Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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Your books helped me
Saturday August 02, 2008

Dear Alice Miller, My very first memory is running down the driveway with my wet diaper slapping me on the legs. I was running for my life. My mother was right behind me and switching my legs with every step. I remember when she finally stopped and picked me up telling me to never run from her again. I was just supposed to take it and to make sure I cried. If I didn't cry then she really went for it. When I turned about 15 years old, one night I must have said something she didn't like and she raised her hand to strike me. I was strong and I grabbed her hand and told her to never ever try to hit me in the face again. She never did. I won't go into the troubled often unhappy life that I led, early marriage two girls and a early divorce. I married at 17 and was divorced at 20. Many love affairs until meeting my husband of 35 years. Mother came to live with me when she was in her 90's. One day I watched as she pulled a plant that I had just planted out of it's pot. I asked her what she was doing and then told her I had just planted it. She replied that "she didn't know". A flood of memories came over me. How if as a child I had done something and then said that I didn't know better, she would grab that switch and tell me that I would know next time as she would pound away. Well, I could not "teach" my mother a lesson. First of all she would never have remembered doing those things to me. So I went on a journey of trying to find some peace and also to learn to love her before her end came. My journey led me to your books. At the same time to Rolfing and to massage. Also I was able to pray to forgive her. I did not talk to my family about what I was going through, but I sure did talk to outsiders. I would go have my hair done and jabber away, or to the massage therapist. Mother died at 96 and I did learn to love her before that time came. At the same time I was starting to do genealogy and I learned so much about how my mother was raised. In fact when she was in her late 80's I asked her to tell me right off the top of her head what came to mind about her father. She told a very sad story about something that happened when she was 16. Mother was the eldest of 10 and the child that always tried to do the right thing and to be helpful to her parents. One day a group of teenagers that were in a Sunday school class had come by and they all went for a walk. When they got back, her father asked what they had done and one of the young men stated that they had passed an orchard and the fruit looked so good that they "just prayed that some would fall down so they could pick it up without stealing". Her father took off his belt and begin to whip mother on her legs in front of her friends yelling that "he would teach her to pray for fruit to fall"... or some such nutty thing. Mother was in her 80's and that is the first thing off the top of her head. She had always told me that her father was hard on his children but this has really stuck with me. But what I learned about my grandfather was what life had been like for him. His mother was a teenager during the Civil War. They lived in Missouri and terrible things happened. Her father was ambushed by "bushwhackers" which were gangs of outlaws robbing and killing at will as they roamed around the countryside. Her father was murdered by bushwhackers and scalped. The scalp being tossed into her mother's lap. For years the family struggled to regain normalcy. Later when she married and had a couple of children, her husband was kicked in the head by a mule and killed. She then remarried and had my grandfather and a couple of other children. Everyone that lived through those times saw horrible things. This great grandmother was one tough gal. But it is said that her second husband, my grandfather's father was sweet and gentle. Mother said that when she was at her grandmother's home, she was to be seen and not heard. Learning all this made a difference to me. I really understood that what happened to me and the abuse that I lived with was not my fault. Your books did so much to help me through that healing time. Later, my stepson told how his mother had abused him. Wire coat hangers across the shoulders and so much more. I was able to pass your books on to him and they helped him also. My granddaughter is a social worker in Reno, Nevada. She deals with horror stories every day. The disgust that she feels towards the parents that she has to deal with is very prevalent. I sent her your web site and I suggested that she encourage some of her older teen clients to read your books. Again, Thank you for helping my sanity!
AA

AM: Thank you for your letter. No, it was never your fault!

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