Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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My body rebells
Tuesday June 05, 2007

Dear Alice Miller,
My name is M., I am 33 years old and I live in Argentina. Last February I came across your book "The body never lies" and I began reading its first pages; I felt it was me writing the book saying what I really feel. I couldn't stop crying, and although I know you must receive thousands of letters with the same phrases, I just needed to write this to you and call for help.
I have been married for 13 years and I am the mother of two beautiful girls aged 12 and 10. By the time I was 23 it seemed I had been able to survive my terrible childhood and adolescence because I had my own family and home and my college degree as well. Suddenly I started suffering from terrible headaches that haven't stopped in 10 years. After so many years of doctors, tests, medicines and suffering the pain has only grown stronger and more frequent although doctors, priests or "healers cannot find the cause. They all say it's stress, you need to relax. I was forced to stop working and my whole life is developed around the symptom. After taking medicines like Valium for long periods I started having panic attacks and the long feared depression ( my mother's illness ) appeared in my life. I am struggling but I feel just as lonely and lost as I was when I was a child having to face responsibilities that were overwhelming.
My therapist says I am too demanding with myself that I am not in contact with my needs and that my body is calling my attention; and that if I don't succeed I will surely develop something more serious like cancer. However, whenever I talk with her about my mother she says I need to find the good in her and I just hate her with all my guts. She suffers from a sever manic depression and although she was an absent mother in my life she was an omnipotent controlling force at the same time. She humiliated me and hit me very often and her verbal abuse was constant. I remember wishing she left bruises on me so that I could prove to people that she was hurting me. Instead all I could find was the terrible phrase "You must understand her, she is ill." I was just a girl, who was understanding me?
I feel that even though I recognise I hate my mother, that is not enough. Today I cannot stop seeing her because my brother and I support her; but I cannot forgive her or love her either. Every time I get a headache I feel I failed again. I don't know what I'm supposed to do with my feelings. I feel like I've been fighting in vain all my life. I just cannot accept the idea that I am doomed with no hope because I have such a terrible relationship with my mother.
Thank you for your book, M. S.

AM: Ask your body why it rebels. If you hate your mother because she was so cruel with you, why do you think you must help her, especially if she already gets help from your brother whom she maybe treated differently? Probably your body CAN'T understand this, it insists on your truth. How can you relax if you force yourself to do something that you don't want to? Read the letter we are publishing today about "feelings" and my answer. They may encourage you to listen to your symptoms and to respect their clear message.

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