field of mental health and trauma recovery. She specializes in helping people recover from toxic relationships and shares her insights about Narcissistic Personality Disorder and psychopathy in her blog FreeFromToxic. Her articles have been featured in major online magazines and she has appeared on radio as a guest expert. She is also a dedicated advocate, educator, and facilitates survivor support groups and workshops.
Suffering from narcissistic abuse? Join Narcissistic Abuse & Toxic Relationship Recovery & Support Forum on Facebook by clicking the link.
Copyright © 2015 Bree Bonchay. All Rights Reserved