Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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The eternal hope?
Tuesday July 21, 2009




Dear Alice -

Over one year ago, I suffered a debilitating injury in which I awoke one morning and my hands were frozen - I could not move them and was in great pain. I was not able to regain use of my hands until I went into therapy as I found that the source of my injury was psychological, not structural. Through this process I discovered my very angry and sad inner child who, after being ignored for my entire life, resorted to "freezing" my hands in order to get my attention. I have now made a full recovery, although my hands still burn when my inner child is triggered.

I had a wonderful therapist with whom I worked very closely and intensively. I was able to begin to tap into my rage and loneliness that was a result of being raised by a bi-polar mother. I continue to be overwhelmed by the deep yearning and longing that I have in every single cell of my body - it is as though my very being is crying out for my mother. One dominant feeling is wanting to go back in time - I want more than anything to be able to go back to the days of my childhood - presumably to be able to receive the love I never did. This desire, this yearning, feels embedded in every part of me.

My mother and I were both born in a small village in Germany. We now both live on opposite sides of the world (neither of us in Germany). I see her once a year or so. My relationship with her has improved, but she still remains a contradictory figure and is very difficult to talk to her about anything substantive - she is extremely insecure and quickly turns belittling and/or defensive. I am seeking your advice because we are both returning to our village for a family reunion in one month. My sister (with whom I am very close) and my father are not coming. This is one of the only times my mother and I will be alone together in my adult life - in addition, we will be in the physical place that symbolizes my childhood and is the setting for many of my dreams. It will be the first time I return since I began this process of unearthing - I am not sure how I will react to being there.

My question to you: do you think I should take this opportunity to speak to my mother about some of my feelings? I am afraid of being vulnerable with her, but can muster up the courage if you think it could bring about further healing. (I moved away from my former therapist a few months ago). I'm not even sure which feelings I could express, but I don't want to miss this unique opportunity to speak with her.

Thank you for all your contributions to humanity - the impact of your thought is immeasurable.

Sincerely,
B

AM: You are writing: "I want more than anything to be able to go back to the days of my childhood - presumably to be able to receive the love I never did. This desire, this yearning, feels embedded in every part of me." I can understand your desire but you should not forget that you expect to receive this love and understanding from the same person that never listened to you. So you will be hurt again. If you have still, in spite of your therapy that you call successful, the hope that you can show her your feelings without being hurt, write her a letter and express there your feelings. Her answer will show you if this trip is an "opportunity" or a repetition of what you already know so well.

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