Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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After the knowledge . . what?
Saturday August 04, 2007

Dr. Miller,

Here, in my 60's, I am at the point of understanding but not yet of inner growth. I believe my ordeal and separation began at around age two with a severe shaking and fear of being killed by my father.

The effects of being raised by an alcoholic father and a detached mother are so engrained I can barely separate my self from them. You are so correct that in our primary attachment to our parents we desperately want to experience love even where none is given.

The Catholic church's convoluted illusions of how to escape the badness that I felt for being abused only made things worse. Now I accept that some of my reactions to my upbringing created great damage to myself and others, for which I alone carry responsibility.

Lacking inner positiveness since the age of two has caused me many difficulties. My life has been largely reactive and an attempt to appear normal, while all the time frightened and guilty. An imposter about to be discovered. This stress resulted in an early heart attack.

I take clues about who I am from photographs of myself, and the wonderful family I have been blessed with, despite my lingering emptiness. I have played with some children's blocks like the ones I used to play with in an effort to recreate and recover the sense of security, wonder and power I once had. It is refreshing those child feelings, but I remain an adult child seeking my soul.

Maybe that is my lot after all.

Thank you for all you have so bravely written. A.

AM: You write about wanting "to recreate and recover the sense of security, wonder and power I once had". I don't understand how you had it if you grew up with a detached mother and an alcoholic father who (as you felt) wanted to kill you. Can you explain to us this contradiction?

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