Guest post by Kellie Adkins

I started this game with myself a little while ago. I call it “Letters I’ll Never Send.” It’s one part confession {but for recovering-SouthernBaptistBuddhiHindUnitarians} and one part Bitch Fest.

So far, I have quite a collection. The one to my high school boyfriend who dumped me right before the Prom. The one to my best friend in college who slept with my boyfriend and forgot to tell me about it. The one to the Canadian lover who redefined the meaning of a broken heart {new definition = when the heartbreakingly gorgeous man of your dreams tells you in 5 different languages how much he loves you….and 5 other women, too}. The one to the creepy yoga student who decided to make me the object of his obsession…then tell his wife about it. Eeeew.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not a bitter person. I just have this thing with confrontation. My conflict coping style is classic avoidance. You hurt me, I run and hide. I internalize the shit out of it. I try to move on with my life but I keep getting stuck. I develop trust issues the size of Texas.

So this letter-writing thing is a new development. Before, I just let things stew {in addition to being an avoider, I’m also a ruminator}. I’d endlessly rehash what I should have said, how I should have acted, and all the ways I should have asserted myself. Instead of feeling better, I’d end up with a headache, a queasy feeling in my stomach, and a bad mood: so now, I write a letter.

Maybe you find the Letters a little silly. Why didn’t I just stand up for myself in the first place? Although I have visions of myself confidently asserting my autonomy and elegantly navigating the social and emotional landscape of interpersonal relationships, in practice, I’m ridiculously passive when my boundaries are challenged.* {*One notable exception to this rule is when I’m challenged by the Passive Aggressive types. I go all Aggressive Superwoman then. Someone get my bitchkickers, please.} And while that strategy worked for a while, I’m interested in a more vibrant life overall: less passivity {and less reactivity}, clearer boundaries, and a whole lot less shoulding all over myself. Hauling around all this shoulda-woulda-coulda crap kept getting in the way of my own power, mucking up future relationships, and feeding a whole messload of self-doubt. Furthermore, I came across some really fascinating {and terrifying} evidence supporting a link between chronic emotional repression and chronic disease.

So I figured I better get with the program and forgive these fuckers after all.

Back to the letters.

Like I said earlier, it’s a healthy dose of bitch fest balanced by true confession. I don’t fluff up my ‘rightness’ and their ‘wrongness’ {or vice versa, in some cases}. It’s honest, cathartic conversation ….with myself. I just belt out all those stuck emotions, feelings of resentment, disappointment, general irritation, or outrage out onto the page. I imagine what they might say but I don’t obsess about it. The letters are my turn to talk and my chance to let go. I let it all hang out, with one exception: no dishonesty on my part. No painting myself as the victim and them as the villain: just pure story {from my perspective that is}. And while the letters don’t have a purpose, exactly, I do have an intention in the writing. That intention is always clarity and letting go. I want to get free of the emotional stuckness and move on already.

Time, of course, helps this process go a little more smoothly. I also think this process works so well for me {and maybe you, too?} because I’m one of those people that doesn’t really know what I think until I start to write. When I let that source of inspiration, emotion, and creativity loose on the page, something shifts inside. The frozen emotions melt. The shoulda-woulda-couldas flow away like water, morphing into waves of acceptance and –sometimes— forgiveness.

Several times, this process yielded pearls of wisdom and valuable insight into my own emotional roadblocks and habitual patterns. For example, I recently discovered an almost pathological desire for universal acceptance. Everyone MUST like me. I MUST be Polly Pleasant. God forbid I offend someone with my attire, beliefs, or confident assertion of my own needs. If I hadn’t written those letters I expect I’d still be repeating that particularly toxic pattern.

Letters You’ll Never Send are cathartic bits of intuition unleashed: like fire-breathing devis. You may find, as I did, these letters highlight your own habitual, emotional or psychological patterns {what the Buddhists and yogis call ‘samskaras’}. If you take the time to invest in the process –both the writing and the re-reading, a bit later –you’ll come to appreciate the fiery sting of your own knowingness. And you may just surprise yourself with your bad-ass superpower of letting go.

About Kellie Adkins, M.Sc., ERYT

Kellie is a mommy, a writer, a yoga teacher, and a health coach doing what she does in a ridiculously small town in Central Florida {she’s the one wearing the leopard print leggings}. If you happen to be in Florida’s Bible Belt look her up for some irreverent jokes, a cup of tea, or some kick-asana Vinyasa Flow yoga. Kellie leads yoga teacher trainings, retreats, and workshops all over Florida and is obsessed with all things French. When she’s not writing, teaching, chasing her toddler or balancing on her hands, you’ll find her knitting sweaters she’ll be able to wear for exactly one day a year.