THE ART OF UNSENT LETTERS
Being silenced or feeling that one is being silence is an awful feeling. Not being able to express how one really feels can be detrimental to one’s well being and emotional health. And yet, it’s not always in our best interest to express how we are feeling or what we are thinking to another person. Perhaps we are not ready. Perhaps the relationship is too fragile or the time is not right or we are afraid. Perhaps the other party is unwilling or unable to "hear" us. There are many reasons, as to why we might not always feel free or ready to speak our minds.
If we are unable to express our feelings, they may seem to disappear. Sometimes we wish they would. Sometimes others may wish the same. But they don't simply go away. Instead, we may internalize them and still be affected by them in a multitude of ways. They can affect us emotionally, psychologically, and physically. These unexpressed thoughts can take on lives of their own. They are heavy to carry, and because we have tucked them away, they can be even more detrimental to our well being.
Writing letters is one of the most powerful forms of communication that we have. Unsent letters provide the writer the opportunity for self-expression without the risk of actually confronting or sharing one’s feelings another person or the need to. While it doesn’t replace the impact of an actual conversation, it can provide writers with an outlet, an opportunity to rehearse a conversation, or the realization that all that was really needed was a way to personally process whatever the issue is.
WRITING THE UNSENT LETTER
Unsent letter are written just like any other letter, starting with a salutation:
“Dear ___________” or “Hi____________.” The difference is that you will never send this letter. Never. You can either write it in your journal, or if you feel that there is a chance it might one day be discovered and that would cause a problem, then write the letter and then destroy it.
Also, it is important to understand that unsent letter do not have to be angry letters or letters that resolve an actual conflict. I like to think of them as courageous letters. Honest letters. They may actually positive letters. So, think of them more broadly than something written at a time of anger.