Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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The body never lies
Friday September 09, 2005

Dear Ms Miller,

It is with great interest that I have been reading your book 'The body never lies' which my psychologist recommended I read.

I am at 56, a survivor of childhood and teenage abuse. My mother was dictatorial to the extreme and arranged it so that I would believe that my only happiness came through her. By 10/11 years old, I would often say that when I was grown up, I wanted to marry my mother. And no, there was never any hint of sexual abuse other than to convince me that anything below the belt was not good.

My father, a powerful businessman, was happy to let my mother free reign in rearing his children and didn't much of a clue as to what was happening under his nose.

I started to rebel in my teens but that was met with WORLD WAR THREE and those years were quite awful for me.

The reason I am writing this to you, is that,in believing that the 'body never lies', at 13, I lost a small circle of hair. I had cortisone injections but it never regrew. At about 33, under an unbearable amount of stress with a husband who was manic depressive, I started to lose all my hair until I was completely bald. This came about when I started contemplating divorce which for me was 'bad' and a proof that I had failed and that my parents were right.

Interestingly enough, 2 years later, I became pregnant, something I had always dreamt of, and my hair regrew. However, 3 months after our daughters' birth, having to go back to work because there was no choice, and this being 'bad', I once again lost all my hair and it has never regrown.

Please tell me whether you have ever come across something like this. My psychologist says that I carry the DNA to regrow my hair, if I can tap into what it was that helped it regrow the first time, but I do not understand the mechanism that started this all off when I was 13. It is only over the past 2 years that the word abuse has been used for what I went through ( I used to have beautiful hair and a couple of times, certainly not more, my mother dragged me by it around the dining room table. It was a fear of mine, but did not happen more than twice ). However, I do not see the links and my mind is going round in circles with this.

I am a devout Christian but am not at all threatened by the 4th commandment. Several times in your book, you have used the word 'love' instead of 'honour' when coming to parents. That bothers me. But I have no guilt or problem with this. To me, honouring just means not bad mouthing my parents if I can avoid it. However, with the psychologist and close friends, I do not mince my words and I am quite certain that God will forgive me. My mother was a toxic mother and my father chose to be an absentee one.

However, if you have any wisdom regarding the hair loss in conjunction with the abuse, I would be truly grateful.

With thanks for your book.

Regards,

C.P.

(South Africa)

A.M.: you write: “ I used to have beautiful hair and a couple of times, certainly not more my mother dragged me by it around the dining room table. It was a fear of mine, but did not happen more than twice (was it not enough to fear the mother for one's whole life?). However, I do not see the links and my mind is going round in circles with this.”

Here is the answer to your question. Your body gives it to you, but you refuse to listen. It reminds you of your mother’s cruelty but you are afraid to feel the rage, you are afraid that she could drag you by your beautiful hair again. Now, she can’t. The body only wants to help you . I hope that one day you will listen to it. And don’t take cortison.

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