Writing a Letter You Will Never Mail

I was doing research online to help me write my letter and ran across this from a Counselor/Psychotherapist named Patricia Burnett and thought I would share.Wastepaper basket with crumpled paper

 

One choice for someone wanting to rid oneself of emotional pain resulting from abuse as a child or an adult is to write a letter you will never mail. You write a letter to your abuser, expressing your anger and hurt and shame and whatever else is shoved down inside and possibly impeding you from a full and successful life as an adult.

 

Writing a letter you will never mail

Patricia Burnett – Monday, November 07, 2011

Dear Abuser. . .

One choice for someone wanting to rid oneself of emotional pain resulting from abuse as a child is to write a letter you will never mail. You write a letter to your abuser, expressing your anger and hurt and shame and whatever else is shoved down inside and possibly impeding you from a full and successful life as an adult.

Some perspective

As a child, you were voiceless and powerless. You were small, and your abuser was large; physiologically, you didn’t stand a chance. Your brain was not yet fully developed, and you were intellectually unable to meet the abuse with adequate resistance and creative response. You lacked the vocabulary and the logic to confront and defend. You did not have a full knowledge of the world and your place in it. You did not know there were people beyond your family who wanted you safe; you did not know how wrong this abuse or neglect was, from a sociological view, nor from a loving and kind view in which every child is sacred.

The psychological and behavioral damage

As a child or adult, you lived in fear, and this meant that the stress hormone cortisol was ever-present, attacking your immune system and changing your brain chemistry so that you became, lifelong, more vulnerable to stress, depression and anxiety than people who did not experience abuse.

Behaviorally, people who have been abused may display some or all of the following:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Difficulty in establishing and maintaining trust in a partner relationship
  • Aggressiveness
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Anger, including road rage
  • Passivity
  • Clinginess and dependence
  • Self-loathing
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Sleep problems
  • Self-isolation
  • Guilt and shame
  • Fear of new situations.

How writing a Letter to My Abuser can help

Writing a letter to the person or people who tormented you can have a cathartic result. You know how you feel, but somehow putting it in words, may help you in a number of ways:

  • Just “getting it out” feels good. You may have many difficult emotions as you remember and write, but when finished, most people say they feel better, which is the goal, or course.
  • Exerting the power of expression may lift your self-esteem. A common trait of people abused as children, or as adults, for that matter, is low self-esteem. “Telling off” your abuser feels empowering, across your current life.
  • In the writing exercise you may conceptualize your past in new ways and gain new perspectives.
  • You may process past events in ways that will give you a feeling of release and freedom.
  • You may feel that you can reclaim lost parts of yourself, or your soul.

Overall, a Letter to My Abuser can be a first step on your path to forgiveness. ( I am sorry, but I am not sure I will ever be able to forgive any of my abusers).

 

 

The latest from Patricia

 

Writing a letter you will never mail

Patricia Burnett – Monday, November 07, 2011

Dear Abuser. . .

One choice for someone wanting to rid oneself of emotional pain resulting from abuse as a child is to write a letter you will never mail. You write a letter to your abuser, expressing your anger and hurt and shame and whatever else is shoved down inside and possibly impeding you from a full and successful life as an adult.

Some perspective

As a child, you were voiceless and powerless. You were small, and your abuser was large; physiologically, you didn’t stand a chance. Your brain was not yet fully developed, and you were intellectually unable to meet the abuse with adequate resistance and creative response. You lacked the vocabulary and the logic to confront and defend. You did not have a full knowledge of the world and your place in it. You did not know there were people beyond your family who wanted you safe; you did not know how wrong this abuse or neglect was, from a sociological view, nor from a loving and kind view in which every child is sacred.

The psychological and behavioral damage

As a child, you lived in fear, and this meant that the stress hormone cortisol was ever-present, attacking your immune system and changing your brain chemistry so that you became, lifelong, more vulnerable to stress, depression and anxiety than people who did not experience abuse in childhood. Abuse in childhood is, in effect, trauma.

Behaviorally, adults abused as children may display some or all of the following:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Difficulty in establishing and maintaining trust in a partner relationship
  • Aggressiveness
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Anger, including road rage
  • Passivity
  • Clinginess and dependence
  • Self-loathing
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Sleep problems
  • Self-isolation
  • Guilt and shame
  • Fear of new situations.

How writing a Letter to My Abuser can help

Writing a letter to the person or people who tormented you can have a cathartic result. You know how you feel, but somehow putting it in words, putting it in adult language with an adult understanding of the evil perpetrated upon you – using the power you didn’t have as a child — may help you in a number of ways:

  • Just “getting it out” feels good. You may have many difficult emotions as you remember and write, but when finished, most people say they feel better, which is the goal, or course.
  • Exerting the power of expression may lift your self-esteem. A common trait of people abused as children, or as adults, for that matter, is low self-esteem. “Telling off” your abuser feels empowering, across your current life.
  • In the writing exercise you may conceptualize your past in new ways and gain new perspectives.
  • You may process past events in ways that will give you a feeling of release and freedom.
  • You may feel that you can reclaim lost parts of yourself, or your soul.

Overall, a Letter to My Abuser can be a first step on your path to forgiveness.

How to do it

So what goes into a Letter to My Abuser? Naturally, it will vary from person to person, and you are free to write whatever you wish – that’s the point! –but here are some suggestions:

  • Set the scene: Where were you when this happened? Remember your home and your place in it. Were you rich or poor? Did you have supportive family and friends? Were you isolated? Was there food in the house? Was there mental illness in your home? Was someone disabled?
  • Describe your vulnerability and powerlessness. Remember how small you were. Remember how little you understood the world.
  • Identify the abuser and the abuser’s power over you. Was your abuser an alcoholic or drug user? Was your abuser a narcissist or self-centered? A follower of a cult or religious sect outside the norm?  Ignorant?
  • Identify the abuse. There are many kinds of abuse – physical, verbal, controlling, demeaning, sexual, neglectful. Playing favorites among the children is another common and painful practice. Describe the abuse. Try to remember a specific event and use it as an example.
  • Tell the abuser how you felt. Did you live every day in fear? Did you feel ashamed or guilty? Try to remember what ran through your head.
  • Tell the abuser about the lasting effects, the lifelong damage that started with abuse of a child. Look at the list higher in this article. Do you have trouble with stress, depression, anxiety, self-esteem, etc.
  • Tell the abuser off. Tell the abuser exactly what you think of him.
  • And, finally, tell the abuser he hasn’t won yet. You’re fighting for yourself. You have plans to make your life better. In another letter, to yourself, on another day, you can write about commitment to change.

You can write in longhand or on a computer. Either way, be sure to safeguard your letter so that other people in your household cannot access it. The letter is for you alone, or you and your therapist

You can write in sentences or bullet points or just stream of consciousness. You can swear, or not. You can YELL in capital letters, or not. You can cry as you write. But if you become too emotional, please take a break, have a cup of tea or talk a walk. You can work on the letter over a number or days, or set aside a day when you can devote all energy to it.

What next?

You will want to keep it only as long as you need it. You may need to look back on it a few times for the letter to fulfill its potential promise of release. Sometimes letter-writers then choose to burn the letter ceremoniously, a metaphor of burning up all the bad things that happened. Another option is to bury the letter, as in burying the bad. It’s up to you.

Good luck if you decide it is time to write your abuser a letter….get it all out! Let him/her have it! They deserve it after what they have done to you! It is time that I write mine….and I can assure you, he will get the brunt of my pent up anger that I have been harboring for years!

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2 thoughts on “Writing a Letter You Will Never Mail

  1. Pingback: Take Responsibility for Your Life | Welcome to myself.net.in

  2. Pingback: The World at Large | It's Going to be Alright...

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