Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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discovering the past
Wednesday August 06, 2008

Dear Alice, A letter which I would LOVE your thoughts on (under the name Ella in Zurich), which you could put on your website, if you wanted:



I am currently exploring my childhood as a method of understanding the way I conduct myself with my own children.



I am sometimes a VERY poor mother and would like to become a better one. I can be cold towards my three sons. I find it hard to hug them when they are naughty or need calming down. I find it impossible to hug them when I am upset. I get disproportionately angry with my children for very little reason. I have an immense amount of anger in me. I have no idea where this comes from. I had no anger issues before I had children.



Sadly, I have almost no childhood memories. These things are certain though:



1. My mother is an immensely cold woman. She is emotionally barren. There was ZERO warmth in my childhood.

2. Waking in the night with bad dreams and nightmares were met with anger from my mother for disturbing her

3. I remember being spanked by my father many times. I most remember being sent upstairs, waiting for a long time for my punishment and then being spanked on a bare bottom. I remember feeling humiliated.

4. I have sexual memories from a very early age. I would hide myself in my bedroom and play 'naughty games' with my dolls. I would touch them and get them to touch each other. I clearly remember the arousal from this. It was my 'fix'. I was very young at the time. (Is this behaviour normal in a child so young?)

5. I don't remember any hugs from my father. He was also a cold (or confused?) and immensely controlling man. He died a long time ago.



I am looking to get some clues as to whether I was abused as a child (I have virtually no other memories before the age of 8 or 9). My sister believes that she was abused by our father. My husband believes it is futile to explore this any further as it only involves looking backwards and he thinks that I am actively seeking bad news.



I have spent a long time on your website in the last few days and am starting to believe that it is ok to consider the potential reality of the situation. I have spent many years avoiding thinking about such things as it is painful and actually very disturbing for me. I now believe it is key to understanding how I can be a better parent to my own children; I can be ice cold, I get irrationally angry and I have always had this overwhelming feeling of relief that I never had any daughters. I can't really explain why.



I think I have a need to understand if I was 'abused' as a way of moving forwards. My husband believes that I would be driving backwards along the road to misery. In his opinion, Life should be only about moving forward.



Could analysing and digging up the past in pursuit of trying to become a better parent, actually do more harm than good?



Thanks

E

AM: Analizing alone will hardly change anything. Only feeling the pain of the terribly abused child you were and revolting against the extreme cruelty of your parents will enable the change. At the moment you even try to deny it saying that you don't KNOW in spite of the FACTS that are obvious


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