Tag Archive | Fear

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!

Helping Family or Friends Deal with the Trauma and Stress After They Leave Their Abuser

The emotional aftermath of traumatic events

Such disasters shatter your sense of security, making you feel helpless and vulnerable in a dangerous world. Whether or not you were directly impacted by the traumatic event, it’s normal to feel anxious, scared, and uncertain about what the future may bring.

Usually, these unsettling thoughts and feelings fade as life starts to return to normal. You can assist the process by keeping the following in mind:

People react in different ways to traumatic events. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to think, feel, or respond. Be tolerant of your own reactions and feelings, as well as the reactions and feelings of others. Don’t tell yourself (or anyone else) what you should be thinking, feeling, or doing.

Avoid obsessively thinking about the disastrous event. Repetitious thinking about fearful or painful experiences can overwhelm your nervous system trigger making it harder to think clearly and act appropriately.

Ignoring your feelings will slow the healing process. It may seem better in the moment to avoid experiencing your emotions, but they exist whether you’re paying attention to them or not. Even intense feelings will pass if you simply allow yourself to feel what you feel—and you’ll feel better afterwards.

Talking about what you feel may be difficult, but it will help you heal. Just as you may find it difficult to face your feelings head on, you may also find it difficult to express those feelings to others. But getting them out is essential. Talking with a calm, caring person is best, but expressing your feelings through journaling, art, and other creative outlets can also help.

Common reactions to trauma

Following a traumatic event, it’s normal to feel a wide range of intense emotions and physical reactions. These emotional reactions often come and go in waves. There may be times when you feel jumpy and anxious, and other times when you feel disconnected and numb.

Normal emotional responses to traumatic events

  • Shock and disbelief – you may have a hard time accepting the reality of what happened
  • Fear – that the same thing will happen again, or that you’ll lose control or break down
  • Sadness – particularly if people you know died
  • Helplessness – the sudden, unpredictable nature of natural disasters and accidents may leave you feeling vulnerable and helpless.
  • Guilt – that you survived when others died, or that you could have done more to help or prevent the situation.
  • Anger  – you may be angry at God or others you feel are responsible
  • Shame – especially over feelings or fears you can’t control
  • Relief –you may feel relieved that the worst is over, and even hopeful that your life will return to normal

Normal physical stress responses to traumatic events

The symptoms of traumatic stress are not just emotional—they’re also physical. It’s important to know what the physical symptoms of stress look like, so they don’t scare you. They will go away if you don’t fight them:

  • Trembling or shaking
  • Pounding heart
  • Rapid breathing
  • Lump in throat; feeling choked up
  • Stomach tightening or churning
  • Feeling dizzy or faint
  • Cold sweats
  • Racing thoughts

Trauma recovery tip 1: Seek comfort and support

Traumatic events turn your world upside down and shatter your sense of safety. In the aftermath, taking even small steps towards restoring safety and comfort can make a big difference.

Being proactive about your own and your family’s situation and well-being (rather than passively waiting for someone else to help you) will help you feel less powerless and vulnerable. Focus on anything that helps you feel more calm, centered, and in control.

Reestablish a routine

There is comfort in the familiar. After a traumatic experience, getting back—as much as possible—to your normal routine, will help you minimize traumatic stress, anxiety, and hopelessness. Even if your work or school routine is disrupted, you can structure your day with regular times for eating, sleeping, spending time with family, and relaxing.

Do things that keep your mind occupied (read, watch a movie, cook, play with your kids), so you’re not dedicating all your energy and attention to the traumatic event.

Connect with others

You may be tempted to withdraw from social activities and avoid others after experiencing a traumatic event. But it’s important to stay connected to life and the people who care about you. Support from other people is vital to recovery from traumatic stress, so lean on your close friends and family members during this tough time.

  • Spend time with loved ones.
  • Connect with other survivors of the traumatic event or disaster.
  • Do “normal” things with other people, things that have nothing to do with the disaster.
  • Participate in memorials, events, and other public rituals.
  • Take advantage of existing support groups: your church, community organizations, and tight-knit groups of family and friends.

Challenge your sense of helplessness

Trauma leaves you feeling powerless and vulnerable. It’s important to remind yourself that you have strengths and coping skills that can get you through tough times.

One of the best ways to reclaim your sense of power is by helping others. Taking positive action directly challenges the sense of helplessness that contributes to trauma:

  • comfort someone else
  • volunteer your time
  • give blood

If I may add a note here…..BE PATIENT. There will be alot of crying, alot of nightmares, afraid of going outside, severe depression…etc. In MY experience the best thing you can do for your friend or family member is to be there for them. Lend them an ear….lend them a shoulder to cry on. Offer support…..get them help. Just be patient and go at a slow pace. I left my abuser 7yrs ago and I still get nightmares and look over my shoulders….but I am not afraid to go outside anymore. My point is it takes time. And the time depends on the severity of the abuse.