Closure: It’s the phone call, the slammed door, or the drink-in-the-face. It’s the ability to walk away from a relationship with a sense of finality. If we look to the fearless example of Miss Taylor Swift, closure is the moment we say with determination, “we are never, ever, ever getting back together.” Like, ever.

But off-screen (and off-radio), closure isn’t that easy. Ambling around amidst the pieces of a broken heart is uncomfortable, lonely, and definitely not material for a country song. What if I want to get back together, like, now? Or worse, what if it was one of those pseudo-relationships that never had a start day, and rather than ending with a dramatic finale moment, simply fizzled out?

In the past, I’ve made the terrible mistake of seeking closure in all the wrong places. With hands shaking, I’ve made that phone call, only to be left feeling more hurt and less dignified. I’ve slammed the car door in anger, and walked away with still more righteous indignation. I even got close to throwing a drink in someone’s face—but that backfired, too.

How do we move toward a quiet, solemn acceptance that what you imagined was love, wasn’t? How do you get real closure without losing your dignity? Here are a few ways I wish I’d tried:

Write A Letter And Send It … To Someone Else
Sitting down and hashing out every ugly detail of the relationship from start to finish can be incredibly therapeutic. But sending a six-page e-mail to your ex is unquestionably pathetic. Writing a blog post about it is even worse. Write or type it all out, then send it to someone who really loves you. Your best friend, your mother, a sister. Someone who will hear your heart and respond. You deserve that. If you do it this way, you’ll get all of the benefits with none of the regret.

Stop Listening To That Song
Whether it reminds you of the good old days, or invites you to wallow in pain—stop listening to it. Music has an uncanny way of seeping into our subconscious and letting our thoughts wander into dangerous territory. Melodies can trigger pain, and when it comes on the radio, it can feel like stepping on a land mine of memories good and bad. If it sends you spinning, it’s not worth playing on repeat.

Delete, Defriend, Defollow
You don’t need his number anymore. And if you have it—you’ll be tempted to use it. His Facebook, Instagram, Twitter handle and Linked-in account? Let them go. Consider them digital windows into his life. Although it’s interesting to peep in from time to time and see what he’s wearing, or if that look in his eye means he’s missing you, the reality is those pictures are making it harder for you to move on. Would you go to his house and peek in his actual window? Hopefully your answer is no—and hopefully it’s reason enough to leave the depression-inducing clicking behind.

Do Something New
You might find yourself with some extra time on your hands after the end of a relationship. Good! Fill it with something that you’ve been putting off for a while. Register for that race, join that yoga studio, or go grab a blank canvas and some paint. While you’re rediscovering your passions, you’ll meet new people and grow more confident in who you are. It’s inevitable. Having new memories that don’t include him will help you let go.

See A Professional
In all seriousness, the end of a relationship can cause deep, lasting grief. All the “steps” in the world might not give you the peace that you’ve been seeking—and that’s okay. If that’s the case, there is something beautiful in seeking out counsel, particularly that of a professional. There, you will be reminded and equipped with truth—that you are lovely, wonderfully made, and a child of God.

If I’ve found real closure, I can accept that we’re not going to get back together.

Like, ever.

Image via Wit + Delight

5 comments

  1. Thank you so much for this article. this could not have come at a better time for me! I’ve been struggling with closure and moving on for weeks now and this article was exactly what I needed to know, but what I couldn’t force myself to understand. Sometimes perspective from a different source makes all the difference! Thanks!

  2. Thanks you two! I think it’s something we’ve all been through. And marriage doesn’t always mean you’ve gained closure from every other relationship. Or so I’ve learned.

  3. Amazing writing and article Claire! Wish I had had this back in high school but now like Natalie (and you Claire) I can say I’m married and don’t have to deal with this! Yay!

    P.S. It is super fun following all of your publications and watching you follow your dreams. You go girl!

  4. Great article, Claire! I love the tip about writing a letter. Though I’ve been married for a year and a half, back before I met my husband I would always deal with a breakup by writing all of my angry, crazy or even relieved thoughts into my journal. Now I go back and read what I wrote and just am so thankful that I didn’t end up with any of those guys! Writing is so therapeutic, and a beautiful reminder of what we’ve been through if we reflect on it down the road.

    Great job!

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