Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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Why do we repeat what makes us suffer?
Tuesday June 02, 2009



Dear Alice,

Thank you so much for your books. I am 58 and was brought up under the edicts, ‘Little children should be seen and not heard’, and ‘I will belt the living daylights out of you’. Everything living within did die and all light became darkness both inside and outside. I was a robot. All communication became associated with punishment so I lived a lonely existence unable to communicate with adults or those my own age. I was terrified of them.



Over three decades ago I prayed for someone to enter my life to change it, though I did not particularly believe in God. I went to sleep, woke up and felt loved for the first time in my life even though there was no one there. This lasted for a few days after which I was invited to a Baptist Church and a year later returned to the Catholic Church, the source of so much pain. Thirty years ago my Father died and I was distraught because I realized for the first time that I was in prison and did not know what to do. I did a counseling course to try to enter the world of the living but it was only words and did very little to alleviate my intense loneliness. Some of its precepts I now know were actually detrimental to healing. My only refuge was in scripture, rainforests and on mountaintops where at least nature would talk to me about life. I knew about the Garden of Eden, about slavery in Egypt, and about being scattered in the wilderness. However in the healing process, pain was gradually becoming more intense as consciousness began to emerge. My true self saw the depth of my deprivation and, particularly for the last two years, suicide became a constant battle. Recently my very soul cried out to be let go of. It kept screaming and crying over and over within, ‘Let me go, please let me go’. It would not be comforted.



I read your book, ‘Prisoners of Childhood’ and I understood. I have been feeding my lost self with illusions to keep it alive within the prison of contempt – a prison created by both my parents. I have often had attacks of sexual difficulty but was only able to work out their timing not their inner source. They do not happen when I am out of Australia and are most intense when in the place of my birth and where I grew up. However I now know the source of these attacks – they are always associated with visits to ‘the mother’. It always takes my psyche a month to calm down after such encounters. They contain a subconscious form of inner torment - my soul begins to hide in her presence and I consciously and automatically shut down protecting myself behind a wall of silence. After the meeting it would seem that sexual difficulties, followed by depression, then become the soul’s only food till at least a limited sense of self emerges from its hiding place. However this pattern always brings with it the possibility of suicide until I feel safe once more, psychically removed from ‘the’ mother’s presence. Noticeably the recovery time is getting shorter but at the moment I am still placing myself in danger by being in her presence. There is a real case to be made for living overseas except that while these difficulties do not occur, loneliness continues to reach the point of suicide.



Just before reading your book I had a dream of a little bird learning to fly. It was trying to get from one shrub to another in order to feed. Eventually after many attempts it flew high and glided onto the adjacent shrub to feed. The thought occurred that it was placing itself in danger of predators by showing how vulnerable it was. Another voice conveyed that it was protected and nothing would harm it. In the next instance a young eagle left its nest high up in the sky for the first time. The nest became detached from the tree and the tree disappeared. As it fell the thought occurred that if it did not learn to fly on the way down it would collide with obstacles on the ground and die. Then an adult eagle swooped down and cleared the land before it assuring that even if the little eagle had to land it would not be hurt. The adult eagle would ensure nothing would harm it. Last I saw of that little eagle it was riding the currents high up in the sky not going round in circles but journeying forwards. If I think of myself as that little eagle and if I carry the wisdom from your book with me then all will be alright especially since the adult eagle was so determined that no harm should come to me.



However the time for words is over. I need to find a different type of food. It is time for new experiences now that I know the cause, expression and pattern of my present distress. Maybe I can now go overseas and live without having emergent feelings of suicide. At least I have tried for the last three decades and done my best to find a solution. Many thanks again for your books – they have brought important insights and much comfort.



Hope you are keeping well, RG


AM: You write "They do not happen when I am out of Australia and are most intense when in the place of my birth and where I grew up. However I now know the source of these attacks – they are always associated with visits to ‘the mother’. It always takes my psyche a month to calm down after such encounters. They contain a subconscious form of inner torment - my soul begins to hide in her presence and I consciously and automatically shut down protecting myself behind a wall of silence. After the meeting it would seem that sexual difficulties, followed by depression, then become the soul’s only food till at least a limited sense of self emerges from its hiding place. However this pattern always brings with it the possibility of suicide until I feel safe once more, psychically removed from ‘the’ mother’s presence. Noticeably the recovery time is getting shorter but at the moment I am still placing myself in danger by being in her presence". You seem to understand well the reasons of your suffering. Why do you make thiese visits however?

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