I’ll Just Say Fare Thee Well: The Myth of “Getting Closure”

I was at the Miss LEZ pageant, at the last intermission prior to the winner being announced, passing out fliers for Rebel Cupcake and generally being proud of how well Miss Rebel Cupcake was doing in the pageant. In this euphoric, flask of bourbon in my handbag sort of state, I ran into a couple of friends. One of them said, “Last week you wrote on your twitter ‘I’m going to need to create my own closure.’ I have a friend who has been struggling with a break-up for over a year and I repeated that to her and it really helped.” That comment made me so happy I almost cried.

Me at Rebel Cupcake: Halloween Heartbreak with the winner of Miss LEZ, repping Rebel Cupcake, Drae Campbell and Becca Blackwell who was a contestant with me in Miss LEZ last year. Dress: Re/Dress. Shoes, 3 1/2″ leather peep toes by Fitzwell via Zappos. Necklace & earring set: gift from a dear friend.

You might have noticed a little blog silence going on for a while. I find it really hard to write sometimes when I’m going through a lot of emotional upheaval. I like to write from a place of having a grasp on things and there’s nothing like having the rug pulled out from under you to make you feel like you don’t have a grasp on anything. That’s what happened five weeks ago, the details of which are still a little too fresh and muddled to explain. So, you know, I throw myself into my other work that doesn’t require me to feel like I have a grasp or whatever.

If there’s anything to come out of this pain I’m glad it’s helping people. I like living out loud in that way and my art is often my expression of the experience of living and loving as a queer fat femme/party promoter/shop girl/lawyer/performer/aspiring talk show host in this world. Lately expressing in soundbites like twitter and tumblr is what I’ve been able to do.

I believe the idea of “getting closure” is a myth. I think we idealize “getting closure” where you meet your ex at a neutral coffee shop and share lattes like you’re in an early 90s episode of Friends and you talk about your relationship and get all of those answers you are really missing that will help you tidy everything up like you fold your sweaters and put them away for the summer.

Emotions are messy and crazy. You have no control over the other person and what they’re going to say to you. Sometimes they won’t “give” you anything (as I’m experiencing now) or they’ll just do or say the same unsatisfying shit that lead to your break-up in the first place. Zoe’s Break-Up Survival Guide says (the gist of) “Try not to worry about how or why, try accepting that it is.” Learn your new normal. But, I think, unless you’re in the best possible break-up working in out in couples therapy or something, you won’t be able to just walk away and say “that was all neatly packaged, it feels closed.”

I mean, maybe there are couples out there who communicate SO WELL that they’re able to actually have closure and a satisfying break-up and to them I say kudos. But my twitter comment about creating my own closure had as much to do with what I’m going through now as it is poring over my previous break-ups (as I tend to do while heartbroken).

I had an ex-lover pass away this summer–there is no further closure I’m ever going to get from her. I really had always fantasized that at some point we’d be across the aisle from each other at our best friends’ wedding and we’d salvage a tender friendship out of our brief courtship. Any closure I get from my relationship with Luscious is going to be from working through my process, as it actually cannot come from her.

I think there are certain aspects of relationships that can see some tangible closure. One time I had an ex who owed me a bunch of money and I didn’t let it go. For years I watched friends walk away from top surgery loans and laptop loans of thousands of dollars to scoundrel exes or just plain sad exes. They did this because they just wanted a clean break and to not worry about it. For me it was important to close that element of my relationship. Plus, my electricity got shut off because he left this huge debt on our electric bill and the company rolled it over onto my new account and I had to come up with the money on my own, which was really hard at the time.

Self-advocacy is really difficult to do for yourself, especially when emotions are involved. But I kept at it, with letters and copies of joint bills and the bitter recollection of that week of living with candles for lights and no internet. And then I finally got checks every other week until it was paid off. I settled for slightly less than what I thought his debt was, but it was worth it to get it all done.

So I had financial closure but it still took months and even years to work through the emotions of our break-up and the closure I needed. I’ve got three years of perspective now and I still can only guess why or how. The damage of being cheated on, being broken up with in an email with no face to face conversation and all of that took a lot of work on my own terms.

Some closure won’t come until you start dating again. I wondered if I could ever love again as hard as I loved him. And it turns out I did and I can.


Me & my friend Berlin saying hi to his GF/my friend Ally who was in Portland. Berlin is the Ethical Butcher. Go to his classes & dinners!

Sometimes it helps me to write letters. I don’t like cutting people out of my life who did something horrible to me without explaining in plain language just exactly why I won’t ever speak to them again. Once someone lied to me so much I wrote her a letter detailing the 21 lies I had caught her in. I gave it to her and I’m certain that she managed to distort her reality around the contents to make it feel okay for her. But that letter helped me to create the peace I needed in order for me to walk away. The key is in sending it with no expectation as to the response.

One time I actually received great closure from an ex. A year after we broke up we ran into each other on campus and I smiled at her. She sent me an email with great accountability and apologies. At the time I couldn’t see it as the great closure it was, but three years later I re-read it and I was like “Wow, that was really great accountability.” But it wasn’t closure for me at the time because I wasn’t in a place to see it as closure.

Wanting closure is really hard. But the thing is, you have the power to make it happen for yourself in the way that works best for you. Break-ups are a selfish time period, where you stop looking at the us, mourn the pretty picture of the us you were creating and work on yourself. There’s so much possibility in your own closure.

Sometimes you’re not going to “get” closure at all because parts of our emotional histories are sagas and can’t be wrapped up like winter sweaters. My heartbreak feels like part of a bigger saga right now, so I’m not even working on closure. What I’m trying to do instead is turn my pain into the opportunity to create the solid base inside myself where an emotional event as jarring as what I just went through doesn’t make me feel like I don’t have a grasp on anything. I’m developing the tools to stay peaceful and strong as other things blow around me.


Like one of those inflatable bop bags from the 80s that you punch and they float right back up to upright.

Things are going to get better and most of the time I believe it. And those times I don’t believe it I have the tools to call a BFF and ask them to tell me everything is going to get better. And I have art to express what I’m going through. And I have you, my sweet and wonderful readers, reminding me that expressing my pain is helping you, too. And 2,000 hits a week reminding me you’re still out there wanting to know what I’ve got going on!


9021-homo from Rebel Cupcake! All photos from RC by Nogga Schwartz.

This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. Thanks, Bevin. I sorely need closure with someone I dated last summer. Communication was awful even when things were good. I’m going to try a letter with no expectations.

  2. I’m glad you were able to stand up for yourself and get money that was coming to you. I know it was hard for me to come to the realization that I deserved financial and emotional compensation at the end of a relationship.

  3. You are so right on about this. I think sometimes people are looking for closure because it will “make everything ok again”. But often a lover will execute some egregious act of betrayal. The kinds of egregious acts I refer to are things that a friend would never do to a friend, or to a family member. For me, it’s devastating to find out your lover wasn’t even a true friend, let alone someone you perhaps considered part of your family. So in the end, it will never be “ok”. You can move on with your life and heal. However, having satisfying “closure” is definitely a myth and recognizing that, in my opinion, is a healthy POV.

  4. You know what I’m going to send you? A rare Indigo Girls cover (rarer than the one they just issued) of Don’t Think Twice. It’ll be a little piece of joy between the cracks.

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