Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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How to believe I'm basically 'good' when I've made my son feel 'bad'
Thursday October 19, 2006

Dear Ms. Miller,
I grew up in an affluent, beautiful suburb of New York City with a Wall St. executive father and a full-time mother. Only, she wasn't a mother and he wasn't a father. They were both very cruel and abusive. I've been struggling all my life to heal, including using your books to help myself. I struggle with feeling that I am a good person. To complicate that effort I feel guilty and bad about myself for the times I've acted like my mother to my own child. I have apologized, and I struggle to change, but the damage I've done to my own child hinders my attempts to feel that I am a good person. I have been overly harsh in the past to my son when he was 4- 5 years old and would hit, push over and scratch his baby brother. I was so harsh I know I made him feel like a 'bad boy', and to this day I can see his low self-esteem, (he's 13.)
I know that until I have a solid feeling of my own goodness, I won't be able to give him the feeling that he's a good person as well. The two seem tied together. It's very difficult to believe in your goodness when you've made a little child feel like a bad person. I would appreciate any advice.
Thank you, C. B.

AM: You can't change the past. If you can't see yourself as a good person, maybe you can see yourself as a honest person who wants to see her truth without fooling herself. It would mean to acknowledge that your parents didn't provide you with patterns of love for a child. They did the opposite. Now you have a choice and your son will feel it, as soon as you stop to blame yourself for what your parents did.

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