To keep the secret and become sick
Wednesday May 06, 2009
Dear Dr. Miller,
I am a Canadian woman, 63 years old, currently writing a doctoral thesis on women’s autobiography, precisely on the writings of the Ursuline nun, Marie de l’Incarnation, one of the founders of New France. I was formerly one of the first women Vice-Presidents of the Prudential Insurance Company of America, and Senior Vice-President of the Canadian Medical Association and it’s (very successful) financial subsidiary, MD Management.
I am finally divorcing my second husband who has been clinically diagnosed as alcoholic, workaholic, and sexually addicted. My first husband was equally abusive. Through years of therapy I have come to see the role my depressed and “victimized“ mother played in my early life, and later, in her jealousy, humiliation and emotional neglect. Through your work, I have come to understand what I have always intensely felt, that while I feel compassion for my mother, and my two husbands, I no longer feel that I have to somehow forgive them. My always physically healthy mother, at 95, has Alzheimer’s and is just awful in her horrible behaviour and demands. She is now on medication to relieve her symptoms of crying all the time, of wanting to die, of telling me she loves me and wishes she could have expressed her love earlier in her life but she just couldn’t. When my long-suffering father died at age 99 a few years ago, she immediately changed her tune from criticizing every breath he took, blaming him for all the sins of patriarchy “I vowed I would never marry an Englishman“ she repeated ad nauseum, as if to declare her victimization her own doing, by marrying Dad, a kind, gentle, devoted and generous man, loved by all.
Through my own search for my own truth, I have discovered you and your amazing work. I salute you, and from the bottom of my heart, thank you.
I am convinced that Marie de l’Incarnation’s( 1599-1672) visions, possession, anorexia, somatic injury, migraines, depression and suicidal thoughts in adulthood point to rape in childhood. Her first vision at age seven describes a dream in the night in which Jesus appears to her in the sky and in a loving embrace, this most beautiful of all men, takes her in his arms and asks her if she will be his. She was playing with a school mate at the time in her dream, and Jesus obviously chose her over her friend, because unlike her friend, she had not committed the minor transgression her friend had. After Marie replies that yes, she will be his, Jesus releases her from his loving embrace and goes back up into the Heavens. This vision constitutes the entire beginning of her spiritual autobiography, written at age 54, in 1654. When she was 14, she declared that she wanted to be a nun, and her mother did not disagree with her, although she did not think she was suited to monastic life, she was too vivacious and gay. But that changed. At age 16 she withdrew into herself. At 17 she was forced against her will by her father, supported by her mother, to marry. The average age for women to marry in the early 1600’s was 25, also the age of majority. She had a child of that union, her husband died dwhen the child was just a few months old; she was left with the child, a widow and destitute at age 19. Her mother and mother in law both died in the same period. At age 20 she was obliged to take the family business through bankruptcy proceedings with creditors, her milk dried up and she was forced to leave her son with a wet nurse, unusual for a lower middle class woman of no means. She had an ecstatic conversion shortly afterwards, all bathed in the blood of Christ – which I link to the return of menses after cessation of lactation – and from that time on pursued her religious fanaticism as a full blown mystic.
In 1633, not long after joining the Ursulines in cloister, she had an experience of diabolic possession – again a nocturnal visit while in bed and sleeping, A great battle waged within her, between the forces of Good and Evil, and the forces of Good won out. It is worth noting that while she regretted for the rest of her life leaving her son age twelve to the care of her sister and the Church, and a financial arrangement she had made for him, she had no such regrets at leaving her father, who threatened that if she left him, he would surely die. She has no remorse whatsoever at the fact that he did indeed die within six months of her entering the monastery. After all, she says, she had three other sisters who could look out for him. The only mention Marie makes of her childhood, other than the first vision, is that she is grateful for the Catholic upbringing she had by two such devout parents as to support the life of the Church in their family. Those were oppressive times.
All of her symptoms stopped after she left France and came to Canada in 1640 as one of the very first religious women to set foot on North American soil. Her biography attests to her intelligence, tremendous talents, extraordinary energy and accomplishments – and ignorance of herself and her body with regards to twenty-first century knowledge, of course.
It will not surprise you that my thesis advisor has cautioned me against any such observations and conclusions. I believe this is the vindication the spirit of Marie de l’Incarnation is crying out for….and that perhaps, if I ever manage to finish this thesis to the satisfaction of my Ph.d jury, I will do further research and publish a book on the subject of the legacy of the Church, and the child abuse in our history which continues to plague us today. This nun was utterly devoted to the notion of education for women. She would be proud and happy at any effort to bring the abuses of the past into the light of the present if it serves a positive purpose for the future.
Thank you for reading my e-mail. I will pursue this line of thought to some good I trust. I was privileged to live in Switzerland many years ago, where I attended school. I wish I might one day have the honour of meeting you, when I come to Switzerland again.
Thank you for your brilliant career, your passion for truth and your love of humanity, for devoting your life to the advancement of practical knowledge and the betterment of humankin Most sincerely, JC
AM: You could find millions of the same stories even today and always of the same resson: to keep the parents protected from the truth.