Forgiveness and closure. These two of our toughest challenges intertwined.
Not forgiving only hurts me. Forgiveness is self love. And it is one of the hardest acts to fully give ourselves over to doing.
It can feel worse when we have an awareness of the need to forgive, but still cannot let go.
But it’s hard to unhook. Pema Chodron calls it shenpa—when emotionally we are triggered and feel ourselves closing down. I envision a fish hook that has lured me in. The barb of the hook twists me around and around. The more I try, the worse I’m caught.
I am aware enough to see that I struggle. And then I get mad at myself that I can’t let go. It seems like others are so much better at forgiveness than me. I want to let things roll of my back. Look forward at the light. But when I spend my energy resisting a negative force, I feed it more. Such heaviness. Then I feel embarrassed and ashamed that I’m still hooked.
Closure is related to forgiveness. Yet it feels more tangible to me. I feel more agency with the idea of closure. I can take my power back. I can step away from a dysfunctional space where I’ve gotten lost in the abyss. The power is in the decision that I alone get to make.
Glennon Doyle Melton nails it when she said: “If you keep reaching back to a toxic relationship don’t pretend it’s ‘closure’ you want. Calling one more time is not a need for closure — it’s a need for one more fix — it’s a sign of drama addiction. Detox by moving forward, not back. You don’t ‘get’ closure. You decide: It’s closed.”
How do I know it is closed? That fish hook is gone. An interaction won’t leave me raw and bloody. The fear of further wounding is gone.
I can love someone. Be loved by someone. But that doesn’t mean that person should be in my life. As a friend and former coach of mine taught me, I yearn for loved ones who love me in a way that I can’t process as love. It doesn’t register. Even when they intend it.
When I finally believed that possibility recently, a deep sigh came from deep within me. A sigh that I’ve come to recognize as the way that I am allowing my body to relax. To let down my defenses. It lets me know that I’m ready for closure.
If I can see my wound as a disconnect rather than an intentional act, I might be able to access sorrow rather than rage. Maybe even lean toward compassion. I can choose to close the wound. No desire to retort, reengage, to wound back. Nothing to anticipate.
And maybe through closure I can lean into forgiveness. Because I know that forgiveness will set me free.
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