Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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The Body Never Lies
Friday February 02, 2007

Dear Alice,
I am nearly 53 years old, and it has taken this long, and 7 years of therapy, to find the answers to questions such as:
Why am I exhausted all the time?
Why was having a child absolutely out of the question?
Why do I have a bottomless pit of misery inside me?
Why don’t I remember my childhood?

I found out the truth and shortly afterwards, read your book The Drama of Being a Child. I knew it was true because I had already discovered it for myself, before reading it. I am now reading your other books, and found them excellent works and very helpful.

Until I got to page 155 of The Body Never Lies. You write:

“Of course, people who were never beaten in childhood, who were never subjected to sexual abuse, do not need to do this work. They can enjoy the good feelings they have in the company of their parents, they can quite rightly call them love, and they do not need to deny themselves in any way.”

I know this is not true – and so do you! I was never physically abused in any way. But I now know that none of my needs were ever met. My mother had children to meet her needs. I was brought up in an emotional desert. My whole experience told me that I was not loved at all, and that I might just survive if I kept my head down, and was a good and tidy little girl - to quote you, “a convenient child – a little adult”. Until now, my whole existence has been to “tune in” to the needs of others and make sure that THEY feel good. I have only just found out that I have needs at all. My only memories of my childhood are when I was with animals. They kept me going. They accepted me and the only love I received was from them.

So much of your writings helped me to more fully understand why I lost my childhood. How it is “impossible to fight unconscious manipulation – for a child, it is the air she breathes”. Fortunately for me, my therapist is an “enlightened witness”. She has lead me to discover the truth for myself, grieve my huge loss, and go forward and learn to live. I am now in a very lonely place, but at last I can accept my little self and love her.

Kind regards, D.

AM: Some people discover that they were beaten as babies, very late in their life, at your age, or even later, when they are strong enough to bear this truth. Some never discover it; they take antidepressant instead.

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