Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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Abusive childhood leads to codependence, another kind of prison
Thursday April 05, 2007

Dear Alice:
Thank you for your wonderful books. They speak to me like no other books ever have.
After years of therapy with an enlightened witness, I started dancing and making art at age 50, two things I love and was forbidden to do as a child. I thought I had finally broken free of the chains that shackled me throughout my childhood and much of my adult life.
However, upon reading the description of how Nietzsche must have felt as a child in The Untouched Key, I was struck by how it applies to me now, as an adult, in my relationship with my spouse… “I can’t live in this narrow, untruthful world. And yet I can’t leave you.” “I am still a child and am dependent on you. That’s why you have so much power although you are essentially weak.” “I am too weak and afraid of hurting you, but I despise the weakness in me and the weakness in you, which forces me to pity you."
I did very well in business as a young woman, and am financially independent. I certainly don't need this man and never have, but I find myself emotionally dependent, too weak and afraid of hurting him and our teenage children to leave. I have stayed with him for 38 years, although I knew from the beginning that it was a bad match.
I have stopped doing too much for him, make art every day, and leave once a week for dancing, so it has not been totally unbearable these past few years. Do I still feel lonely and unhappy because I feel chained to this depressed man, or is it my past to which I am still chained and from which I will never be free?
Must children who were prisoners of abusive childhoods become and remain codependents as adults? Must I suffer physical symptoms if I stay for the sake of the kids? My knees are bothering me.
LL

AM: You are asking: Do I still feel lonely and unhappy because I feel chained to this depressed man, or is it my past to which I am still chained and from which I will never be free? Must children who were prisoners of abusive childhoods become and remain codependents as adults? Must I suffer physical symptoms if I stay for the sake of the kids? My knees are bothering me.
These questions and your quotes from "Nietzsche" in my book show that you are coming very close to your essential question: Do I want to stay chained to my childhood until the end of my life or are my knees asking me to open my eyes and become free of illusions so that I finally can live MY life? Of course, you CAN become free if you decided to live with your truth.

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