Closure is not an open book

Dear Danni,

I recently broke up with my boyfriend of nine months. It was sorta a mutual decision. We talked forever about it, but afterward, I still felt like I had stuff to say. I still do. He hates when I harp on old stuff, or things I’ve already said, and he doesn’t seem to have any unfinished business of his own. So, Danni, do I need to just get over it, or do I confront him with the things I still feel? I want to still have a good friendship with him, so I don’t want to scare him off or anything, but I feel like I still need closure.

What do you think?

Dear, “Case Closed,”

Closure is not a destination you suddenly arrive at along the road to relationship recovery. Rather, it is a journey, a process-something you have to build from scratch for yourself every day, starting when you wake up in the morning. Closure is established (not discovered) whenever you catch yourself starring at your missed calls list, hoping to see the familiar digits pop up, and remember that things are over between you and your significant other. Closure is established on a day-to-day, minute-to-minute basis by being self-aware and objective about the true nature of your separation.

Closure is not something to be gleaned from another person, but rather found from deep within.

I didn’t used to see things this way, mind you. I used to be that classic girl looking for feeble attempts of running into my ex, on the off chance that all the miscommunications, misconceptions and problems that spelled our initial doom would be laid out and suddenly made clear.

What you have to understand, and believe with utter conviction, is that when a relationship goes south, you can put your ex on trial, summon the jury and demand closing arguments. But in the end, no matter what you two have to say to one another, closure ultimately comes not from reconciling with your former love, but rather with yourself. Closure is a subjective ideal-everyone has a different notion of what it means, and so everyone needs to look at his/her own values and concerns in order to establish a satisfying result.

In other words, if closure is what you want, you need to make an internal decision that allows you (keyword: you) to heal and move on. It’s survival of the fittest in full swing.

In answering your question of whether or not to approach your ex with hopes of airing out all your unfinished laundry, my advice is this: Don’t. Unless there is something that your ex absolutely needs to know (“I’m pregnant!” “I have an STD!” “I’m a secret agent, your life is in danger!” etc.), drudging up the past-especially with someone notoriously not fond of doing so, like your ex-will do nobody any good. All it will do is drag out the drama and provide you with an artificial feeling of denouement. Remember, real closure comes from within, not from outside.

But don’t kid yourself-establishing closure is never easy. Closure is often characterized by that sharp pain in our sides that reminds us we have lost something of value.

It is perhaps slow to show itself at first, but in the end, the knowledge that something we once cared so much about no longer exists in our lives is what keeps us awake at night. It’s unavoidable, people long for what they can no longer have.

But, nobody deserves to live with these symptoms-it’s inhuman to tear yourself up over a separation that is over and done with.

Therefore, it is with deliberate effort that we consciously wish away these feelings of longing and regret in an attempt to fill our days with new faces, new projects and new corners to stash away all the unresolved junk.

All I can say is that closure is a dance perfected over time, my friend. Perhaps take comfort in the fact that every new beginning you establish is very possibly another someone’s ending-it’s a necessary cycle.

What makes me a little concerned in your case is the abundant use of the word ‘still.’ This says to me that there is still a desire on your part to rekindle the flames of the past. However, if your relationship ended amicably, as you said, then you need to respect your ex’s wish to move on.

Remember, he’s human too, so he’s undoubtedly dealing with the same issues as you, he’s just doing so internally.

You say he appears to not have any signs of unfinished business, but I beg to differ. To some extent, men are perhaps more apt at compartmentalizing their

emotions. On the other hand, no one is exempt from experiencing feelings of loss-it is impossible not to.

I must apologize to my loyal readers at this point for my deviance from my traditionally candid style of humor, but I feel that this is a delicate matter requiring serious attention. And so, it is with compassion that I prescribe a healthy class of Shiraz, a blank notebook in which to jot down your feelings and plenty of time.

“Lick your wounds and chalk it up to experience” as my Dad always says. Know that the only way to go from

here is up, so that’s good news.

Your ex is not the last man you are ever going to feel this way about, I promise.

[email protected]

This article was contributed to by Eryn Green