This is our truth, tell us yours
Endings are something I have struggled with all my life. Its one of those issues where knowing the why doesn’t always help with the how. My childhood had a number of “disappearances” forced endings that left me feeling as if anything or anyone I cared about might crumble into dust at any time. Its caused me to prefer to disappear myself, often drifting away from a group or situation since the alternative is to allow myself to grow close enough to be, once again, abandoned.
When you assume that loosing what you care about is the default, loss takes on a different flavour. Its almost as if you live in a contradiction, waiting to be once more bereft whilst holding yourself back from the engagement and relationships which might cause you to be hurt again.
Its a lonely place, created out of loneliness. An emptiness that grows from the fear of what might happen if you become attached, if you fill the void.
A few years ago I was active in the kink community, my fellow traveller and I ran a blog where as well as politics, sex work activism, and rants we would post BDSM pictures, depictions of the way we did this thing that we do. In an instant those pictures, which had changed my view of myself, helped me to love the way I looked, had to be abandoned as they were used to out me.
Another loss, another place denied, another ending I had no say in. By caring about one thing (sex worker rights) other things I cared about were taken from me.
So far, so self pitying, and I can see you asking yourself what is the point of this, things end, get over it, move on.
Do things really end? Or is that a myth we tell ourselves, a comfort, a delusion that we have control, see we do, this thing ended, so we must have control?
Call it closure, endings, moving on, we seem to have convinced ourselves that our lives can be divided into discrete units, ones where each beginning can be marked and each ending cordoned off with “nothing to see here”
Life doesn’t work like that. The emotions from a “finished” event of 30 years ago can still spill into our lives today. Closure is sold by snake oil merchants who base their entire business model on everything being easy, on neat endings being possible, the lies we tell children sold by childlike adults who fear not being able to control every aspect of their life more than anything.
Things dont end, not really, its a basic law of physics and of life. Even a death leaves ripples, as those left behind still mourn, still pause when they hear a certain tune or smell a specific scent. Life after death is not a religious fairy tale, but a description of the fact that we do have our minds erased when someone dies.
So if closure, if endings, are myths, what can we do? What is the alternative to either my former pattern of isolation or chasing after “closure” moonbeams? If, as I believe no event ever truly ends, no person is ever fully removed from our lives, we do not live in the eternal sunshine of the sunlit mind, what can we do? Two words come to mind, to words which those who would sell the easy way would claim to be weak, or unhelpful.
Accommodation and Acceptance.
We are not islands, there are no brain wipes, we live our lives with the cumulative impact of all that happens affecting the ever present now. In each moment we are not reborn, even as each moment is itself a new beginning. Instead of the falsity of endings we perhaps should try to see how all those past moments create our reactions in the now, to accommodate them in our view of ourself, to understand how a choice we make now might be influenced by a choice made for us many years ago. So much of self help is around (righteous) anger, but that anger does not power anything but more anger. I watched Margaret Cho;s 12 days of rage with much sympathy for her pain, but also wondering what the rage led to another than more rage. The death of an abuser is not an ending, an eye for an eye just leaves everyone blind.
Again acceptance is seen as a weak word, we are told to rage against the dying of the light, as if it makes any difference. I do not mean here acceptance of a current abusive event, or something that hurts us, but instead an acceptance that once we give up the myth of endings we know we are affected by our pasts. Accepting this means we can absorb this knowledge, make our choices based not on a closure that never comes but an acceptance of who we really are in the here and now. Instead of holding out hope that one day we are finished acceptance says we are already good enough.
To accept ourselves as we are, to stop chasing after closure, to give up on the myth that an event or person will ever stop having an impact on us is a huge step. It means letting go of our childhood comforter, of stepping out into the world as adults, and accepting this is how it is. It does not mean we cannot change, the very opposite, since endings are the opposite of change. It does mean accomodating into any change the knowledge and understanding of all that makes up our lives, the good and the bad.