This letter was written in response to a bogus intervention, as chronicled in the post "The Betrayal."

What I did to deal with my anger is written in the post "Anger Contract."

My sponsor in one of the 12 step programs, after finding out the details of the night the group took me to Denny's, encouraged me not to be silent - but to confront the offenders, in an appropriate way. I was so angry I didn't feel safe trying to talk to them in person. So I began to write a letter to each of them. I wrote and discarded 4 or 5 versions, each a little less angry and confrontive. But they helped me get some of the feelings out of my system, so I could write a more appropriate version. I let it sit for several days. Then I had several people read it to ensure it was a balanced response. I hand wrote and mailed a copy to each of the six people who had been at Denny's and saying things to me that night.

The letter follows:

August 12, 1988

Dear ______,

The time when the group of you came to my house and took me to Denny’s has been a devastating emotional experience for me.

That day I had been in great pain. I came home (from the party) because it was right for me. I was vulnerable, and I needed space.

When you all came to my house, you each looked so agitated, I was mistrustful. I felt invaded, unsafe.

When you said you were doing this out of love, but what I felt was your fear and anger, I became confused, disoriented. My child ran and hid.

I felt attacked, accused, with no one to support me, protect me, defend me, affirm me. I felt alone, so alone.

I felt betrayed, rejected.

When I looked in your eyes and it seemed you didn’t believe what I said about my reality, it hurt me deeply, and I later cried like my soul was dying. That really hurt. I did not feel heard.

The message I received was that you did not think I could take care of myself. I felt discounted. I was insulted. I found out later that what fueled your action was talk at _____’s party that I might be at home contemplating suicide.

I was humiliated.

Then I grew angry!

VERY angry. How dare you, etc, etc ….

I am angry still.

So I say, I love you, and I am angry with your behavior.

I believe your actions were inappropriate, impulsive, and improperly motivated.

But so have been my old anger reactions. I am working hard on them, and I pledge to you to do my best to give you no cause to fear my anger.

And this means:

--- I will look at you, but not with “The Look” – my angry face.

--- I will say hello and acknowledge your presence.

--- I may not be able to hug you.

--- I may be very quiet for a while, so not to speak in haste.

--- I may or may not be able to approach you, but you are free to approach

me if you wish. If I withdraw, it is because I grow angry and need space.

--- I may look sad – seeing you brings up the pain of that horrible lonely night.

--- If you wish to express feelings to me, I will listen, but will not respond or

react. If I am not in a place to receive it, I will tell you so.

I say again, I love you and I am angry with your behavior.




Note: In the time since the Intervention and the events that followed, only one of the participants has ever talked with me about it. He was the prime motivator behind it all. He owned his part fully, and that what they did was terribly wrong. "No one deserved what happened to you that night, Dan." His words were enormously healing.

Author's Bio: 

Dan Hays is the author of "Freedom's Just Another Word, a hopeful and inspirational memoir about his struggles to overcome the effects of growing up with a violent alcoholic. Dan also presents hopeful radio messages in his broadcasts "Minute to Freedom." On his roundtable radio show "Dialogues With Dignity," Dan discusses topics of depth and substance.