Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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Born with hope
Wednesday May 30, 2007

Dear Alice Miller,
The reader whose letter you printed on May 29, 2007 is struggling with many of the same issues as I am. He is feeling depressed at middle-age because he has given up the grandiose dreams that sustained him until now. I understand that, I have given up mine and I have also felt depressed and anxious.
I realized lately that the hopeless, negative feelings I've been struggling with are remnants of the influence of the adults ('parents') who abused me during my childhood. The depression and anxiety are the consequences of realizing my grandiose dreams won't come true. But the feelings of powerlessness, worthlessness, guilt, and hopelessness are the feelings of an abused child.
I refuse to hold onto those feelings. They were real, those were the feelings any human child would have when held captive by cruel adults. But I won't have them now, they will kill me, and I won't let them. I was born with love for myself and others and I won't abandon it.
I've noticed that grandiose people who achieve their goals of fame and fortune are often unhappy, drug addicts, alcoholics, etc. Public success does not lead to happiness. how many examples do we need?
Hope is everything, and child abusers make a good attempt at killing hope in children. I understand now that so much of my suffering comes from their destructive power, still influencing me now, making me feel all is lost, that I am too bad a person to salvage. I have observed people who were not treated so cruelly forgiving themselves, finding themselves worthy no matter what. I'm giving myself hope, like they have.
I remember when I was a child, my biological mother going through one of her daily screaming tirades at me. I yelled back at her, "That's not fair!" and she screamed back, "Life isn't fair!" Well, I'm going to make it fair. It's fair if I have hope. It's not fair if I drown in the blackness she tried to cloak me in, with words like---"you're good for nothing....everyday we hope you'll change and you never do..."
I refuse to drown, there is always hope, the love that I was born with is still there, and I'm going to love myself and my children. Screw the grandiose dreams.

AM: Thank you so much for your letter, written obviously out of your own profound experience. You write:
“The depression and anxiety are the consequences of realizing my grandiose dreams won't come true. But the feelings of powerlessness, worthlessness, guilt, and hopelessness are the feelings of an abused child.
I refuse to hold onto those feelings. They were real, those were the feelings any human child would have when held captive by cruel adults. But I won't have them now, they will kill me, and I won't let them. I was born with love for myself and others and I won't abandon it.
I've noticed that grandiose people who achieve their goals of fame and fortune are often unhappy, drug addicts, alcoholics, etc. Public success does not lead to happiness. How many examples do we need?”

You are so right, especially when you say that we are born with the ability to love ourselves and to have hope. This ability was so often damaged in us by abusing parents, but we can regain it. I fully agree: The public success is an illusion of happiness, paid often with our health, and it doesn't nurture us. Instead, the love for the tormented child we once were gives us the knowledge of who we are and what we actually, really, need so we become strong enough to fulfill these needs. In this way we maintain hope.
The author of the letter you mentioned did not feel comfortable seeing his text published and asked us to remove his letter from this page. We had to respect his wish, of course, and removed his letter.

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