Divorce 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 DEVASTATED.
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.