Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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Thank you for The Body Never Lies
Wednesday August 17, 2005

Dear Alice,

If you think it will be helpful to others to publish my letter, please do so. It is okay to use my name because to do so is honoring myself today. My truth, as ugly as it is, is still my truth.

August 16, 2005

Dear Alice:

Thank you for your compassion and insight in The Body Never Lies. Great book! I have so much I’d like to talk to you about. I wonder if you ever come to the U.S.? I do not speak German, but we could use an interpreter. If you are ever in-between flights, or in Florida for any reason, please let me know. I’d love to see you. I love people who share their wonderful insights with those of us who suffer with the long lingering effects of childhood abuse.

I’d like to tell you a little about my story, I just don’t know where to start because I repressed everything until I was 35. I am now 47 and I’m STILL uncovering feelings, body memories, etc. You are correct when you say the body never lies, because mine never did, I just had to ignore it until I could deal with it.

I was able to deal with it when I met what you would call an “enlightened witness”. I thank God for her very often. Her name is Paula. She was the most compassionate therapist I’ve ever had. She was clear about what she was doing – she was there to support me on my journey to uncover my truth no matter what path I chose to take.

I began going for “help” (social workers, counselors) when I was 14, but all of them had their own goals for me. One therapist in particular was very focused on the 10 Commandments and I dated married men at the time. She had a difficult time with this and told me how I was sinning against God. I was unaware of my incest memories at this time, but on some level, I knew what this therapist was saying didn’t make any sense. Today I know, if my mother can finger-fuck me in the bathtub, my father can masturbate in my bedroom in the middle of the night, let his best friend brutally rape me and my brothers can molest, sodomize and make me perform other sexual acts for a period of over 13 years (from infancy to 14), what does the sin of committing adultery mean to me?

I hated my mother all my life and was extremely uncomfortable around my father and family. Thank God my mother died when I was 29! I began to fall into deep depressions and I didn’t know why. It still took 6 more years before I could get to the memories in therapy and I was still frightened by just the thought of my mother years after her death. My father died in 2002 thank God, so I could get some peace from him as well. Although I uncovered most of my memories while my father was still alive (and confronted him with some of them), I could not put the pieces together concerning him specifically until 2 years after he died. That’s when they came to the surface.

My life has been so utterly, utterly frustrating. I can’t even begin to tell you. I picture myself sometimes like a cat in a closed sack fighting to get out. I’m such an intelligent, compassionate woman and I had to use all my energies, skills and resources (not to mention money!) to undo what was so maliciously and unconscionably perpetrated on me by “loving family members”.

I am pleased to say that I began gradually pulling away from my family after my mother died, although I don’t believe I was conscious of what I was doing at that time. Over the last 2 or 3 years I have pulled further and further away from my family so that this year I was able to ask the last 3 out of 4 people I speak to in my family to stop speaking to me. It occurred to me that I want to be conscious in my life and I can’t be conscious and stay in contact with the people who remind me of why I don’t want to be conscious! It has taken me a long time to be okay with this.

Rejecting the family? Saying my parents were bad? Yes. That’s what I’m doing and that’s what I’m saying. I know deep in my heart today - because I was able to hold on to my heart through my terror - that my parents would never have done what they did if they had been in their right mind. And I know my parents did not do to me what was not already done to them. But they DID do it. At some point in their life, they made a choice, just like I did.

I also completely understand that I have many more choices today than my mother did. My mother was a ferocious survivor. She desperately hated her life and didn’t know how to get out of it. I know what that’s like. But lucky me, I was blessed with the ability to understand something wasn’t right and I didn’t want to act or feel like a barbarian.

I agree with you completely that the 4th Commandment is very harmful to those of us who had bad parents or parenting. The 4th Commandment should be “Honor thy Daughter and thy Son”.

I also completely agree that a non-judgmental enlightened witness is the best, if not ONLY way to reach a person’s truth. I’ve had many therapists, clinical psychologists, psychiatrists since Paula, and not one has been as clear and non-judgmental as she was. She gave me a gift. The gift to be me – free to be me – no matter what that looked like. And it didn’t look very pretty sometimes! But she loved my little girl anyway. She taught me to love her.

I admire what you are doing with your life. You aren’t afraid of the truth, speaking your truth and sharing your ideas no matter how they are interpreted by the “powers that be”.

Thank you for being one of those people like Paula, who hold the lantern up high so we can find our way out of the darkness!

MJ F

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