Learning styles vary among those who attend BIP classes. The more activities used that relate to different learning styles, the stronger the BIP curriculum. One activity that we use is the Completion Letter. As the name describes, this is a letter that is written and presented by the participant to the class at the end of the program. This assignment carries with it the expectation that it will be a demonstration of what was learned throughout the 27 weeks. The following example was recently read in class as part of a completion process. Of course, the names have been changed:
Please don’t throw this letter away before you read it in its entirety. This is the most difficult thing I have ever had to write. I need you to know that I am honestly sorry for all the bad things I ever did to you and put you through. I am ready to be held fully accountable to these terrible cruelties: punching and kicking you, head butting you, shattering your nose, strangled you trying to stop you from screaming for help, I’ve spit in your face and on you, shoved you, sometimes for no apparent reason, called you horrible names (stupid, cunt, slut, bitch, whore, brain damaged whore, needle junkie, bag chaser, dope ho, ugly, fat) prevented you from leaving, cheated on you more than once, broke more promises than I kept, dishonest and underhanded just to get my way, broke your phones with your sons pictures on them, thrown stuff at and towards you, kicked you out of the car to stay in strange places, threatened to kill you with a knife, held you down to the floor with my knee in your chest to the point you couldn’t breathe, told our children you left because you didn’t love them enough to stick it out with me, put you down to family and friends, talked sexual to other girls, withheld intimacy, ignored you for no reason, rolled my eyes just because you started talking, made you think everything bad that happens to you is your fault, punched walls and slammed doors to intimidate you. Unfortunately, there are probably more that I just can’t remember and for that I’m sorry. The beliefs I held to help justify those actions were “if I can’t have you I’ll ruin you for the next guy” “I can’t live without you so I’ll force you to stay” “you’ll never find anyone better than me” “if I’m staying home so are you” “I’m smarter than you” “you don’t know what’s best for you” There is no excuse for what I have done to you, during those cruelties my shadow of feeling worthless was hovering over me making me think “I feel worthless so I’m just going to go ahead and show you/everyone just how worthless I am.” Since starting BIP I have gained skills to identify the signs of my shadow allowing me to realize I’m not actually being called worthless so I am able to have a conversation that actually accomplishes something good I hope and pray almost every day that you have been able to heal from me being abusive. Not even in my worst nightmares can I imagine how I have made you feel besides being scared for your life more than once, not being able to trust in other relationships, sad, heartbroken, chest pains, hatred towards me, depression, the urge to relapse back to drugs, never knowing who to trust, scared of being around me, alone. I not only made you feel those ways but myself also as well as going to jail, not seeing the kids, ashamed, disgusted at myself. I want you to know that with the help of FPI I am climbing my way out of the river of cruelty so that what I did to you will never happen to anyone else. If I find myself slipping back into the river I know that I will forever have a stable support system with FPI allowing me to come to group and brush up on anything now that I know what to watch out for as I become emotionally activated I can call a time out, breathe and calm my mind to have civil conversations and I can accept influence and criticisms without blowing up. However hard I try I cannot go back and undo what I’ve done to you, I am so very sorry that I robbed you of your chance at a safe, happy, secure life that is not fair to you and I hope that you’ll one day forgive me. I hope this letter gives you some comfort and allows you to live your life happy and fully.
Forever in my heart
This letter, while far from perfect, serves as another opportunity for the participant to be accountable for cruel behavior and consider the impact of his bahavior on others. Research has demonstrated the value of emotional writing, and our participants acknowledge that this is a highly emotional acitivity on a number of levels. While a well written letter does not always serve as evidence of change, it does require a participant to examine thier behavior using a different set of skills. While people are never “fixed” when they complete a BIP program, it is hoped that they have moved further along the path to become more self-aware, more emotionally regulated, more in tune to the thoughts and feelings of others, and more aware of the short and long-term impact of their behavior.