Hooked on forgiveness. Released by closure.

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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Make space for your future

Sometimes when we are the cusp of a big life transformation, the universe gets very noisy if I stop listening.  Last night at two in the morning, a loud voice was screaming in my head that I had to clear out all that heavy emotions that are holding me down. And the next step of that process was to purge out my closet.

I realized that I store memories in my clothing. Clothing that looks exquisite and rocks my body needs to get OUT of my closet if reminds me of a person or a moment that hurts my feelings. I spend three hours removing half of my clothes from my wardrobe.

I also was holding on to clothing that was past its prime because it contained positive feelings. Some of the items were worn out, tattered. Others just did not flatter my body.  I’ve been wearing my teenage daughters’ clothes because she’s in Argentina for the year and I miss her. But they do not look good on me. I can find other ways to keep her close, like a bracelet of hers, than a shirt from Forever 21.

Compliments also can weigh me down.  There are lots clothes out there that somebody thinks I look good in but don’t serve me.  This statement also holds true for jobs, friendships, ways of speaking to others, and just about everything that matters.

So, questions to remember the next time I clean out a closet (or need to let go of anything in my life big or small)

  1. Am I holding onto things that hurt my feelings and pull me down? Does this have a negative memory attached to it that I don’t want have to ever think about again?
  2. Am I clutching to past memories of joy—even when they no longer me going forward?
  3. Am I holding onto this because others think I “should”

Happy winterizing of your closets. And for those of you feeling that twinge of a  feeling that change is coming, clear the space you need physically, mentally, and emotionally to prepare for what is coming. Even if we don’t know what it is yet.