Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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Thank you letter
Tuesday August 07, 2007

Dear Alice Miller,

My name is Rosario and I’m originally from Italy. I’m 51 years old and currently live in Australia and married to a wonderful human being Noelene.

Recently I bought one of your book “Breaking The Wall of Silence” and I’m reading it with great enthusiasm and inspiration. I haven’t finished reading it yet, but I felt already so grateful to you that I wanted to contact you ASAP to express my deep feelings of appreciation. You are my hero and one of my best friends. I thank you very much for standing up to our primitive society that resists growth and harmony among humans. We need more people like yourself who are so brave to risk everything in the name of truth.

Please allow me to share some of the struggles in my life and how I have tried very hard to find adequate answers to the issue of pain from my childhood, with not much success. I always believed that a big part of my undeveloped personality had to do with the psychological abuses I suffered as a child, that are still unresolved. It was just an intuition, but now, with your analysis, I finally have found the confirmation.

I was born in a little town on the west coast of Sicily, in ’56, and I grew up in a post War World II enviroment, where poverty and ignorance put a lot of pressure on the social fabric of the society of that time. I lost my mother when I was just 1 year of age and my father—already advanced in age, about 55—decided not to remarry. So those early years of my life became more dramatic then ever without the mother figure at home. In any case I did receive some affection and protection from my grandmother and grandfather.

My father was a very honest and hard working man, but the loss of my mother at that particular time—with me only 1 year old and my sister only 6—was a big burden on him who was struggling to put some food on the table. Many times he became angry at me or my sister for little things. But mostly of the times he was very sweet and playful with me, and he spent a lot of time with me by keeping me close to him while he was working.

Unfortunately he had also some emotional issues to deal with and when I sometimes didn’t come back at home in time for dinner, he would be angry at me and hit me to punish me. It was not done often but when it did happen, it was done with such intensity that I became very fearful at a very young age. I’m sure that that dynamic at home has created some trauma in my mind.

However I don’t feel that my father was the only or the main terrorist in my childhood. Unfortunately other factors have contributed greatly to my under-developed personality. The most horrible thing that did happen to me was the misfortune to spend 5 years in a elementary class-room with a teacher who had an authoritarian-fascist style of teaching. One of his favored passtimes was to twist the soft skin under the chin whenever we were not able to come up to his standard of learning. Of course he would use other forms of more mild punishment, but that one has stuck in my mind and in my heart forever as he did practice it on me often. I used to have nightmares about it up to my late twenties.

Then as a young adult I joined a religious group and there I went through some disfunctional dynamics where humiliation was misunderstood for humilty and surrender to love God was replaced by surrendering blindly to the authority who superficially was representing God. After several years of that artificial life-style I paid attention to my heart which was telling me to get out and live my own life. That was the beginning of me trying to figure out who I really was and what had happened to me since my childhood.

During the following years I embraced the principle of forgiveness and attempted to forget the past. I felt relieved somehow but still there is some block in my heart. Some kind of conditioning from which I haven’t been able to evolve from. By reading your book I have come to realize that for many years I have been denying the fact I have been psychologically abused. I believe that it has been this denial that has cretaed a deep vacuum in my heart which I have been trying to fill up with actions that I don’t feel proud of. My sexuality for example has been troubling me since my teenage years.

My inability to feel relaxed and confident in promoting my art-work is another handicap about which I have no idea on how to overcome, despite all my efforts to adapt to the new world’s dealings. Another issue I’m struggling with is my relationship with my wife’s kids. When I met my wife, at first I tried my best to be nice with her kids but after short time I became very resentful towards her about the way she was relating to them. I think that I haven’t been able to be very supportive in her dealings with her daughters. I tried even to impose on her my false understanding on how to deal with little children—as if I were an expert in this matter-- by telling her to be more bossy and demand respect and to use an occasional slapping if it could help to establish some discipline. And so by being a such an asshole I put a lot of distance between me and my step daughter which has prevented me from connecting with her. She naturally and justly has put a wall between us.

This, I have realized, is one of the consequences of me rationalizing the actions of my abusers by justifying them to be right in helping me to shape my personality so that I could become the “good citizen” as an adult. And so I choose to believe that the cruel and rough methods of discipline practiced on me were good as I was capable to show to the world how humble and submissive I was. But my heart has never agreed with that conclusion, therefore I have lived many years in a deep conflict. I have lived my life always in fear of disappointing others and so I have never been able to pay attention to the voice of that child that never had an opportunity to live a decent childhood. I have tried always to conform my life to what I thought was the right thing to do, even at the cost of shutting the door of hope which has prevented me to come out from the prison of fear and guilt in which I still feel trapped.

Dear Alice, with this letter I wanted first to thank you for all your hard work and courage in sharing all of your realizations and understandings in the dynamics of child-adult- personality. Secondly I wanted to share my story to confirm to the world that you are precisely right and so to put it on record my testimony.

Hope this meet you in good health and good spirit.

Your indebted friend R.

AM: I hope that reading my books will help you to become a less perfect citizen and more what you really ARE.

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