Your message pops up soon after mine. It reads, ‘I’m proud of you’. We do this routinely. Me, going through the motions of a crush. You, watching me go through the motions of a crush. I’ve just come to the same conclusion I always come to, he’s literally just a guy, and I’m just a girl who needs therapy. It’s a painful little ritual I take us through. You’re kind enough not to complain about the predictable consequences of my own actions. You’re kind enough to come along for the ride even though we both know the seatbelts needed fixing years ago, and the machinery is being operated by an underpaid teenager in need of a break.
Closure is not an act I’ve ever managed to control. For as long as I’ve loved, it’s always been out of reach.
I’ve had so many conversations, read so many books, and watched so many movies where the main characters talk about catching up with an ex-something to reach closure.
‘It was good to talk some things through.’
‘I feel like I’ve finally closed a chapter.’
‘Seeing them again, I know for sure I’ve moved on.’
But what do you do when meeting up for a final goodbye isn’t an option? If they live away, or if you feel unsafe seeing them?
I don’t subscribe to the notion that meeting up again is a necessary step to reach closure. Sure, it can help – mainly as a reminder of who they are and what they’re like, in case your lonely mind is trying to play tricks on you – but it’s not crucial.
At its core, closure doesn’t depend on anyone other than yourself.
Sometimes, when it doesn’t seem to come naturally, we are compelled to fabricate closure by trying all the classic tricks of the trade.
The 10 commandments of closure
Everyone’s tips and tricks vary slightly. These are my 10 commandments.
- Don’t see them.
- Don’t text them.
- Don’t sleep with them.
(Obvious? Yes. Easy? Not always.)
- Honour your feelings. Sit and hold them close until they no longer cause you pain. Or at least until they’re manageable.
- Forgive. Forgive yourself. Forgive them. Forgive whoever else you need to.
- Practice self-care. Redistribute the efforts you’ve been spending trying to understand someone else, into trying to understand yourself.
- Practice sexual care. Adopt the mentality: anything they could do, I can do better. Before you try and tell me it’s not possible, troubleshoot it. Get creative. Start stretching.
- Seek serotonin elsewhere. Find new sources of happiness. Rediscover the hobbies you lost along the way, or try the things they got in the way of you doing.
- Buy yourself a nice suitcase. If you’re going to have to carry around some baggage indefinitely, you might as well do it in style.
- Enjoy the possibility of someone new. It’s fun, I promise.
As an extra little boost, my favourite trick is to announce my need for closure to my friends and close co-workers. This way I am both putting it out into the universe and creating an impeccable system of accountability. (If I’ve told my boss I’m getting over you, you best believe I’m getting over you by EOD).
I also like to make it a community effort. Statements of “I’m getting over them” turn into “we, as a collective, are getting over them” and “we, collectively, no longer think of them”. I can guarantee this strategy has worked for us in the past.
Something I often see online but don’t do personally is to program yourself to do certain tasks when you think of or miss someone. As fit as I imagine I’d be if I had started doing push-ups or going on runs every time I’ve been delusional or heartbroken, I can’t give the graveyard ghosts the satisfaction of being responsible for my glow-up. Also, I refuse to Pavlovian myself over anyone I’m actively trying to get over.
Like Mary Poppins, and this one lock I keep misplacing, when I want it the most, closure never comes easy to me. I think it’s because holding on to grief feels so natural. It’s so easy to slip into its skin and ponder all that once was and could’ve been. No matter how rickety, a home made from conjured memories is still a home, if you will it to be.
Over time, I’ve discovered that to reach closure I need to set it as a goal and then forget about it. Not stress too much over when and how it will happen, but trust that it just will. By the time it pops back into my mind, it’s an afterthought.
Today, closure feels like remembering an item I misplaced, with the realisation that I no longer need or miss it. My mind is my own again.
Stay sane, stay safe.
See you next month xx
UnSEXpected is a Glass column dedicated to the things we learn about sex and intimacy through conversations with friends. If you have any unique, funny or interesting stories you’d like to share, please get in touch! It’s the team’s goal to make this column a fun, safe and diverse space.