“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” –Semisonic
During the first three months this year I had to deal with five different relationships in “closing” mode. I find that I need closure in a relationship when that relationship changes in a way I did not want and in a way I was not expecting. Usually these changes happen quickly and without much warning. Searching for closure in a relationship is a difficult and at times painful endeavor; the magnitude of the hurt is proportional to the degree of investment in the relationship. Basically if there is a sudden and unexpected change in a close relationship, it will hurt much more than if the relationship is just with an acquaintance. For me, the beginning of this year was very difficult because in all five relationships I was either highly involved or becoming highly involved.
One of the first big hurdles to finding closure is actually knowing that the relationship is changing. Only one of my five relationships had a definite end to it; in that one relationship the other person laid it out for me and told me that our relationship was changing. The other four relationships changes were much more subtle and from my perspective I did not see a need for them to change. I was left to “find out” that something was changing. As I said these changes were unexpected and unwanted. And since I was dealing with five different cases my reaction time to the change was much slower than it could have been.
It always takes time to find closure in a relationship and that time will vary. First thing that I did was blame myself for the change in the relationship. I went through every scenario and thought to myself, “Where did I screw up?” I thought about what I could have done differently and what I should have done differently. Though it is good to reflect on how I treated people, it was not healthy for me to replay situations over and over and over again. Over time I did find ways to reduce the amount time I took to find closure.
The best way to make the time go quicker was to have an open communication with the person. This is usually hard to do because communication is the first portion of a relationship to go when it changes. Of my five relationships, I was able to have open communication only with the one person that told me that the relationship was changing. The open communication allowed me to know what that person was thinking rather than to guess and blame myself for not doing the “right” thing at the “right” time. I am extremely grateful that communication was a possibility in that relationship. In the other four relationships I was not as fortunate to have open communication. The reason for that is I was unsure they were actually closing; I kept hoping that they were not closing or that the other parties would tell me something was changing. I did not want to initiate the conversation because I had the unhealthy conviction that if they had a problem with our relationship, they would say something. That conviction was unhealthy because I started to hold resentment towards those individuals because they changed our relationship without informing me. Since I refused to initiate conversation, I had to go about finding closure in another way.
Since I couldn’t bring myself to talk with any of them, the next most important thing for me to do was remain firm in my identity. This helped me when I would blame myself for the unwanted change. The countless hours I spent thinking about my five relationships and what I did wrong really wore on me. How I got out of the continual second-guessing was remembering who I am as a person. I needed to remember my identity. My friends and family really helped me out in this situation because they affirmed who I was. Also I was able to find my identity in Christ and that made my healing go faster as well. We all have worth well beyond a single relationship but it is hard to remember that when we are focused on one or two aspects of that relationship.
Once I remembered my worth, it was a bit easier to look at the situation from a more objective standpoint. I remembered that I was not the only one who had a role in these relationships. The line “it is not you, it is me” has always seemed hollow for me but it holds a lot of truth. Other people have their own priorities and if they don’t see you fitting into them, they won’t hang out with you. You cannot be friends with everyone (even if you want to be); that is still a hard lesson that I am struggling to learn. I thought I had built some solid relationships with five people but when their priorities changed our relationship changed with them. As much as I want to, I cannot control how others feel about me; my actions play a part in how they feel about me but they don’t ultimately control how they feel about me. All I can do is try to be the best person I can be to others. When I do something wrong, I hope people will have grace on me because I am not perfect and I make mistakes.
Getting closure in a relationship is never fun and often painful. It requires you to evaluate how you treat others and how you look at yourself. Ideally we would never hinge all our worth on our relationship with another individual. Sadly that happens quite frequently and when that relationship doesn’t work out, our self-worth suffers. The quicker we can get closure the better off we will be. Even though I don’t think I have complete closure in all of those relationships, I do know I learned so much through this closure process; it has made me a much better person and given me a more complete outlook on life.