Finding Closure

Here we are in the third week of January. Can you believe its 2015? Last year wasn’t too terrible, but a lot happened to me. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to close the door to 2014 so I can move forward. Let’s find our way towards closure, together!

My amazing roommate has found herself unwillingly in a closure situation. A good friend of hers is in a terrible relationship. The proof is there that the man that the friend is seeing is cheating, in multiple ways. He is also leaving the country to go home to his own country for good in three months. Its obvious to everyone, including my roommate that her friend is in a relationship that is going nowhere and is a terrible situation. The friend just needs to walk away. My roomie talked with her all night long, and finally convinced her friend to kick the dude out. The next day, friend was standing up for the dude to my roommate and saying that he had no place to go, that he wasn’t really that bad, that she had misread things and none of the cheating was really as bad as she thought…. And so on. The reason the friend knew all of this about Cheater Dude was that she went back for closure—she needed to ask (and be answered) why he would cheat on her. Isn’t she more important in her own life to allow that kind of treatment? My question for her is: why do you need to know?

This has happened to all of us! Eeek!! You’re in a situation that you know is wrong. It just is. Its bad for you. It’s deteriorating your life, your sensibility, your soul. You walk away, or really you start to take steps in the direction that leads away, only to proverbially look back over your shoulder, catch a glimpse of what you’re leaving, and you run back looking for confirmation that you’re retreat was best for you. Only to find out information that you didn’t want to know.

When you read it all written out in a hypothetical, it sounds rather silly. However, it is human nature to look for closure. Humans are a species that likes to tell stories. We have proof that cave men and women painted pictures to tell tales. The Egyptians are famous for hieroglyphics that tell their history and stories. Disney makes millions and millions of dollars on stories that parents across the world are exhausted of watching over and over (if anyone sings to me one more time about wanting to build a snowman…). What do you do when you go out with friends—you tell stories about the things happening in your life! One thing about stories. They all have endings. We have trained ourselves as a society to look for endings. Everything that begins has to have some sort of close. Although we may, from time to time, refute this fact—it is true. Everything has an end. Every chapter has a final period. Every book has a final sentence. Every movie has rolling credits. There is seemingly an end to everything.

In every day life, credits don’t roll. There isn’t a final punctuation mark or thought or sentence. Sometimes there is just the quiet sound of someone giving up. Or being fed up. Or generally not being invested or interested anymore. It happens. Life is short. Just like when the book we are reading or the movie we are watching ends, we move past it because its over. Our attention span is only so long, and we move on to another event or person in our life. Sometimes we don’t even finish that book or movie.

In relationships, curiosity always gets the best of us, and pulls us back into situations that we know are wrong. We need to know the answers, we need to figure out what we did wrong, we need to know how to fix it or do better next time. Because of our story telling culture, with their morals and their tidy endings, we feel that we need to make everything end with a tidy final sentence with the bad guy going off to something horrific, and with a lovely scrolling “The End.” Roll credits. My lovelies, this is life. It’s harsh, it’s insane, it’s chaotic. There are rarely satisfying endings in life. Life is most satisfying when you take the reigns, go out and make it your own. If you don’t like the way a relationship or friendship or job situation is playing out, approach it. Work it out. If it isn’t work out-able, move on. Sometimes you have to let things go, and let them work themselves out. Sometimes you have to run, don’t walk, away from Cheater Dudes and Dudettes. Sometimes you have to end relationships with friends. Sometimes you have the chance to see them later in life and enjoy Schaudenfreude at their expense, and sometimes you have to remove them from your Facebook because you can’t stand to see continual happy pictures of them at family gatherings, weddings, with babies, etc.

Yes, it is an attractive thought to look up people and friends from past lives. With so many social media outlets that are at our fingertips, it is just too easy to look up people or groups that we have left behind, but still need to connect to, or confirm that our leaving was best. I fell into the trap of looking up an ex’s profile the other day—I felt good about myself because, oh my goodness is he still in the same exact place he was when we dated, and is seemingly going nowhere! But then I started to feel horrible—how could I ever have dated that person and why did I spend so much of my time at the end and after it was over, bemoaning the loss? Of course I spiraled for a bit, feeling sorry for myself. Anyway, the point is: had I not indulged and went to take a look at his profile, I wouldn’t have spiraled. I should have left that door closed, instead of seeking to find more closure on the subject. Because, here is another point: nothing would have satisfied me. Nothing. Even if he had died, I still would have been sad. Even if he had been ripped apart by dragons, his parts divided between aliens, and then eaten by worms on their separate planets, I still wouldn’t feel quelled. It was better to just not think of him at all. I made my closure when he left my life the first time, and I should just leave it at that.

I’m going to tell you a secret about closure: its within you. Yup. Serious. You’re in charge of all of the closure you get. Which is great because you’re in control of when the story ends. You can walk away at any time. You can choose how the story ends. However, when you return to someone else for closure, they have the power. Don’t let them have it. They’re probably the one who is in control of you anyway because you let them be. Stop the insanity. Take control. Make the closure happen. Walk away. Tell yourself positive things like: they were sucking the soul out of you and now you can actually thrive; single is much better than being someone’s puppet; that friend was making you into something you hate; you’re better than the ick that was happening to you; you’re a sensitive, wise individual who deserves better. Get up and get out. I promise you once you step away from the bad things, new and better things will replace it. Remove yourself from the toxicity.

I had a really “great” job several years ago. You might hear me reference this job several times, because having that job, actually losing that job was a huge catalyst in making me head in the direction I was meant to go. For now take my word on it that it was a good amount of money and benefits, but it was squashing my soul. I made some mistakes in the job, which led them to find more reasons to let me go. The thing is, to this day, I’m still curious about what happened to that place. They made me feel so terribly about myself in the time span I was working there, that I wonder if they’re still in business. I sometimes even find myself opening up a search engine and start to type in their name to look them up. But really, it doesn’t matter. I’m sure they’re still surviving. More importantly, I’m thriving. My life is all the better for having been kicked to the curb. That door was closed, and I’m leaving it that way.

My roommate chose to take closure into her own hands, too. She told her friend she could be friends, but could no longer listen to or be a part of her friend’s deterioration. My roommate stepped away from her friend—which wasn’t easy. We still don’t know what happened with the friend, and her straying beau.

We search for closure all of the time because we are trained to find the ends to stories, the results to equations, and the outcome of everything. Life is messy, and really only ends when you’re dead—and even then it’s questionable. Depending on what kind of mark you put on the world, you could live on in infamy like Marilyn Monroe, Al Capone, Robin Williams, Maya Angelou, or Mother Teresa. As an actress, I go to so many auditions that I never find out the results to—I could sing my face of and act my heart out and not book the job for any number of reasons. The same goes for any job interview, college application, house buying opportunity, great first date that never amounted to anything, or missed opportunity. Things end or don’t even get started. Sometimes the why isn’t important.

The biggest thing to know about closure is that it too is like a book or a movie—you have the ability to watch it again, or open up the book and start from the beginning. However, you already know the story. You know how it will end. You know that you didn’t enjoy it the first time… so why put yourself back in that situation. Instead, put the “book” back on the shelf, and the “movie” back in the case. Look at it from time to time to know that you lived it, and move on. Psychologically, we remember mostly the good things, and forget all of the bad. This is awesome; however, we have to remember that the toxicity is not for repeated indulgence. There are much better stories out there with much better plots, and more worthy of our time. Don’t reach out for closure. Close the story within yourself, put it away, and reach for a better one. Start 2015 by closing the door on the past!

–Clare

Am I An “Amy”?

I’m reading Gone Girl, and I’m almost done—don’t worry for those of you who are reading it or have plans to see the movie, I’ll talk about the book some, but nothing that gives away any spoilers. I have to admit the book was really difficult for me to read for the first section. I grew up in a small town in Kansas, and I know where North Carthage is. I have been to North Carthage. My Midwestern town seems grossly similar. I also now live in New York—and although I’m not the heiress and namesake of a popular book series (yet), I was feeling a lot of parallels in my own life. Which I’m sure is a point Gillian Flynn is trying to make—are you like Amy?

This fact is almost as terrifying as some of the twists in the novel. Amy talks about being a “Cool Girl” and makes herself a blend of what men think they want—the thin girl who isn’t afraid to eat, likes to be adventurous, and isn’t upset if a guy goes off and does his own thing instead of premade plans with her. There are a few articles out on the subject like this one, that state their viewpoints on “Cool Girl” status.

In the shower, I was thinking of this—I seem to do a lot of deep thinking in the shower, which is a pain in the ass because by the time I get out, I forget the amazing topics I had just brainstormed.  In the shower I wondered if I should shave my legs, but shrugged it off thinking: I’m not sleeping with anyone at the moment, so…why? After the shower, I was thinking about my last few weeks…I’ve been occupied by a relationship of sorts with a man and it wasn’t as engaging as I would have liked it to have been, so I’m moving on. But before it turned the corner, I was out shopping and planning. I bought new razors, thigh highs, and the pretty kind of panties—the ones that after you wear a couple of times just get all frizzy, so you save them in the back of your drawer for “special occasions” and then in a few years clean out said drawer, and end up throwing them away because they’ve somehow ratted up in the back of the drawer, even though they were never worn—yeah that kind. I have all of these things, and am ready “just in case.” Lesley and I had a conversation about this blog, and she brought up that a common complaint people have when dating is that the other person changes after three months of dating, and it isn’t true. People don’t change, they just relax back into who they really are.

I’m a comfort woman, not that I am lazy, but there are things that I don’t care to do, unless its for show. That being said, there are several things I do for myself regularly like wearing pretty smelling lotion, daily mascara, and blowing out my hair. But the myriad of things that I list to do when I think I’m about to hop into a relationship is a bit mind blowing for me. Partially because the list is seemingly long, but partially because I’m so easily willing to slip into a vaguely different version of myself, a better groomed, slightly more sexy, taller (the heels come out) version of myself. Because, in a way, this is what I think I need to be in order to start a relationship. Again, not major changes, but I don’t show up to a first date like I do to daily things.

I’m not just a heightened version of myself only when dating. We all go into different situations where we are a shinier, better, improved version of ourselves. There is a different me at work, there is a different me with certain friends, there is a different me at a networking party. It just happens. It’s when we play into this persona and create even more heightened versions of ourselves that it becomes an issue.

In Gone Girl, Amy confesses that she hates this person who she has made herself out to be, this perfect version of a wife for Nick. The perfect version of a daughter for her parents who are in a cookie cutter relationship. She hates it so much that she doesn’t know who she is. She doesn’t even know what it is that she likes. Because she has created this character, partially out of fun and partially as an experiment, Amy makes herself out to be likeable (to which at one point she asks the reader if “likeable is a compliment”) and therefore makes fake relationships with people by being an amalgam of the things she thinks people want to see.

One of my favorite quotes is: “To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best day and night to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight and never stop fighting.” ee Cummings nails humanity on the head with that thought. What is the better choice: to be yourself, or to take on who you think people want to you be? Amy says it’s a game for herself to step into these people, these different stereotypes to be more likeable. Feminism says you should stand up and be different than the stereotypical woman. I say: I like fancy undies and heels when I’m out on a first date—heels for the first impression and to give a glimpse at how intimidating I actually am, and fancy undies so if my first impression of you is a good one, I can know that I have a secret I’d like to share—maybe not tonight… but sometime.


I’m not a feminist. I’m an equalist. I think that if you want to let your freak flag fly, then do. If you don’t, well… don’t. Your choice, just don’t hurt anyone intentionally. I think that its fine to be who you want one moment and try on someone else’s skin the next—just don’t get so deep in a lie  that you hurt someone, or worse hurt or confine yourself. If you want to buy fancy undies, or fancy wine, or have a fancy shave, do.

Plans to see the movie tomorrow with my book club, are urging me to finish reading Gone Girl even though my inner voice keeps comparing me to Amy. I think, even though the comparisons terrify me, I know that I’m not like her. Yes, I do try on different versions of myself, but all of them are rooted somewhere in me—I would wear the fancy undies and heels more often if they were more comfortable. But ultimately its not the true me. And when I do put on these personas it is for me—possibly driven by others—but in the end, for me. I’m going to go finish the book now… maybe you should go check on yourself and see how much of your outward self is for you, and how much is for the world… We’d love to hear your thoughts below! (Oh, and I JUST finished the book… I’m NOT an Amy.  Not even close.)

Clare

Opportunities

There is a huge theme in the dating world:  Meeting the elusive “One” that you’re meant to spend your life with.  Here is the truth I believe in: Everyone gets a shot, a chance, an opportunity to be with anyone they meet. DO NOT ROLL YOUR EYES AT THIS PAGE! Hear me out:

Recently a letter went around Facebook from “Your Future Mate”. If you haven’t read it, here is the link:    http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/5195511 The letter states why “The One” hasn’t found you yet and sites examples like: They are with the wrong one now; they are still hanging on to what they “think” they want; they are not ready for you yet.

That last one might be my more favorite one. It’s also part of my point. Everyday we meet people. We are set up on dates, we swipe right on Tinder (or maybe it’s left or a double tap? I’ve never used it) or search Facebook and other web pages for a connection. We go on dates and make up excuses as to why it “didn’t work:” “They were great but not what I am looking for.” “Too busy” or “just out of a relationship” and or “Not ready for a relationship.”

Well guess what? If we are not our best selves at the time, if we are not “ready” to be vulnerable and let someone into our world. The connection is missed, at least for now. Maybe even for good.  Sometimes, these connections revisit you later in life. Like my most recent “revisit.”

When I was a freshman in college, I was in lust with a junior. He was the Resident Advisor of my friend’s floor in our dorm, and I just had to have him. I would find any reason to go to my friend’s floor during “visiting hours.” I about died when he showed up at my dorm one night. He had to like me back, right? One night around 2am, I walked past the offices below the dorms. There he was. My crush.  Working on a paper. He saw me, got up and met me at the door to chat. I stood there willing with my mind, talking with my eyes, hoping against hope that he would invite me into that office. I know I am aware that had he invited me in, we just would have had sex and we most likely would not have dated. However, in my 18-year-old mind, sex at that moment would be amazing. We liked each other, but we were in a place where we could be caught (Christian school…so definitely not something looked highly upon). Also happened to be the office of the Resident Director (his boss) and the person who makes RA’s enforce the no sex policy (obviously, that made it more enticing).

Instead, none of that happened. No invite, no kissing, no passionate on-top-of-a-desk in an office of the very person who could have kicked us out of school sex. Life went on, semesters passed, and he married another girl.

Then, last week thanks to the wonders of the internet, he found me. Added me as a friend and then called me. Yes, it was lovely to catch up, reminisce. But, when he eluded to us hanging out, hooking up etc…I sat there and knew in my gut the answer was no. In my heart the answer was: No, too bad we didn’t do it 10 years ago. My head’s answer was: he missed his chance.  Back then, he totally could have had me. But, the opportunity passed us (well mostly him).

So, what does my trip down memory lane mean for you? Simple, really. In order for you to be with your true counter-part three things need to happen: you need to know who you are, what you want, and why you need it. Who you are.  What you want.  Why you need it.  When you do, when the opportunity presents itself 1) you will recognize it 2) you will be your best, loved and respected self.  And that amazing person who is right for you will be excited to be part of your life.  If you don’t know these three things, the opportunity will occur anyway, but you will not be ready.  You may miss this chance to be with someone who is equal to your BEST self.

Stop wondering where the “good” ones are.  Instead, start LOVING yourself.  Figure out who you are.  Make yourself the best version of you that you can be. Stop second-guessing yourself and FIND yourself instead.  Currently you might feel like you are missing opportunities.  You probably are because you are not being you.  If you are yourself, these won’t seem like missed opportunities because you’ll know how to field them. When you know who you are, and are your best self, you could meet your partner in crime tomorrow.  It could be something as simple as loving yourself today and going for a latte leads to meeting the right person.

What would that be like to attract exactly what you want and deserve?  Guess what, it’s not a unicorn. “The One” exists but you have to be ready to strike when the iron is hot—which means making sure you’re in the best place to receive it.  We here at Live ClareLesley are going to continually repeat this until you are so tired of hearing it that you’re putting it in to practice: live your life and be the best version of yourself instead of actively seeking out another person to complete you.  “The One” will be a complimentary entity of you, not complete you (sorry, Jerry Maguire).  So, are you ready?

LL

 

Breaking Up Was RIGHT To Do

Did I do the right thing in breaking up? Should I have…? What if I was wrong? Maybe I should go back?  Stop!

Do these questions sound familiar? If they don’t, hat’s off to you for never having questioned your actions towards ending a relationship that had run its course (although that might be something worth examining). But, for the rest of us out there we have on probably hundreds of occasions wondered. Questioned. Worried. Moaned groaned, and dare I say it, groveled back to the one that we so courageously walked away from recently.

Today while teaching a client, she mentioned that she was worried about her son. The past few days he has been wondering if he made the right decision by breaking up with his long-term girlfriend. The girlfriend wanted to get married and start a family and the son isn’t interested in starting a family, at least not right now.

Having been there myself, I know he did the right thing. Why drag out the inevitable? Why waste either person’s time if you’re not right for each other, or simply want different, large life goals. You can absolutely love someone and leave him or her. I’m not saying it’s easy! Lord knows, that is a tough situation especially if you still love the person, despite wanting completely different things out of life. Nevertheless, if your goals don’t line up with those of a partner, it’s best to go your separate ways.

So back to “it’s not easy”…any break up is difficult on some level. Even when you know it’s the right decision, it’s very rarely a pleasant experience. Even if it is better than a trip to the spa, you still have to recover after the break up—telling friends, readjusting plans, getting your stuff back, sometimes even finding a new place to live. In the first few days and weeks of my most recent breakup, I had made plans with so many friends, I didn’t have a free moment in my calendar. Because I kept busy in my newly made free time, I couldn’t believe I ever had time for a relationship. Sadly, this new singledom bliss doesn’t stick. After a few weeks go by and you fall into your “new life” the slide starts to happen. You will find yourself having all this “free” time. You may even start the duty dating. Time to think, relax, analyze, and at some point feel lonely.

In a relationship, good or bad you know the gist of your weekend. On Thursday afternoon you’re not likely looking at a empty weekend on your calendar. Even if there are no set plans you know you’re spending time with someone. When you’re single its not as solid– as I write this on a Thursday afternoon I can tell you I’m looking at a very open Friday night. Saturday night I booked a ladies craft night (probably wine and girl talk, but thank goodness I got invited to something). My Sunday I managed early on in my singleness to find a way to work from brunch to lunch so I wouldn’t be alone all day.

It’s those Sundays that’ll get you! Those days set aside for relaxing—but you don’t relax when your mind spirals back to the past. When you’re single, if you don’t have a ton of single friends, you’ll quickly realize Sunday is the couple/family day. It’s these “lonely” days that turn that monkey mind on. Those questions. Did I do the right thing? Maybe I should call/text them? Ask for forgiveness? Give it another go…

As a survivor of this stage in the singleness game I will say this: You will survive, you will get through. You will make a new Sunday routine. You’ll start to see the happiness in this alone time. You broke up with or were broken up with for multiple reasons, most of which were logical and good. The truth is no one, not me, Clare, your friends or family can answer those questions in your head. Only you can. You already know the answers.

This is where I will get honest and blunt with you. Feeling lonely is not the reason to contact an ex to try to fix things. This too shall pass. Here are a few of my tricks to get you through:

  • Plan out your weekend before Friday
  • Buy tickets to events and schedule classes: fill up your schedule!
  • Go to the farmers market and buy food to make yourself a great meal
  • Read that book you keep putting off reading at a cozy cafe
  • Catch up on your DVR and love hanging out in your underwear!

Those questions will plague you only if you let them. However, I’ll say it again loneliness is not the reason to question, doubt or run backwards. You are where you are. It’s not easy but nothing worthwhile is and without change there’s no growth. I’m free Sunday night! What do you want for dinner?

–LL