Book Reflections: The Drama of the Gifted Child by Alice Miller (1981)
I first heard about the book The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self, Alice Miller (1981) from a podcast by Tim Ferris.
I originally wrote the content in a message to someone, and I was about to record it in a private journal because it is too personal, but that doesn’t help anyone but myself. Perhaps by acknowledging my current feelings to the world, by being truly vulnerable, then I can find my true self.
My biological mother left when I was two years old, and by the time I was six or seven, I had a stepmother. I have always thought myself as introverted. My extended family would tell me about this cheerful, confident, extroverted child…and that same child was me, before she was seven. I am reading this book in search of that child. She’s gone missing.
The Psychoanalyst’s Situation (p. 22)
I’m no psychoanalyst (although I have considered it), but I just realised I’ve been psychoanalysing my friends and family, and I’m always there to listen to their problems…but I never realised that in the process, I tend to set aside my own feelings to help others. Sure, I talk about my problems but in a more cynical and dismissive way. Yet how can you truly help others if you ignore your true self?
Was it traditional Asian upbringing? I’m guessing not. My family wasn’t traditional but I don’t think I ever felt really loved or acknowledged until I met my husband and met my true friends. I’ve seen friends brought up from traditional families and they have more confidence than I have, I think because the love was there despite possible flaws in upbringing. Somehow it’s easier to accept that your parents raised you the best way they knew how, rather than raise you because they had to, and that they probably were better off if you disappeared, which is what I felt when my dad had a started family. To be fair, my father gave and sacrificed so much for us, we grew up very privileged, sent to the best school in the region, but I still felt like my brother and I were unwanted, that everyone would have been better off without us as excess baggage. I knew I just had to survive until I could be independent.
I don’t even acknowledge my own feelings, isn’t that messed up? It all gets bottled up until I have too much alcohol and it all unexpectedly comes out.
It has happened one too many times and my husband would say, why didn’t you tell me these things? And I’d be like, heck, how can I tell you things I didn’t even know existed!
I treat my feelings like they’re not worth talking about. I guess because I always wanted to be strong for me and my younger brother (from the same mum), and to show my dad that we were fine. I didn’t want to trouble him as he was working hard and sacrificing being with us by working in another city.
Your TRUE self is always going to be a step forward, especially if you think of it in the sense of always aiming to be a better version of yourself, but I think one needs to find one’s core self, which is what I’m hoping to find with this book.
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This is a weightier article than I would normally write. I write random, “lighter” posts on fashion, travel, and lifestyle at eightcorners.co.
On Lightness vs Weight, see Milan Kundera’s Unbearable Lightness of Being.