Today’s assignment is a big one, so get ready. In the previous assignment, I asked you to tell the story as if to someone else. Now you get actually to confront the person directly and tell him or her just how much you have been hurt or damaged by what happened.
Don’t panic, however. You are only going to do it in writing, not in person — as if you were writing a letter to him or her. YOU WILL NOT SEND IT. Neither, by the way, will you send anything that you write nor even let him/her know that you are doing this work.
Many therapists recommend a direct, person-to-person confront between you and the person you are forgiving. Except insofar as a confrontation might be necessary to create personal boundaries that you insist shall not be crossed (like you will not put up with any physical abuse, for example), I am against it. I think it invariably does more harm than good. A healed relationship is much more likely to occur through Radical Forgiveness than by direct confrontation.
Having said that though, I still believe it is a necessary step in the Radical Forgiveness process to confront symbolically the person, as the perpetrator. You get to feel at this moment what it would be like to say everything and anything that you might not have been able or not will to say at the time. By writing this letter, you get the chance to express how you have suffered as a consequence of his or her actions or way of acting towards you.
But, here’s the difference. It may be risky if not downright dangerous to talk back to, or confront him or her in any way about his or her behavior Here it is perfectly safe for you to do so. This is your chance to do what you were too frightened to do at the time and might not have not done even up to now.
Even so, it would not surprise me if, even doing it this way, it brings up a lot of fear and anxiety in you. It’s to be expected. But, it is old stuff and, to be honest, that’s the energy we are trying to move, so push through it and do the letter anyway, in spite of the fear.
Just as you did when you wrote your story two days ago, take your time writing this letter and don’t limit yourself in any way. Give yourself the time and space to get into it and really be strong and powerful in how you confront your partner.
Give it all you’ve got. Spare him or her nothing. Use language that you might never have dared used before. Remember too that you are still in the grip of victim consciousness, so your writing should express nothing but how you were victimized by this person. No excuses, no mercy, no mitigating circumstances, no spiritual overlays or psychological interpretations, please. Just the pain that he or she inflicted upon you. That’s all.
2) This part is optional, but if you do it, I think you will find it will enhance the experience. My suggestion is that you make a mask that represents this person, using the Cray-Pas and paper plate called for in the list. Again, this is not about making anything artistic. It should only be a symbolic representation of the person; not a likeness at all, but more an expression of your feelings towards him or her as your offender – the one who wounded you. It could be just scribble in black and red. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that it expresses your feelings towards him or her.
Perhaps you will remember the movie “Castaway,” in which Tom Hanks survives a plane crash and ends up on a desert island. He draws a face on a volleyball on which the name Wilson is inscribed, that being the maker’s name. He then takes to calling it Wilson and having extended conversations with it. This way he has something “out there” that he can relate to rather than be restricted to a mere internal dialog with himself. It’s something like this that I am suggesting that you do here. It may seem silly but do it anyway.
Once you have made the mask, prop it up where you can see it all the while you are writing your letter and use it for the dialog — as if the person were there. This mask is going to come in handy tomorrow as well, so don’t dispose of it after this session is over. Keep it somewhere safe, but preferably where you can see it.
3) Once you have written the letter, do a mandala immediately afterward.