Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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The freedom to feel
Friday April 07, 2006

Dear Alice,

I read in one of your books that “you can’t love someone who doesn’t give you the freedom to feel”, and I have been reflecting on that and seeing how unlikely it is to find someone in my age group or in any other who can give others the freedom to feel, specially if the others are women. I have so far meet only one person who could give me such a freedom, and by opening up to his love I encountered trauma, habit energies, fear, grief, tons of shame and self-rejection. I found love in myself and I lost it when the unresolved issues with sexuality started to come up. I’ve been working for years now with the question: what is love? I have an intuition of what it is, and a growing awareness of what is not. But why are all these old unexpressed feelings (some of which are not even mine) so closely hooked to the experience of loving and being loved. Is it really that we can’t love someone who doesn’t give us the freedom to feel, or is this statement only conditional until we resolve the old trauma of not having been reflected/seen by the first people we loved. I would greatly appreciate your insight into this.
Thanks for including your paintings in the webpage. I love the female figures that start to appear toward the end.

With much respect, B G F

AM: At the end of your letter you are almost answering your letter yourself: As adults we must ourselves be able to give us the freedom to feel but if our parents and other caregivers didn't give us this freedom in childhood we think that we need the permission to be given to us from outside. Unfortunately, nobody will do this "job" for us. On the other hand, it is true that some people may make you feel more or less free. Unfortunately, our tendency to repeat old traumas sometimes creates a big attachment to people who remind us of our parents. For that reason, we may stay for 20 or 30 years in a marriage where we feel treated like once by our mothers and don't dare to express our actual feelings while we are waiting for permission. We must learn that as adults we are the ONLY one responsible for our well-being and autenticity.

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