Posted by: jgurner | July 26, 2012

When Is Closure Not Closure At All?

For a while over the past year or so, I had the feeling I needed to confront a section of my past I have been reluctant to confront. It was a fairly large part, almost a quarter of my life so far. Like any part of one’s life, it was fraught with conflicting emotions, complex relationship issues, happiness, sadness, anger and peace. For a number of years, there was an entire decade-plus of my existence I just really didn’t want to deal with because of the complexities of dealing with it.

But, slowly, I began to get the idea that I might be able to at least begin to make peace with this time of my life in some small way. Tackling it as a whole seemed too formidable, but maybe some small act could bring some bit of closure.

In July of 1993 I took a job with The Amory Advertiser, located in Monroe County. I was the news and sports editor for the publication. Newly married, I moved to the community and began my career in the newspaper business in true. Three years later, I moved to the Advertiser’s sister paper, The Aberdeen Examiner. We moved from Amory to Aberdeen, bought a house and would spent just a little over eight years of our lives living and working in and around both towns and the county. When we left, we had lived in Monroe County just one month under 11 years.

Life during that period was trying. The job, over the years, evolved into something I came to loath. It was a decade of severe financial strains, partly self-inflicted by us both and partly due to bad luck. My marriage… Let’s lust say it wasn’t what I thought it would be.

When I left in the summer of 2004, I almost couldn’t believe it. It felt like I was released from captivity. It was like emerging from a long, dark tunnel. September of 2004, when we drove over to Aberdeen to sign the papers that would finalize the sale of our house, was the last time I’d set foot in Monroe County. It’s not that far away: and easy hour and a half drive. But for me, it seemed best to pretend that part of my life took place thousands of miles away in another part of the world.

Yesterday, though, everything changed.

The feeling inside that I needed some kind of closure on that chapter of my life continued to grow until finely I decided I needed to take action. I had mentioned all of this before and Anita had encouraged me to make a return trip if I felt like I needed to. So, finally, I made the decisions it was time and we loaded up and began the journey.

Any time you revisit something from your past you find some things change, some don’t. And in this trip back into a portion of my history – seeing the changes in the newspaper I where I had my first “real” job, seeing the first house I lived in there and the first and so far only house I’ve bought, riding through the streets that were at the time so familiar, I began to realize something. It was nebulous at first, but it began to congeal on the ride home. This wasn’t a trip about the past, it was a trip about the future. And it wasn’t closure I needed. I needed to know it was okay to embrace that part of my existence and to not avoid it.

The world as it was from July 1993 to June 2004 doesn’t exist any more. The job is gone. The newspapers are gone, merged into a single history-less, generic publication. The houses belong to other people. Even the pets from those days, which made life a little more bearable, are gone. And the marriage, it ran its course.

I had started the day hoping by the end of the trip I would have found some small measure of closure, but, as it turns out, I never really needed it. It was an illusion trumped up in my mind. I thought if  I drove the streets once so familiar, walked through the offices where I spent so much time, saw the places I used to live, I would be able to put it all behind me and the demons that have been poking at my subconscious might just stop. But what actually happened is I came to the realization I need to do the opposite. Instead of pushing that time of my life into the recesses of my mental closet, I need to bring it forth and embrace it. And I need to change the way I look at it.

Instead of simply remembering it as a time of strife, I need to remember there were plenty of times of joy. There were plenty of times I was proud to be doing the job I was doing. There were times my marriage was happy and peaceful. There were people I got to know and become friends with. It was a very dark time in my life, but it wasn’t just a dark time, and in my effort to try my best to avoid this sizable portion of my existence, I seem to have lost sight of that.

Where I go from here, I don’t have a clue. I may never set foot over in that area that played such a big part of my life again, but at least now I know it’s okay if I don’t. Maybe this will eventually lead me to reconcile my feelings and thoughts about other parts of my life from those days. Right now, I just don’t know. I do know that instead of being the ending I though it would be, yesterday’s pilgrimage was only the beginning, but I think with that beginning, I’ll be able to rest a little easier now.


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