Unspoken Truths

Back in 2004, Frank Warren, a small businessman (as in the business was small, not Frank himself) printed up 3,000 postcards and dropped them in public places asking people to share a secret that they’d never told anyone, write it on the postcard and send it back to him.

He not only got all the postcards back, but people started making their own postcards and sending them in. He started a blog to display the thousands of postcards he was getting every week. His blog has had over 250 million hits. He’s written 5 books. He’s established a fundraising foundation for suicide prevention. And now he he’s creating an art project to pay tribute to all the people who’ve shared their good, bad and ugly secrets with him.

And the very coolest thing is that the only thing he has commercialized (e.g.: made any money on) is his books.

The main reason this struck me as interesting was that for a while now I’ve been thinking it would be fun to do an interactive post about “messages not sent” where people could share a little message to someone dead or someone they’ll never meet or never meet again. Something they wish they’d said, but never got a chance to. Or messages to people still around that you know you’ll never deliver.

Dear Jim: I know you’re probably old, fat and bald now, but for 2 weeks, when I was 20, you were a god.

Dear Mom: All those years you kept telling me and everyone else that I was the only kid you knew who’d never needed a mom from day one, it might have been nice if you’d still sort of made yourself available just in case.

Dear Miss Davis: You were a psychopath, but you certainly managed to instill the fear of bad spelling and bad grammar in me forever. Yay for phonics and The Strap!

Your turn!

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31 responses to “Unspoken Truths

  1. First off let me thank you for reminding me I haven’t gone to Post Secret this week and:

    Dear Ex, I held a lot of rancor for a long time. After almost 20 years when I saw you again and saw that you hadn’t evolved a bit, I stopped loathing you and started pitying you. That is so much worse.

    Dear Dad, I am so sorry for all my insensitivity while you were dying. I don’t care how fucked up i was, how long it took, how painful the whole situation was, I was 20 and I should have known better. It was just wrong. And I still love and miss you terribly all these years later.

    Whoa! but hell, that’s what came out, that’s what’s staying. Yeah, I have issues.

  2. Daddy;

    Johnny Cash songs remind me of you and make me cry. One came on the radio Sunday at brunch and I wept silently throughout. I think my husband knew why, but he cleverly didn’t ask.

    It was the hardest thing I ever did, to fly out there to be with you as you died, but some of my favourite memories of you were born of that trip; I saw you and Mum in a different light. It was almost enough to scour the taint from my younger memories of you as a rampant alcoholic.

    You should see Mum now. I didn’t know if she’d know how to live with her center gone, but she’s stepped up to the plate and is becoming an amazing woman. You’d be proud.

    love always,

    your little girl, who still really can’t believe you’re gone.

  3. I regularly read postsecret and even sent one in….
    never got published but here’s what it said:
    “Why don’t any of you fuckers understand that each time you confess you deepest darkest sins to me just adds to the dispair in my life?”

  4. I wrote a message here to someone who I should be very close to but can’t be because they won’t change their squalid living conditions. They CAN afford to.

    However, I deleted it because it’s too embarrassing and painful to this day to share. I have shared my feelings about it a couple of months ago with my wife. She agrees and understands.

  5. Tina, you’ll never realize how much you destroyed my ability to trust, or worse yet you do and didn’t love me enough to think it mattered.

  6. Dear Mrs. Platt,

    Thank you for saving my life after my mom died. I needed a decent and good female role model in my life and you were it. I wished every day that I could have gone home with you after school instead of going to my crazy aunt’s farm.

  7. OK your Miss Davis one has got me going: 

    Dear Miss Vincent, feeling everyone’s underpants between the legs to work out who wet the floor was not kind, and the time you… never mind

  8. Dear old High School teacher,
    You hurt me with your insensitive and untrue remarks that you made on your last day of teaching. I used to think you were great, but soon realized you were a fraud. But I am happy because soon after that day, I proved you wrong. 🙂

  9. Dear Craig.

    It was really crappy the way I treated you when we broke up. Being 16 and stupid is really no excuse for hurting your feelings like that. I’m sorry. If it’s any consolation, the guy I dumped you for turned out to be an unfaithful jerk. I hope you found someone wonderful.

  10. Dear Mr. Mercer and Mr. Jones — When you asked me to be yearbook editor in grade 10, you blew my mind. Your faith in me gave me self-confidence and changed my entire outlook on life. Thank you.

    Dear Ex-Boss — Your company is stupid, your hiring practices are criminal, and you have absolutely no clue as to how to run a company. Yours was the worst job I ever had. You suck.

    Dear Dad — I wish I’d gotten to know you before you died.

    This is a great idea, XUP, I’m sure I’ll think of more!

  11. Oh, I’m not touching this one with a ten-foot pole.

    Not that I dont’ have any unspoken words I wish I’d have said. But these are quite personal issues, and I’m not willing to air my laundry to the whole planet.

    …just because we can do something on the Internet, doesn’t necessarily mean we should.

    But, I admit. It DOES make for a very interesting blog post.

    So if y’all don’t mind me, I’ll just sit back and watch. 😉

  12. I visted Post Secret a time or two when it first started, but I really don’t get the popularity. It’s one thing to read personal, intimate posts on a small number of favourite blogs or share intimate secrets with close friends, but I have no desire to read about all of the deep, dark, dirty, and/or sad secrets that thousands of people have. Sharing a secret lightens your load but adds to another’s. I have enough dark shit going on in my own head.

  13. For once I’m not going to respond to every comment because I don’t think these messages need a response from me. Thank you so much for sharing these snippets of stories that are obviously much more complex. This is really interesting so far.

    For those who hesitate to add a message though, I just wanted to point out that the messages don’t have to be deeply personal or intimate. They could just be something you wish you’d said to that rude sales clerk or a thank you to some passing stranger who did you a kindness that you didn’t get a chance to thank properly or a note to your future or past self. The possibilities are endless.

  14. Dear Customer

    You came into the store I was working in on New Year’s day to buy some flowers. You were bouncing off the walls telling me how your new grandchild was the first baby to born in the new year. I served you politely but couldnt join in your celebrations as my grandmother had died unexpectedly at one minute past midnight and I was heartbroken but had gone into work as there was only a skeleton staff on. You said, ‘A smile wouldn’t crack your face, you miserable cow’. I hope what goes around, comes around and someone is as hurtful to you one day.

  15. Dear Frank Warren,

    I’ve long been suspicious of the authenticity of Post Secret postcards. Tell me the truth: you really write all of them, don’t you?

  16. Dear Manuel,

    You were the first person ever to point out to me, when I was 19, ‘you need to see a pshychologist, there is something going on here’. Thanks to you caring enough about me to give me your tough love I’m here today, doing my thing, alive, kicking, and much happier than I’ve ever been. I was so freaking hurt and mad when you broke up with me soonafter that ‘please go see a doctor/psychologist’ conversation happened that I never properly acknowleged you for this. I ended up going to see a therapist couple of years after that, and that conversation I had had with you was at the source of me finally taking that step.Thank you for giving me my life as I know it nowadays.

    I got one of Warren’s books as a present once and loved it, left it behind in Ottawa, gave it away to a friend, too heavy to carry.

    Even if it would defeat the purpose of the secret part of Post Secret, I totally, totally believe that going a step further and telling these ugly truths to the people involved, if they’re still around/alive, even if it takes all you’ve got and some more, multiplies the after-truth liberation exponentially. As a matter of fact, I even posted about it! –I think you were right when you said we were kinda twins, after all we share our birthday — 🙂

    http://curriedjane.blogspot.com/2009/06/on-shame-and-inspiration-i-could-use.html

    http://curriedjane.blogspot.com/2009/06/on-truth.html

  17. Dear Little Girl,
    I used to babysit you every afternoon when you were 3 and I was 13 or 14 and I yelled at you twice when you wet your pants during a nap. I’ve felt bad about that for over 20 years and I am sorry.

  18. Dell,

    May you guys rot in hell. I paid 7000 dollars for a laptop, paid more for extended warranty and parts conk of. When I call the customer care, you keep on hold for upto 30 minutes. And when the technical guy condescends to attend my call he wants me to run a dvd on my dvd drive which doesn’t work and won’t send the onsite tech support guy for whose services I paid for through the warranty till I run that dvd.

    May u rot in hell!!!

  19. Dear Robin,
    I hope you are able to know how much we all love you. It’s been 27 years since we lost you and you have never been forgotten. I still wish I could have seen you, seen your face.
    Love, your big sister.

  20. Dave,

    You were an excellent roll in the hay for a first time, and I really mean this. You were absolutely straight with me about where your line in the sand was and insisted that I choose you, and to have sex with you, at a point when I would have been perfectly happy to just let something happen or allow the guy to take charge. I have always been deeply thankful for that atmosphere in a first time, because it was really empowering for me and set the tone for everything that came after – including this incredibly warm and loving relationship I’m in today.

    I felt like a bit of a fraud; I didn’t really know all those Monty Python references, I just hung around with a lot of other folks who spouted them often. Thanks for putting up with my lousy guitar playing, and for being so fearless and nonjudgmental when I told you I was recovering from an eating disorder.

    To be honest, the sex itself was disappointing – I would be sad if you didn’t think so also – but that wasn’t about you. Any first-time sex would have sucked that way. At least I wanted it, and you. I’m sorry our brief relationship crumbled into such a bad, weird ending – how many guys who take theatre classes aren’t gay?; I’ve always been worried I gave you an inferiority complex about your performance somehow.

    You were so gentle, and kind, and I saved the little map you drew for me to your apartment, and the little side notes telling what to look for and how to tell it apart from the other identical apartments were so sweet.

    Dear Biker dude whose path I coasted into Tuesday:

    I’m so sorry; I’m usually more watchful. I’ve been operating on low brain power because I can’t afford my meds. I’m going to call that a casualty of the suck-ass economy.

    I’ve been having my husband chauffeur me around because of the low-brain power thing, but our car had broken down on the highway and I was driving a borrowed one to rescue him. That corner is really awful; I know trees and sidewalk stretches are supposed to make a nicer/safer bike path, but it also makes it really hard to navigate. Either we pull forward into your path to see oncoming traffic, or we merge blind. The two-way bike traffic between us and the highway is awful planning; it’s a bad spot all round. I love bikers – my husband is one of you – I would be one of you too if I didn’t have to live out in the sticks where the cheap properties are. I’m just not that athletic.

  21. Dear Hercules;

    How come always wait to put on your ring, AFTER some monster kicks your ass?

    Why don’t you do it before-hand, and save yourself some aggravation?

  22. Teacher theme:

    Mme Bunston,

    In grade 3 you played obvious favourites, and showed obvious distaste for us less pretty/popular kids.
    When you invited me to the front of the class and offered me a chocolate, I was the happiest kid in the world and honestly thought my problems were over. This was an invitation to Club Popular.
    But when I bit into that chocolate and realized it was made of rubber, and you and the class collapsed in laughter, my world was shattered and I further retreated into myself.
    You should not have been allowed to be around children.

    And M. Bourgnon? When you called me out in front of the entire class in grade 9 and told them all how horrible I was to my mother and went on in great detail about what a horrible kid I was in general, I decided that day that you were right and did nothing to change anyone’s mind for many, many years.

    Mr. Olyarnik? In grade 12 when you gave me an undeard of A in English Lit, my heart soared, I floated home and I decided to go university. Thank you.

    This is like therapy! I could do this all day!

  23. Dear Warren: I didn’t know that your love would come to mean so much after all of these years. I don’t want you back in my life, but I wish I’d been more appreciative while you were in it.

    Dear river guy with the mother who ran for office: I was wrong.

    Dear Brad, You should have asked me out after you did Thelma and Louise. I worshipped you then.

  24. very cool post and idea. i’ve often lamented that i wish to send in a secret to postsecret but don’t have anything that i haven’t already told someone about.

    dear person x:
    i’ve always wondered if you ever loved me as much as i loved you.

    dear person x#2: you have no idea the harm you are causing to the situation, and i am not sure you ever will this late in the game.

  25. dear joe,

    i used to look up to you and such. i thought you were going to be the best friend that i needed. man, i was wrong. i got sick of you making up excuses for not hanging out with me. i got sick of making efforts to hang out with you. friendship is mutual, this is not. if i’m not cool enough for you, well fuck that, you’re not worth my time and royalty.

  26. dear frank warren,

    i had a chance to meet you in real life and actually talk to you. i was very excited to meet you, but after getting a chance to meet you, i can’t help feeling that you are a fraud and aren’t as “kind and caring” as people make you to be.