"You shouldn't feel that way," Beth said.
Before I could respond, she listed my achievements (as if I didn't know them) and told me how much she admired me for the way I had dealt with my painful childhood.
"You don't deserve to feel that way."
Beth was trying to encourage me and I appreciated her concern; however, nothing she said was helpful. She tried to persuade me with logic and tell me how unreasonable it was to feel as I did.
I knew that, but I also knew that emotions don't listen to logic.
Beth could have told me a thousand times not to feel as I did because of what someone did to me. I would have agreed, but nothing would have changed.
What I also hear from well-meaning friends when I speak of my painful feelings is, "Just get over it!"
Easy words, but meaningless and powerless.
Do they think I want to hold on to my painful emotions? Do they believe I want to wallow in self-judgment?
One time when I spoke about the lingering feelings of shame, my late friend Steve Grubman-Black, also a survivor of sexual abuse, said, "Be kind to yourself. Accept those feelings because they're real. When you're able to feel compassion for that innocent child you were, those negative feelings will begin to dissipate."
Steve was right, even though it took at least three more years for me to become aware of the change.
These days whenever I feel a negative, condemning emotion, I remind myself that I can't argue myself out of feeling as I do. But here's something I tell myself: "I accept myself the way I am."
I also remind myself that emotions don't listen to logic.
* * * * *
A note from Cec's assistant: A big thanks to those of you who have responded to our request for influencers for Cec's upcoming book, More than Surviving. Some of you have asked what's involved in being an influencer. It's basically just helping get the word out about the book to people you think might have an interest. That could be through social media, blogging, writing reviews, word of mouth, or any other way. If you are interested, please send Cec an email with your contact info at
email@example.com. The publisher will send you a free copy of the book when it's due to be released.