The Open Letter Continuum

Today I’m announcing a project on this blog for 2014. I’m calling it the Open Letter Continuum.

It’s been said that writing a letter to certain people, even if they cannot or will not read it, provides psychological benefits to the writer. This is especially true when the recipient hurt the writer in some way, though sometimes writing to someone one has hurt in the past is equally cathartic, I’d imagine.

I will be doing both. Every third Thursday, (and possibly more often, depending on how I feel), I’ll be posting an open letter to someone from whom I desire some kind of closure, reconciliation, or acknowledgement. Which means in most, (but not all) cases I either no longer have a relationship with the recipient, or never truly did. In some cases, I’ll be writing the letter to a more nebulous concept of people, as opposed to a specific person. There will be questions, thank yous, apologies, explanations, and here and there perhaps a one-way, “hello. I miss you.”

The recipients will remain officially anonymous of course. But I won’t promise that their identities will never be deduced, should certain people happen to read them. This means of course that some of these letters may cause a few shock-waves in my personal life. While I write none of these with the intention of offending anyone, the time has come in my life to deal with certain things in my own way, and allow the chips to fall. The truth is, that is how many of these recipients of these letters have handled me, so in some ways it is to be expected. Not revenge, but possibly karma. Call it what you will, it will be true to my needs first this time.

That being said, if I can’t write a specific letter without it being obvious to the world exactly who it is intended for, I will probably refrain from publishing.

The recipients of these letters come from all walks of my life, and from all time periods. I am deliberately publishing them outside of chronological order. I feel each will stand on its own better if readers aren’t trying to construct a narrative through the letters.

Why make them public? Why not just write these letters privately and destroy them when complete, as most people do when pursuing this exercise?

One reason is, over the years I’ve had to swallow enough of my injuries and worries, and put on a happy face. Or at least a non-expressive face. There is something to be said for shouldering one’s own burdens, and I’ve become, by force, an expert at it. But if sharing on this blog at least a fraction of what it felt like in certain circumstances makes that load any lighter, I’m willing to do so at this point in my life. After all, it should encumber nobody else; one is always free to not read these anonymous letters.

There is a certain accountability in doing this in public, as well. If I kept all of this private, I could easily keep it inside and tell myself, “you know what you’d say, no use in saying it on paper.” Then I receive no benefits at all. Having to compose my feelings here, even though they are directed to specific people means each letter, and hence each attempt at connecting with that part of my past, is tangible. I have to face it full out, or not bother.

Also, though some of these letters will be light-hearted and many of them will be someone dark and/or painful, all of them in some way have shaped who I am to this day. Reading them will provide my readers with a more in depth understanding of some aspects of myself.

None of this is to say that I’ve not dealt with any of the issues I will bring up in the letters. I have, in most cases. So please don’t think as you read these throughout the year that I haven’t let go of anything in my life. I have. But I’ve decided that in the end the potential for good results outweighs the potential for bad in this exercise. Who knows? I may not have let go of some things as much as I think I have.

So join me this year, starting a week from today, in my journey to address the “unaddressable”, to go back and mend at least my part of the past, to look inside myself at what has hurt me, and to see what comes of my perspective on the other side.

This is the Open Letter Continuum, and I’m about to enter it.

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23 Comments

  1. That’s a good idea. I’ve seen them used also to talk about political issues.

    I posted a mostly-joking open letter once and got snarky comments. Sigh.

    • If it got snarky comments, it must have been well written, as they say.

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