I’m the worst at getting over stuff. I take rumination to a such a level of exquisite self-torment that the process of letting go has been the central theme in my ventures into psychotherapy for a majority of my adult life. I joke with people that I never let go of anything that doesn’t have claw marks all over it. Most people nod knowingly, because I think a lot of us have the same tendencies. My stuff, though, I know it’s “sticky.”
My family upbringing takes the word “enmeshed” to another level. I absolutely hated it, not being able to breathe without others knowing every molecular movement, and being judged so harshly for it. It is the root of my self-consciousness, loathing, and this rumination that makes letting go of anything nearly impossible.
The people who leave my life do so only after having absolutely enough of my bullshit, flinging themselves from the sticky, emotional tar pit that is just the unfortunate way I have of existing. The people I must extricate from my life are also subject to the same, but I’m the one doing the flinging. I usually have to do this by hurling my rage, damage and absolute finality at them.
It was easier, I think, to accomplish this in a pre-internet world. With such ease of constant access, the ability for me to be “in touch” is only a text message or email away, and the scarier, more unhealthier “checking in” process is far easier with publicly available sources of information. It’s easy to get caught in the recollection of an experience or a time with someone, and forget the unpleasantness that forced them to fling themselves/be flung from my life. I tend to own more of the responsibility for a relationship breaking down than I should. I go over each failure I assign myself, wishing I could undo it, not only for myself, but for them too, as if the atonement could somehow come.
In the end, I find that there is no atoning, nor is it needed for most of the separations. Some things just run their course, and I need to learn to become okay with that. This rumination takes me out of the moment, and keeps me from truly experiencing the beautiful things that are happening right now. And it needs to stop.
So, I see closure now as a three-step process:
First, I have to arrive at the conclusion that whatever is happening with the individual in question just isn’t working anymore. The problems we experience have no workable solution. This isn’t a failure on anyone’s part, usually. It’s only acknowledging that conditions are no longer conducive for it to be worth trying.
Second, saying goodbye. This is the apex moment, when you lay it out on the line. Things are bad, and I can’t fix it or deal with it anymore. As much as I want it to be different, it’s just not, and it’s time to say goodbye. This is the painful part. The ripping off of an emotional bandaid, the recalculation of the role you play in someone’s life, the removal of yourself from each other’s days. Where chaos and conflict once lived, now there is only silence.
Finally, much time must pass. For longer than anyone tells you, sadness will remain, along with any unresolved emotions. I try to forgive the person, for things that they can’t control, for not ‘getting’ me, for the things that hurt me. And I forgive myself, for all the same. Forgiveness is not forgetting. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you get to start over with them. Forgiveness is not necessarily re-initiating contact. Most of the time, there’s no outward change. This growth comes from within, healing of scars that no one can see.
Letting go is the simple (but not easy) acknowledgement that there was a series of things that happened, and now they are over. The emotions are viewed in past tense. (Yes, I was really sad when that happened. Was sad, no longer sad.) But more importantly, letting go is proving to myself that I’m going to be okay after all.