Hunting for closure in my relationships

All your relationships are significant 

Image by: Curtis Heinzl
Appreciating the moments you had together is enough closure.

When I was six years old, I met my best friend on the playground of our elementary school. I was dressed in my classic monochromatic pink from head-to-toe, carrying a floral lunchbox, and wearing my signature matching headband.  

I was eleven years old when I entered middle school, having grown only an inch or two since the sixth grade while others had grown five. Middle school was where I really felt the growing pains; I clung to old friends as they’d spontaneously disappear.

Suddenly, I entered high school, meeting some of my closest friends to this day.

From one school to the next, my friends had other friends who floated in and out of my life. Our time together was marked with easy laughs and lunchtime chats, but I was never upset to see them go, because I had my close group of best friends.

There was a stability to my friendships at home, built on shared history. I didn’t realize these relationships were so foundational until I came to Queen’s and found no immediate close ties.

I felt this the strongest on my 18th birthday. I’ll preface this by saying I like a little attention, but I’m not the type to demand it.

On that lonely October day, for the first time, I missed coming to class and having someone wish me a quick happy birthday. I would’ve loved even a little “are you doing anything tonight” that wasn’t related to wandering the rain soaked streets in search of a trashy Halloween party–I happen to share my birthday with this holiday.

It wasn’t about the lack of attention, but a yearning for unspoken closeness.

Nevertheless, I had to adapt and learned how to become close to people in different ways, separate from this notion of shared history.

As first year blended into second, third, and now fourth, I have a profound appreciation for the brief relationships I’ve made in this time of temporality.

There’s this narrative in university that we should let our friends leave our lives as easily as they entered them. Especially in such a transitory period, I know if I were to cling to every friend I meet, I’d be clinging to a sinking ship that shouldn’t have set sail.

It’s important to recognize the loss of these relationships, though, and mourn their failures—no matter how briefly you knew a person. There’s something special in mourning not just the ten-year friendships from childhood but also the girl you sat next to for four months in class, the favourite co-worker you trained with, and the one-week fling you hung out with for a day.

This act of mourning is purely for me. If I pretend a person’s absence doesn’t affect me, I’ll never fully move on, and these lingering feelings of awkwardness or regret will plague me when I think of what could’ve or should’ve been.

These relationships, friendships, and plain acquaintances don’t always end with heart-wrenching departures or epic fights. In my case, friendships fade when the message is left on delivered for more than a few days. We speak, and there should be more to say, but there’s less to talk about, and we don’t have as much fun together as we used to.

I can’t always remember when I first met someone and, in the same way, I can’t always remember how I became a stranger to them, but I do know there’s a sense of nostalgia and maybe even some greater melancholy when I think of who we were to each other in the moments we knew the other.

A few months ago, I read a book called The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi for a creative writing class and searched for the author’s trace in the narrative’s language, plot, and setting. The story begins with the title, and we enter the world of Vivek through his friend’s and family’s eyes. We look for closure in Vivek’s death by uncovering his origins, not from his perspective, but through his family’s.

We watch how his mother’s perspective becomes clouded with the obsession of needing to fix Vivek in the months leading up to his death and how this eventual passing acts as a release into delirium for answers and closure.

I don’t mean to compare the weight of a death to the ending of a relationship, but I do want to emphasize the importance this process has in my view on relationships with the people that have left or are soon to go.

Perhaps I’m simply too despairingly uncertain, doubtful, or—I’ll admit—unwillingly insecure, but when I can sense someone’s slow departure from my life, I go to my friends for advice like they’re genies in a bottle.  And, especially with romantic relationships, I’m told to remain on the defensive when people begin disconnecting from me.

I’m told to “leave them on read,” or “give them a yes or no response” to reject them—this idea of offering them nothing of yourself because you feel they’re not entitled to that information anymore. Essentially, be yawn-worthy boring and bone-dry, so they’ll get the hint you’re done with them.

As much as I think this is a toxic mentality, I do it quite a bit. However, it doesn’t always sit right with me. I’m also secretly selfish, occasionally obsessive, and find this sense of closure to be reductive. I’d prefer to engage in a final conversation.

If someone has made a large impact in my life, I want to talk with them once more, share one more laugh, and give us one last moment before we say goodbye. I need to lay to rest this awkward fear of seeing them in the seat next to me, in the new city they moved to and the café where we got coffee.

My relationships, no matter how brief or deep, are significant. Forcing myself to diminish the important moments with someone does nothing to satisfy my need for closure. When I can’t get that last conversation I want, I reflect on the small moments and appreciate them for what they were.

There’s no right way to start or end a relationship, but I’ve learned it’s just as important to know how to say goodbye as it is to open yourself up to new friends. If you’re still afraid of running into an old someone or dwelling over the loss of a relationship, hunt for answers to lay them to rest.

I won’t let the way I say goodbye define my relationships and the memories we made. So, alongside learning the importance of letting people momentarily connect with me in life, I’ve also learned to let them go in my own way.   


closure, Friendships, Maturity, Relationships

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