When things end differently than we expect, especially when we’ve invested a lot, it can be really hard to move past the outcome. The phrase most often heard to describe this is “needing closure”. In some situations I believe closure can be achieved, in others not so much. Hanging on to getting it in these situations can put your whole life on hold. And you deserve better than that, don’t you think? I think you do 🙂
I’ve recently extricated myself out of a really bad relationship that I’ve been hanging onto for about 1 year. It was one of those situations where you keep thinking it will get better because it is “not so hard to fix”. You believe that he will move beyond making promises and finally take action. You think the meanness will stop. I began to hold on to the few moments of happiness in between the pain thinking that the 10% could become 90% if we talked enough. You start asking yourself what you’re doing to cause it or if you’re imagining things because it seems so unreal. I’ve never done such mental gymnastics to be in a relationship in all my life.
He claimed he was here for me, but sabotaged every important moment in my life. He badmouthed me to his family to the point that they hated me and then invited me to drive 6 hrs. to spend Thanksgiving with them. He caused drama in an attempt to come between my best friend. Then, he’d buy me expensive”I’m sorry” gifts as if that should make it all better. He’d tell me how much he wanted to spend his life with me, but could never manage to get past his selfishness to actually include someone else. As he often reminded me – “I just don’t think about you when you’re not around”. Nice. So, yeah he was here for me, but not in any way that you’d want to have someone around.
I just couldn’t understand how someone could be so consistently hurtful. It is, after all, so easy to be nice and kind. The benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. Particularly if you really want to spend your life with someone. I took so much crap from this man. I didn’t like who I was around him. He put on a good show in front of friends and family, but in private, I rarely smiled, cried a lot, didn’t want to be intimate with him in any way. I was completely unclear why I stayed or invited him back again and again. Somehow he would always find a way back and it would always be worse the next time.
Finally he had done something so horrible to me while I was heavily medicated and sleeping, that I was done with giving out chances. But my mind still wanted answers for how someone could behave in such horrific ways. Why, why, why?
So, I wanted to share some thoughts with you that have been helping me move forward even though I have not gotten any answers or asked him to make sense of it for me.
First Lesson: Who Cares?
If a person cares about you they would never disrespect and humiliate you – EVER. If they do and you tell them and they don’t do better or feel remorse, this is a reflection of their shitty character. It is not a judgement of who you are. People who care take care of you especially when you’re weak.
Second Lesson: Invest Wisely
Sometimes we invest so heavily in someone that we feel we are owed a return on investment. But in fact, it is a lot like the stock market, there is NO guarantee. Also, there are some “stocks”, like men, that are simply better performers. They have shown what they’re made of over time. If I had taken his “portfolio” to heart, I’d have walked away from a man who was a serial cheater during his entire marriage, who blamed his ex-wife for his unhappiness, and also bad-mouthed her to his family while never revealing his misdeeds at any time. After all he started to do the same things to me. Every time we’d have a fight he was out on the online dating websites trolling for new women to stroke his ego, he’d bad mouth me to his family, and told me that if he ever killed himself, it would be my fault because I make him so unhappy. Yeah. Sometimes, you have to cut your losses ladies and admit that you put your trust, time and energy in an undeserving man. Just walk away and learn something that will make you invest more wisely next time.
Third Lesson: Where’s the Apology…the Explanation?
Waiting for the apology that never comes can be infuriating. It is kind of a waste how much faith and belief I put into a man who has shown no integrity in his thoughts or deeds. Even though he’s let you down more times than you have fingers and toes to count on, you hold out hope that he will care enough about you to suddenly realize how “worth it” you are and rush in like a knight to prevent losing you. I assure you that you ARE worth it. He just is lacking the integrity present in decent human beings. Think of yourself like a placeholder more than a significant person to him and it will make a lot more sense. Anyone who stands in that spot gets that treatment. Trust me, I wanted an explanation for his despicable behavior towards me. An account of how he could bring himself to commit a crime against me. An apology. I didn’t get any of that. Not for days after. Not now. Nothing except complete denial as he walked out and slammed the door at me crying in a heap on the floor. Used and discarded like trash. Good men just don’t do this. Period.
It takes time to get past all this sludge because we want our hurt, our experience to matter to the one who does the hurting. We want them to feel bad about making us feel bad. We want them to make good on their promises. It is normal and healthy for people to interact in a caring way about people they care about and most people are decent. For example, I hurt you. I apologize sincerely. I don’t do it again. You accept. We move on stronger and deeper. But some people really don’t give a shit about you or your needs or the fact that you are a person with feelings, let alone that you were in a relationship with them.
The thing is that the longer we hold on to our desire for “admission of wrongdoing” from the one who hurt us, the longer they are left in charge of our personal power. And nobody should have access to that wheel except you should they? No. They shouldn’t. So, let’s just take that back, shall we?
What we really want is to just feel better. We want all the yuckiness to clear out so that we can feel good again. It is more of an internal/emotional shift that we are looking for from another person.
Luckily that is a gift we can give ourselves, much like forgiveness. We have to do it all the time really when you think about it. We know that the rest of the world, our coworkers, strangers, etc are not responsible for our feelings, right? So, if we apply that to relationship “closure” we don’t really need the other person to help us move on do we? No. We don’t 🙂
I would say instead of trying to deny it or drink, drug, or shop your way out of it……
Do this instead:
- Just acknowledge that something sucky happened. Don’t pretend you’re not hurt just so you look all “together”. That’s just gonna mess you up for interacting with other humans. It doesn’t mean your weak, it means you’re human.
- Get real about the feelings you have – name them. Are you sad, hurt, humiliated, betrayed, violated*. You get to decide what’s important and significant to you. Nobody else can tell you what’s real for you or how bad it hurts. Don’t compare yourself to others.
- Resist the need for outside approval. You don’t need others to validate your feelings. Learn to accept and acknowledge your own state of being and consider it valuable. This way you can trust what you want and need for yourself. Use your own voice!
- Learn something as you process this life moment. It will help you make different decisions next time. Nobody’s perfect or has all the answers and that’s ok because we’re designed that way.
- Finally, give yourself the gift of closure by honoring yourself, remembering you are awesome, and that sometimes other people really suck and that’s not got a darn thing to do with you.
-with love from aneternaltraveler 😉
*If you feel that a crime has been committed against you, I would add to the list that you consider contacting authorities and taking appropriate legal action.