Never underestimate the importance of getting or giving closure.  For twenty plus years, I waited for someone to return for closure. That day never arrived.

Because of the harsh words exchanged and the distance erected on both sides, I spent two decades in bitter resentment, masked by a feeling of “I’m o.k.; you’re o.k.”  I wasted time on things that were not good for me. Eventually, I got the wake-up call I desperately needed.

Halfway through those twenty years, I finally received a message, but it wasn’t the one I was expecting.  Rather than an offer to resolve the past, apply salve to the still-open wound, the communication was a one-way notification regarding the death of a mutual acquaintance. No more, no less.

After a couple of casual message exchanges, it was clear there would be no offer to have that talk. I let a few months go by and finally reached back out to say I had dedicated a commemorative brick to our friend’s university’s (which I shared with him) alumni center. The only answer I got was a delayed response apologizing for being distracted because of work and thanking me for the generous gesture.

I’m not sure what I really expected, but it was something more adult than what I received. For years, I allowed that conversation to both hold me down and fuel me to prove my value and my worth. Year after year, I went through hell, fighting battles no one witnessed, working three jobs, pulling my kids up through school systems that did not support their needs, and putting myself through university.

All the while, I let that ending fester as an open wound I thought would never heal. I spent two decades in a numb darkness, unable to find my way out. But the day I received the message about our friend’s death, the light switch went on. I needed to mourn not only my friend, but also that Romeo was really a rodeo clown. The healing process needed to begin.

I finally ended my 10-year placeholder relationship that was headed for disaster and started down the path of tumultuous healing and transformation. I started by supporting someone else, who I recognized as one of my own: broken from previous hurtful situations and unable to completely heal without a total reset. I agreed to be present during a painful journey, knowing I would not be asked to travel to the destination. It hurt, but it was an important decision to help someone who, like me, needed to be supported when no one else was willing to step up and step in to be present and witness that process of change.

During the pandemic, I reentered counseling with the intention of getting to the root cause of my inability to release this emotional burden so I could be open and available for real and true love. In the most recent months, I’ve had a breakthrough, epiphanies, and even a renewed understanding of why things could never be as I wanted with this person and the reason I had difficulty letting it go.

Recently, I was able to fully exorcise my demon and evict my mental rent-free tenant for good. A local festival hosted a favorite regional band as the main event. A 40-year tradition of musical greatness, this group was finally hanging up their instruments and calling it quits. I fondly remember dancing to their tunes and being twirled around on the dance floor as I beamed with love and hope. I decided to go to the festival and give myself closure. I would allow myself, for one last time, to twirl, solo, to the beat of the band and bask in the glow of days gone by. I would release the pain and the feeling of unworthiness so I could live on to love again truly and fully.

I drove to the event but was unable to find parking that didn’t cost me twenty bucks. It wasn’t worth that! As I circled around for the third time, a small voice whispered in my head, “You don’t need this.  Say your goodbyes from here and go home.” So I parked on the side of the road, staring at the main stage, and said farewell and gave myself the apology that would never come.

After all this time, I was fighting for a chance to redeem myself to someone who never saw me for who I really am but only looked at the disheveled mess I was trying to escape, deciding I wasn’t worth the battle. Luckily, I have grown into the person I am meant to be, waiting to meet the man worthy of my truest self. That someone will recognize and understand what I’ve experienced, love me anyway, and protect me from, well, clowns. Trust there will be lots of love, laughter, and fun-filled traveling journeys along the way.

Today, I am lighter, brighter, and far more spiritually grounded than I have been in years.  Days after the concert, I had a dream of sitting with my angels, who praised me for breaking free of the mental bond which held me back for all those years.  I rested in their presence, knowing tomorrow would be a new day.

Closure is an important step in healing, and if you do not receive it from the person who owes it to you, work with someone who can help you to take that final step in closing the door, even if you must personally be the one to lock the door behind you. By all means, throw away the key.

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