Wednesday, May 16, 2012

My "I can't" got up and left before I kicked its lazy...

There's something funny about the word "closure". Just the mere mention of this simple two-syllable word brings about the image of two people tangled in a long and complicated rift. To get closure, you would think that it would involve the same two people. Right?

I always thought that. Up until the last few years, I've been caught up in a web of my own. From one abandonment to the other, I'd survived. But the life I'd led was indicative of how I'd been treated.

When I was four, my earliest memory was not a very good one. In fact, it was the defining moment of my life. My biological mother pushed me through the door of my father and stepmother's apartment and said, "Here, you can have her." I'd always wondered if I was somehow bad. Why didn't my own mother want me? Why did she keep my sister over me? Didn't she love me?

Over the years, I was shoved from one person to the next, given to other people to raise. I couldn't help but think that it was my fault somehow. That was exacerbated by the guardian I lived with the longest in my childhood, who tried to mold me into what she wanted me to be and if she saw any sign that I wasn't conforming, she would tell me I was no good, that I would end up a bum, and no man would ever have me. In the middle of all this, she heavily restricted my diet in an effort to curb impending weight issues while simultaneously telling me I was already fat (when I most definitely wasn't) and she consistently accused me of sexual activity when I didn't even know what sex was at that age.

Years later, as an adult who could never quite finish anything I started, I had a husband who left me, too. It seemed never ending. And I believed everything I'd been told as a kid; I would never be good enough.

When I remarried and started having kids, it opened my eyes. I started wanting answers and closure so I reached out to my birth mother, who I hadn't had contact with but a couple of times over the course of 20-something years. I laid my heart out to her only to be disappointed when her response came back full of excuses and self-pity. There wasn't an apology. That's when I had to learn that I had to move on without answers and that it was okay. When I got past that, I realized I wasn't mad anymore and that I actually hadn't been mad for a long time. That was my closure, although I hadn't recognized it at the time. I think that was the first time I realized that it wasn't feasible to continue to blame her for my own actions (or inaction, as the case may be).

That's when I got my butt in gear and started taking my ambitions seriously. From there on out, it's been hard work and determination, something that was reflected recently in my grades for my first semester back in college in 10 years; I pulled a 4.0.

I relearned the closure lesson this week, albeit a little more in-depth this time. I thought I needed answers and closure so I asked questions to a person who'd wronged me a long time ago. But I never got the answers I sought. I don't know if he just didn't want to answer them or was too ashamed by the way he'd treated me to answer them. Nonetheless, for whatever reason those questions weren't answered, it made me realize that I'd been okay with what he'd done for a long time now. He apologized, which was great, but I realized that I didn't even need that. I'd already had closure and had already moved on in my life.

And for the first time, I think I really understand what closure is. It's not about two people resolving an issue. It's about resolving it within yourself and understanding that you don't have to (and shouldn't) rely on others for your sense of identity and purpose.

I've been surprised at myself at what I've been able to do and accomplish since I first found closure. I swear I'm not trying to brag; I'm trying to illustrate to those who may have found themselves "stuck" how they, too, can move on. It burns me to hear someone say, "I'd like to do (insert ambition here), but I just can't because (insert obstacle here)."

You know, it would be easy for me to say, "I can't," too. I could throw my hands up and give up on my writing and on college and I'd have a million legitimate reasons to do so.

But you know who I'd be saying, "I can't," to? I'd be saying it to the two most wonderful kids on the planet. I refuse to tell the loves of my life that "I can't," because that would be like me giving them permission to say they can't either.

So you've been through hell or you've made a big mistake. Are you going to let that rule over your life? I hope not. I hope you realize that you are more capable than you give yourself credit for.

Peace, love, and closure,


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