IRT: Unfinished Business


Thought trigger: Bakbakee’s post.

When I was 15 years, I didn’t need closure. I knew change was permanent. I dreamt about college being better than school. I was great friends with new friends in my imagination. I knew things are supposed to end. I always looked forward to the future.

At 15, I didn’t need closure.

What made me realize the need for closure was my first promise of forever. So, here’s how that story goes:

We were on a school trip, and I was teasing my friend (Let’s call her PK) with a guy she liked then (whose initials are also PK). XD

I told her something in the lines of “So, when you get married to him, and I am not around, please definitely remember to do this.”  I don’t remember what exactly I said, but I recall everyone, including me, laughing loudly at it. Topics changed, and we teased other people too. Suddenly another of my friend tells me that PK was crying.

[If you know me, you know I get uncomfortable with people crying. If there is anyone crying, the last person to go to for comfort is me. In my defense, my friends don’t cry, they wail (at least it feels like that in my head). In response, I freeze.]

So, I went up to her hesitantly. She was sitting with her head resting on the window of the bus, cocooned in the corner with her arms folded. As soon as I asked her why she was crying, she started yelling at me, crying all the while. She told me how dare I thought of not being  present in her marriage, or imagine not being friends with her after school or say such a thing so matter-of-factly.

Of course, I rationalized with her. But that didn’t work. She cried some more. I didn’t know how to stop her from crying. I was the villain here.

I apologized profusely, made a few promises in the rush of things and consequently, she stopped crying. My head was quiet for the rest of the journey. It was my turn to sit in the corner, and think about what had happened.

I never thought forever was possible. I still know it in my head- Of course, it isn’t. But then, if promises can be upheld, why is forever impossible? Why are endings necessary?

I don’t associate closure with endings. For me, it is more of a sense of ending, not necessarily followed by an end to the relationship. If the thought of a person makes you “excitable”, you don’t have closure. If even after a mutual end, you avoid crossing each other’s paths, you don’t have closure.

I believe that closure is the end of negative patterns in a relationship, not the relationship. Concluding those patterns once and for all, and distancing yourself from triggers where you’ll lash out with hurt, accepting the finality and cherishing what remains with maturity… That’s what it means to me. I have come to understand that one has to go through the five stages of grief ( Denial, Anger,  Bargaining, Sadness, Acceptance) in some ways, although a little less intensely to find true closure. Having said that, I am not particularly good at letting go. I cling to hope. So, I don’t get past ‘bargaining’ many times.

When the what-ifs plague you, when the future can hold a number of possibilities, even if they’re mostly bad, you’re willing to risk leaving the end open for the little good that may complete the story. I can’t tie things up into a romantic end myself. It remains a wound I keep fingering to check if it has healed.

I still think about that day when PK cried. I curse her. She has destroyed my intellectual clarity, and made it emotionally messy.

Now, when I know with absolute certainty that an era of my life is going to end soon, I already say my goodbyes in subtle ways. I click pictures in my head. I laugh louder at jokes. I write letters. I thank. I do everything possible to me to achieve the sense of completion. But life isn’t always predictable, unfortunately or fortunately. Unceremonious, abrupt endings stab you time and again. Letting go is the lesson you keep relearning.

Detachment is a complex lesson. It is not the shortcut to living a life without disappointments.

But the there are some endings that don’t come with a sense of permanency. This tiny bit dealing with “unfinished business” has reached no resolution in my head. Maybe I don’t understand ‘open ends’ well, but I do recognize it when a blogger describes it well:

“But then familiarity of the previous relationship lingers. It is a composite of what remains after everything has been said and done.

Closure doesn’t cure unfinished business.”

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