Have you ever thought of writing to your abuser with no fear of being hurt in the process? Writing a letter – and not mailing it – can help release some of the pain and rage victims inevitably carry for their perpetrators.
I wrote a letter to each of my parents and carefully edited and re-edited my words. I never mailed it. Expressing my feelings really helped. I included that letter in Confessions of a Trauma Therapist.
Here are excerpts of a letter a reader has given me permission to show you. Of course, she has no intention of mailing it.
A Letter of Farewell …
“Mum and Dad,
For, as I go further and deeper into my journey, I am learning, discovering and coming to understand and accept that in actual fact, the harrowing trauma and the pain that I experienced as a vulnerable, defenceless child growing up in our home, under your ‘so-called’ love, guidance, care and protection has had and is having very real, deep, dark, devastating, catastrophic, far-reaching, all-encompassing and life-long effects on me.
The tragic reality is that, as a 40 year old woman, I am still recovering from the trauma and pain that I experienced as your child. The truth is that I’ve spent close to 17 years, almost half of my entire life and most of my adult life, working with therapists trying to comprehend, understand, ‘undo’ and release all of the overwhelming, pent up, unexpressed, repressed fear, terror and pain that I’ve been carry inside me since the origins of my inner pain; the original traumatic events which occurred when I was a child.
After years of giving and trying to get along with my siblings, I’m now letting go of them too. I’m accepting the inevitable reality that they have absorbed into their thinking, habits, beings and lives much of what you had to ‘offer’ us, just as I did. I’m realising that, for the most part, they are unwilling to acknowledge the truth of our painful pasts. I understand and accept that, for now, they have chosen to live in denial and to replace the ‘darkness’ of our pasts with ‘bright, fancy colours’. I’m acknowledging and accepting that they have a right to see ‘their world’ in their own way.
I already know through my previous experience, that attempting to confront you all with my truth is futile and only fraught with denial, criticism, rejection, resistance, attack, conflict, agonising invalidation, further pain, hurt and angst. Heartbreakingly, my attempts to speak my truth in the past have back-fired, you’ve twisted my truth back against me, turning me into the ‘trouble maker’ and ‘offender’.
It’s simpler and for the best, for me to just take this next big step back, create more distance and let go.
I’m making an informed, insightful, courageous, unconventional, vital decision. I’m choosing to take care of myself and my needs. I’m choosing to take care of my own family and to attend to our needs. I’m choosing to take yet another big step away from all of you.
I’ve reached a point in my life now where I am happy and secure in my relationship with my husband, I have a healthy, solid relationship with my father-in-law and I’ve also surrounded myself with loving, caring and supportive mother and sisters figures who I’ve chosen to ‘hold close’ over the years. These ‘mothers’ and ‘sisters’ are all strong, capable, wise women, functioning in the world, who have qualities that I respect, admire and aspire to. These women all love me, respect me, admire me and value me for who I am. They are women who I can trust and rely on to offer me the real effective support that I seek, want and need.
Be aware that I will no longer go out of my way to help you, support you and care for you.
I am no longer willing to ‘rescue’, ‘save’, ‘carry’ or ‘prop’ you up. It is up to you to take care of yourselves now.
You need to take full responsibility for your own lives, for your choices and for what is going on for you in your lives now.
I know that I have already given substantially and excessively, too much, to my own detriment.
I do not owe you anything.
I am under no obligation.
I need to charter my own course.
I’m now choosing to be the ‘black sheep’ over the ‘sacrificial lamb’.
Now is the time, and it’s long overdue, for me to stop giving out, it’s time for me to re-direct my focus, energy, efforts, love, care and attention inwards so that I am able to heal, nurture and restore myself and my sense of self. It’s time for me to thrive and to prosper!”
Readers, if you write a letter, would you send it to me? We’ll safeguard your identity. You can do it anonymously. Think of all the other people who are struggling whom you can help.