The Letter

Hands up if you’ve ever written the letter.

You know the letter I’m talking about—the letter that you write after the break-up. It’s the 15 page masterpiece that gives vent to everything you held back over the entire course of your relationship. It’s the letter that should properly chastise the bastard, while simultaneously making him realize that error of his ways. It’s the letter you write when you think for some reason you can argue the other person back into the relationship… back into loving you. It’s the letter you should always write, and the letter you should never send… but always do anyway.

I’ve never met a single person who has ever had any luck with the letter. No relationships reunited as a result of the neatly typed diatribe’s arrival. I’ve never heard of a situation where the guy has called and apologized and said “wow, I’m so glad you told me about the thing that I did to piss you off 8 years ago—that has made such a difference. I was a dick!” I’ve never heard of a guy writing the letter.

Have I ever written the letter? Yes. Surprisingly, not to The Ex. I’m not sure if that was because I was wrapped up in the delusion that we’d get back together without my expert analysis, or if I was simply unable to put my feelings into words. No, my letter was for a guy who I was barely dating. I’ve mentioned him. He was the guy who pursued me, promised that he wanted it to be his mission to make me trust men, and then dropped off the face of the planet. Oh yeah, he got a letter. I gently suggested he grow up, and then went on for at least eight pages (double sided and hand-written) about all the ways that life had failed me—and his role in this failure, in particular. I later found out he received the letter, realized what it was and only got to about page 3 before giving up. Plus, he was preoccupied because it arrived the day after his favorite aunt died. Yeah. Awkward.

Despite my lack of success with the letter, I’ve actually been fairly encouraging of those wanting to write one. I think on occasion that writing can help you get your feelings together and help you get rid of them (or at least process them). I’m not terribly fond of actually sending the letter, but I understand if you do.

Why did I bring this up?

The girl downstairs is reading her version of the letter over the phone (presumably to a friend as a test run). I know this because I walked by her apartment on the way to the elevator. As I passed by I heard her mid-recitation: “and all the times I drove you to the airport, all the times I maintained your friendships because you couldn’t be bothered, all the times I worked my life around your schedule, all the times my career took a backseat to yours…” Ten minutes later when I went down to toss my garbage, she was on “you were never supportive, I felt like I was in the relationship alone…” I feel like she’s really getting to the heart of the matter now because I can hear her from my apartment, and she’s reading louder. Whoever the recipient is, he is about to get a seemingly well-deserved and extensively formulated missive to go screw himself.

I raise my ice cream in salute to you 401.


11 comments on “The Letter”

  1. danielletbd

    18 pages, FRONT AND BACK!I’ve written the letter, but I’ve never actually sent it, and in this digital age, I am so afraid of accidentally writing the email some day and out of habit clicking send, even though I don’t intend it to actually reach the target, because like you said, what do I think it will accomplish? No one is going to suddenly come around and realize their shortcomings; they’re just going to toss it aside and assume you’re a bit crazy and they dodged a bullet by breaking up with you. No, instead I like to vent in the letter and then save it on a floppy disk (if the last relationship I had that warranted a letter was THAT long ago, I might be in trouble) or a CD with the guy’s initials on it. Maybe in ten or twenty years I won’t even be able to remember his name, but I doubt that…

  2. danielletbd

    Uh the 18 pages part was a line from “Friends.” Mine was never that long; I have no attention span. But no, I never wanted to send it and potentially deal with the confrontation from it.

  3. Dee Murray

    Ah, The Letter. I found all my Letters during my last Purge O’ Stuff and as I sat in my closet reading them I had to laugh because they all said the same thing – I mean, they were all written to the same guy, but it was amusing to see that all through years my laments were the same…maybe it’s true that some things never change? You GO, 401!!

  4. Helen

    The first version of the letter, hand delivered, was the “I totally understand and am supportive of you since I know we will be getting back together” letter. The latter version, more along the lines of “I hate you; now die” was never sent. I recently shredded it. It was helpful to write it at the time. In some ways I do wish I’d sent it because I never really told him what a complete and total jackass he really was. I was too busy maintaining the delusion that we’d get back together. On the other hand, being all crazy and angry sends the message that you still care and that’s the last message I want to send.

  5. Kate, Dating in LA

    Danielletbd-I hear you. Although I suppose a little confrontation now and then could be good for the soul. Of course, I tend to run and hide from it, but…

  6. Kate, Dating in LA

    LOL!!! Dee– what’s the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result? Too funny! So, you never sent any of them?

  7. Kate, Dating in LA

    Helen-I stay torn with this. I think you’re usually better off not sending the letter, but the guy should find out that he’s an idiot.

  8. Dee Murray

    I never sent any of them…There had to have been a dozen…or REALLY close to a dozen…and then I'd proof it, sigh the contented, completed sigh, pack it up & move on!! LOL!! I never in a MILLION years ever believed I was writing about the same stuff – uh, over and over and over and over again…you're right – it's like knocking your head against the wall because it feels so good when you stop!! Lesson #1 – clearly never take relationsip advice from Dee Murray!

  9. Dee Murray

    PS: I totally agree with not sending it. Helen is right…the last thing you want him to think is that he did the right thing by ditching the crazy broad (he’s a pig – of COURSE he’d use the word “broad”!)

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