The Letter Exercise by Angie Atkinson

Written by Angela Atkinson

Are you trapped in limbo land between two difficult things: ending your toxic relationship with a high-conflict, abusive narcissist and moving on with your life? If you could just get rid of those feelings about the narcissist, you’d be done. But you find yourself stuck. Why?

You’re reading this because you want to get over your past relationship, right? But not only that, you want to move on in a way that feels right for you. Because the truth is, how you move on is as individual as who you are. It’s about honoring your own needs, desires, and goals (even if they change) during this process. 

Do you feel stuck?

Are you feeling stuck in a mental loop of negative self-doubt and criticisms? Maybe you can’t stop crying about the narcissist, or you can’t accept that you’ve split? Or, you can’t stop wishing you’d have just kept your mouth shut, or that you had any freaking idea what, if anything, would have stopped the narcissist from leaving you, or for doing whatever they did that made you leave them. In any case, you can’t seem to get past it.

Are you ruminating or overthinking? 

Could rumination and/or overthinking be the cause of your angst? Rumination is when the thoughts keep repeating themselves, over and over again – haunting your every waking moment with their incessant whispers. You find yourself orbiting around the same planet of repeated self-talk (I’m no good, I’m boring, I don’t matter). This can be incredibly frustrating, especially if you’ve been trying to break free from your narcissistic abuser for a while.

Are toxic people in your life making you feel this way? 

Narcissists and other toxic people have a way of really making it hard to let go of them. They do this consciously or otherwise with a process called intermittent reinforcement. Over the course of your toxic relationship, you will have become nearly addicted to the narcissist due to this intermittent reinforcement. Closure can be a powerful emotional healing tool that helps to restore our mind and body after being involved with narcissists.

In my work, I use a powerful tool I sort of accidentally created more than 25 years ago to get past these painful feelings. The letter is very specific and crafted to bring any needed closure. One powerful way you can get closure is to write the narcissist a special kind of letter. 

The Letter Exercise: A Powerful Way to Create Your Own Closure

This exercise actually came to me personally in a very strange way. At the age of 20, I found myself ruminating about a painful experience I’d had with a person with whom I’d been involved. While I was, in so many ways, finding peace and happiness after ending that relationship, I could NOT stop thinking about this person and feeling angry about what he had done to me.

One morning, while I was having my coffee and again feeling all this anger, I threw my hands up and screamed at the ceiling, “What do I need to do to get this person out of my head?”

I realized at that moment that I had continued to allow him to control me, even though I was no longer in contact with him. And it was right about then that I thought I was going crazy – because, though I was alone in my apartment, I literally heard someone whisper in my ear. And I mean LITERALLY – audibly.

I was FURIOUS at this mysterious voice and knew for sure it didn’t come out of my own head because it said something absolutely ridiculous – it said, “you have to forgive him!”

Well, after calming myself down and getting my head together, I sat down with a pen and a notebook, and I started writing a letter that would not only help me to create my own closure, but one that would change my life forever in some surprising ways – and I inadvertently created an exercise I have used with my clients over the years.

Step-by-Step Guide to Use the Letter Exercise to Help You Get Un-Stuck After Narcissistic Abuse

If you’ll take a look at this video, I’ll walk you through the process myself.

How to Do the Letter Exercise

Create Your Own Closure After Narcissistic Abuse

Here’s how you can let go of your anger and disconnect yourself from the narcissist’s emotional hold on you. Try writing the narcissist a “special” kind of letter. An important step in overcoming this type of pain is to “give voice” to the hurt you feel. In this particular case, you need to give voice to your anger about how the narcissist treated you by literally writing him or her a letter, using the format below.

What You’ll Need

What You Do

Be sure to have your pen, pencil, or markers and some paper or stationary on hand before you begin. Tip: If you struggle with writing by hand due to some physical issue, then you can type it out on your computer or phone – but if at all possible, I suggest you write with a pen or pencil as it seems to have some additional therapeutic value here.

You’re going to write a letter to the narcissist who abused you. In the letter, you’re going to write down every single thought, worry, and doubt that keeps you feeling miserable and stuck.

  • Make sure to take your time so you can say ALL the things you wish you had said to them but never did. 
  • Add in the things you needed the narcissist to hear, whether you tried to tell them and they wouldn’t listen.
  • Be sure to take your time, and if you need to, write a little bit at a time, put it up, and then come back to it when you’re ready or when you have time.
  • Put all of your anger, frustration, sadness, disappointment, and any other feelings you have about the narcissist and the way they treated you in the relationship in the letter.
  • You can say all the curse words you want or need to say, and you can scribble all over the paper if you want to – just put all of your feelings into the letter. No thought or feeling is too small to include – think “brain dump” or “soul-cleansing” – so make sure you include any and everything that comes to mind, no matter how petty or unimportant it seems in the moment.

Pause, Steep, Edit

When you’re finished writing, let it sit overnight or for a couple of days. Then, pick up the letter again, and read through it. Add anything you’d like to add, and if you want to, you can rewrite and edit the letter.

The Final Paragraph

This is when you’ll add the final paragraph in the letter, and you’ll want to make it something like this:

And now, though you do not deserve it, I am forgiving you (or releasing you, if forgiveness feels too painful right now), not because you deserve it, but because I no longer want your toxic, negative energy in my space. I trust that you’ll get exactly what you deserve from here on out and I release the need to know what happens for you next. Goodbye, forever. 

Your Final Steps to Emotional Freedom

At this point, you have two choices. You can mail the letter, or not. Personally, I did not need to mail the letter and would not necessarily recommend that you do – because, in reality, the letter is for you, not the narcissist. It’s all about getting the negativity out of your head and out of your life, and it’s an ideal way to start to create your own closure.

I suggest you burn or shred the letter and get it out of your life – and as you do, you imagine the negative energy and anger and all of the other emotions burning away – or being shredded up. Some people like to float their letter down the river or to clip it to a balloon and let it fly away.

Do whatever feels best to you. Heck, you could even just throw it in the trash. But whatever you do, once the letter is written, get it out of your life.

Takeaway

This simple exercise provided me with SO much relief, and many of my clients report the same thing. Have you tried this? Will you give it a shot now? Let me know in the comments section, below this video.

There is additional information on why you feel stuck and how to overcome it in this video.

Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today

Did you know? Online help is readily available for survivors of narcissistic abuse. Here are some options to begin healing from narcissistic abuse right away.

Author

  • Angela Atkinson is a certified trauma counselor and the author of more than 20 books on narcissism, narcissistic abuse recovery, and related topics. A recognized expert on narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder who has studied and written extensively on narcissistic personality disorder and narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships since 2006, she has a popular narcissistic abuse recovery YouTube channel. Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own. Atkinson offers trauma-informed narcissistic abuse recovery coaching and has certifications in trauma counseling, life coaching, level 2 therapeutic model, CBT coaching, integrative wellness coaching, and NLP. She is a certified trauma support coach and certified family trauma professional. She also has a professional PTSD counseling certification. Her mission is to help those who have experienced the emotional and mental devastation that comes with narcissistic abuse in these incredibly toxic relationships to (re)discover their true selves, stop the gaslighting and manipulation, and move forward into their genuine desires – into a life that is exactly what they choose for themselves. Along with her solution-focused life coaching experience, Atkinson’s previous career in journalism and research helps her to offer both accurate and understandable information for survivors of abuse in a simple-to-understand way that helps to increase awareness in the narcissistic abuse recovery community. Atkinson founded QueenBeeing.com Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support, the SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups and the Life Makeover Academy. She offers individual and group coaching for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse here at QueenBeeing.com and at NarcissisticAbuseRecovery.Online.

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