Closure Not Needed?

Tiny Buddha

This one hit me over the head yesterday. I always considered closure important and something that I needed to get over things. I was always upset when someone just stopped talking to me completely and I didn’t get all the answers I needed. I felt like I couldn’t just let things go and I was entitled to those answers. The times when I couldn’t get those answers, I ruminated on what happened and tried to extrapolate answers based on final conversations.

There’s been several friends that just stopped being my friend in an obvious manner, especially when I was deep in a depression back in 2016. My marriage had blown up at the end of 2015, I found out at December 2015 that my second boy was on the spectrum, in February 2016 I found out that the oldest was also on the spectrum, and that I would be deploying for the 8th time when I was promised that I would not be deploying that year. One of my good friends at the time was scheduled to be on my crew, so that was good. And I also liked most of the other members of my crew. The timing was terrible for my family, but we could work around that.

My friend and I made lots of plans for the deployment. I started to look forward to being on a crew with her, even though this tiny voice in my head told me she was really dramatic and I would be supervising her when we flew, and that no good could come from this. Also, instead of having 3 people as usual in this one crew position, I would have two and then instead of one in her position, I would have two. So we would rotate who was in charge at her position between her and this other guy who was TERRIBLE at the job. Further complicating this crew, our pilots were young and we were given a communications technician who had been in a lot of trouble when one of our original crew members broke his leg two weeks before we left.

Right from the beginning, I hated this crew. I had someone always questioning my decisions and asking me why I wasn’t sharing more information. Dude, trust me that I’ve completed everything I needed to do. After two months of that, I sort of gave up and didn’t do much. It was a mess. My “friend” turned out to be a super bitch if you woke her up, despite her wanting us to knock on her door if we were awake and headed out for dinner. After one instance of her screaming in my face, I stopped knocking. I’m sorry you have to eat alone, but I will not tolerate that level of abuse because you don’t wake up easily. She and I were also battling it out every other flight because she felt that I was overstepping into her duties, but the other guy in her position needed me to do everything for him. He was so bad that he couldn’t do his own job. Eventually he messed up so badly, that I screamed at him and refused to talk to him for the rest of the flight.

I was not the best version of myself on that deployment. It turned out that blood work taken right before we deployed showed that I was slightly anemic, which would become so bad by the time we left that I could barely walk. I also had a flashback to 1999 within weeks of getting there. I flashed back to getting raped and for the first time in those 16.5 years, I finally realized that I actually was raped. It was a horrible realization that broke me inside. So much of how I acted in those 16.5 years had everything to do with the terrible truth I had stuffed down, deep inside me. I had been so self-destructive and malicious to myself, that there was very little soul left inside me. I told my friend about the flashback and she was very kind when I told her, but a month later she didn’t give a shit what I was dealing with. At one point I told her that I didn’t want to lose her friendship. She said “Oh well.”

We never talked about that again. We went to lunch once after that deployment and it was very…awkward. We exchanged a few messages here and there, but she was only using one word answers and ignoring most of what I was saying.

At the same time, another friend was my supervisor back home. She turned on me at the same time, not realizing that I was in such a deep, depressive state. She worsened it by screaming in my face, telling me that I didn’t care about my job, and that I deserved all of the abuse I was facing from the commander. We had been friends for 7 years at that point. It broke my heart and I felt like I couldn’t trust her, but I still sat in her office and talked to her like we were still friends. I emailed her once in 2017 when I was deployed again and feeling better. I explained the flashback and what had happened to me and why I hadn’t been myself. She wasn’t apologetic, just stated that she had no idea what all was going on. She wasn’t exactly awful, but I got the distinct impression that our friendship was over. She has never reached out to me and I won’t reach out to her.

With both of them, and the commander I had at the time, I found myself really wanting to explain everything I was dealing with. When I first retired and started intense therapy, I wanted so much to tell them everything I had figured out, to prove that I wasn’t the loser they all thought I was. I would type letters on my computer and save them for later. I would stage imaginary conversations in my head and try to guess their responses. I fantasized about them coming to this huge understanding about what I had suffered through. But the times I was real with myself, and let their past behavior dictate what their responses would be, I knew that I would either be ignored or minimized, and definitely disappointed with their responses.

But what if they had been kind and apologized for being so hard on me? Would that change the pain I felt at the time? Would that magically remove the anger and hurt I still feel when I remember that they exist? Would everything suddenly be ok because they knew deep, personal information about me? My questions changed when I reached this point.

They do not deserve to know any deep, personal information about me. I don’t have to make them like me or explain away why I was struggling so much. I don’t owe them anything and they don’t owe me anything. 2016 can just stay in 2016. We aren’t going to send holiday cards, meet up for drinks, or even message regularly. There are just people who were part of my life during a really bad time. And although they influenced some of the badness I endured, I do not have to make things right with them. There does not need to be closure at all.

What needs to happen is that I need to take the deep, personal things I have figured out in therapy and forgive myself. I need to forgive myself for not realizing I was raped for 16.5 years, for pushing all of that down to just come up later and much more painfully, for not being as productive at work as I had once been, for struggling and thinking I was less than because I was so depressed, and most of all, I need to work through all the pain I caused myself by thinking I needed to fit in and ignoring who I really was inside. And that is all I owe anyone for the events of 2016. It doesn’t matter what these people now on the outside of my circle did 6 years ago or what they think of me. All that matters is what I think of me.

And I made it out alive. Again. I stared down a monster that threatened to take me down so many times over the year sand I did not let it win. I have made so much progress in learning to not take responsibility for the bad things other people did to me. I have learned that I am worthwhile no matter what my productivity is and no matter what I can give to people. I have learned that I don’t need to keep hurtful people close to me just so I am not alone. I will never be alone again, because I trust me. I trust that I will take care of myself. I trust that I am enough for me. I don’t need to hang on to anyone who doesn’t want or deserve to be part of my life.

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