We’ve probably all heard the phrase about a chapter closing in life. It’s a beautiful and quick way to metaphorically encapsulate what it feels like when we move on from a certain time in our lives. The process of moving on can happen intentionally or unintentionally, and it can make us feel many different emotions, both happy and sad. I’ve recently realized that a chapter in my life is coming to a true close, and the feeling of it has intrigued me and made me want to explore it more deeply.
For about a year and a half I was in love with the same person. We spent most of our time together, and he was the person I called and texted and thought about more than anyone else. Like most serious relationships do, the relationship I had with this person molded other parts of my life; we spent holidays traveling to see one another; his friends became mine and vice versa; my interests were suddenly his.
When we stopped dating in the summer, it didn’t feel to me that anything had truly changed, even after I moved to Portland and he stayed in Chicago. He was still the person I texted and called and thought about the most. But when I traveled home this Christmas and visited him in Chicago, things finally felt like they truly changed. I realized that our relationship ended for a reason, and that there was nothing I could do to fix that.
I immediately gave the period a label in my head. I refer to it as “Spencer” or “Living in Chicago.” As silly as it seems, labeling the time gave me a stronger image of it being a specific chapter that I could watch close and move on from.
So what is a chapter and what does it mean to close it?
To me, a chapter is a period in our lives that we feel comfortable with. It is one that’s repetitive and feels, at that time, like normalcy. Labeling specific times as chapters is a form of compartmentalizing, and it helps us visualize and store all of the activities and emotions that came with the time period.
In my opinion, having a chapter close simply means moving on, and the closing can happen intentionally or unintentionally. Sometimes we realize that our current way of life– whether it’s the person we’re dating, the job we have or the place we live—is not satisfying or that it no longer gives us happiness, so we intentionally make an effort to change it and move away from old habits. Other times, the change comes naturally and happens when we don’t want it to; a close friend could pass away, you could lose your job, a relationship ends when you’re still devoted, etc.
Whichever way a specific time of your life winds down, a lot of emotions come into play. Moving on can feel scary because what is normal to you dissolves as the days go by. Moving on can also make us feel hopeful, excited and happy because we might be freeing ourselves from something that was causing us to feel dull. It’s easier to accept the emotions we feel when a chapter closes in our lives when we can visualize that part as a small chapter in the big book that holds the story of our lives.
While I’m sad that the “Spencer/Living in Chicago” time is over, I’m excited to find out what the next chapters of my life will be. The blank pages of the future have me wondering who I will love next, what my new home in my new city holds for me and what the new chapters will leave me with.
Also by Marlee: How to Stay Sane While Home for the Holidays
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Photo: Roman Drits via Barn Images