Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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Stuck
Wednesday July 11, 2007

Dear Alice Miller,

I was first introduced to your books 15 years ago, and for 15 years I’ve tried my darndest to connect with & experience the pain and anguish of my childhood, but I’m so unhappy, even now, that I despair at ever really reaching myself emotionally in any authentic, transformative way. Do I lack the strength to see myself for who I was, to see my mother for who she was? She became sick when I was only 9 or 10 years old, and became gradually weaker over the course of several years before finally succumbing to cancer. I’ll never forget the day she tried to slap me in the face – I must’ve been 13 or so – and I grabbed her hand and held it while she struggled and I could feel her trembling…not just with anger at me…but with weakness, with the frailty wrought on her by disease. I pitied her. My mother made me play a role my whole life – she forced me into a “false self” – but that same mother, the most important person in the world to me, got sick and died when she was only 41 years old. I was 14. I pity her still – I pity her and I scorn her.

Where can I find the strength to get past my rage and frustration? What do I have to do?! I often feel like there is no hope at all – like I’ve read too much, handicapping myself, as it were, with a merely intellectual understanding – like I’ve seen too many therapists who DON’T measure up to your faq (I dare say, such a therapist is 1 in 100 or more, Alice, but let that go) – and that despite my best attempts I’m not ever going to break free from the “prison”. What’s more, I don’t think I could cry it out in front of another person – almost every time I’ve ever really gotten upset and cried I’ve been alone.

I want to close this letter by saying THANK YOU for the truth of your ideas, whatever may become of me – you reshaped my life from the day I first opened one of your books, and who knows, I may yet find the strength to face my perpetrator (without ambivalence) somewhere other than in dreams.

You may post this letter. I'm sorry it's not more upbeat in tone. With gratitude and admiration, TTC

AM: Your pity for your mother is absolutely comprehensible but it seems to swallow completely the empathy you need for the suffering of the small child who has to become the protector of the mother without being protected by a helping witness. It IS possible now for you as adult to become this witness and to develop compassion for the most overburden child you once were.

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