Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Two letters

It's sometimes amazing how long it takes me to make it back here to write about what's going on in my world.

There has been a lot going on actually -- but I wanted to write today of some resolution to the "black cloud" that has been hanging over my head regarding whether to see my stepfather on Father's Day. We have not been communicating for some time and my life is pretty much more sane when it is that way. However, I also know that underneath I have a feeling of something unresolved between us and I have a fear that if I don't resolve it before he dies (which he's likely to do soon), I might be stuck in this limbo for the rest of my life. (As I write that I realize that there's an underlying need for surrender there.)

Anyway, in reaction to all this I have talked with my therapist and shared with program support people, and have been blessed with something beautiful. I was to have a letter to my stepfather drafted by last Wednesday outlining what happened to me as a child, the results of what happened, and what I was doing about it. I did everything under the sun to put it off, not necessarily conciously, but at least subconciously. Then when Tuesday came and I knew I had to write the letter, I started writing everything I remembered about my abuse in detail, but as I moved on to 'the results' portion of the letter, I kept zoning out and almost dozing off. (Traits of trying to slip away from reality for me.) I was so frustrated and I felt like I was babbling in my writing. Later that day, after sharing my frustrations over the letter with a friend in another fellowship, I got an e-mail from him with the outline of a letter that was the perfect precipice for writing all the words I needed to say. It was very simple, yet exactly what I wanted to say and couldn't find the words for. I was so grateful.

The next day when I met with the therapist, I read her both letters. When I read back the words of the letter I was so frustrated with, I saw that it made perfect sense and was filled with all the truths of what I had been through. Then when I read the more general letter that came as a result of my friend's assistance, it just seemed to bring everything together. My therapist suggested that if I do choose to see my stepfather on Father's Day -- which was a perfect reminder that the choice is mine and that it's OK to see him if I want to -- to give him both the letters as I leave and ask him to read them after I'm gone. Alternately, she said mailing the letters on Saturday, to arrive on Monday would be another option. She thought both letters were appropriate, because one was filled with the truths of what happened to me, and she thought that was important for him to read.

What I felt after finishing the letters was that what my stepfather needed and felt was irrelevant. These letters were for me. As I wrote to him, " It is not that I don’t care for you, but now I must care for myself. When I was small, I was powerless, but now I am taking back my power. I am working to heal my wounds through the help of a therapist and a network of support friends. I no longer keep what happened to me as a child a secret. The secret was the harm. And the truth has set me free. It has allowed me to recognize that forgiveness is not a gift I can give away. However, it is a gift I can give to myself, so that we both can be free. I pray for peace and love in both our hearts."

I do have some sense that he will get some closure as well from reading these letters. I know I certainly have felt a weight lifted in writing them. Once they are delivered, I hope that all fears of obligation to "act as if" nothing happened and everything is OK will be gone. If those fears do not disappear ... then I know I have more work to do.

For today, I'm grateful for the work that has been done.

Thanks for listening and being with me on this journey.


vicariousrising said...

Bravo to you. It is important you do whatever brings you peace of mind.

If you don't end up feeling like confronting your stepfather, don't beat yourself up. A response from him may not be the closure you need. Acknowledging the damage within yourself might be more important.

I'm not speaking from any personal authority, just suggesting that you listen to what your guts tell you, and if it doesn't feel right, then don't tell yourself you "should" anyway.

Sending good thoughts your way.


Bernadine said...


The part of the letter you posted sounds incredibly wise, brave and kind. It's so amazing to me that through recovery and therapy, each of us is truly able to heal those hurts-- hurts that seemed so huge before.
Thank you for sharing this. I agree-- whatever you decide is what is best for you.

Mary (MPJ) said...

Rae, thanks so much for sharing. The process of writing the letters sounds like an incredibly powerful experience full of healing. My thoughts will be with you on Father's Day.

Anonymous said...

Forgiveness really is a gift you give yourself. Unfortunately there's no shortcut, you have to go through the pain by looking honestly at what happened, and through the anger, fear, and sadness that brings up.

Enigma said...

Thank you for sharing, Rae. I hope you are able to get the closure you need. My thoughts are with you.

MargauxMeade said...

I agree with everyone who said forgiveness and closure are gifts we give ourselves. I have a lot of unresolved issues with my own father that I've been attempting to resolve over the past several years. Every time I would try to seek closure through him, I'd wind up frustrated. But now that I've been dealing with the same scenario with my active-addict husband, I've been realizing that I have to do the work on my own--and it really has been giving me the closure I've been seeking all these years.