Potential example of the gifted child’s tragedy
Monday August 20, 2007
Hi Dr. Miller,
Your books have provided me with a way to articulate the trauma I endured as the child of a borderline personality mother. I lived the ‘gifted child’s script and have been in analysis for the past year and a half. I am gaining perspective on how I had to dissociate from my inner world to attend to the fragile makeup of her on a moment-to-moment basis. Throughout this process I always have a recurring association to the tragic story of a young man who took his life when everything on the outside seemed to be going so well for him. He was a football player at the University of Pennsylvania and a stellar student. I have pasted the link to his story below. If you are able to read it you’ll see that his ‘depression’ as it’s described in the article consisted of a pain that he was unable to put words to. Furthermore, he seems to have assumed the role of caretaker of his mother and younger brother after – or perhaps even before – his father left the family. He is described by his friends as always being the person who they could lean on and he had tremendous difficulty accepting help from others. Finally, it was his mother’s words in the last paragraph of the second page of the article that always haunt me:
“But in the end, there’s only so much all the love and support in the world can do. Connors can’t begin to count the number of times he’d call Ambrogi to see how he was doing and Ambrogi wouldn’t pick up. Martinez has similar feelings about all the times he’d invite Ambrogi to join him for a movie or a meal and Ambrogi would turn him down.
“You can’t force it,” Martinez says. “Part of them needs to be open to it.”
Which is why, when she looks back, Donna Ambrogi’s [MOTHER] only real regret is her inability to convince her son that if he took his medication and went to his counseling sessions, he eventually was going to turn the corner. He couldn’t see things that way.
“I had a wonderful relationship with him,” Donna says. “We said, ‘I love you’ every day. I don’t have any regrets other than we couldn’t convince him he was going to get better. And that nothing he could ever do would disappoint me.”
The scary part about this quote and the article is her lack of questioning whether she could have helped him more and how she characterized their relationship as ‘wonderful’ because they spoke the words ‘I love you’ to each other. Given his history and way of neglecting himself to meet the needs of others, it seems characteristic of an emotionally abusive mother who needed this ability of his for her own purposes. To question this trait of his could tear at the delicate fabric that might’ve held his family together and perhaps her own unresolved trauma and how she used him to continually deny it. This story sticks with me because I believe that his story as a gifted child – if that’s what happened – deserves to be told. At the same time, I’m well aware of how my own history could color my perspective and would hate to look into this further if that is the basis of my perceptions (simply because it could result in needless additional hurt to his family). So, I am hoping that you might take a look at this and provide another perspective. I can think of no better potential enlightened witness for Kyle.
Thank you for your work and courage.
Sincerely, J. R.
AM: And what about YOU?