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Gus Van Horn blog

Reblogged:Moving Beyond Closure

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Most of us have probably heard some variant of the following advice at some time, about reaching peace of mind after a relationship has ended badly: Write a letter to the other person in which you say everything you wish you could say -- then destroy the letter.

Advice blogger Captain Awkward adds something to that prescription that strikes me as worth passing along:

Image by Annie Spratt, via Unsplash, license.
Now, write yourself the letter you wish they'd write back. Imagine them saying everything you most want to hear...


When you feel obsessed and lonely read the second one back to yourself.

The good times you and this person shared were real. They still happened to you. What shone then shines now. The things they loved about you are still in you. That's all still yours, even if this one person is no longer in your life...

After you re-read the good letter, channel the feelings into action that doesn't harm anybody or further obsess you. Do something that is physical, mundane, and and an act of care for yourself and the others in your home environment: Scrub the bathroom down, clean out the bottom drawer of the fridge, dust the baseboards... Find something you've been putting off and do it.

Finally (do not skip this step), get in touch with someone who always does want to hear from you...
I have fortunately never felt the need to write a letter like the first, but I like this idea.


The first letter is clearly a way to "get it all out," to acknowledge the emotions caused by the end of the relationship. Not sending this letter is further, albeit tacit, acknowledgment of the reality of the situation.

Where I think the second letter comes in is that it does two things. First, it changes focus in a constructive way, from the lost value to the many values one still has, including one's value as an individual and of all that life has to offer. Second, it gets the ball rolling, so to speak. After a heavy loss -- something most of us do have experience with -- it can sometimes be hard to find motivation to get on with life when certain memories and their emotional baggage get in the way. Getting started doing something constructive, however small, can lift the spirits in addition to being at least a small way of regaining a sense of control over and enthusiasm for one's life.

I often encounter productivity advice to the effect that getting started at some small task can be an effective strategy against procrastination. This looks like a good way to apply that lesson to one's emotional life.

-- CAV

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