Gentle Reader, I present to you the first item completed from this year’s list-based project: Confronting My Enemies.
The Task: We’re not talking that dude who’s a total dick at work, or that irritating girl who always shows up at parties. We’re talking people who actively wish me bodily or mental harm. My mission? To either apologize to or forgive them.
The Execution: I really wanted to do this in person. I honestly felt it would give more satisfaction. However… some of the people in question – well, I wasn’t joking about the bodily harm. Grievous bodily harm. There would certainly be shouting, no matter what. Still, I don’t want to have to duck behind shelves at the store just to avoid a dust-up.
Therefore: letters. Handwritten. It lends that personal touch, while keeping me far enough away that my foes wouldn’t fly into a rage on seeing my face. Which, I can’t stress enough, is a legitimate fear.
This… was hard. I had six foes to deal with. I went with B first, because we’ve been on the outs the longest. I mean, we move in the same circles, so I try to smile thinly and tolerate her. I decided a few months ago that maybe I didn’t want her in my life at all.
My roommates are all friends with her, and there’s a decade of backstory, and she still comes to our place all the time. I hole up in my room and refuse to leave when she’s here. My living situation will be changing soon, anyway.
At any rate, I was probably a little harsh in my letter to her, but despite using some of her own verbal spears on her, I did forgive her, and actually apologized for not walking away from her before now. If I hadn’t been around her, maybe she would have been able to function. I don’t know. At any rate, I’d really already dealt with this villain, despite the fact that she’s the one who is currently most recurring.
Still pretty annoyed, but the passion of our enmity’s been gone since I stopped caring about her. First letter? A flop. Pffffah.
I dealt with my sister next. I don’t know that I’d really call her an enemy, exactly, but I haven’t seen her since our brother’s funeral. After he died, she refused to acknowledge any of her Yoder relatives, including our dad. I apologized for not seeing Doug in time; rather than attack her for not seeing our father in the last several years before he died – I expressed regret that she couldn’t make it to his funeral. Easy. Took up a tiny paragraph at the end of quite a long letter, asking about her family, her work, her life. The hard part was understanding, finally, that what I’m mad about isn’t who she is – it’s just something that she did. I told her what I was up to, told her about my book, told her about moving abroad – and I asked if I could see her and my nephews before I go. I don’t know if I’ll hear back, but I made the effort.
I definitely felt very peaceful after writing this letter. I’ve been holding on to that anger for a long, long, time – going so far as to warn people not to bring my sister up in front of me – and it feels very good to reach out to her in a peaceful way.
I dealt with Jemilly and the Boys next. They all got separate letters, but I’m dealing with them en masse here. It’s all so long ago, now, but I know they’d start something if they saw me in person. Unfortunately, having moved back to the area, this could happen at any time. And, to top it all off, it’s a complete bloody mystery why the lot of them have it in for me – no one could give me a straight answer.
I’m pretty sure that everyone Jemilly excommunicated got answers, at least. I’ve already dealt with a lot of this*, but I know they haven’t. These letters were quite short. I apologized for what I knew I’d done, but whatever giant mysterious wound I’d caused them… was still a mystery. I feel like I’m being ostensibly the bigger person here, but I’m pretty sure that these letters will come off pathetic and grovelling, when all I did was say that I’m sorry for whyever you want to hit me on sight.
The Verdict: If you haven’t worked through your feelings, this is great, bringing a zen-like state of peace and balance. I feel really optimistic about my sister! If you have sorted them out, and the other person hasn’t, this feels irritating and petty, and you might worsen the situation. I’m annoyed that it felt weighty and as though it would be cathartic before I did it, when instead I had to force myself to dwell on stuff that happened ages ago. I guess it all depends on how much you care.
*I dealt with Jem here, and Emilly here. Of the Boys? J should have no grievance, B and I are reconciled, and A, with whom I was a little in love – well, that letter was painful, and actually cathartic.
UPDATE: I’m afraid comments are closed, and I removed the comments from this post. I’m sorry – things were getting a little heated, and the goal of this task was to bring tension down. The situation with B was a very minor part of this, and became the focus of the post. It’s been edited to reflect that.