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Ex’s: How to Find Closure and Make Peace

Making peace with my ex’s was a lot like hugging a fire hydrant. I had to be willing to tenderly embrace something that had been pissed on way too many times.

Written by: Anonymous Guest Writer

When I thought about my past, I was flooded with memories of people, specifically my ex’s.

I don’t know about you, but I spent a lot of my time resenting my ex’s: A LOT. Most of my adult life has been devoted to this cause.

Here is how I dealt with it…

ex's - how to find closure and make peaace

Recognizing The Pattern

It didn’t matter the reason why our relationship ended, or even if I were the one at fault. If they were an ex of mine, I automatically disliked them.

I think part of me thought I had to. It was, after all, what I saw, in real life as well as in the movies.

My resentment was a coping mechanism. For the most part, my resentment protected me, whether it was from getting hurt or reactivating romantic emotions for them. My resentment served as a wall, and sometimes kept me from wandering back into a relationship with the guy. Not always.

I had a pattern of setting up revolving doors in relationships. Every major relationship I had was an on-again-off-again relationship.

I would get out of a relationship with one guy, move onto the next one, then go back to the guy I had broken up with. I would repeat this pattern for the majority of my romantic life. I even rolled this pattern of behavior over onto the relationship I have with my now husband.  I had a fantasy/expectation that I had to ‘get perfect’ before I met Mr. Right, in order to not screw things up. What I didn’t realize is that perhaps I needed to meet Mr. Right in order to motivate me to become the woman I had been so afraid to become…Mrs. Right.

 

 

 

One reason I re-entered relationships I previously left involved fear of being alone. I wouldn’t completely break off contact with the guy, which left the door cracked open. Part of me believed that if we had been through ‘stuff’ together (the crazier, the better) then they really loved me and knew me. I already knew how they would hurt me and I didn’t want to risk being vulnerable with someone new.

Fear Of Closure: Recognizing Grief

I didn’t know how to appropriately exit a relationship; much less mean my ‘goodbye’ after the relationship ended. I didn’t know how to fully have closure either. I kept the doors cracked open to as many men as I could. I stashed men like an alcoholic hides bottles.

Needless to say, that wasn’t very fair.

I assumed having closure meant you had to get everything off your chest that you would ever want to say, right then and there. The hole in that theory was that the wiser and more aware I became, the more insight I had regarding those relationships. Chances are I would find better words and a deeper understanding than I had in that moment, however long ago that had been. Meaning: I would always have something more to say. And thus create a “valid excuse” to resume contact with said ex.

I then assumed that closure meant saying goodbye and leaving it at that. No longer taking calls or responding to texts, no longer reaching out when in need, no longer falling into their laps during crisis, and no longer mingling when running into them out in the world. Oh yeah, and especially no longer stalking them via Facebook!

What I found was that leaving a relationship provoked the same emotional response as losing a loved one. There were stages I went through that were inevitably part of the process. I would grieve them like any other. There were moments even after everything was said and done that I still felt a deep spiritual bond with them. I would find myself angry, then grateful, then relieved.

I didn’t know that it was possible for me not only to forgive myself and them for whatever happened in the relationship, but that it was also possible for me to genuinely love them from afar, without reigniting the flame.

How I Finally Moved Forward

I have done plenty of searching inventories to see what my part was in each relationship. Although seeing my part helped me to divide fault 50/50, I felt like it was still difficult for me to find closure and make peace with my past.

So, I started handwriting letters (and NOT sending them). Instead, I would scribble out everything I needed to say and when I was ready, I would sit before my fireplace and read the letter aloud as if they were there listening. Then I would burn the letter. I would watch it fold into flames and I would imagine that the smoke was rising up into the atmosphere, floating away from my heart, and releasing us both of whatever hurts we still carried within us.

When I found myself driving, or unable to handwrite a note, I would say an affirmation for them, (something like this):

Bless them, wherever they are, whatever they are doing right now, whoever they are now. I pray they are happy, healthy, and whole. I pray they are in a loving relationship, that they are living their dreams, working where they want to work, doing what they want to do, that they are surrounded by loving and supportive friends, and basking in joy and in love. I pray they know in their hearts that I forgive them, that I am sorry, and that I want the very best for them. I pray YOU help us both to find peace and share an unconditional love and appreciation for each other, regardless of our past. I pray YOU use our past together to help heal us and others and that YOU pour your grace and forgiveness in the holes we have buried our resentments in. I ask for YOU to deliver this message to them, wherever they are, and lighten their hearts and mine, and to help me to love them, whoever they are now.—Amen.

If I am going about my day and something reminds me of an ex, I say this affirmation for them.

Writing letters and burning them helps me to find closure and make peace in my heart.

How Dreams, Friends And Compassion Play a Role

On occasion, I even find them in my dreams. There are times where my dreams have provided me with a deeper sense of closure. There have been times I have had dream conversations with ex’s and have been able to ‘say’ what I never had the chance to say before. There have been times I have said goodbye, exchanged farewell hugs, and have even caught glimpses of them in their ‘new lives’. When I wake up, I thank God for the dream and say a prayer for them and thank them for meeting me, for everything we had been through to help me become who I am and to be where I am and I pray all their heart’s desires come true.

There was even once that I wrote a letter to an ex and read it aloud to a friend. It was powerful to imagine my friend sitting there as my ex. I cried. I realized I had been carrying anger in my heart for so many years and I was finally ready to say goodbye to my resentment. It was no longer protecting me. In fact, it had been slowly destroying me. It provided me with an excuse to avoid intimacy in my relationship. It oozed poison into my soul. At every thought of him, I would find myself bitter and angry and wishing horrible things upon him for what ‘he had done to me’.

That was part of my journey, too, and very essential for my healing, but it wasn’t permanent. I needed to feel those feelings in order to validate them. And then, when I was ready to move beyond the anger, and beyond the sadness, I found that I was swimming in appreciation and love.

I even found that my capacity to love was greater than I could fathom and that it was stronger and more pure than it had been when we were together.

Today, I find myself more loving and compassionate than I ever have been and I hope that all my ex’s everywhere know that I am genuinely sorry for my part in our relationship, that I forgive them wholeheartedly, and that I truly want the very best for each of them. Most of all, I hope that they feel in the depths of their souls how deeply grateful I am for them and for all we have been through because I wouldn’t be who I am without them. I also know I would not have the beautiful marriage I have with my husband if it weren’t for them because they were all stepping stones that led me to him, and they were leading me to the truest version of me I could ever be.

People come into our lives for so many different reasons and stay for different seasons. In my heart, I now believe that my ex’s were my angels. They came into my life at just the right time, taught me things about myself and about love, and they gave me gifts that only they could give me. And when it was time for us to part ways, we did.

We might not have known then what we know now, but it doesn’t matter in the end. What matters most is that we lived, we loved and we learned.

And now I know how to truly live and truly love because I learned through them.

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