Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Let 'Em Have It!

I promised that after the holidays I'd get back to letter writing posts, and one of my largest pet peeves in life is when people don't keep their promises, so here you go. I needed to be in the right frame of mind to write this post, and I didn't want to mix it in with the holidays, lest it jumbled up with everything else.

This letter is probably the most emotional of all of them to write, because the purpose of it is to go all out writing to someone who you feel needs to hear it.  I know that sounds rather vague, but as you read that sentence I suspect someone popped into your head already. I'm a firm believer in gut reactions and instinct, so that's probably your most likely recipient. I say "all out", but a letter full of curse words and name calling isn't really going to accomplish what you need to do - which is open up fully about what's bothering you and get closure on whatever the issue is. While it's ok to have a parting word or two, the purpose is to let the person know how they've made you feel and why. And because of that, it needs to be a bit more thought out than something you'd say to a driver who just cut you off in traffic. Here are a few points to consider including:

  • What has the person done that's hurt/upset/frustrated/angered you? Do they know this or is it news to them? 
  • Why do YOU feel they've done it? Perhaps you have different perspectives on this and that's important to express. Sometimes people don't realize the way their actions look to others. 
  •  How has it made you feel? Why? Again, must be addressed. 
  • Are they still doing it? If so, do they care that it's upset you and are they willing to consider  working on it?
  • Is there a way to rectify it, or are you just too far gone but need to say your peace anyways? 
These are just some ideas. Each situation will require a different tactic and only you know the ins and outs of the situation. 

Once you have finished the letter there comes the big decision: it is completely up to you if you show the letter to the person. However, I strongly suggest writing the letter with the intention of NOT showing it to them. If you constantly wonder "oh what will they think? Should I put this in there; it might come off wrong?" your efforts will be squelched. You won't really be saying all that you need to say. However, if at the end, you read it (a several times, with at least a 24-hour break in between) and decide you'd like to send it, then perhaps you should. Before doing so, carefully think through and weigh your options with all potential outcomes. You may have one hopeful response in mind and you may get something completely different ... or nothing at all. 

Two final points to consider in choosing who to address the letter to: the person does not have to still be in your life, nor do they need to be living at all. The point of this letter is to un-bottle your feelings and allow to stream out of your head and onto the paper. Whether or not you have them read it (or they are able to at all) is secondary. That's up for each person to decide on their own. The second point is this: If you have any intention of sending it, choose someone that has not yet received a similar letter from you. We all know there's no point in beating a dead horse. 

I highly suggest writing this on pen and paper for two reasons. First, it seems, at least to me, that it's easier to write free form this way. Things just flow out easier without all of the spell check and other electronic tools that can distract from the actual process of writing. Secondly, there's no chance of accidentally hint the send button, or for that matter, the delete button. You'd have to be sleepwalking to accidentally put a letter in an envelope, stamp it, address it, and put it in the mailbox.

Good luck with this exercise. I'd love to hear how you felt after writing your letter! 

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