This is one of the most important lessons I’ve learnt about people and relationships and for it, I owe a big debt of gratitude to E Vestigio. She said,
Closure is your own problem. Nobody, whoever they are, wherever they are, no matter what they mean to you is obliged to give you closure. And it is the most important thing for you to take care of it. You have to figure out how to achieve closure, all by yourself.
Indeed. It sounded hopeless when I first heard it. A good year or so later, I find it is quite the opposite. How much power and indeed, hope, there is in knowing that you are wholly, truly in control of what happens to you! It is probably the only thing in a relationship that you are independently, solely, completely in control of.
It’s been about ten days since my last break-up. My record shows that I usually turn woefully miserable after parting ways. Goodbye isn’t a word I’ve ever, ever, ever learnt to like. The long, serious relationships and the weekend flings alike, were all met by my agonized, twisted-with-pain self.
Not this time though. It wasn’t because he was nicer than the others. Indeed not, a person who lies about the fact that he is already with someone else (or rather conveniently neglects to mention it) is not nice. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that I asked him out. It was the most empowering thing I’ve done after 25. There has been a sense that I was the driver, the director and it was up to me to fold up the stage, cut my losses and walk away.
It may also have to do with the way I took the end. After he (reluctantly) admitted to his relationship status, I followed my usual pattern and went right into a shell. This time I had the luxury of running away to another city and offline as well where I wouldn’t have to see him or any reminders of his existance. But come Monday, I knew I would have to face up to the awful fact of another Goodbye.
A little earlier this month, I recognized a pattern in my sleeptimes. I often have trouble falling asleep, such is my restless, high-strung nature. And in those long hours after I give up trying to fall asleep, I end up brooding over and over on the worst memories I have. They’re all break-ups and they’re always variations of the way I wish things had happened. They’re always scripts of all that I wish I had been able to say and didn’t. I realized that my lack of expression had translated to lack of closure, which in turn was fitting well into my lack of sleep.
Really now! Words, an excess of them and unexpressed, should never be a problem for me. I’m a writer, for heavenssake, an unabashed, uncontrollable expresser of thoughts. And so this time I did something different.
I talked to him. That’s putting it rather mildly. I decided to chuck being dignified and calm and adult and reasonable and cool and ladylike. I yelled, I screamed, I called him names, I hit where it would probably hurt (and I have no compulsion in saying that I hope it did!). And at the end of it….boy, do I feel good!!
They say chocolates simulate the production of the ‘happy hormones’ in women. I don’t know if hollering does the same for me. I’m inclined to think that all it does is clean out any bad thoughts before they have a chance to fester and become cynicism. I’ve really, honestly been feeling so normal in these past few days. There are the lows, of course, but those are in line with my regular moods.
I do believe I’ve found something that works for me!
Another incident that happened a few weeks back pertains to the ex-love-of-my-life/best-friend. Both my blogs have seen an excessive amount of expression, ranting, poetry, brooding lessons and melancholia on his account. That was one relationship that I thought I was never going to get closure from.
I received an email from him some time ago, announcing the birth of his first child. It was marked to a lot of people and I was on the list. My first instinct was to feel that tangible, very real cut inside my heart, with my breath choking up in my throat. Then on an impulse, I hit the ‘Reply’ button and typed.
Congratulations to the two of you! Remember I used to tell you that you should be the father of a daughter? I always said it would be divine justice for a guy like you to finally be in the same place as the fathers of so many women you know well. I hope the mother and baby are doing well.
And without reading it again, I hit ‘Send’. I don’t know why this should make me feel better but it does. In all these years, I’ve suffered inside my head, carrying the very heavy onus of being dignified, supressing my jealousy, my sarcasm and my hurt. He has never once responded with even kindness or warmth, choosing instead to be flippant even mean. Making a snide remark at such a time is probably not classy but I deserved to have my say and I’m glad I got it.
Earlier this week, I was reliving that experience with a friend and I found myself parotting out the attitude I’ve carried like a burden for over a decade..
He hurt me so much but much good also came from the fact that he was a part of my life. He was everything I ever wanted to be so my life after he left has been a pursuit of recreating all those things he stood for. If it hadn’t been for him, I would never have gotten this far. My career, my confidence, my writing, my fabulous life…all of that come from him.
My friend looked at me and said,
Everything you are is is you, Ramya. All that followed the break-up was your reaction to it. It’s all you.
It took awhile to accept but I realized he was right. I am finally ready, really ready to let go of my old fairytales, especially the ones where everyone has turned into monsters. I’m free, so, so free.
So that’s two instances of closure in the recent past. Both times, I created them, I made them happen. I’m not saying screaming or being nasty is the only way to closure. They were what I needed to do, to those people, in those situations.
I’m not going to ask to be judged or even judge myself. Life is too big, too magnificent, too incomprensible to carry the burden of other people’s actions as well as your own. I think it’s best to do what you will. Life is a grand, well-stocked kitchen and it’s up to you to figure out the receipes that work for you. I found one neat one that takes care of heartache and I’m putting it in a jar labelled ‘Closure’. 🙂
All my love and all the very best to you with your kitchens!
I think I’ve forgotten how to fall in love. When I was a kid, I took Judo lessons where they taught us to fall correctly so that we wouldn’t hurt ourselves. Tossing and throwing were a part of Judo and hence also being tossed and falling. I learnt to yank a guy forward and in a smooth maneuver lay him flat on the ground. I got used to finding the ground beneath my feet not there anymore and instinctively rolling over to flatten out into a soft landing. How come no one ever told us about falling in love safely? Yes, I am a cynic but we are what our experiences make us. It is a fact that I’ve never experienced love in any way other than dark, tearful, volatile and even violent. Each time you fall and collect bruises, each of those times makes you a little more scared to fall again. Maybe love should be like Judo. After all, I took lessons when I was 12 and had fallen often and collected my fair share of bumps and scratches. Unlearning the fear of falling was all about taking one tumble that didn’t hurt. Surprise. Relief. Clarity. And freedom from fear. It would be great to be shown how to fall in love in a way that guarantees there will be no hurt. Even if trust takes a while to come, if that one time can really happen, it will prove that such a love can happen, has already happened. But ah, we are faced with a curious problem now. Not only do I not know how to stop being afraid, I’m afraid I’ve forgotten how to fall in love. Age, experience and okay, let’s say it together, cynicism have brought in a certain burnt-outness. There isn’t the capacity for butterflies in the stomach anymore. It isn’t so much about pessimism, it is about having lost all those illusions that do make romance what it is. Is it possible to fall in love without romance? Or, even more fundamentally, can romance be separated from illusion? Where is the romance in knowing that the person sitting in front of you is as clueless and guarded, if not more, than you are? When the sparks fly and with them the thought that,
“It’s just hormones. And hormones are just chemicals. A chemical reaction, that’s all.”
…romance tends to fizzle out a bit. 30 has been about a lot of freedom. Freedom from social pressures, freedom from restrictions, freedom from inhibition. The not-knowing, the straining against the limits…all of those add to the heady tension that translates into the butterflies-in-stomach feeling. So freedom from uncertainty and limits means romance isn’t on my menu anymore. It seems like I’ve learnt how to fall in a way that I won’t break too much of my heart (oh just a little dent or two). But is it really falling in love if you don’t get in all the way?