A Letter of Amends

Dear Katie,

Today I read the completed amends letter to my ex-husband that I started in front of the group in April at The School. I feel profoundly grateful and at peace. I wrote and read the letter with peace as my only motive.

Eight months ago I could only feel resentment, bitterness and rage. I had been having daily thoughts of suicide for over two years from the hopelessness and despair.

Now after two schools and an awesome teleclass with Charlotte (I cannot say enough about the admiration and appreciation I have toward Charlotte, she is the best!) Peace is possible, my world and my life are expanding. Thank you so much.

For the first time, I can now see (truly see) and love the father of my children free from the need or desire that he provide me with anything or do anything for me.

I felt grateful to myself for the sense of presence and authenticity that I was able to maintain throughout the conversation. I noticed that I did get triggered at one point as we were talking afterwards and that I reacted with defensiveness stemming from a desire to be heard. I noticed and I stopped and went back to being present. We were able to have a friendly conversation and share observations, delights and hopes for our children with an ease and connection that I hadn’t been able to find with him before.

I feel that I have created a shift in our dynamic that opens the door to healing for myself and for our family. I am grateful to myself for my persistence in seeking healing. I am grateful to you Katie for presenting TW in such an accessible way (I did in eight months what I had not been able to do in 30 years of various therapies and medications). I am eternally grateful to Charlotte for shepherding us through the work in the specific arena of Divorce and I am grateful to all of my classmates. I believe that our collective effort of doing TW contributes to the foundation that supports our growth and that the work will keep working in seen and unseen ways. Thank you.

5/02/08
Dear T,

When we were married I wasn’t able to find or acknowledge very much appreciation within me for anything, including you. In our 25+ years together I don’t believe I ever fully present with you and I don’t believe that I ever really truly saw you. There times when I came a little bit close
like when I watched you ski. Those were rare moments when I did not judge you. I felt love, I saw beauty and I really admired you.

I would like to express what I appreciate about you.

I appreciate that you made our children your first priority. I appreciate that you spent a lot of your time serving them like driving J to her horses, and cooking meals for all of us, doing research on a multitude of things and just being around for us and for me.

I appreciate your ability to see what is good in others, especially our children. You shared with me your wisdom in letting our children take risks, find their own answers and your wisdom in knowing they didn’t need punishment when they did things that hurt themselves or others.

I appreciate that you manage money well so that you could offer us not only security and stability but also many enriching opportunities like travel, private schools, horses, summers at the ranch. You willingly and freely gave me time away to pursue my interests and I thank you for that.

I appreciate your gentle nature, your desire to be helpful and your generosity in sharing your time and attention with me, our children, and others. I appreciate your loyalty during our marriage.

I appreciate that you did the best you knew how to make me happy and your willingness to go to counseling with me and try to make our marriage succeed.

I appreciate your patience and tolerance and your impressive ability to not hold onto grudges.

T, you have given me many gifts.

First and most important are our 3 perfect, wonderful and beautiful children X, Y, and Z.

You also gave me Freedom to explore and develop my interests and you have given me financial security before, during and after our marriage.

For these things I am forever grateful.

Recently I participated in an exercise that centered on someone we admired.

I admire you and I did that exercise with you in mind.

What I see and admire in you is:
Generosity, Willingness, Gentleness, Loyalty, Caring and Patience

T, during our marriage I did many things that hurt you.

I expected you to be competent in many ways and I held it against you and I was cold and critical of you when you didn’t meet my expectations.

I insinuated many times that you and what you were doing was not good enough and that you should change and I withheld love and affection when you didn’t understand and agree with me.

There were times when I didn’t act like a partner in our marriage like when I made decisions about things that affected both of us without consulting you.

There were times when I wanted you to do for me what I had a hard time doing myself like reaching out to others and being involved in the larger community.

I often ignored your attempts to reach out physically to me and I judged your efforts to be not enough. I had an affair and didn’t care how you felt and I left and didn’t care how you felt.

During our marriage I put a lot of pressure on you to change.

I didn’t listen to you when you told me that you were content and didn’t want to change. In equal measure, I put pressure on myself to change and pressure on our children to change. I was very hard on all of us and I didn’t listen when you told me that.

When I carried the belief that I and or you needed to change, I put a great deal of attention on how I or you hadn’t changed and I constantly pushed myself and you. I focused on what was missing in my life and in you. I compared me and you to others.

What I imagine that it cost you is many years of not receiving affection, collaboration, and support and not being given the opportunity to feel the joy of your partner receiving your affection and support.

It cost our children the opportunity to experience the unconditional love and support of their mother and many years of living in a stressful demanding environment.

It cost me the ability to see, experience and support your strengths and to know you. It cost me the opportunities to receive your love and caring. It cost me the experience of my own self-acceptance and the experience of giving unconditional love. It cost me my confidence and joy as a mother.

I had a motive for not listening and for continually pushing for change. My motive was fear. I had fears that I needed to do things right or others would judge me, reject me, leave me and not take me seriously. I was afraid of forever feeling fearful, alone and isolated. And I was fearful that our children would feel the isolation and pain that I felt in my life.

By extension, I believed you needed to do things right or I would be judged and left by others. And I see that when I believed you weren’t doing it right, I judged, rejected, and left you in my mind and did not take you seriously. I equated your worth with what you did and how you did it.

I put you out of my heart. I equated my worth with what I did and how I did it. I put me out of my heart.

Again, in my experience, this cost you my love, affection, support, harmony, companionship and connection. It also cost me my love, affection, harmony, support, companionship and connection both to myself and to you.

I experienced it as causing separation, heaviness and stress in our family.

I am sorry that I didn’t listen to you and that I put unachievable expectations on you and blamed you when you did not meet my expectations.

For the many times and the many years that I treated you unkindly I am sincerely sorry. If there are things that I did that hurt you and that you would like me to know about or acknowledge I am ready to listen and I would like to hear them.

I am profoundly sorry for the stress I have caused you and our children and am willing to do what ever I can to make it right.

I welcome your ideas. In the mean time I am committed to living my life differently than I did in the past. The ways that I have identified include:

1. To notice when I have the thought that someone else, particularly you or our children, should do or be in any particular way and then look at how I can be or do it myself. My goal is to never tell another person what they should be or do or how they should think or act and if I do to notice and make amends as quickly as possible.

2. Another way is to stop blaming anyone or anything for how I feel or experience life.

3. Also, when I notice that someone has contributed toward my wellbeing that I will acknowledge them verbally or in writing as soon as possible.

If you ever feel that I am blaming you, accusing you or criticizing you I ask that you point it out to me because I am sincerely working on not seeing you or anyone as my opponent or enemy.

T, I am grateful to you. I am grateful that you are the father of my children, You are a gem and I love you.

Love, C

A Note from Helsinki

Dear Byron Katie,

This might be old news for you, but I found that two groundbreaking Stanford University pain syndrome experts consider Byron Katie’s approach the best form of Cognitive Therapy.

In the new Revised 5th Edition of A Headache in the Pelvis (pp.326-330), that came out in May 2008, Stanford psychologist David Wise Ph.D. and neurourologist Rodney Anderson, M.D. refer to Albert Ellis’ Rational-Emotive Therapy and Aaron Beck’s Cognitive Therapy and then write (in their italics):

“The best form of Cognitive Therapy is, in our opinion, is offered in the work of Byron Katie who provides an approach to disarming catastrophic thinking by means of a process that one can do oneself. This is the approach that we recommend.”

They then describe the procedure adding: “Our description of this process is rarely sufficient to become proficient at it. We discuss this method in our monthly 6-day clinics. Information specifically about this cognitive therapy work can be found at www.thework.org and the books of Byron Katie.”

Wise and Anderson are practical “in the trenches” therapists who work daily with severe pelvic pain and other chronic syndromes . They recommended Byron Katie’s method already in the 4th edition of the book (pp. 298-301).

I am happy to tell that my friend Ms. Essi Tolonen will be able to make true her long-held dream — Essi will attend the 2008 School in Germany in two weeks. Many people here in Finland are already eagerly waiting for what she will tell us about the School.

All the best to you and your wonderful work

J. V.
Helsinki, Finland

Europe 2008

I’m thrilled to be in Europe again this summer. This may be my last visit for a while. The body says “slow down” and mind says “keep going until everyone in the world has The Work.”

Since I don’t know when I will return to Europe, this trip is especially dear to me, and I would love to see as many of you as possible in two of my favorite cities, at two day-long public events:

 

Amsterdam on Friday, July 18, and

 

Stuttgart on Sunday, July 20.

Also: the nine-day School for The Work in Bad Neuenahr, Germany, July 25-August 3, will have real-time German translation. We have a new translating system, which allows the translation to happen simultaneously as I speak, with no delay (German speakers wear headsets). So they can do The Work with me in real time! We tested it in Spanish at the Miami School, and it was seamless.

Registration is open, and I would love to see many many of you come to School for the shift of a lifetime!