Alphabet of Abundance
Day 15 – “As I live in the present moment of awareness, I live the magic of synchro-destiny“
I revisited todays task (carried out over lock down) and I couldn’t think of a single word beginning with O that could best describe it. The task was to write a letter of gratitude to someone who has hurt you in the past. The letter was to be open and honest in which you had to express how you felt towards them. It had to be written with kindness and compassion, and you were encouraged to use words that were loving, soothing and accepting. Accepting of what had happened, and then letting it go.
Have you ever tried to write a letter to someone whom you loved dearly but who had stabbed you in the heart? Or someone you could never reach a place of resolution with, no matter how many times you tried? A person who was toxic and emotionally draining? Someone who never ever stopped to think about the consequences of their words or actions?
This person is my cousin. Let’s call her…” Anita”
Anita is my first cousin on my father’s side, she is 8 years older than me. She grew up in the 80’s against the backdrop of racism and fascism driven by the National Front in the UK, Boy George, huge shoulder pads inspired by Linda Grey in Dallas and terrible perms by Joan Collins in Dynasty.
Anita used to work as sales assistant at the makeup counter of a chemist, which meant she would get bag loads of free makeup and nail varnishes. One of my fondest memories is looking forward to sleepovers at Anita’s and opening that draw full of magic. It contained every shade of lipstick, blusher, eyeshadow and nail varnish. We (Anita’s sister, my sister and me) were like excited little girls in a sweet shop, waiting for magic to spill out so that we could start putting on makeup and experimenting on each other. We just wanted to get creative. I enjoyed the way she blow-dried her hair. She had an 80’s perms with a fringe. Her hairdryer was massive, one of them Braun ones with interchangeable heads to get different styles. I loved the big roller brush she used to dry and style her fringe and then she’d attach a diffuser to dry the rest of her hair. I could sit for hours just watching her make herself up for work. It was mesmerising.
My sister, her sister and I would then try to emulate Anita in every way. Growing up we all wanted to be like Anita.
Despite all the wonder and awe surrounding Anita, maintaining a relationship with her was difficult. We tried everything to keep her happy and to win her friendship, but nothing we ever did was good enough. It was as if she hated us. It was as if she wanted us dead – she would have killed us herself if she could. She might not have strictly speaking, but there is something about being the only child, in the family, for a good few years, a female, and enjoying all the love and attention, to then suddenly have it taken away as three new females (plus our brothers) complete the family. It can’t have been easy to share when you were never taught how to. When I was born there were already a few other cousins around, and we all lived in the same house, until my dad bought his own house a few doors down. So, sharing has always been a part of my life.
Long story short – we fell out over a family matter and we have never been the same since. Jealousy is a cancer and if it’s not weeded out early enough, it will tear families apart. There have been many tears shed, awful words exchanged, gold metal tissue boxes and remote controls hurled at peoples’ heads. The damage is irreversible, no matter what we do. It has and always will be toxic.
It has taken me writing this letter to fully appreciate just how toxic. 21 Days is slowly show me how to be grateful and rid myself of guilt along the way. I have the capacity to look back with a different lens – the lens of an adult who is working hard to understands the complexities of human relationships.
Upon reflection, I understand now that I always felt uncomfortable around Anita, like I was walking on eggshells. My sister and I would always hunger for her attention whilst she humiliated us in front of other children from the neighbourhood. We were supposed to be family and yet neither my sister nor I ever felt supported by her. I would fight my parents because of Anita. She would play us off against each other and then not support me when I chose her over them. I even looked at the way I treated my own sister – I’d betray her and bully her – all so that I would feel validated and loved by Anita.
I always left her presence feeling abused and in excruciating pain. So, writing her a letter would open old wounds I didn’t really want to revisit.
The letter was hard to say the least. I had so much to say, I felt frustrated because this was all hypothetical and “Anita” would never receive the letter. She would never know how I really felt and why I had to leave. I couldn’t even begin to find the love to write the letter, to complete the task. What was the point I thought! How was this going to sooth me?
Initially I didn’t read the letter back. I had cried writing it – reading it would only be self-harm. I put it away. Until today. Reading the words back I have to say I felt completely different. Time has passed since writing the letter, so it could be that. Time is a healer, as they say. But I know myself, I am an optimistic person. I do not hold on to grudges, however, when it comes to Anita, my blood boils and I am unable to move on. I hurt myself for the way I feel about her.
However, the letter was the most soothing letter I had ever written to someone who had wronged me. It was full of love and acceptance.
“…thank you for teaching me that it is easy to love if you let go of the hurt. That we can heal our pain if we communicate. That we can delight in each other’s successes if we rid ourselves of jealousy and we can rejoice from afar. Thank you for loving me in the way you did, you may not have always got it right, but I whole heartedly appreciate your efforts. Your healing is important to me. I want you to be healthy, happy and maintain a positive mental state because you have a son to grow into this world. Children are our light; they are our future. I don’t begrudge you for anything you did; it was right for you and I accept that…to let you go – is OK…”
Out of the three of us I was the last to let go. I always thought family is family – “blood is thicker than water” and we should always stick together. But when family members do not add any more value to your life or serve a purpose, in a way – it is OK to let them go. We wouldn’t accept certain behaviours from friends, so why do we continue to not guard ourselves from toxic family members?
I’ve made peace with the way our relationship is. The letter made me realise how much I did and still do love her and it is OK for me to love and appreciate Anita from afar.
Writing letters is a good way of letting feelings out. You learn so much about the pain you were harbouring and in some way the fact that you are writing it to someone as opposed to just journaling really allows you to speak to that person. Your energy is directed and focussed entirely upon them. Who knows, they may have written a letter to you a letter too.
I urge you to write a simple letter of gratitude, especially to someone who has wronged you and see where it takes you.