Closure… Or, Not

Life includes an ongoing experience of cycles: life and death in various forms. Opportunities come and go, loss and growth create rebirth, we expand and contract in our lives and communities. Often, synchronicity pops up as a cluster of similar events, experiences, or meanings. Recently, I have been going through a cycle of mechanical mishaps. Multiple things broke within two weeks of each other. Some were minor like a DVD player while others required more energy like auto repair. All involved a mechanical breakdown of some sort. For the most part, I responded with equanimity and reminded myself to keep a realistic perspective in that none of these things were life changing or all that important. However, as most of the kinks were worked out and repaired, my body started to manifest signs of stress. To be honest, I was quite surprised because in spite of the multiple ongoing events, I really wasn’t feeling all that stressed. I didn’t have the burn out caused from excess adrenaline or some of the other usual signs that stress produces. As the failings were tended to, I began to realize that part of me was grasping for some kind of sign that this cycle was over. Some way of knowing that balance was restored, and I could reframe the cycle as history. In other words, closure.

What is closure? I think what we seek with closure is a means to accept and move on with the hope that we will be free of pain and suffering. But, is there really some final event or meaning that can truly and permanently move something to our past never to be brought forth again? Is death truly closure? I think not. Everything is transitory and evolving whether moving towards death or birth. Something may die physically, but still live on spiritually, energetically, emotionally, and mentally. We grow and heal spiritually and psychologically yet still suffer disease. Even when disease is “cured” there is no guarantee that it will not return in some other form. We let go of relationships, and the person may still be living with us energetically. We cope with stressors and life challenges and hope for a reprieve afterwards to regroup, heal, and restore peace. The question then becomes: If we know that everything is always changing and transitory, why do we seek closure as a means to calm our fears, anxieties, and doubts?

We all experience stress differently at various times. Sometimes, we may respond with anxiety in the short term, then valiantly move forward in the long term. Other times we may cope effectively in the short term, but then crash or struggle to let go and move on. Regardless, if we are to genuinely heal, facing the authentic core reaction that causes a stress response is required. This can be easier said than done for in the moment of a particular challenge many defense mechanisms can exist. For one who is more comfortable being in control and “doing”, there can be an immediate reaction of feeling threatened due to a root insecurity of feeling inadequate. Then, as they move forward with tending to the situation, they attempt to regain a sense of safety and control by getting things done and feeling a sense of accomplishment. For others, the immediate reaction may be calm and equanimity yet trigger the same reaction of threat due to feelings of insecurity as they attempt to reconcile and repair what needs to be tended to. My point is that regardless of coping styles, seeking a sense of closure as a means to breathe, relax, and return to a sense of safety and security will only serve to push the feelings of inadequacy and lack of worth to the background. The root causes of our unease will remain only to pop right back up again at the next opportunity. The pain we seek to avoid will remain.

We can use the opportunities presented by stress as a means to observe and heal our souls and psyches. Instead of grasping at closure, which doesn’t really exist, or contracting with aversion in hopes of avoiding life challenges, we can diminish the drama of stress by authentically facing our reactions. We can expand our awareness to respond honestly on an internal level while tending to what needs to be done externally. We can embrace change as a means to grow and heal regardless of the costume it is dressed in.

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