Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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Lost again
Wednesday September 12, 2007

Dr. Miller

I was in a kind of emotional prison camp since early childhood, with an alcohoic father and a passive, indifferent mother. Like a Bonsai tree I was emotionally stunted and shaped. I had to cope with the daily problem of how to face the alcoholic each night, and justifying my very existance as an abused person. The long-term damage I have yet to fully assess since one of the key defensive responses I developed was defensive denial. I can relate my experience to those of trauma victims or concentration camp victims. In a lifetime I have tried practically every defense.

In response to my early abuse and my loss of my job (an event that was related to my emotional binds) I have lived and dreamed about the vacation house we now live in. It is very beautiful here, but has become sad because in order to get to this place I ignored or denied the basic needs of making a living and paying taxes. I was able to hide this from my wonderful wife by stealing from our pockets of savings. Like an alcoholic I plundered what had been accumulated in satisfy my need to live my dream. Living day-to- day and moment to moment was all I could do to survive as a child. I am sure that the major traumas in my life control my present actions. Now I will be paying the price for those years of denial and deceipt.

I am losing (or have already lost) the one true relationship I have with my spouse of 39 years. Unfortunately I was living those years from behind a mask. For my whole life I was hiding from the abuse and my own angry and destructive urges. Now the realization of what I have done recenty and throughout my life hasmuffled my initiative. I view the wreckage of my relationship and our finances from my attempts at living in my personal Shangri-la. This awareness has turned me numb again.

I guess the only way out is to assume the responsibility for my own unrealistic actions, even though they were driven by a desperate need for that early happy place that I never had in my childhood. My spouse asks me "What did you think was going to happen . . ?" My answer is I was living as a child. I was living day to day, holding on to that day's happiness while driving us into debt and financial insecurity.

I wonder is it possible to experience again the flowering of life after a lifetime of confusion? In my mind that the answer is "yes", but I don't seem to know how to get there, as my defensive mechanisms and denial constantly obscure my feelings. It hurts to much to live, so I pretend. Every trauma seems to echo deeply and is crippling my strength for living life. I did "better" in denial. Where am I going wrong here? A.

AM: Denial is the main defense of an alcoholic. It is thus no wonder that you "learned" to do it from your father. But he didn't know what he was doing and you DO. You have the courage to question your behavior and to look for its sources. I thus have not any doubt that you will overcome this state, you will FEEL the plight of the little boy, the victim of your father's denial, and more and more he will feel safe with you and will less and less need to behave like the father did.

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