Relationship closure: a story

August 4, 2016

closureDivorce is hard.

It just is.

There’s no way around it, either. To get out the other side we have to go through it. Period.

If you’re the person who has been left and especially if the leaving hasn’t been, well, the cleanest, it can be even more difficult.

We talk a lot today about “closure,” how elusive it can be and how we need it to move forward with our lives.

Well, you know I have a story about that, because, as you know, i had a marrying habit once upon a time. A baaad marrying habit. So I’m no stranger to divorce.  It’s never easy. But different divorces can be hard in different ways.

My first divorce was really, really hard. He was my college sweetheart and he left me after almost nine years of marriage. It wasn’t a clean leaving, either. Use your imagination.


I was a very young woman when I married and divorce at that time was pretty much unheard of in our family and our Sicilian culture. I can not even tell you how heartbroken I was.

But, he left no frayed end for me to pick up and try to fit back together–he made a clean break and moved on, which meant I had to move on.

So of course, I went to therapy.  Then I met a man who loved me back to life and married him. He was my rebound husband and marrying him was entirely the wrong thing to do. So of course, back to therapy.   I divorced him, moved 3,000 miles away and found a therapist there.

I saw a therapist for the better part of eight years after my divorces. It’s not that I thought I couldn’t move on without closing the loop, without closure. It’s that I felt an obligation to close that loop on my first marriage and here’s why:

When that first marriage ended, I blamed him. Everyone else did, too. But the fact is that no marriage ends because of only one person’s actions. I held responsibility for my part in the relationship’s failures even though it took me a long time to be able to admit it. Because being a victim was far easier than actually owning up to the ways in which I’d written part of the script for my own divorce story.

Thankfully, my California therapist helped me talk this through. For years.  And then one day, out of the blue, I knew I wanted to close the loop.

It didn’t much matter to me if my ex did. What mattered was that I had something to say and I wanted to say it. For myself.

So I found the law firm at which he worked and called him.  When he called me back, almost immediately,

I said something like this:

I’ve spent the past few years trying to understand what went wrong. I know I blamed you, but I want you to know that I can now see my part in the whole mess. I know there were times that I hurt you and I want to apologize for that and for all I did to mess things up.

And that’s it. That is all I had to say. I said it. He was surprised, he said a few things back about his own behavior, but really, I didn’t need to hear them. I just needed to let him know that I owned my part in the totality of the situation. We exchanged a few other cordialities and that was that.

I had no fantasy that we would reconcile. I didn’t even think of that call very much in the next couple of decades. I just knew that I had achieved the closure I needed and it had nothing to do with him. Just me,

Life went on for us both.

A little over 20 years from that call, we remarried. It happened out of the blue, at least as far as I was concerned.

I’d like to think that my actions those many years before to close the loop on that marriage for myself cleared the decks for him to feel comfortable coming forward at that time.

But he claims he has no memory of that phone call. At all. (Men! Isn’t that just typical!)

It doesn’t matter. That’s because the important part is this: I did it for me. It had nothing to do with how he’d respond or if he’d do the same.

I did it for ME.

So when someone asks, how do you get closure if you’re the only one who wants it?

You do it  yourself.

Because in the end, it’s really just FOR yourself.



26 comments on “Relationship closure: a story
  1. ryder ziebarth says:

    So interesting, Carol. I know this story about you, but I never related it to my own. I was “left at the alter” a mere five weeks before a destination wedding. Gifts, hotels rooms, the band, the venues, all in place and paid for by my father…. Heartbroken and victimized, I finally called the guy five years later. I was happily in married, with a baby, but it was a burden to carry the memory around, and on the eve of my 40th birthday, I needed a clean slate. So I phoned him and took my own responsibility for pushing him into something I knew he wasn’t really ready for.He said, “I was too immature, and I have always wanted to tell you how badly I felt about the whole thing. Thank you for being the one to make this call.” Now, I can think back fondly toward the courtship, which was pretty lovely, (until it wasn’t,and even then I realized I learned a lot about myself) and garner the good from it.Thank you for sharing your wonderful story.

  2. I totally get this. A LONG time ago I had a relationship which ended with no real closure and it’s bothered me for years. I just recently did the same thing you did, called my ex and explained what was present for me and it has lifted a weight off my shoulder like none I’ve experienced in years. There’s much to be said for closure and for speaking the truth, even if it might be difficult to get the words out. Thank you for this story!

  3. Linda says:

    What a wonderful story. You give insight, for so many women who might be going thru the same thing in their lives.

  4. Jennifer says:

    Your story always amazes me Carol! You’re exactly right about closure. We need it for ourselves. It’s truly our feelings that count in those situations. BTW- congrats on the second time round!

  5. Nordette says:

    Beautiful story. I chuckled at your ending comment on men.

  6. This is really interesting. I’ve been really lucky not to experience true heartbreak and need closure.

  7. Parul Thakur says:

    It’s very interesting. I think that as we grow up, out thought process changes. Maybe between the two of you, you both started appreciating each other more than before. Maybe you saw what you missed earlier. Thanks for sharing your story. It was lovely and very honest.

  8. Elaine says:

    Loved your story. Thanks for sharing it.

  9. Such an amazing story, and I appreciate you sharing it. Closure is so important – yes, for ourselves. Sometimes it’s impossible to move on without ending the old story first.

  10. Interesting story and I’m glad you found the closure you were looking for. And a surprise ending as well. I think the real important shift happens when we let go of the victim stance – it changes everything.

  11. Love the last lines. This story echoes our true feelings when life doesn’t go as unplanned and has a lesson of wisdom. The narration is engrossing.

  12. Ah I love the concept of closure. However, I have often found that the other person is not willing to talk or communicate when I seek closure. That’s when I do an imaginary closure exercise which works for me.

  13. Toni McCloe says:

    Not just a story, but a beautiful one.

  14. True love found its way through a twenty-year gap, wow that is beautiful. Thanks for sharing this amazing story and the path it took. The change in your attitude that set you free, is a lesson for us all. Often when we want a situation or a person to change, it is us, who needs to start the change.

  15. What a wonderful – and honest – story. Thank you for sharing. I love the idea of “closing the loop”. And, it is something you do for yourself – I understand.

  16. angie says:

    divorce impacts all that are involved Two years after my daughter divorced her children still wonder if mom and dad will get back together. Very scary and I love her very much and feel for them all glad you saw yours out the way you did

  17. Lisa Rios says:

    I agree with you, Divorce is not something that everyone can take easy & move on and I know it takes a lot of time to get back to your real life. Honestly, we can never expect the other person to be the same and thanks for sharing your story!

  18. Elda says:

    What a powerful lesson/experience! Thanks so much for sharing.We all learn from each other.I am appreciative.

  19. Ayesha Heart says:

    Great story! Learned a thing I appreciate posts like this. Super true Divorce is not the answer. Couples accepted each other flaws ever since thy’re together. Both should work it out.

    Thanks for sharing!

  20. Great content and story. Divorce is really hard but anyone can overcome it.

  21. I’m so glad it all worked out for you in the end.

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