A friend also reached out and told me about her story of domestic abuse. As I read her words, typed after one in the morning, my tears started to flow. The stories of domestic abuse all sound so similar. I could feel Sheryl smile. Her story of not surviving domestic abuse provided another victim of domestic abuse the courage to write about hers and realize that she is not alone. Another woman reached out for advice on helping a 15-year-old out of an abusive situation. I admire those who recognize abuse, listen intently, and provide the help and support all abuse victims need.
I’ve been asked to participate in a victims’ impact panel and talked with two educators about developing curriculum to teach young people how to recognize the signs of an abusive relationship. There are many resources on how to get out of an abusive relationship, but this work has made me realize that we don’t teach our children to recognize an abuser or to know the difference between a healthy and unhealthy relationship. I asked my 19-year-old daughter to describe a healthy dating relationship. She really didn’t know how to describe one. And perhaps the biggest outcome of my work so far is my own healing. I didn’t realize how deep the wounds were until they really started to heal.
So many people have reached out with the words, “I’m so happy you finally got closure.” I’m appreciative of the comments because I know that they were made with empathy and well wishes. Yet, I’ve struggled with the concept. What exactly is “closure”? Then, last night, a friend sent me an essay she wrote on anger as a sneak peek. (It will be published soon and once it is, I’ll provide a link.) This friend is a domestic abuse survivor and in a way that I’ve struggled to understand, I’ve emotionally connected with her. When I first met her and was so overcome with emotion, I told her friend “She reminds me of my sister.” That is true. Like Sheryl, my friend has a naïve sweetness not found in many people, let alone those who have been the victim of domestic violence. Then last night when I was again overcome with emotion reading her essay, I realized there is another reason for the connection—her words describe so many of my feelings that I’ve tried to express to others over the past 28 years. Yet, I’ve never been convinced that anyone truly understands what I’m saying and how I’m feeling. I don’t even have to talk to my friend, I can read her words and know that she understands exactly how I have felt at different times over the years.
My friend says, “Closure is a myth, but beginnings are real”. I think she is right which also explains why I have struggled with the comment, “I’m glad you finally found closure”. I don’t think I have found “closure”, but I have found a new beginning and it looks like a sunrise.
I plan to write more describing a healthy relationship and about my journey to “closure”. Help me by providing your thoughts on the two subjects. How would you describe a healthy relationship? What does “closure” mean to you?
I absolutely love that you’re doing this! In my opinion a healthy relationship is mutual respect, trust, and sharing without jealousy or controlling. Honest and open communication.
I’m excited to see where this goes and so proud of you! You’re an inspiration and Sheryl is smiling down on you.
“A new beginning that looks like a sunrise” can describe so many circumstances that draw us away from pain, illness, isolation, etc. and toward the strength discovered through individual and shared journeys. This work is an amazing gift, Renee.
What does “closure” mean to me? It means the trauma no longer controls and consumes an individual’s life. It does not mean they forgive. That is a whole different topic in my opinion. Closure, however it is ultimately realized/triggered (e.g. time, an event), allows the individual to live without continually reliving the pain they have experienced. They have ‘moved on’ so to speak, wiser and with the ability to truly emphasize and help someone else who may have experienced a similar trauma.