Written by Apollos
Early on in my counseling sessions I revealed to my therapist that I believe that I know why I started to crossdress when I was a child. He suggested that I write a letter to the person that was instrumental in encouraging my crossdressing. After I told him that I couldn’t because she had passed away, we mutually agreed that I would still write her the letter. I didn’t tell my therapist, but I thought, “Oh, I can pretend that she still is alive.” One thing that crossdressers are very good at is pretending.
Some people might think that delving into the past and reliving memories might be too painful an experience, or unnecessary because the past is the past and we can’t change it. Others might think that the people that mistreated or abused us are long gone, so it’s impossible and futile to let them know how we feel. If they were alive today, we would have something to say to them, but now there’s no way to tell them how angry we are that we’re stuck dealing with the ramifications of an addiction that has hurt others, ourselves, and our relationship with God.
I had other reasons for not wanting to write the letter. These reasons led me to procrastinate. Is it right to blame others for my crossdressing? After all, every time I put on a dress and makeup, I am making a choice. I am to blame. Then I thought about one of my ex-foster sons that enjoyed hurting animals. His father committed suicide by hanging himself in front of him when he was only four years old. As a teenager, our foster son told us that he couldn’t get that image out of his mind. I realized then that childhood traumas can shape the way that we think and act as teenagers and adults. I don’t know the exact connection between the father’s death and his son’s sadistic behavior, but if I was a betting man, I would put money on that wager.
I also didn’t want to write the letter because I loved the person that had abused me, and even though she was dead, I felt like somehow I would be hurting her feelings. I know that sounds weird. How can you still love someone that has harmed you emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, mentally, or physically? Believe me, it happens all the time.
When I finally got over these objections, I sat down and wrote the letter. It was one of the hardest things that I ever have done.
I say “dear” because that’s how letters are supposed to start, but I need to tell you that I’m angry with you. I know that you are dead, so unless God allows you to know what I’m writing, you will never understand how I feel toward you. But I’m going to write you anyhow.
How dare you whisper to me over and over and over again that I was so pretty that I should have been a girl. And reinforcing that message by holding, rocking and singing to me? Were you controlled by lying demons or were you just stupid? Didn’t you foresee that you would be planting seeds in me of transvestism? And when I got into my sister’s pink tutu with the frills and lace, why do you not tell me to stop or how wrong it was? Why did you think I was so cute? Did you not have enough daughters and granddaughters? You had B, A, K, L, and E for daughters. You had C, M, N, L, and J as granddaughters. Was that not enough? I couldn’t fight back with my intellect. I was only two years old. You took advantage of me.
I believed you. I loved you. Now it’s led to my marriage being destroyed. I know that I had choices. I could have chosen not to dress. But every time I put on a dress I felt like you were rocking, holding, and singing to me. Oh, you were so sick and twisted. If a father sleeps with his daughter and if she enjoys it and loves her father, isn’t that sick? I would tell that girl, “You should hate him, not love him.” If she is conflicted, doesn’t she have the right to be? Who would say to her, “It’s your fault. You should have told someone. You should have stopped. You should not have enjoyed it. You should have known better. You should hate him.”
Grandma, you took away my boyness. You robbed of that gift. I hate you for doing that to me. You messed me up, and not only me, but my brother and one of my aunts too.
Why? Why? I know that you had a hard life with your two sons passing away at young ages. All you had left were daughters. So why would you want to turn a grandson into a granddaughter? It makes no sense. How sick, demented, twisted, and hateful. You used your love as a weapon against me. It took me a long time to do it, but I reject your lies. I had looked at what you did to me as a gift because I thought that getting in touch with my feminine side was somehow a good thing.
So how do I think about you? Forgiveness is for another day. Telling you that I still love you despite what you did to me is also a conversation for another day. Right now I’m crying like a baby and I’m exhausted. But I’m glad that I finally told you. What you did was bad.
After I wrote this letter, I felt like a burden had been lifted. I know beyond a shadow of doubt that this cathartic moment has helped in my recovery. I have now celebrated seven months of crossdressing sobriety. I used to think about dressing almost all the time. Now it almost never crosses my mind. Writing this letter was not the ONLY thing that has helped me, but it was one of the pieces of the puzzle.
My therapist encouraged me to write another letter. Here is the letter of forgiveness, written one month later:
This is a follow-up letter to the one that I wrote you last month. I will not reiterate why I am angry with what you did to me. I realize that for whatever reason that God may have, he allowed you to do what you did. God permitted Joseph to be thrown into the pit and the prison in order to accomplish his plan to save Israel. Afterwards, Joseph forgave his brothers. I forgive you. I choose to focus on the good that has come into my life through dealing with my addiction.
Having said that, I first pause to recognize that surrender to addiction brought, and is still bringing, many negative consequences, chiefly, the destruction of my 40 year marriage. Even though I am an optimist, I am also a realist. In the movie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Cameron kicks his father’s jacked up car while it is running. It goes bounding out of the living room and smashes into the woods. Ferris offers to lie about who caused the crash in order to allow his friend off the hook. Cameron basically says, “No, I’ve got this. I own this.” In other words, he was going to not blame Ferris or his father for his actions, although it can be argued that he had the right. I am Cameron. I could have chosen to not give in to my temptations, but I did, and now I’m putting on my big boy pants and taking responsibility.
Back to my focus on the good that has been produced in my life. In these past seven months I have learned or relearned so many things that I had nearly forgotten. 1. I have experienced God’s forgiveness. 2. I have been broken. 3. I have learned the sweetness of prayer. 4. I have been able to minister to others. 5. I am learning to walk by faith for the future which I can’t even imagine and 6. I have allowed God to minister to me through friends, children, my church, my therapist, and through the word of God.
I am not thanking you for what you did to me. What I am doing is telling you that Satan didn’t win. It seemed that he did, but that was an illusion. All things, (even my confusion and addictive behavior) work together for good because I trust God. He loves me and has given me a special purpose.
In my first letter I released my anger. I end this this second letter by thanking you for the many meals that you made me, gifts that you gave me, and the calm, quiet conversations. In your imperfect way you did love me. I do love you for being my babysitter, and being like a second mom to me. Yes, you messed up with how you tried to turn me into a girl, but you didn’t beat me or tell me that I was worthless. You could have been worse, and I could have been messed up even more than I was.
I have released you.
While researching this guest post, I found an interesting article – Write Letters to Heal Pain and Release Anger: Let Go and Start Living. The author, Benny, has graciously allowed me to use an extensive quote from his blog:
“Here is a story of a woman who was raped and sexually abused. She built up a huge wall to protect herself and trusted no one. She carried a lot of anger and self hate. She found a way to heal.
After I was able to pinpoint where all my anger, hate, hurt, and feelings of being unworthy stemmed from, I was able to release it and finally be free. After months and months of prayer, crying, and reliving the horrible past, I found myself in a place of inner peace. Everyone will have their own way of dealing with their hurt and releasing their pain. My way was to write a release letter to each person who hurt me physically and mentally (the abusers), emotionally (the ones who didn’t protect me), spiritually (God because part of me blamed him). I wrote so many letters to so many people letting them know that I forgive them for what they did to me. After I wrote the letters, I burned them and during the burning of them l vowed to release the hurt forever. I also wrote a letter to myself forgiving myself for hating myself and promising myself to allow my heart, mind, and soul to heal.
That was 4 years ago. Today, I am still healing and allowing myself to love me fully. I have forgiven those who hurt me and I have released that hurt to the fire. I am no longer consumed with hate and anger but now with living a peaceful and happy life.
The person I was years ago is not the person I am today…thankfully.
That is powerful. Because she wrote her feelings down on paper, then burned them, she was able to let go of so much anger and hurt. If not, she might still be living with all that emotional pain and unable to move on.”
“In this next story, a young woman was obese and struggled in life. She was sexually abused as a child, had depression, was in an abusive marriage with a man who treated her like crap. She felt like this is what she deserved. She wanted to hide from the world behind her weight. She built up a wall to not let anyone get close to her. Because of her weight, she easily got tired and had a hard time just standing.
One year into therapy her therapist suggested she write a series of letters. One set of letters would be to herself.”
‘I am fat and disgusting. I hate the way I look in the mirror. I see people looking at me and wonder if they are thinking “that woman is huge.” I don’t bother with new clothes or makeup because what’s the point of putting lipstick on something ugly. I have never felt pretty or beautiful or sexy…
I’m not worthy of anyone. I am unlovable. I will never get healthy. I will never not be depressed. I can’t understand why my husband would ever want to touch me. I will never be a normal person. I will never be happy. I am weak. I am a monster.'”
“Although pointing out all her flaws might hurt, it is effective. It’s as if needed to say how she really felt, get it off her chest, then do something about it.
However, to me, the loss of my emotional weight has been more important. I have let go of 50 pounds of hurt, pain, anger, and sadness. The moment I started thinking I was worthy of more, right after I wrote that letter, was the moment I started being successful. As the inches and pounds dropped off, I also worked to lose that mental burden of feeling unworthy, undeserving, and disgusting. Even through all the turmoil, I have found inner strength I never knew I had. I deserve to be happy and feel complete at any weight. I am beautiful no matter what. I can handle anything that is thrown at me. Once I saw this, my outside started to resemble my inside.
Just know you can get through. You can persevere no matter what life throws at you. It’s not easy and it’s not a cakewalk every single day. But it does get easier and before you know it, two years have gone by and you cannot believe how far you have come.”
Again, a big thanks to Benny for allowing me to share those stories from his blog about the efficacy of writing letters to those that have hurt us as a way to help us heal and move on. I do recommend caution to be careful about actually sending or giving the letters to those that have harmed or abused us if they are alive. That could open a can of worms that could lead to that person abusing us again, suing us, or our own public embarrassment. If you are seeing a therapist for your addiction and have never written a letter like this, it might be something that you could first talk over with them to see if they think that it’s a good idea for your situation and past.