May 1, 2017
Story originally written and experienced: May 8th 2012
“I just need a break,” he said.
I understood completely…but asked anyway.
“Do you need friend to talk about it with?”
“I appreciate it…thanks…but I’ll be alright. I just…need a break—a detox—from all this cRaZiNeSs going on in my life…and in my head. Maybe we can catch up another night?”
“Sounds great. Let me know if you need anything in the meantime,” I t-e-x-t-e-d out on my phone while walking home through New York City’s Central Park.
I loved walking home from 57th >>> street to >>> 83rd street every night after work, no matter the weather. It was peaceful—my time—every day. No matter what. And it was especially nice on this Tuesday evening in May 2012.
My original plan was to help James navigate through the weirdness he was going through, but he needed a break from thinking about things.
Or so I thought.
I was nearing the end of my everyday commute when I took my usual right
on 83rd street and 3rd avenue
only to find James sitting on my doorstep.
“James?” I asked inquisitively removing each earbud from my ears and turning my head to the side.
“Hey…I…changed my mind…a friend would actually be nice.”
“Okay. Well, I-“
“Are you hungry?” He said abruptly.
“Yup. I have some leftover groceries?”
“Maybe we can whip something up and talk?”
“Works for me.”
I don’t even remember what we made.
Just that it was quick. And easy. And a postponement to what he really wanted to say. There we were in my Upper East Side apartment, dishes dirty with once-was dinner avoiding the inevitable.
But finally he said.
“You know I was in love with her for years.”
“There is no one like Ella,” he continued. “And maybe never will be. We were together for a long while after we met in Canada, and then I moved back to the States. And we tried the distance thing for a while. We tried really hard, and it worked…but not for long. I don’t know. I guess the distance got too hard. But in my eyes, I always imagined us ending up together down the line, you know?
The connection was just too genuine, too right.
Anyway, since I’ve moved to New York I’ve become infatuated with this idea of going to Canada to see her. I’m so much closer than I was before and I keep thinking that maybe this was fate. Maybe I got this internship in New York for a reason. I’ve tried calling her…many times…but she still lives with her parents and they tell me she’s sleeping, or not home, or will get back to me…but she never does…I know. I sound crazy.”
I didn’t say anything.
“But I love her…and I still do…so much so I Googled her the other day (don’t judge me) and guess what I found?”
“That she was the leader of a gay organization on her college campus. I even saw she chopped her long blonde hair off and traded it in for short brown hair.”
“Do you think she’s a lesbian?”
“I don’t know. To be honest I always knew she was bisexual. I even knew she was seeing a girl for a while after we ended things, but she broke up with her because apparently she was too controlling. I wonder if maybe the reason she was pushing me away and not responding was because she made her choice and wanted to spare me the explanation of why we could never be together again.”
“Could be. I mean, you’ve been pining over her for years, maybe she wants you to move on?”
“…Do you think that even if she never called you back to explain…you’d still have a sense of closure since you found out on your own?
“In a way…what I’ve been telling myself is, I’ll take what I know and accept it any way I can. A little closure is better than none at all.”
His accidental act of positivity impacted me immensely.
Better than none at all? Accept it anyway he can?
I can’t explain why but it made perfect sense to me. Even if he didn’t mean it to.
I thought about all the times I desperately craved closure and never had it, and how I’ve seen family, friends and strangers ache for it too. If only we had the satisfying honor of tying up messy situations—whether it’s relationships, a loved one’s death, or traumatic events—with a neat little bow.
I’ve found myself jarringly jealous of others I’ve witnessed have such cordial endings. Getting every answer they needed, having all their questions answered, receiving the apologies they deserved, or having the chance to give a meaningful goodbye.
What an intense feeling of relief that must be.
But after what James said to me, I rejiggered my jealousy into justification. Because the fact of the matter is, we can’t control the actual act of closure (it takes at least two to tango).
We can control how we come to terms with it by accepting what we know:
A relationship has ended—and it was heart jolting and scary, but deep down you know it ended for a good reason.
Someone you loved passed away—and you’re devastated and unsure if you did enough, but deep down you know they felt your love.
You went through something traumatic—and it feels so unfair and frustrating, but deep down you know you’ve come unbelievably far since then.
Then, take it a step further to wrap it up with your own bow:
A relationship has ended—and you’re uneasy but also realize how relieved you are to not have to settle anymore.
Someone you loved passed away—and it still hurts and you hate it, but you feel so lucky for loving, and being loved, by someone so great.
You went through something traumatic—and the memory of it will never truly go away, but that’s good because it’s completely given you a whole new perspective on life. And you’re better because of it.
This tactic has been the most peaceful solution I’ve ever pursued.
I’ve experienced a dose of every one of these scenarios, and coming to grips with the things I can’t change has felt timelessly impossible. But. Giving myself the power to control what I can has made the biggest difference imaginable.
You should try it.
Accept what you know. Decide how you’re going to deal with it. And stick to your promise.
Because if you can come to terms with putting closure in your court? Moving on and feeling better will feel much more peaceful, and suddenly, incredibly possible.