The Letter I'll Never Receive
In March of 2016 I attended The Living Centered Program at Onsite, which is located just outside of Nashville, TN. You may have heard of it if you’ve read Donald Miller’s book Scary Close. I spent a week with no cell phone or any connection to the outside world. It was an incredible experience which I believe has positively impacted my life forever.
One of the exercises we did was to imagine receiving a letter from someone who has hurt us. We then wrote what we would want that person to say, knowing they'll probably never say it. I sat at a picnic table overlooking acres of Tennessee foothills. In the distance a group of horses calmly grazed the vibrant green grass underneath a few sparse clouds suspended in the gentle blue sky. My heart and mind became soothed and I felt the calm and quiet around me. I had no idea at first who I wanted to receive a letter from. Anxiety and panic set it. Perfectionism kicked in too. But in the stillness I became aware that the fear of not doing it perfect would keep me from the more important task of just DOING it. Then it hit me. I wanted Perfectionism and The Critic to write me a letter. This is what came out.
I've actually never admitted this before. It's really hard for me to say this. But I was wrong. I was so wrong. I thought I was protecting you. I thought I was making you better. I know settling for mediocrity is something you've never wanted to do. So I pushed you. I set the standard too high for you to reach. Now I can see how awful this must have felt for you. Every day, having to feel like you're not good enough. That 'if only' feeling of shame. I was such a jerk to you Brian. I never commended you or celebrated your ideas. I talked you out of doing anything. I've learned in recent months that I am a fraud. I never should have played the role I played in your life. Please forgive me. And please let me go. I can't do this anymore. I want to see you be all that you can be and have joy and freedom. This world needs you to be yourself, just the way you are. Sorry for causing you so much pain.
Sincerely, Perfectionism / The Critic