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Monday, 29 November 2010

The Unsent Letter

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"I Can't Go On With This Marriage"

Dear Rodney,

I don't think I can go on with this marriage. It is just impossible to talk with you and I have never felt more distant from you in my life. You are selfish and moody and you make me feel as though I would be better off living alone than to be stuck in this rat hole with somebody that I can't stand being with. You never help me around the house. You spend your entire weekend with your nose stuck in the television. And do you have to wear that stinky tee shirt the entire weekend? I am embarrassed if someone comes to the house because I don't want them to know that I am married to such a loser.

And your temper is a fright. If you talk, you yell. If you don't talk, you are so caught up in the television that you might as well not be here. In fact I would rather that you were not here most of the time. You are not anything like the person I thought I married. You are a total loser. I guess that makes me a loser too because why would someone who is not a loser marry such a loser?

I always knew that I was not the best prize in town. I tried to take care of myself and be attractive but I guess that I just never thought that much of myself. Loser. Loser. Loser. How could I have been so stupid? I thought I could be happy and have a good life and underneath I guess I always knew that it would not be possible. I feel like a prisoner in my own house.

I hate it when I remember how my Dad used to talk to me. He was always angry and I had to watch out for when he was drinking. Which was most of the time. I felt like a prisoner then too. I just stayed out of his way and learned how to be nearly invisible, at least whenever I could. I tried to be so good and yet I could never please him. Oh Dad, why wasn't I ever good enough? I got good grades and always was polite and yet you were so angry. Always angry. (And now I am writing to you instead of Rodney. Come to think of it, Dad and Rodney are a lot alike.)

What is it with me that I had to end up with another man who was mean and angry and didn't treat me nicely? First Dad, then you. I guess there is something wrong with me. I just don't know what it is exactly. I am not the most beautiful woman but not the ugliest either. Other people seem to be happy and get along with their husbands but not me. I always end up being unhappy.

Maybe I am just an unhappy person. I have always been unhappy, as long as I can remember. Well, almost always. When I was taking that art class down at the community center, I felt pretty good. The teacher liked my work and the other students often commented on how they liked what I did. But when I got home, you made me feel stupid by making jokes about my painting. I let you get to me and stopped taking the class. Why did I do that? I felt good about the class.

You know what? I think I am going to take another class. There is no reason to spend the entire weekend being drowned out by a football game or a wrestling match or whatever else is on the television. I may not be the best artist in the world but I liked myself better when I was doing that. Okay, that's what I am going to do.

I feel better. Rodney, you can just go to hell with your television. I am going to do something that feels good for me. Ha!!

- Barbara the ARTIST!!!!


Commentary

By Patricia Lawrence Pomposello, CSW, psychotherapist

This is an example of a letter that is not meant to be sent. It is an exercise for getting a lot of powerful feelings out in the open. As you can see it moves from Rodney, to Barbara's father, to herself and then back to Rodney. That is because Barbara allowed her thoughts to be free-flowing and didn't try to "edit" the letter.

Barbara has let herself just "dump". It may be that Rodney has his good qualities as well as the ones she is angry about. But she has made no attempt to be "fair". The point of the letter is to help her get in touch with what she is feeling. As she let her feelings flow into words, she made a connection that she is being treated by her husband the same as she was treated as a child. This idea may grow in future Unsent Letters. For now she has let a plan arise naturally from her free flow and the "letter" has served its purpose.

Obviously this is not the sort of letter that should be left lying around. It should be written on loose paper that is not a part of a journal which could be read by Rodney or anyone else. It is quite possible that at some point she may want to let Rodney know how she is feeling but this is not the way to do it.

Therefore, as soon as she is finished, she crumples up the paper and takes it to a place where she can burn it. Barbara lives in an apartment so she finds an old pan in the kitchen and takes it outside where she can put the crumpled paper inside and light it. As it is burning, she does a release ritual where in her own way she releases the feelings and the words into the air and claims her freedom from her sense of being a prisoner.

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