Understanding without empathy

Understanding without empathy
Friday August 29, 2008

Dear Alice,

I just wanted to write to you and thank you for your books, I am so unbelievably grateful . I had only recently come across your website and it was a relief to know that I am not alone in this process, my only regret is that I had not come across this material years ago, I would have stopped a lot of the mental torture I put through myself, the heavy drinking ,partying drugs crazy people just so I didn’t have to think. I am 34years old and started working on myself when I was 33years of age doing lots of inner searching and personal development, I felt like my life was stuck and I had not moved on emotionally for 33years but did not know the reason why I felt isolated. My health was really bad I had no energy, could not think and just wanted to sleep all the time not realising that I was depressed.
I eventually moved out of my parents house at the age of 25yrs old and moved to another country to get away from them, so that was 25yrs of emotional, mental and physical abuse day in and day out every waking moment.I may have left them but carried the guilt with me for leaving my mother and her poor childhood and what she had been through. In all of this that is all I ever thought about not myself but them.. Night time was spent cowering in fear in bed fully clothed not knowing if my father was going to try and break the door down and beat my mother the pathetic drunk that he was, with this fear we all slept in 1 bedroom my mother and 5 children. So each day depended on his moods and whether he drank. During the day he was either sleeping or passed out from drinking, so in all my life to this very day I have never had a full conversation with my father. You would be mistaken to believe that there was peace in the house once he went out for the day or went to work on the odd occasion, not at all in those moments my mother took full control although she protected us from my father and never let him hit us, but she took full advantage herself mentally , physically and emotionally .The angry bitter and cold people they were, they ruined my life for 33years, I couldn’t even breathe in that house there was soo much fear inside me. All I wanted was somebody to hold me really tight and ask me what I was feeling and how I was, there was more chance of pigs flying. Having been an adult child, instead trying to understand why mummy and daddy kept beating me and wearing me down and trying to understand and listening about there lives, there childhood. My mother had an abusive father and emotionally cold mother she was sexually abused by her father and her mother turned a blind eye and refused to acknowledge, than my father who grew up with an alcoholic father who beat his mother. They raised and treated there kids exactly the way there parents raised them down the exact words there parents used on them, mimicking there own parents. I as a child had to understand this, and had taken the burden the guilt and the pain upon myself for years up until last year.
It has only been these past few months that I have stopped making excuses for them and trying to understand them after coming across your website. I am at a point in my life right now that the only person I want to understand and love is myself . All the rage, anger,grief and pain came surfacing up.. Right now mentally I am stronger as I now can fully see the reason , the little child who just wanted her mam and dad to love her and look after her.. I look at my past not with guilt or hate, I have no more room in my life for any of those feelings having been smothered in that all my life. I feel sad for what was but am full of hope and anticipation for what I know now.
My mother came to visit me last weekend,she wants to make amends and has been looking back at her own past going to therapy and support groups. For the first time in my life I sat her down and made her listen to what I had to say and how I felt and what she did.Obviously she has her own romanticised version of events and it was not as brutal as mine, but she apologised for the way she was,well not fully but it is a start. I want to make amends with her for the past we can not change, we can change our future and our now. I told her that we need to take baby steps to start over. I know for a fact that the abusive traits will stop with me and my brothers and sisters as we are all undertaking personal development and therapy and our kids will not suffer the affects of such tragedy.
But I can not thank you enough from the bottom of my heart how much your books have helped and your website and reading other peoples stories. I know the amount of people in the world that are suffering many years later is saddening, the majority of my friends had similar childhoods and still carry that pain. One day the masses will be reached and people will need to take a step back and realise how precious children are for they are the future and one day will grow up. My life has taken a dramatic turn for the better and I can not thank you enough.
Love Always

—–Inline Attachment Follows—–

Norman: Thank you for your courageous letter. The emotional burden that the sensitive and intelligent little girl had to carry was life-stifling. All your life you tried to understand your parents and it cost you with your own self that was totally neglected. Now as an adult woman you can understand intellectually how your mother’s childhood made her into an abusive mother. But you no longer have to empathize with her, because that would only be a repetition of your past. You can face the facts about your mother’s past without being dragged into the emotional exploitation that you had to suffer so many years. This emotional detachment from your mother is an important step that you have begun to make, and it enabled you to confront your mother. Now, it seems that she is trying to buy your loyalty back and make you again the understanding girl that you always were. She apologizes but she doesn’t realize at all the extent of your suffering. Trying to make amends with her can confuse you and may re-awaken in you the illusion that at last the cruel mother can understand you. The past cannot be changed and the little girl inside you can only receive the understanding she craves so much for from the adult YOU, not from the mother. It is not fair to ask this girl to again suppress her enormous rage against her abusive mother of the past in an effort to materialize new illusions.