Right, enough social media stalking.
Enough staring at ceilings or talking to the moon wondering if they’re doing the same. Enough asking other people about them or sending a messenger pigeon with a camera strapped to it’s back to find out if they’re as upset as you.
Get a pen, get a notepad and write a letter. Just don’t send it.
The unsent letter is one of the most criminally underrated tools to healing, but one you should 100% be utilizing.
There is much less romance in our communication with other people these days. The days of pen pals are almost a completely forgotten era, and the handwritten letter is fading with it. In a time where contacting people no longer relies on getting your internet from the library, or topping up the texts on your pay-as-you-go Nokia 3310, communication has never been faster.
That’s the issue.
Everything is so fast that we feel we have to react just as quick. We encounter a situation and instantly have a response. We are backstabbed and instinctively reach for our phone with a stream of fury-filled thoughts. If we break up with a friend or a partner, we have so many platforms to check for any signs that their heart is breaking just as messily as ours. It’s a problem, because then our entire brain becomes occupied with this crap. It is clouded and fogged with every painful instinct, and we respond in the moment without knowing how we actually feel.
That’s where the unsent letter comes in: It inspires clarity of thought.
It’s as simple as it sounds, but the results are complex in the best way. Think about how you feel when you go to bed with thoughts of them still swirling around your brain. Think about how painful it is when you try to trust someone else with the image of their face still etched into your memory. Think about the way that you just cannot let them go. Something is still there, itching at your skin, clawing at your eyes and burrowing into your mind. Let it out.
The key is to write what comes first. Think of them and let the pen do the rest. It doesn’t have to be perfect; it doesn’t have to be roll-of-the-tongue poetry. It just has to be real, and it has to be for you.
What happens is that you begin writing, like any diary entry, and you tell them all these emotions that you are feeling about them. You tell them how much it hurt. You tell them how much you still love them. You tell them how that particular Thursday evening where the wine went to your head was one of the best evenings of your life. You tell them how their texts kept you believing in the good of the world. You tell them how you wonder how they are. You tell them you wonder if their family asks about you. You tell them that you are trying to move on but it just hurts so much. You tell them you’re not sure if any of it was real. You tell them how it feels like a strand of your heart has been cut clean off.
You spill all these thoughts onto the page, and as you write and read your own words back, a certain understanding forms. Perhaps not a large one. Perhaps not an immediate one. But a comprehension of your true feeling, enough that the burden of it all starts to feel a little lighter. You can read through it all and start to realize exactly what it was you wanted to say to them, and you realize whether they still deserve to hear the highlights.
And here is perhaps one of the most important parts: You get to see your first feelings on the page before you decide what to say to them, if anything. You see the rawest parts your soul displayed, giving you a chance to stand at the crossroads and know which path to pick.
You see, communication in life is essential. We should talk to each other more. We should hold each other’s hands and speak from the heart. We should allow ourselves to argue, with clarity and compassion. But communication is only effective if it is filtered and fair.
I am not talking about censoring yourself. I am not talking about holding back your pain. I am talking about communicating feelings you know to be true. Telling them only the things that feel relevant, that feel necessary, that feel like they cannot be left unattended.
The unsent letter is powerful for two primary reasons:
1. It aides communication by giving you clarity and scope of mind before the talk, before the expression of honesty.
2. It aids moving on by helping you understand everything that is stopping you from doing so and finds an outlet so that you might at least try.
Too often you, no doubt, accept love that causes you pain. You then spend months trying to get over it; you try your hardest not to let it back in, but it seems so much easier than the alternative.
You deserve better.
You deserve to care more for yourself and for your own feelings, and the best way to do that is to understand them first.
Don’t chase the blue ticks or check when they were last online.
Don’t check their Insta or their Snapchat or their bloody TikTok.
Switch your phone off, play some soft music, open your notepad, and confide in the page for a way forward.