No matter how hard we try to stay in control, there are always those certain things or people who shake us. People hurt us and wrong us. When we feel abused, weak, helpless, angry, or lost, our worlds are not our own. Sometimes it reveals the worst parts of us. My face happens to have the unfortunate ability to write across itself whatever I’m thinking, whether that thinking is on the forefront of my mind or buried somewhere much deeper. When I’m upset, it is almost a certainty that those around me will at least be suspicious of it, no matter how hard I try to hide it.
Around my freshman year of college, something happened that made me furious. I was very angry at a certain authority figure who had a great influence over my life at the time. The frustration I felt followed me everywhere, and one night I vented to my parents and some family friends about how I felt I needed to give that person a piece of my mind. The delicacy of the situation was out of my mind, and emotion was winning out over rationale. That’s when I got some of my favorite advice ever from a very wise friend.
She suggested that I write a non-addressed email to that person, putting in everything I needed to say. She said to get everything out, read it over, save it to my drafts, and then sleep overnight on it. If the next morning I still thought it was a good idea, then I should address the email and send it. If not, I would have at least gotten out my frustrations in the letter and at best found new perspective on the situation and an idea of how to ameliorate it.
I took her advice, wrote out an email, slept on it, and didn’t send it. It did make me feel better by putting the whole ordeal in perspective and addressing how I felt about it. Eventually, this practice made its way into my everyday life. I kept a journal in which I injected letters to various people I came across everyday. Anyone or anything that was on my mind was addressed. Dear Laura, I totally know you tried to show me up in practice today! You’re such a self-centered… Dear Mom, please stop worrying so much. I’m fine… Dear Guy in Biology, you are gorgeous. Would please you fall in love with me and propose immediately?…and so on.
It may sound funny, but it was surprisingly therapeutic. Eventually, I started rhyming some of my letters and tried my amateur hand at some poems, but the intent was always the same. I would deal with all my problems on paper so that they were sorted out in my head. This limits those times that my blood was boiling inexplicably, and helped me keep my composure when I encountered those situations I’d already vented out. Another plus was that I could better articulate my frustrations when I needed to explain problems.
It has been probably two years since I regularly carried out this process, but I think Los Angeles is a great place to pick it up again (Dear Awful Lexus Driver, Dear Toolish Date, Dear Dirty Seagull…). Tonight I am starting a nightly habit of writing letters that will never be sent. I invite you to do the same. Truth be told, I haven’t slept on this blog in order to confirm that I should send it out to you. Regardless, I am confident that this practice will add to anyone’s personal peace, charm, and sense.