Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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When is it enough?
Tuesday April 14, 2009




Dear Mrs Miller,

Last night I couldn't stop reading your book The Drama of the Gifted Child (the Dutch version because I'm from Holland). A friend of mine gave it to me about seven years ago but to be honest I was afraid of reading it because I thought it would totally mess me up inside. Now I'm 29, I had a short holiday and I decided to read it. I read it all in one night and I want you to know that it was one of the most wonderful things I've ever read (and I did a whole lot of reading in my life). Almost everything I read was sooo much like me and my mother and in a strange way it made me feel so good.

When I was two years old I had to be an adult for my mom who couldn't cope with the issues she had with my father. She was talking to me about everything, and I mean everything. I was a really smart kid and even though I didn't understand things like sex on the age of two or three, I always could feel my mothers emotions. They scared me on one side, on the other side I felt so much responsible for her emotions and for making things good for her. I felt responsible for her crying and her endless headaches.
I started to feel how much my mother needed me to be in a certain way and I started to know exactly how to behave to prevent that my whole world would collapse, because that was the way I felt would happen when I did something 'wrong' to my mother. On the other hand she told everyone I was her best friend.

When I was six my father became mentally ill and was no longer able to pay any attention to me. He still isn't. He and my mother couldn't stand each other, they lived in seperate parts of the house and didn't speak to each other. There was always so much tension in the house. As a reaction to my fathers illness my mother became a very religious person. She became very, very extreme. She was always talking about sins, the devil and going to hell. I knew by instinct the only way to keep her satisfied was acting exactly the way she did, so as a six year old I started crying and crying and I told her I was crying about my sins. It made her so happy and she told me and everyone I was such a special child. In my heart I always knew I couldn't act like that forever, but I didn't see any way out. Besides that, when I did something that wasn't good in my mothers eyes, she looked at me in a very disrespectful way and told me to go to my dad, because I was just as evil as he was. To punish me she neglected me for days. I couldn't stand that, it felt like losing everything.

I was feeling so sad inside and got really depressed when I was twelve years old. I was an intelligent but very shy girl with no friends and no social life. I didn't know (and still don't know) how to act in front of other people because I had no clue what everyone was expecting me to do and to be. So I became very withdrawn. I always wrote a lot and I think that saved 'the real me', even though that part wasn't able to develop, it survived through the stories and poems I wrote.
Since I was fourteen I constantly fell in love with older, married men (I still do). I became anorexic and started to hurt myself and my mother never saw something was wrong with me. Things went really bad when my mother wanted me to marry someone when I was eighteen. I refused and she had some kind of a nervous breakdown for weeks, blaming me for putting her in that situation and for letting go the chance of my life.

Many many other things happened and I felt I hardly couldn't breath anymore. I started to live by myself when I was twenty but it didn't work out the way I hoped. I never felt free from my mother. I had some weird affairs with older men, got pregnant and had an abortion, before I told my mother I did not want to see her anymore because it was killling me. That happend three years ago and until this day she totally does not understand it. She says she always cared about me, always wanted the best for me and loves me so much. I talked to her, I wrote to her in the very clearest words, I cried and yelled and screamed in front of her, but the only thing she thought was I went crazy. She still hopes my crazyness will stop one day so we can be 'best friends' again.

I went to a therapy for my eating disorder and it started to get better; even though I'm still the biggest control freak, my eating behaviour improved a lot and I'm having a healthy weight now.
Before I read your book I felt really bad about myself and thought God would punish me one day for the way I treated my mother by wanting her no longer in my life. But now I guess maybe God will understand I really couldn't deal with it any longer.

Besides that, I still have my issues. My self esteem is totally based on the things I do; on being succesfull. I am smart, I can do a lot of awsome things and I'm a pretty girl. But in my own eyes it's never good enough and when no one gives me a compliment I start to get depressed for days or weeks. It's that weird thing I read about in your book: on one side I'm thinking about myself as a gorgeous superwoman, the best girl this world every had, but on the other side I'm seeing myself as a nothing, a no one, a loser. I really don't know how that strange thing in my system ever can change.

I'm not able to have sex. I don't understand anything about sex. I think having sex is about letting go something I hold on so very tight. I can't let go and I have no clue how to behave in front of someone I'm supposed to sleep with. I tried but I was just lying there, and when I find out it was a normal thing to make noises, I just started to act that noises. But it didn't come from the inside at all and I'm wondering if I will ever be able to have 'real' sex.

For three years I have one really good friend that respects who I am and never forces himself on me. He helped me a lot to heal some of my mental injuries. There was a time I was so mad at my mother I think I have killed her if I had a gun. Now I'm starting to feel sorry for her. I will never have kids and that's okay. I got sterilized because I'm too afraid to make the same mistakes my mother did. Now I have a precious cat and I give her all the love I would give to my child.

I want to thank you so much for your book and for being a voice for those young children, even though they grew up. Thank you a million times and God bless you.
Kind regards,

P.S. if you want to publish this letter on your side, that's okay and you can use my name, Colinda.




AM: I think that writing helped you to respect your true needs and I hope that once you FULLY understand WHY you hate BOTH of your parents your "issues" disappear. You write: "I talked to her, I wrote to her in the very clearest words, I cried and yelled and screamed in front of her, but the only thing she thought was I went crazy. She still hopes my crazyness will stop one day so we can be 'best friends' again" Is this not enough to make you stop to try again? You don't need to have pity with people who made you so much suffer and NEVER understood you.

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