A few years ago in 2005, my sister gave me a set of new socks she had bought me as part of my birthday gift. These socks seriously became my all-time favorite pairs of socks. I can’t even remember what else she gave me on that birthday, but I do remember the socks.
They were simple black socks; ankle high with a cotton blend, and out of the three pairs, two of them had cute little designs on them. It might seem strange, but I really loved these socks. They were so comfortable, fit perfectly, didn’t ride around in my shoes, didn’t make my feet sweat, didn’t itch and kept their form, even after many, many washings. I was never disappointed with my sister’s socks.
Every time I would put them on, she would come to mind and I would think, “Wow, I just love these socks!” It always brought a smile to my face. Each time I mentioned to her how much I really liked the socks, she would just smile and say, “My God, Nicole, they are just stupid socks!” And even though she never let on, I think she was secretly pleased with herself for choosing a gift that I liked so much because she never would tell me where she bought them from.
Later in 2008, my family’s relationships were very strained and by 2009 those family connections had been completely dissolved. Each day after that when I would put on my sister’s socks, I would experience a varying range of emotions, the majority of them less than pleasing, and even though I would try not to let it happen, tears would just roll down my face. It would seem these socks had taken on a new intonation. They were now a source of pain, a source of hurtful memories, and a symbol of broken relationships. I could have stopped wearing them, to avoid the flood of memories, to avoid the sadness I felt with each recollection, but I didn’t. I just liked them so much.
I noticed after some time that the first pair of the three, the pair with no designs on them, had gotten holes on the toe and heal part, so I had to throw them away. I remember feeling so angry that day as I processed through the memories and emotions that were now very much connected to these socks! Then shortly after that, the second pair of the three, the pair with a pretty flower design, had gotten holes in them also, so again, I had to throw them away. This time, I remember thinking how incredible it was that I had had these socks for so many years, that in a way, they had outlasted the relationship between my sister and me. I felt sad.
Recognizing that I only had one pair of socks left from the set made me appreciate them so much more. I didn’t want them to get holes in them, so I wore them sparingly. I started to realize that each time I would put on this that last pair of my sister’s socks, I would smile, she would come to mind and I would think, “Wow, I just love these socks!”
Yesterday I noticed something. The last pair of socks, the ones that have an intertwining design on each side had holes in them. I had to throw them away. As I opened the trash can to dispose of my much loved socks I thought, “Now what will cause me to smile about my sister?”
When I threw away my sister’s socks, the socks I had cherished for so many years, there was a little sadness but also a little happiness. I realized then that it had been some time since those socks had made me think of the unfortunate situation that caused my sister to separate from my life. Wearing those socks no longer brought up the feelings of sadness and frustration that were so closely tied to the memory of my sister. Now they just made me think of her. No pain, no sadness, just my sister. It was a feeling of closure that I hadn’t expected, having been so many years since the separation.
The closure I felt wasn’t from the act of throwing away those socks, but from finally coming to peace with the situation that caused those family ties to break. Through wearing those socks, the ones that reminded me of my sister, for so many years after the relationship had dissolved, the harsh feelings of pain and anger had slowly faded away. Just like the holes in the toes and heels of each pair, the bitter feelings wore down until they broke through. Closure doesn’t come from the removal of everything that reminds you of the person or situation that left you hurt. Closure comes from working through those emotions and walking through the pain.
You might get holes in your socks, but keep walking, and you will come out with a smile on the other side.