Everyone talks about closure as if there will be a tangible, light bulb moment when it happens, or begins to happen. What should it feel like? Does it begin after a trial, after an apology, after acknowledgement or even perhaps after a compensation payment. I have spent the last 10 years in counselling and the ultimate aim was 'closure'.
When I last wrote about this post-trial period and how it was different than I had imagined, I still believed it was a period of closure, principally because that is what I had imagined it to be.
I have spoken with my counsellor many times about it and perhaps even when I should expect it. What form does it take? Would I be aware of it as it happens? Will it make me feel very different? Will I be able to cope with life after 'closure'?
Whilst visiting my GP 2 weeks ago, he asked me how things were and I told him how I was feeling. I mentioned the 'C' word. He asked me what closure was? He asked me why I needed it? He asked me why I couldn’t live a normal life, running parallel to my past? Because the likelihood is that I will not forget what happened and it will always be part of me and part of my life. I was slightly stunned. Not because he was blunt but because that was perhaps the start of something new. An acceptance… or dare I say 'closure' in the form of acceptance.
The truth is I now firmly believe that there is no such thing as closure. There is, however a way of functioning normally. Whilst not forgetting the past, the future must take priority and we have to remember that our legacy is of our own making. The fact that we don’t wear our past on our sleeve doesn’t mean there’s no story to tell. The fact we wear a smile doesn’t mean there’s no sadness. The fact that there are positives in our lives does not eradicate the negatives. The truth is that all of the stories, sadness and negatives are still there but they have been assigned to a place where they belong, THE PAST.
I don’t want to be defined as a victim of clerical sexual abuse. Yes its part of what formed me but that doesn’t mean it must define me. It has made me what I am (whatever that may be) but it is not all I am.
The irony here for me is the quest for 'closure' only extends the anxiety in the search for it. It is a self- perpetuating road to nowhere. I am in the process of accepting that my memories will be with me forever and although that’s difficult to accept it’s also quite refreshing. It’s a different view, even a brighter view, because I am not allowing events of the past to control me, and everything I do.
The fact is that everyone has a story to tell but some will let it define them and others won’t. Some will find it easier than others and some will find that it’s not an approach for them to take. I, on the other hand will make a start and see where it takes me. God knows I have tried everything else and the only one who will create a legacy for me is myself, (with the help and support of those who love me).
So as for the apologies, the acknowledgements, the trials and all the compensation payments, they are all part of a process of acceptance, all part of a process of greater understanding of self and others and all part of a wider public awareness. None of them either alone or collectively will allow anyone to forget. They will however allow us to live our lives with pride and dignity which has eluded us for so long.
I am not saying accept it and move on…. I am saying accept it as best you can and live a little!