Let’s Write a Letter of Reconciliation

This is a translated version of Ko’s third essay of a series “How Can I Stop Being Angry?”

Kang and Ko

Reason for Writing this Letter

Hello Kang, it’s Ko. It’s been a long time since I’ve written a letter on a day that isn’t a birthday or anniversary. Honestly, I can hardly remember the last time I wrote a letter after getting married… Hehe.

This is a letter of reconciliation that I’m sending to you. As you know, when I get angry, I can’t control myself and I end up saying hurtful things. Even after we reconcile and things get better between us, I find myself dwelling on those moments of conflict. The angry tone of my voice, the selfishness in choosing words that I knew would hurt you. Each time, I end up hating myself and worrying that I cannot grow as a person.

I want to ask for your help. Help me to manage my anger better, to share good feelings with you going forward. That’s why I’m writing this letter of reconciliation today.

It’s More Than Who Is Right or Wrong

There’s something more important than figuring out who was right or wrong. This letter is about resolving negative feelings and building a positive relationship. It’s about committing to care for each other’s hearts and actually finding ways to do so. Protecting our relationship is all that really matters to me, and I want to make that clear to you.

Praise, Gratitude, Respect

We haven’t fought recently and our relationship is stable. It might seem strange to write a letter of reconciliation when there’s nothing to apologize for. But that’s exactly why I thought now was the right time. When there’s no one seeking forgiveness, we can talk on equal footing. I wanted to focus on communication, not apologies, and I hoped this letter of reconciliation would be a good starting point.

“Nothing is impossible when the door of communication is open,” as Thich Nhat Hanh says. How can I open your heart then? I thought about the words I hoped to hear from you — the words that signify praise, gratitude, and respect.

As I listed all of your praises, your traits I’ve always wanted to emulate, and the coolness you possess that I lack, I realized why it hurts so much to argue with you. It’s because I’m afraid of losing someone as precious as you. Just writing down how much I love and respect you made me instantly happier.

When I’m Angry

Why did I act that way towards someone as precious as you? I regretted the words too easily after saying them.

Looking back, I always thought there was a logical reason for my anger. I believed I had the right to be angry, and I thought you should apologize first. Seeing you unaware of my frustration made me even angrier. Can you see how narrow-minded I can become when I’m angry?*

I chose to write a letter because I thought it was necessary to carefully convey my views before having a real-time conversation. Instead of guessing what’s on your mind, I wanted to focus on organizing my thoughts. I felt it was more appropriate to share how I felt instead of pointing out the actions of yours that upset me.

As I tried to objectively reflect on myself, I wrote in detail what happened inside me when I got angry. Just as I can’t immediately understand your actions and words during a fight, the same must be true for you. If we ever face a situation where we’re both upset, I want you to know it’s never because I despise you.

Promises and Asking for Help

I decided not to take the easy way out with a vague promise of mutual forgiveness. I dislike the idea of shamelessly asking you to just understand my feelings. What I need is not just a promise, but real guidelines for practical actions. To convey my strong desire to change, I needed to be specific and clear about what I’m asking for.

I’ll try not to lash out with expressions like ‘You are annoying’ or ‘You piss me off’. Lightening my words seems to help dissipate the anger more quickly. So, I thought about using ‘I feel neglected’. Doesn’t that sound better? From now on, if I say ‘I feel neglected’, please try to understand why I feel that way. Just doing that will make me feel a lot better.

It seems there’s a law of conservation of anger. If I keep suppressing it, it will eventually explode. Instead of holding it in until a big fight, what if we let it loose little by little? Smaller bouts of anger are easier to handle. If it seems like I’m getting angry over trivial things, maybe I’m trying hard not to turn this moment into a big fight. I’ll try to calm my anger this way.

Reply I Want to Hear

In a previous letter, I wrote that we should be able to openly discuss our strategies to handle heated arguments. Fighting isn’t a solo act. So, you and I both need to be in the same boat. This letter of reconciliation is just a starting point. If you, like me, decide to write a letter of reconciliation, you should be able to ask for a reply. Act boldly. Ask for a chance to enlighten each other.

*I’m curious if you are willing to join the promise of reconciliation. I want to hear about what goes on inside your mind when you’re angry, and if there’s anything unsaid about our past fights.

If it’s okay, could you write me a reply? We can also reserve a time to talk about this. Either way, I’ll always be waiting to hear your story.*

Let’s Write a Letter of Reconciliation

‘I don’t want to be angry with you, my love. So please help me!’ Maybe conveying this simple message is all there is to reconciliation. If the other person truly cares, they’ll take your hand and start listening. Even if you’re ignored, or if you can’t deliver the letter, that’s okay. When writing this letter of reconciliation, you may notice the knots of anger loosen a bit. Forgiving and reconciling with yourself is more important than the other one’s acknowledgement. In that sense, I’ve already achieved my goal.