Letting Go Of A Relationship: 2 Steps to Finding Closure
Closure is something I have been spending a lot of time contemplating. I started seeing a therapist recently, and she asked me how I was going to spend this day. This day is not just any day for me. Today was a day I had planned on celebrating an anniversary with the person I felt I was going to be spending my life with.
I told my therapist I was going to get a great massage, connect to my body, feel whatever comes up, and just be really gentle with myself. She suggested I consider writing my ex a letter.
I have written this man many letters. Many, many, many letters. I have written him letters in complete despair. I have written him letters with hope for our future. I have written him letters in anger. I have written him letters in an attempt to express how his actions have affected my life. I have written him letters to apologize. I have written him letters to share everything I have learned about myself since we last spoke. Almost all of them I have deleted. Only one I sent. We are not communicating.
Letting go of a relationship is almost always messy.
But we get practice over time. We try to learn from our mistakes. In all of my other breakups I have made the mistake in believing that another person could give me closure. I sent my exes letters and hoped for some kind of mutual understanding so we could both heal and move on. I do believe it’s possible to have a healthy, mature breakup where both people respect and honor one another. Unfortunately, I have never had the privilege of fully experiencing it.
The thing is, I don’t actually need him to find closure. Closure doesn’t come from outside ourselves. Closure comes from acceptance, and acceptance is really, really, really hard when our minds don’t get it. I still don’t get why my relationship ended. But I have come to realize that it doesn’t matter why. Relationship coach Bryan Reeves went through a similarly shocking breakup right after mine, and his friend said this to him, “People don’t leave relationships because of their reasons. They leave because they choose to leave.”
Whenever my mind gets caught up in trying to understand what the hell happened to my life, I remind myself of the basic truth underneath all the psychoanalysis: he chose to leave. That is how my mind accepts it. My heart, on the other hand, doesn’t have it so easy. My heart mourns the loss of my best friend. It mourns the pain it endured in the lack of care and compassion. It mourns the sudden transformation from partner to complete stranger.
This process of breaking up is something most of us do unconsciously, and it creates far more suffering than is necessary. And then throughout the process we create more suffering for ourselves by holding on. Closure is about letting go, but it is a process. Closure comes from acceptance, but it’s not just about accepting it with your mind. It also requires you to embrace all of your feelings. It means you have to really pay attention to how you feel, be willing to be with it, and allow yourself to release it.
If you don’t do this very important step you will not find closure, and you will not truly let go of your relationship.
You will bury your pain, and it will resurface again in the future, possibly even sabotaging your next relationship.
In the beginning stages of grief this process can be overwhelming. I can hardly describe to you how painful it was that the first person I truly opened all of myself to abandoned me. It reopened deep wounds, but the thing is they are my wounds. I can’t blame him. He has every right to choose the experiences he wants in his life, and he has every right to stop choosing me.
But I don’t get to stop choosing myself.
That is the first step to letting go. You must put yourself first. I started making choices that were about what was best for me. Even though I was completely sick and tired of crying, I kept letting it all out because my body needed to release it. I did it because my soul told me I had no other choice. I did it for my future self and my future partner because we deserve to have an amazing relationship untainted from this trauma.
The second step to closure is empowerment. Every time my mind thought of my ex my stomach churned. It was the most intense anxiety I’ve ever experienced, and I realized I felt like I had no power. He left me, and I had no say. What I thought, how I felt, or what I wanted didn’t make a difference. So I felt helpless and hopeless.
It always comes back to the body. It’s speaking to you all the time. When I thought of him and felt into my body I felt weak and disempowered. Then I decided to shift my focus to myself. I asked myself, “Who is Michelle and what does she deserve?” I began to write affirmations about my life, the beautiful qualities I carry, and the partner I deserve to have. As I wrote, I felt into my body, and it felt light and happy.
We so desperately want our exes to give us closure because we’re used to them caring for us. My ex was my best friend, the person I would turn to for advice, support, and love. So being in pain and not being able to have him support me was really challenging, but deep within I knew that only I could heal myself through this journey.
You will let go of your relationship when you're ready to do the hard work of healing.
Healing is closure. Healing yourself, releasing the pain over and over and over again until there’s none left, doing things that bring you joy, releasing your ex, and choosing yourself will bring you closure. You don’t need anyone outside yourself to heal you. You just have to look within.