Closure. The elusive beast that we all need at one point or another. Whether it lasted for 10 years, or 10 weeks, putting a period on the end of a relationship is hard AF.
We talk about closure so much, it’s become a breakup buzzword. But you don’t have to be pulled back into old patterns to get closure—and you don’t have to use it as an excuse to not move on. You can embrace your independence and give yourself closure, without the help of your ex. Here’s how.
Cut yourself some slack.
First off, it’s totally okay to want closure. You’re a human being with feelings and dreams. When those get stepped on, sometimes you need some time to recover.
Having one last conversation at the end of a relationship can serve a lot of different purposes. Maybe you want to learn what you can work on as a partner. Or understand why the relationship has failed. Or seek feedback on certain aspects of your dynamic. Basically: you want to learn from your mistakes so that you can let go and move on.
But the type of closure that requires a conversation takes two willing parties. And when your former partner doesn’t want or can’t take part in this discussion, you can’t force them. In this situation, the first step is accepting the fact that your former partner cannot give you closure. Accept the absence of the conversation, rather than waiting or begging for it, so that you can move on with your own healing process.
Give yourself permission.
Break ups can bring up a whole slew of different feelings for us. Give yourself permission to experience the full spectrum of your emotions, even if you wish you weren’t feeling them. It’s okay to feel angry, sad, confused, ashamed, but give yourself the gift of experiencing these hard emotions —judgment-free. There’s no timeline or rulebook for grief. It’s not a one-size-fits-all experience.
Allow yourself to feel your feelings. When we try to push them away, they just end up resurfacing as wounds in future relationships and prolonging your grief.
Write a letter.
Letter writing is a great technique for relationship problems and it also helps to acknowledge your own current emotional state. Take some time alone to meditate on the relationship and write down all of your unedited thoughts. Let your frustrations, feelings, and truth come out onto the page. Then, you can compose these thoughts into a letter to your former partner.
You don’t have to send this letter, but if you choose to, take a few days to sit with the letter and process the emotions behind it. This letter isn’t for them, it’s for you. Release the expectation to have it acknowledged or elicit some kind of emotional release. Any expectation can just leave the door open for further disappointment—don’t give them that power.
Set a ritual.
When you can’t get closure from a conversation with your former partner, it can be helpful to create a ritual to help lay to rest that part of your life. It can also give you a reason to gather and ask for support from friends and loved ones while you cleanse yourself of the former relationship.
A ritual can be as simple as gathering all their things into a box and setting it somewhere you don’t have to see it. It can as big as burning all the letters and cards they ever gave you. You can even just meditate on releasing the relationship if you’re not into a grand gesture. But give yourself a tangible activity to draw a line in the sand between your time being coupled and uncoupled. When dealing with something as nebulous as a breakup, it can be nice to have a physical marker to help aid your healing process.
While it’s unfortunate that your former partner couldn’t take part in giving you the closure you deserve, recognize that it’s something that you can give yourself. Even if you had 1,000 bad conversations with your ex, you still have the power to move on with peace.
Take some time and let yourself feel hard feelings. You will get through this, but know that it’s always okay to ask for help, professional or otherwise. And when all else fails, remember that you can give yourself closure—and that you’ll be stronger for it.
Tessa Skara is a writer and comedian. She is bravely bicoastal. She loves all things queer, including, but not limited to sex. Follow her on Instagram @tessafuckinskara.