Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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Letter for alice miller from lorraine
Saturday September 01, 2007

Dear Ms Miller,

Your work has been my compass in this dangerous terrain of psychological therapy for over 15 years. With that compass I was guided into a hidden realm of emotions obscured to me by repression and a webbing of lies. Heavy veils over my perceptions were torn open. For this I am very grateful to you and your courageous perseverance in your own recovery path. But this emotional realm is an invisible dimension to those around me. For example, when someone loses a loved one to death after a month people begin to encourage them to shake it off, get positive, move on. They cannot honor all the activity occurring in that person emotionally. I find this suffocatingly familiar and dangerously frustrating.

My parents treated me and my brothers as if we were devoid of feeling. We were beaten with a belt, slapped, swatted on the back of the head, pulled by the hair, humiliated and degraded verbally. Our bodies were treated as property of our parents who felt the right to use us for their satisfaction. I cannot see this as anything but slavery. How I extracted any sense of love from this environment is astounding. We were withheld touch by our mother which is why I sought survival in the overbearing affection of my violent father. Within all this body invasion permeated a heavy sexual undertone. I was molested by brothers and father. All of this savage abuse to frail terrorized children forced us to alienate from ourselves. All of my 4 brothers have fought addictions to various substances including crack.

I suffered as much horrible pain from the witnessing of this relentless cruelty as from the direct experience of assault. I carry a memory of watching my uncle in a rage beating my infant cousin of 7 months with a belt because he was crying in his crib. This same uncle also molested me.

Most of my life I have experienced this world as an extremely hostile place; hostile to me as a child and all other children, hostile to me as a woman and mother. As I write this I weep. I have confronted my mother and my father with the truth of my reality, but I feel that the community that turned its face away from the horrible plight of me and my brothers has also failed its most sacred responsibility. I have been betrayed by a community that refuses to hold accountable the monstrous behavior of "parents." This betrayal comes in the form of its weak laws for child protection and the individuals who knew and left us to our hell. I am enraged at the sadistic attitudes of the majority of citizens who protect the twisted right of parents to assault their children and refuse to ban the whipping of children. The same citizens who smiled while they watched my father grab my two year old brother by the arm and lash him with the belt.

Though I have worked very intently with the process of facing the truth of my past and moving through the emotions for 18 years I am now suffering a neurological disorder. The autonomic nervous system in my body is failing to control my blood pressure which drops drastically every time I stand. There are other symptoms and I am sure that this is all due to my crippling childhood. In the past year as my parents began to fail in health I thought it humane to participate in the settlement of their care. Obviously that was a mistake. I am attending the physical needs of this disorder but I believe my focus needs to be on the emotional and psychological ramifications. Can you please help me decipher what my body is telling me?

with deepest respect and love, L.

AM: Thank you for your honest letter. You seem to see exactly how your parents treated you and what you had to do to save your health and HOWEVER you betrayed your needs, perhaps by helping THESE parents because you thought it humane to participate in the settlement of their care. I think that you are right by calling this a mistake.
It is very hard to give up the illusion of eventually having loving parents who will be grateful for having such a good daughter, even when she was treated sadistically. But your body doesn’t agree with your hopes, it knows your parents better than you do and it wants to protect you. Listen to your body, being a slave was your past, today you are free to make a change and say no to people who were so cruel to you. Where is your rage?

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