Thursday, May 21, 2009

More importantly, let me post this

from Alice Miller (I'm going to just start in the middle. You can get the context by reading the whole thing):
The tormenting feelings of guilt triggered by this failure are unrelenting and implacable. What have I done wrong? These people ask themselves. Why have I failed to free my parents from their misery? I try the best I can. And it's the same with my therapists. They tell me to enjoy the good things in life, but I can't, and that makes me feel guilty too. They tell me to grow up, to stop seeing myself as a victim; my childhood is a thing of the past, I should turn over a new leaf and stop agonizing. They tell me not to put the blame on others; otherwise my hatred will kill me. I should forgive and forget, and live in the present; otherwise I'll turn into a "borderline patient," whatever that is. But how can I do that? Of course I don't want to put the blame on my parents, I love them, and I owe my life to them. They had trouble enough with me. But how can I banish my guilt feelings? They get even more overpowering when I hit my children. It's awful, but I can't stop doing it, it's driving me to despair. I hate myself for this compulsive violence; I disgust myself when I fly into an uncontrollable rage. What can I do to stop it? Why must I hate myself all the time and feel guilty? Why were all those therapists unable to help me? For years I've been trying to follow their advice, but I still can't manage to dispel my feelings of guilt and love myself as I should.

Let me quote my answer to a letter that contained all these elements:

"In your first letter you said you had never been cruelly treated as a child. In this one you tell me that when you were young you were cruel to your dog because you were a naughty child. Who taught you to see things that way? The point is that no single child anywhere on earth will be cruel to his/her dog without having been severely maltreated. But there are a whole lot of people who see themselves as you do and whose guilt feelings drive them to despair. Their sole concern is not to see their parents' guilt because they fear the punishment they would incur for putting the blame where it belongs. If my books have not helped you to understand this, there is nothing more I can do for you. You can only help yourself by no longer protecting your parents from your own justified feelings. Then you will be free of the compulsive urge to imitate them by hating yourself, blaming yourself, and describing yourself as a monster."

I was spared a lot of trouble by being the fifth of five kids, all born in the space of 4 and a half years. I learned how to get along with my parents by watching the troubles my older siblings got into. Out of ignorance, not evil. How can a kid see an unwritten rule?


The probligo said...

I had my life just far too easy.

The inner conflicts that you describe - feeling bad because of... - is not unknown to me. The other side is that once I had found that my personal standards of behaviour, my personal ethics, were in fact higher than those of a lot of other people I began to feel better about myself and where I was at.

Perhaps I had my life too easy because my parents allowed me to follow that path, but at the same time they made sure that I was fully aware of the consequences of getting something wrong.

There is a vast difference between on the one hand knowing when to blame yourself for getting something wrong, instead of trying to blame everybody and anybody else for it; and on the other that you are not personally responsible for everything that goes wrong around you.

Did I ever blame my parents for my failures? Did I ever criticise them for their own? No to both. But I sure tried to not repeat the mistakes that I thought they had made.

Guess what? Now that I am on the downhill stretch I am realising that many of the things I have done in fact mirror many of the things which I thought my parents had gotten wrong.

LibertyBob said...

I wonder which definition is used for "maltreat". I've known children who mistreat other creatures or people out of a lack of learning not too. Sometimes they've witnessed the mistreatment of animals by someone who does not mistreat people. Some may say that this constitutes maltreatment, but I'm sure they can find a more accurate word.

It always worries me when persons who give advice mislabel aspects of the problem because a poorly chosen word can lead to misunderstanding. That is not the way to help people.

Al said...

Prob: yeah, that's the point. Or one of them, anyway. "The sins of the fathers..." last until the third and fourth generation, or whatever - I can't quite remember how it goes. She's offering a way out of that cycle.

L-bob: these are people unhappy enough with their lives to present themselves for therapy. It may make a difference.

I'm thinking I might try it to find out why I can't finish a damn thing.

Tef said...

Someone should start a support group for quotation abuse.

I will start the Whiggism Theory of Mental Abuse through Using Quotations and provide therapy and suggestions to get out of those cycles.

Al! What exactly are you reading?! Incredi-****ing-unbelievable!

Tef said...

No, I didn't type the word to get it changed to ****. I used **** right at the onset.

Starsplash said...

Here is my ode to quote slutting The quotation is

Exo 34:7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

Mar 3:28 Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme:

Fair men feel guilty Al because they give a ***t. If you Didn"t give a ---t you wouldn"t feel bad about whether you could have or should have done something to improve whatever.

It is like survivors guilt.

Your feelings of impotance in accomplishing things is also normal. The smarter you are the more you can think of to do; which tends to overload your capacity to accomplish.....I practice a little something I call do at least little something every day and find the peace in that.

Contentment come for me in that I know that I can do no more than I can do. Also that the rest of the world can F--- off if they don't like that about me.
I know me better than anyone else in the world knows me and I am happy with that. The world ain't happy with that I gather. One of thing that p----- me off is when people who don't really know themselves start trying to tell me what to do.

It brings satisfaction to me to start explaining them to them selves all the while watching their faces come to the realization that I am right, and wondering how I could know them like that when I really don't know them.

Al, I am not talking about you. I find that a person who spends meditative time thinking about themselves likely does not fall into the I get to "rip them a new one" catagory.

Here's another one that'll get my adranalyn pumping. "I am doing this for your own good". That one puts me at defcon 4 like cause the next thing said is going to be by me OR I will pay hell with somebodies soul sort of stuff, and the number of ways to pay hell is practically unlimited.
I will be the judge of what is good for me, and no "punk --s" is going to be deciding for me anything on my account. I don't even let mom get away with that today.

Like I am smarter than 98 percent of the people I meet and know anyway so what would make anyone think they could do my life better than me.

My Ode to quotes and to cliches.

Lot of wisdom in them ole cliches.

Kind of like confucious says.

Sort of poetic.

Al said...

The misunderstanding of Alice Miller and analysts like her, is that she's advocating placing blame on the parents - and then we're done. Realizing that your parents screwed up (they did, you know) is the first thing you have to do to see the ruts through the ditch and into the woods away from the road God gave you the gifts to drive on.