17 Sep

Today is unusually warm for September; however, you still decide to make a cup of piping hot tea and sit on the porch. Your favorite cat, Sampson decides to join you and spends most of his time curled around your ankles. You feel ashamed of how you lashed out moments ago at your four-year-old daughter, who spilled milk onto your freshly mopped floor. You glance at your journal that’s resting on your lap, contemplating if you should in fact write a letter to your emotions. Yes, you read that correctly. Your therapist has been helping you identify an emotion that you’ve been having a difficult time managing lately, and she recommended that for homework, you write a letter to this emotion.


 This is the emotion that has been tagging along with you for quite some time and you’ve grown quite accustomed to one another. It tags along with you to work, social outings, in your homelife, and even in your newly formed intimate relationship with Dwayne (unfortunately it’s not Dwayne Johnson better known as The Rock). You sip your tea and stare across the yard at your neighbor's lawn. According to your HOA by-laws, grass is to be maintained and weeds should not be in the flower bed. It seems as if your neighbor thinks they are immune from following the by-laws like the rest of the community and this triggers you. You notice that your right leg is bouncing up and down, disturbing Sampson, so you make the decision to write a letter to your emotion. 

Dear Anger,

You visited me seconds ago and made me want to stomp over to Mrs. Halstead’s home and demand that she cut her grass. A few years ago, this would not have angered me. In fact, a few years ago, I would have been Mrs. Halstead and not given a crap what anyone thought of me and my personal belongings. My therapist and I discovered last month that you showed up when my daughter’s father was killed in a domestic dispute by his cousin a few years ago. I am so angry that he decided to play God and take Grady away from us. He was the best thing that ever happened to us and now he’s…gone! Forever! I AM ANGRY!!!

I’m angry that my daughter will never experience being a true daddy’s girl. I am angry that she will not have a daddy to sit with her at school for donuts with dad. I am angry that she will not get to be upset with her dad for being overly protective and scaring off her dates. I am angry because I am alone. I am angry because I cannot avenge my husband’s death. I am angry with the courts for only giving his murderer a 20-year sentence and not a life sentence. Whatever happened to a life for a life?


So, my therapist says that when I write to you Anger, I should tell you what role you currently play in my life and the ways that you’ve affected me. I am also supposed to tell you about my hope for your role in my future. Right now, I’m thinking hard about firing my therapist, but then again, I’ll just re-hire her a week from now when you show BACK up and have me wanting to do unhealthy things to some of the people who I begrudgingly work with. So here it goes: 

  • Anger, the role that you show up as is my protector. You protect me from being vulnerable with people who I may get too close to, and they’ll end up leaving me prematurely like Grady, and I’ll be all alone again. As my protector Anger, you allow me to hurt others before they can hurt me. I get to feel numb at times, which stops me from missing Grady as much. I recognize that it affects my ability to parent with empathy so at some point, I’m going to have to choose a different emotion. But for now, your protection stops me from feeling grief all the time. My therapist has helped me become aware that this coping skill is unhealthy and unhelpful…but what does she know?
  • Anger, the way that you have impacted me is both helpful and unhelpful. You literally give me the courage to tell people to shove off when my limitations have been reached. I am aware that this is having a negative impact on my social life, but for the moment, I’m ok with it. In some ways Anger, I feel that you have boosted my confidence. My therapist says that this is a “false sense of confidence” but right now, I like it. Sure, it’s driving others away but that’s what I think I need right now. Grady is gone and it’s hard for me to want to open myself up to others. They will just leave me. Anger, you stop people from getting to close me. 
  • Anger, my hopes for your future role in my life is that you serve the purpose that you are supposed to serve, and not serve as a distraction from my grief. My therapist has taught me that anger is an emotion that is necessary for survival; it’s supposed to let me know when I am in real danger and need to protect myself. My hopes are that as I continue to with my therapy sessions, I will learn how to utilize you in a healthier way and not give in to the powerful feelings that sometimes come with your intensity. My hopes are to someday be okay with being vulnerable again and the moment my vulnerability is challenged, and you must show up Anger, I’ll know exactly how to regulate you.

 You close your journal and take a deep breath, allowing air to seep into your nostrils only to be pushed out again slowly. You notice that your leg has stopped bouncing, something Sampson seems to approve of, evidenced by his soft purrs as he continues to rest against your ankles. Your heart no longer seems like it’s fighting to get out of your chest and the headache that you felt coming, seems to have taken a detour elsewhere. Anger seems to have gone for now and you’re okay with that. You make plans to spend some quality time with your daughter and pray that you haven’t completely traumatized her and ruined her childhood. You decide to sit on the porch for ten more minutes and use your five senses to help you stay focused in the present moment to discourage any unwanted and unhealthy thoughts that could easily come up for you and send you back into a state of crisis. You make a mental note to bring your journal to your next therapy session and you enjoy the remainder of your evening. 

  • What emotion are you having a hard time with or that you would like to have more of (ex. fear, anger, love, grief, happiness, jealous, insecure, confident, etc.)?
  • What role does this emotion play in your life?
  • How has this emotion affected you?
  • What are your hopes for your emotion’s future role in your life?
* The email will not be published on the website.