Истории из жизни

«Thank-You letters»: how I let my past go

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How often do we want to say something, but are too afraid to do it?

“What will he think about me?”

“What if I will be rejected?”

“What if they will laugh at me?”

“What if she decide that I am stupid?”

What if, what if, what if…

And we choose to stay silent. Quarrels, broken relationships, grudges for years… So many unspoken words hurt our hearts and don’t let us move on. But I found the way to get free.

 

How it all started

2015 was a really tough year for me. I moved from Rostov-on-Don to my small home town and launched new business with serious responsibilities for which I wasn’t ready at all.  Uncharted waters, much stress, a lot of fears, daily mood swings… I really did my best to “cure” myself and get back to my usual positive point of view, but despite all my efforts I was feeling awful and disappointed in myself and in my life.

At the same time I knew that I should have felt incredibly happy — God gave me everything! Amazing and caring parents, a wonderful boyfriend (and a business partner at the same time), good health, my own business, flexible working hours, opportunities to do what I want any time and any day. I lived in the house close to the river with splendid views, I ate organic food, I did a lot of sport… That was a life I had been dreaming about for such a long time! But – look at me — I suffered, kept whining and wasn’t able to find the thing that made me so unhappy.

One cold December evening I was organizing the files on my laptop and accidentally saw a folder with different stuff from my student times. I haven’t seen them for a couple of years. Photos, videos, even the songs that my friends and I were composing when we had a rock band. I was flooded with memories of the happiest time of my life – so nice, so “easy”, without this creepy “adult” business stuff and so on.

 

Creativity, music, friends, happiness, love… So many emotions. It was Life, not just existence.

 

That night I could not fall asleep – I was listening to our songs, watching videos and photos, crying and laughing, laughing and crying. Finally I got to realize one of the main reasons for my unhappiness: I was so lonely. I lost all my friends. I lost those people who have spent last eight years of my life by my side. Some of them moved to other cities as well, while with the others we lost the contact because of some stupid fights and misunderstandings.

When I left Rostov, I did my best to believe that I did not need my friends anymore. Now I realized that it was just an attempt to dull the pain of losing them. And I wasn’t prepared to admit it for a long time, but I missed them so much.

That very night I decided – screw all this fears! I will write an honest letter to every person that is important to me, and say everything I feel about them. 100% sincerely, only the truth. I will do something like a confession. I will thank everyone for being in my life and giving me moments of happiness. Moreover, it was the most suitable time for such letters — the New Year’s Eve.

So, I decided not to hesitate and to start acting straight away, while I had this inspiration and this courage to do things. Immediately I made a list of people to whom I wanted to send those “thank you” letters. It turned out to be twenty of them. My parents, my boyfriend, one best friend and two ex-best friends, the buddies from the university, my neighbors and many others. All of them had their own impact on my life, sometimes without even knowing about it.

Of course, it was a huge challenge to myself, because I was sooo full of fears and afraid of being rejected. I knew that the following day I would prefer to forget about this crazy idea and not to do anything. I’ll get embarrassed, I’ll be scared, I’ll hide again in my shell.

So that night I made a promise to myself: “I will write these letters anyway. No matter what – I will do it”. 

I knew I could be ignored or even could receive messages like “I don’t care about you” and that was not a nice prospect. But I understood that actually it was not about «them» or «their reaction». It was about me. I had to get rid of the past that was pulling me down in order to get free and to move on.

 

How I Was Writing

I set myself a deadline — all the letters had to be sent by the morning of December 31. I had less than a week.

The next evening I literally forced myself to start writing — my brains already found a bunch of excuses why I shouldn’t do this. But I remembered the promise given to myself and was pretty determined to fulfill it.

The first three people in the list were my mom, dad and my boyfriend Kirill. Maybe the letters to the family members are not that necessary as I still spend a huge time of my life with them. On the other hand, they are the most important and most beloved people in my life, and I hardly ever say that to them. Especially to my parents — for some reason it’s extremely hard for me. But in the letter I can express everything I want.

I started with my mom writing about all the things she taught me I was grateful for, and how she influenced my life. I had a feeling that I had been turned inside out. I was horrified while imagining how I would give her this letter, how she would read it, what she would say… I’ve always had a hard time expressing tender and lyrical emotions with my parents, for example, I never let my mom see me crying. Don’t know why. Just felt like I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t make her sad.

The letter for my dad turned to be huge one — there were too many unspoken things between us. I really love my dad, but often can’t understand his actions. And all the things I didn’t dare to tell him personally, I expressed in the letter. Several times I was like a bubbling mess — crying and crying because of the strong emotions bursting inside of me. Everything that I was keeping in my head got spilled out onto the paper, and I felt total purity in my soul.

The easiest letter was for my boyfriend — I’ve been thanking him all the time for the huge positive impact on my life, so the letter just helped to sort everything out between us.

But when I started writing to my ex-best friends, I got dazed. Imagine — you need to take the first step towards the people you love and miss, but have not spoken to them for a long time. You ended your relationships on a sour note and you have no idea how they are feeling about you now. What if they hate or despise you? They have their own lives with (probably) no place for you. And here it is — your open and sincere letter with your soul inside out.

Well, it was hard, but I did my best. For inspiration, I turned our songs on and started. I did not know how frank I should be, but I tried to write everything that was on my mind and in my heart. To be honest, it was a huge step out of my comfort zone.

My brain was screaming — «You shouldn’t do it, stupid! Give it up!» But I bit the bullet and went on, no matter what.

In the next few days I wrote the rest of the letters. To each message I attached a couple of songs that were associated with a recipient, and in the preface I asked to turn on the music at first and only then read the message.

 

How I Received Feedback

In the morning of December 31, I started sending the letters. I felt satisfied and anxious at the same time. On the one hand, I did it! I did what I had planned, despite all the objective (and not so much) reasons. I was proud of myself — it always happens when you overcome some terrible fears. On the other hand, I was terrified — what would they reply? I tried to convince myself that I did everything only for my own reasons and didn’t expect any reaction. But, let’s be honest , I was looking forward to recieving the answers 🙂

My mom was the first one to receive the letter. After reading it, she came to me with tear-stained face and said that every mom should live to hear such words . Later she read this message to her friends many times, despite all my protests 🙂

Geez, I can exhale. The first one was a success!

At that time my dad was out the town, so I had to send an e-mail to him. I was afraid of his reaction, because some things were not so pleasant. What if I offend him with my truth? But when he called me soon, I heard that he was really amazed. «Thank you very much for this letter. Now I need to think a lot about the things you wrote». Omg, I was so happy about his reaction! And also was proud of my courage to be totally honest with him.

One of the ex-best friends wrote me a really long letter telling about his life in those two years that we did not talk to each other, and also sharing his memories of the time we spent together. I was very glad to read his thoughts about our friendship and the past years, but this letter showed me how he changed. Now he was a husband and a father, so serious and thoughtful. He was no longer that carefree cheerful joker. Both of us has changed so much during these years. To be honest, this letter released me. Finally I realized that there was no hatred, contempt or offences. Only bright memories of a wonderful time that we had in the past left. Only the memories.

Another ex-best friend never answered. I even don’t know whether he read it or not. That letter was one of the longest filled with my gratitude, and of course I wanted my friend to know my thoughts, But I don’t have any regrets that I’ve sent him this message.

Now I feel calm and peace — it’s all over. It’s time to say «thank you» for our friendship, leave the memories in the past and move on.

During the day all the others responded to my messages. What surprised me most was that people who, as I thought, would have answered indifferently or even would have ignored me, gave the most positive feedback to me. Almost everyone wrote that they were so surprised by my frankness and good words and were very grateful to me. Some girls said that they were touched to their very soul and even cried.

I was over the moon… So much communication with my dear friends, my beloved ones, so many memories, so many kind words, so many positive vibes, so much love and happiness… Undoubtedly, it was the best New Year gift I could give to myself!

 

What I Got From The «Thank-You» Letters

 

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Now I’m less afraid of expressing my opinion

I realize it now, looking back over. It seems like this experience activated some «courage» options inside me.

 

I got feedback and discovered a lot of new things

The most useful was a letter sent by my classmate from the university. I thanked him for helping me to adapt to the new team and to feel a little more confident. When I confessed how shy and insecure I was during all those five years of study, he got really surprised: «You always seemed to be the girl who knows what she is about and will not butter up anyone». Maybe he wrote those words just to cheer me up :)) But anyway it was so amazing to find out his opinion. It turned out that all the fears I had while studying at the university had nothing to do with reality! I made them all up by myself… And it was only me who spoiled my University life with self-insecurity and a constant sense that everyone hated me. Thanks to my classmate’s letter by my classmate, I «exhaled» all those old grudges and finally felt a huge relief

 

I’m happy that I brought joy and happiness to my dear family and friends

It’s always nice to hear good things about yourself and to find out you changed someone’s life for the better.

 

Once again I realized: any meeting is not accidental

Every person in my life has taught me something. Even a stranger with whom I had just a word could influence my life. Not to mention those who have been with me for a long time.

 

I understood how important it is to have time to say

In March of 2016, my best friend Margo suddenly passed away… She was just 25. The letter for her was one of the longest — she taught me so much! Friendship, generosity, caring, kindness … And I’m so glad that I managed to say how I loved her and how grateful I felt for everything shegave me. So now I beg you — tell everything! While you still have a chance to do it.

 

I was surprised to find out that nobody hates or despises me!

Out of the twenty, only one person didn’t answer me — and this was an important experience as well. No one insulted me, no one said bad things — there were only words of gratitude.

 

I felt relieved

No, I will say more — I was like born again! All those situations which bothered me so much and didn’t let me to move on, finally were resolved. I realized that my ex-friends should be left behind. It’s time to thank them for making my life happy for many years — and then let them go. We took different paths, and everything turned out the best way it could. No regrets. Just gratitude.

 

However, the most important result of the”thank-you-letters” project is the understanding: there is no need to wait or to be afraid of anything. We have to speak, admit, take the first step. Life is too unpredictable to waste time being too proud. Sometimes it is much better to overcome yourself now and say everything you want than keep silent and then regret about it in the future.

Yes, it is damn scary, but when you do this, you understand — it is worth all the effort you’ve placed into it.

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