How Powerful It Was When I Realized Closure Is A Myth Of The Ego

Terri Kozlowski
When you don't have closure, you suffer needlessly because you have the power within you to move forward without it. Here's how I did it.Photo by~Terri Kozlowski

I’m an eternal optimist. I believe things will always work out for the best, reconciliation will occur at some point, and responding with love will always be the right course of action. But when my mother died, I realized that reconciliation with her couldn’t happen. Furthermore, the closure I had been waiting patiently and hopefully for would not occur.

My egoic mind had been waiting over three decades for closure with my mother concerning why she allowed three men to take my innocence while she watched. I wanted to understand how getting drugs from these addicts so they could abuse me meant more to her than I did. I wanted to fathom why she blamed me for her divorce from my dad. But when she passed away in 2013, all the answers I was looking for died too.

Interestingly, I was suffering not because my mother passed as she and I hadn’t spoken in over six years, and I didn’t even know where she was living. I felt anguish because I wasn’t getting closure, which my egoic mind had been searching for.

Dictionaries describe closure as the “act of closing or the state of being closed; a bringing to an end, a conclusion.” In Gestalt psychology, it is the “tendency to create ordered and satisfying wholes.” ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

What Is Closure?

It's tough to let go of something or someone that was once essential to you. Closure is a framework for decision-making that tries to resolve ambiguity and confusion on a particular subject.

To end the unpleasant emotions that a loss has triggered, you look for closure by learning the reasons it occurred. By doing this, you’re creating a mental puzzle of what has transpired while analyzing how each piece fits into the bigger picture. When you’re confident that you’ve put together the jigsaw to your satisfaction, that you’ve found the solutions, it’s, therefore, possible to move on because you have closure.

The need for closure differs from person to person and seems to depend on the circumstance, along with personality traits and ideals. Some people want to prevent closure at any cost. This can be because of their desire to avoid experiencing guilt, shame, rejection, or criticism from others. While being vague has its benefits, once you know exactly what happened, you open yourself up to criticism from both yourself and others.

People who seek order and predictability suffer when they can't discover the solutions that will allow them to go on, since they have a more rigid way of thinking and a poor tolerance for ambiguity. More flexible people who are at ease with uncertainty are better able to handle situations where closure cannot be reached.

Closure is just as delusive-it is the false hope that we can deaden our living grief. ~ Stephen Grosz

Are You Holding On Or Healing?

The fundamental objective of seeking closure is to find resolutions to unresolved issues, but is the hassle worthwhile, or is it wiser to leave things alone and go on? Is your desire for resolution preventing you from healing?

Trying to get someone to give you closure might be risky because:

· It can turn into a crutch that prevents you from taking action to pivot in a new direction.

· You're requesting information from someone who initially misled you; if they had been honest with you, you wouldn't require closure.

· You cannot rely on the other person's honesty.

· Or you feel the level of closure you get is insufficient and wonder how to get more.

This viewpoint questions the motivation underlying your need for closure. What happens when you've heard the other person out? Or they don't express what you need to hear or you find it difficult to accept it? Maybe you’re clinging to something you should let go of.

You need to allow yourself some time to feel the loss, try to understand what happened, and ultimately come to a realization and move on. Journaling enables you to consider your loss through a redemptive lens without placing blame and emphasizes the positives which help you achieve closure. Closure is ultimately a challenging cognitive process, and when it’s not possible to attain it, the key is learning to accept ambiguity.

Healing should be your top focus when something ends. But first, you need to deal with your emotions and accept what is.

Closure is an American lie used to justify revenge. Healing is getting used to the pain. ~ Tim Morrison

Ways To Overcome Closure

Not everyone finds a resolution. Fortunately, you have other options that can aid you as you accept a loss, deal with pain, and start moving on with your life. Finding closure on any level is a victory since the ultimate aim is serenity.

The greatest way to get closure is to get rid of anyone or anything that is impeding your happiness and concentrate on the people and things that make you happy. Is closure therefore crucial? I don’t think so. Maybe all you truly need to get closure is to let it go.

Closure denotes finality and letting go of the past. Finding a resolution entails fully accepting what has happened and respecting the change from what you completed to something new. Closure is the capacity to transcend imposed boundaries in search of alternative options. Here are four things that help me find closure with my mother.

1. Accept full accountability for your actions.

The decision to take the required steps to move forward is ultimately yours. Get quiet and have a conversation with your soul in which you ask and respond to these questions.

· Who or what are you clinging to? Why?

· Does holding on make you happy, or are you clinging to a situation because of how it was in the past or how you wish it had turned out?

· Are you using this search for closure as a justification to continue being stuck and unsatisfied? Or does concentrating on the past prevent you from advancing toward your future?

· Are you attempting to avoid facing loss and the void it causes?

· What does it truly mean if you're willing to let go? What must you accomplish?

· Do you worry about not knowing how things will turn out?

· What do you think will ultimately happen to you if you let go?

In the long term, it will be beneficial to be as honest as you can. Once you've made space for a better, more accurate knowledge of the circumstances, the anguish, hurt, fury, and disappointment will lessen.

If emotional pain or problems have cropped up in your life, you must insist on getting closure. Closure means you don’t carry the problem or the pain. You address the issue, then you slam shut the book and put it away. ~ Phil McGraw

2. Feel your loss.

Take your time and do this. It’s entirely up to each individual to determine the right time and method for them. Never listen to others who say "just get over it." However, anguish shouldn't last for a long time. That is simply being stuck and deeply ingrained in the past.

Making poor decisions later in life may be influenced by unfinished or protracted lamenting. For new, healthier relationships or opportunities to present themselves to you, you must be able to trust, be honest, and be your authentic self. Before moving forward, unfinished business needs to be resolved.

One of the best methods to let out emotions is to cry. Crying isn't a terrible thing because you're more likely to feel better afterward. Losing individuals in your life is hard, and trying to hide your emotions makes it even more difficult. When you're done crying, the release of the emotions is a relief.

Closure doesn’t really exist…. That’s why we’re always looking for it. ~ Maggie Shipstead

3. Writing a letter that doesn’t get sent.

You can express and release everything you need to by writing it out. You must convey your true feelings. By putting everything on paper, you are letting go of any negative energy, too. This will help your healing process.

I wrote my mother a letter after she passed. I let her know what caused my pain, that I forgave her, how I moved on, and how I felt about her. Here is my letter to my mother.

Dear Mom,

It’s been over forty years since you watched three men molest me so you could have drugs and then left my little sister and me alone for three days. Although it completely altered what I thought of the world and myself, it didn’t change who I authentically am. Yes, it was buried under the masks and armor I put on to protect me, but I was never broken. I was always whole.

Although there isn’t any justification for your behavior, I forgive you. I understand you could never see past your own pain to take care of me.

The journey you put me on, healing from the trauma you caused, allowed me to understand the questions we ask ourselves, have to change. When we’re hurting because of others’ actions, we wonder, “why me?” But it’s the wrong question. The why me question keeps us stuck in the past, in pain.

The better question to ask as we heal is now what. Now that this trauma has occurred, what do I do? Now, what do I allow to happen to me? Now, what do I want? Now, what can I do to take control of my life? Now, what do I do to retake my power?

See, when we ask a different question, how it allows us to move forward? Something you never did.

Now that you’ve passed, I know you’re no longer in pain, and that makes me happy.

I love you, Mom, and always have.

~ Terri

4. Accept what is.

Something has ended for a variety of reasons, with or without resolution. Even if it’s a hard pill to swallow, you need to face it head-on. You will bounce back because you are resilient. You might not be aware of the reason the situation didn't work out the way you wanted, but it will become clear in due course. The first stage of healing is acceptance, and after you've healed, you move on.

Transition is a process to help you move through change. You can ease through it with acceptance, or you can make it more difficult for yourself based on your attitude. If you fight it, it takes more time than necessary to move past it. But if you embrace the new situation, you can work through acceptance more easily.

Recognizing the pain rather than attempting to make it go away brings genuine comfort. Life-altering experiences change you, and they’re supposed to. Loss is to be accepted, not overcome. Grief is an experience that must be carried; you cannot solve it. Accepting what is allows you to look around, evaluate where you are, and decide where you want to go. Without acceptance, you can’t move forward with clarity.

Closure, for me, would mean accepting my circumstances rather than trying to alter them to serve me best. ~ Samra Habib

Moving Forward Without Closure

I didn’t get closure from my mother for what she did to me in my childhood. She didn’t tell me why it happened. But I probably wouldn’t have accepted any reason for her justification of her actions. However, I could own my part in not healing sooner as I waited for reconciliation. And when she passed, the letter I wrote helped me to recognize that I always had the power within me to move forward.

By sharing my story with you, I hope to inspire you to stay true to your values and forge your course while exercising patience and compassion for yourself. You will navigate through the loss in a way that is best for your heart and soul, and in your own time. There's no rush. Your love-and-loss tale does not have to end with closure or be cleaned up and put away. It only requires you to accept it and carry the lesson.

The aim is not closure. My desire for you is a gentler process for acceptance of what happened and integrating it into how you live today. Finding a resolution enables you to confidently and without regret go into the future. Understanding that you have gained something of value from each key person and event in your life, even if it didn't turn out the way you had expected.

Sometimes, the only way to get closure is by accepting that you’ll never get it. ~ John Mark Green

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Native American Terri Kozlowski has a BS in social science, certified life coach, blogger, author of "Raven Transcending Fear," & host of the Soul Solutions podcast. She specializes in empowering people to overcome their fears and limiting beliefs.

Woodstock, GA

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