The Importance of Writing An Unsent Letter
The ability to finally speak the truth is a key component of being able to heal, and to set boundaries. Far too many people either simply try to ignore what happened (thus, suppressing and stuffing the truth, which creates internalized issues), or they make the choice to confront too soon, out of their hurt as opposed to their healing. Confronting out of one's hurt essentially is premature, because a successful outcome is then defined as the guilty person acknowledging what they did and repenting, and the Survivor's stability and sense of satisfaction is dependent upon the guilty person's willingness to change. In essence, the Survivor's stability and ability to gain closure is dependent upon, or held hostage by, the perpetrator's willingness to acknowledge the truth, and demonstrate contrition.
However, the reality is that the perpetrator has not confessed and apologized because he/she is likely not truly sorry for what they did... or they would have already confessed to you by now. If you believe that they may have somehow forgotten about it, then the question is how significant were their actions? If they were clearly beyond the law, then they are no doubt aware of it. And, if they have forgotten, what does that say about their level of empathy? If they have confessed other things to you, then it may be that this will be something they are grateful to have out in the open, so that healing can take place. However, if they have never apologized for even small things, then it is likely that they are not genuinely sorry for the big things.
Thus, trying to confront people who are likely not sorry for what they have done will be an exercise in futility, as they will likely either not acknowledge recalling the event(s), or minimize the impact, and even say it was your somehow your fault or the figment of your imagination. If you need their acknowledgement, you certainly will be left worse than before you brought up the issue, for you will not only be left raw and vulnerable, but also wounded again. And, that emotional state is actually worse than not confronting them at all.
True and effective confrontation (the root of the word simply means "to place in front of"), is simply you placing the truth out on the table in front of the person, regardless of what they do with it, because you do not need their acknowledgement. You only wanted them to know that you truly do know and understand the truth about what happened, and what part they played. It is actually not designed to be a time where voices are raised, but a time to shine the light of truth into the darkness of long hidden secrets and ignored reality. When genuine and effective confrontation happens, the Survivor can "let the chips fall where they may", because she/he does not need anything from the perpetrator.
So, how does a Survivor get to the point where they can actually confront the perpetrator in an effective way? By confronting the truth and the pain by yourself, not in the presence of the perpetrator, and getting all the words and emotions out that need to finally come to the surface. Once the unloading of all the truth takes place, then, and only then, will confrontation be productive for the survivor. And, that can be done by means of something that can finally bring forth the truth that has been suppressed for so many years by the Survivor.
One of the most effective tools to help with lancing an emotional wound is "An Unsent Letter." As the title implies, this is a letter written, but is never sent. Not that it can't be sent at some point in the future, however, the purpose of this toll is to finally unload everything that needs to be said, without a need to sensor the words and feelings. Toward that end, we have provided just such an Unsent Letter, which can be used for your letter.
In constructing the Unsent Letter, it is important to keep in mind that you are not to critique your wording, your spelling, or anything that comes out on to the paper. Use the sentence stems as prompts for the free flow of thoughts. There is no "right" way to to this exercise, only do not skip any of the sentences. Even though some may seem repetitive, they are each designed to come from various shades or angles of the truth, helping to connect your right and left brain together. The more you can write, the more effective the exercise will be. You do not necessarily need to complete the exercise all in one sitting. If it gets to be too much, take a break, and do something to help yourself productively channel off some of the emotions that will be surfacing, which likely will be anger. You can exercise, take a walk, and/or journal. Then, when you are ready, pick it up where you left off.
Click here to begin your letter