The painful longing
Friday June 26, 2009
Dear Alice Miller,
After a recommendation from a therapist who I have recently finished working with I have just bought and finished your book ‘The Drama of Being a Child’. There was such a lot in it and although I finished it quickly I am now beginning to read it again as I fear I did not absorb everything as well as I would like. Everything I read relates to my own experience of what I inherently felt was true and the most healthy approach to deal with abuse from the past. I learnt very young to keep my thoughts and feelings to myself which I did to the best of my abilities. Over the years though as I grew in age and further in distance from my parents the after effects of childhood traumour began leaking out, affecting my friendships, relationships and work. Two years ago I confronted my mother with a letter explaning how I felt about what had happened in the past, she claimed she did not know what she had done, why I seemed distant. I agonsied for some time over the wording of the letter in order that it was not blaming or abusive towards her, instead I owned my feelings, said how I felt and why (referring to events), I said in light of these things I did not want contact for a while. The letter caused a huge explosion. Although I wrote the letter myself many parts referred to how I felt about what my older siblings had experienced (which I had witnessed myself) and events which they had in the past talked at length to me about. After reading this letter my mother was extremely angry. She claimed she could not remember these things so let one (if not both) of my siblings read my letter (which I had asked to be kept only between her and I) for confirmation. This confirmation was granted, consequently my mother told me (screamed at me actually) that this sibling (who I had not wanted to involve) had stopped speaking to me, as had my sibling’s daughter (my niece) who I had up until this point been very close to. My mother also phoned my other sibling, crying about the pain she felt having read my letter. After listening to my mothers pain (I am not convinced these were entirely genuine tears, I feel my mother is extremely manipulative) this sibling rang me to tell me how much I had hurt my mother and that I was now ‘on my own’ (not in the family ‘camp’ was how it was put). This was two years ago and since this time I have been just that, completely out of the family (the family is not very big).
I do not regret writing the letter to my mother, as I have said already it was extremely carefully worded and considering what she had/has done it was extremely fair and not ‘blaming’. I feel angry and bitter that (I feel) my mother has manipulated my siblings (and my father) into believing that I am to blame when as a child I did NOTHING wrong, in my fathers own words I was apparently ‘too good, too kind’. I feel extremely let down by my siblings who used to tell me painful stories at length about what my mother (my father too as he was compliant and did not protect us from her behaviour) used to do but when I was the ONLY one who couldn’t cope, couldn’t function by NOT saying something, by NOT addressing the issue so I DID address the issue, they turned their back on me completely. I have not seen any of them in YEARS. At least my sister confirmed to my mother that what I wrote DID happen, as when my mother said she couldn’t remember for a moment I felt as if it were me that was going mad.
I have spent years in therapy and had to take weeks/months of time off from my jobs with depression and anxiety. I am currently rethinking my career as I am a primary school teacher and can not cope any more with the stress, the environment and people who often appear to not even like children. I love the children but do not ever seem to fit in with the staff. I need something calmer as I cannot cope with full time work, the years have proved this, I last so long, then I go under.
It has been miserable growing up, ultimately feeling unloved, guilty and to blame. I had very little confidence which has increased with time but is easily completely shattered. The last two years without any single member of my family being in my life has been so hard, at times almost unbareable. At the same time the last two years have been wonderful as I met a great man and earlier this year we got married. I planned the Wedding almost entirely alone, few friends even helped and what could have been an exciting build up was extremely stressful and miserable in many ways, I missed having family in my life very much. My partner and I planned a small Wedding and my family knew but I did not hear much from them, it did not feel possible to have them there, I missed them but the reality is I am intimidated by my siblings and my mother.
Since the Wedding quite unexpectedly contact between myself and my parents has begun. My father has asked to meet, somewhere neutral but although I have said we will I keep putting it off. Perhaps it sounds, (perhaps it is) positive that there is contact with my parents now. Without ANY contact I couldn’t cope at all well. I am finding the contact that we have now incredibly confusing though, so much so that I am AGAIN off work with anxiety and depression and having given my job up because I can not cope. I have said already that I could not cope without contact with my parents, my family. And now there IS some contact and I still can NOT cope I am SO confused. I can cope better with contact with my dad, talking on the phone with him is nice. But although my mother is pleasant I do not trust her and after we speak I often feel unwell for a few hours or longer, sick and confused. I can sometimes feel like this after not hearing from my dad, he might say he’ll phone or email and then weeks go by and it upsets me, but I don’t tell him that. My dad has already said he will NOT have contact without my mother and now they are expecting to meet, they want to meet my husband as they have never met him. It is making me feel anxious, like a sandtimer which is running out. I don’t know what I could say if I did not meet them. I am scared that if we did meet they would be lovely to my husband and make me feel excluded (my mother was often nice to my friends/boyfriends but not me, equally she was warm and loving to foster children who lived with us but not her own children) and yet if we did not meet I am scared about the huge black hole that exists without them in it. I literally feel like there is NOwhere to turn and I know my husband can’t be expected to be as patient as he is forever. Alice, in your extensive experience
– is it ‘possible’ to reestablish contact again where there has been abuse? (my parents will NOT accept that it was abuse, I am NOT allowed to use that word)
– is it ‘wise’ to reestablish contact? (I am mostly scared of my mother in particular and frequently have nightmares still)
– if people (me in this case) do not establish contact and go their own way/cut ties somehow is ‘this’ possible? To date it’s been YEARS since I saw any of them but this time has been miserable, like I say a hole without them in my life
It feels like I have two choices and neither feel like they are ‘good’ for me.
If you can offer ANY advice I would BE extremely grateful,
MANY THANKS, F
ps it is ok to publish this
AM: You are painfully longing for your mother because you refuse to see, to feel, and to BELIEVE how your mother actually behaved and stiil do towards you. You need this denial, probably to protect you from her agressiveness and from the truth. Once you can give up your strong denial you will feel your anger you have accumulated in your body since the first days of your life. This consciously FELT anger will free yourself from longing for the good family that never was yours. It will enable you to enjoy your present life and your love for your husband. Your peaceful feelings are now blocked by your illusions.