Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Seeking Closure Requires Solid Game Plan

DEAR HARRIETTE: My ex-boyfriend and I ended our relationship tumultuously, and then I immediately cut him off. He tried to reach out to me a few times but eventually gave up. Months later, I find myself with questions about our relationship that only he could answer. Is it too late to try to reach out and get answers? I know nothing about his current life. If it is too late, how do I get closure on my own? -- Wanting Answers, Cleveland

DEAR WANTING ANSWERS: Think about what you hope to gain from speaking to your ex again. Be very specific in your internal inquiry so that if you decide to reach out to him, you can articulate why. Attempting to hammer through unresolved hurts and pain usually does not work. If you want to know exactly what happened at a particular time, or whether there was a behavior of yours that was offensive or off-putting, or why he chose to do X or Y, list those things.

Given that time has passed, you can reach out to him. If you have to leave him a message, tell him that you are sorry you could not speak when he tried right after the breakup, but that you are of a cooler head now. Ask him if he is willing to talk to you. If so, agree to speak on the phone or in person. Stay calm as you speak. Let him know what you want to talk about. Be willing to hear him out. Do not come with ulterior motives. Be in the present moment and see where it takes you.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I just started a new job and love the company culture. We have fun together but also get a lot done for the community around us. The only thing that I am petrified about is my first karaoke night. Once a month, everybody goes to the same bar, and everyone sings a song. I am a horrible singer with terrible stage fright. Would I lose all my credibility with my new co-workers if I didn't come? They are all excited to see me sing, and they often remind me that nobody has ever skipped out. -- Deer in Headlights, Milwaukee

DEAR DEER IN HEADLIGHTS: This kind of company "hazing" is all too common and surely can lead to embarrassment. Yet it is almost like a rite of passage for some people. Sounds like it is for your job.

You should let everybody know that you really can't sing. Make it clear up front. Then, pick a funny or upbeat song that you can talk to rather than sing. Make it fun. Act it out rather than even attempting to sing to it. Do your best to turn your shortcoming into an asset by claiming it and delighting in your limitations.

(Harriette Cole is a life stylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)