Finding Closure by Letting Things Be

How do we stop looking back when life carries on whether we stop regretting or not?

A photograph with the text “The End?” on a green background.
Photo by Alex on Unsplash

I briefly mentioned in my #PandemicReflections piece that part of what made 2020 a blunder of a year, at least for me, was a row with the neighbors across the street, who for years have harassed many of us in the neighbohood for feeding stray cats, alongside many other complaints. This all came to a head back in June when one of the members of the household crossed over to toss cat poop on our front step.

After trying and failing to initiate a polite dialogue with them, I spent the following weeks angry, anxious every single time our dogs barked at the front door, and overall frustrated when our local government’s response was “Look, we know they’re getting rid of the cats anyway so why not keep the peace and stop feeding them?”

Eventually, and I have to issue a quick animal cruelty warning here…

…all the cats were poisoned save for two. And it’s been a work in progress coping with the anger and impotence left behind by this experience, on top of everything else that happened this past year.

So how do you move on from a situation like this?

How do I find closure when the situation merely reached a standstill?

Chatting with my sister over the topic of revenge a few days ago, I used the situation above as an example and mentioned that, despite the staggering amount of resentment I keep carrying with me, I wouldn’t find comfort in revenge. My wildest fantasies — at least the ones that leave me satisfied and not completely dismayed with my reality — involve our neighbors getting court-mandated therapy and perhaps even a direct apology over their actions.

My sister: “Screw that. I want karma to bitch-slap them.”

I argued that for me it wasn’t about karmic revenge. Rather than daydreaming dark scenarios that involve injury, what I want is justice.

What I would like is to see a change in these entitled people who, for the past 20 years, have constantly tormented the entire street over meaningless issues.

What I would hope is that they get help for what seems to be obsessive compulsive behavior. While I’m no psychologist, their nitpicking and constant demands, their fixation on the cleanliness of their cars or the state of their outdoor plants, seems to be the product of an undiagnosed issue. And I would rather they sort out their issues than simply stand by and watch them like a ticking time bomb, always waiting for the next explosion.

Yet right now, my only path to closure is to wait for enough time to pass for it to stop hurting as much, despite their house standing outside my window as a constant reminder of their actions.

But why do I need closure?

Defined as “a bringing to an end; a conclusion,” closure comes in different forms:

  • Saying everything you were never able to
  • A verdict from the court of law
  • A breakthrough on a therapist’s couch
  • Forgiving
  • Forgetting

That sense of closure, however, never seems to arrive in the way we’d most want or think we need. More often than not, closure comes when we let things go, accompanied of course with “Oh thanks, I don’t need it anymore.”

Funnily enough, it’s closure for unhappy or unpleasant moments we tend to seek out. Negative circumstances never seem to end in our minds while positive ones always carry an expiration date.

As my mother would say, “You have to give some time to time itself.”

Mika is a Mexican writer and translator, pretender, pet-lover, and a mess at 1 in the morning. Follow her on Twitter @frequencymika.

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