"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.
Emotions don't listen to logic. That's so true. My wife thinks I should be over it and I no longer mention when I have a bad dream, or just am feeling down from seeing something that triggers negative feelings. I just stuff it for later. I mentioned getting some counseling online because it's cheaper and she said "I thought you were through with that."
I wish I was 'through with that' but I'm not and don't know if I'll ever be in this life.
Roger, it is like you wrote exactly what I have been feeling. It is the day after Thanksgiving. I've been off work for 4 days, spent time with my family, but still feel blue. Why? I want to be over it, but it also seems like I never will be. What to do? What to do?
Roger and Anonymous:
Thank you for your comments. I write these blogs, and often wonder if they have any effect on others. When I reed such comments, I KNOW. Thank you for your affirming words and for encouraging each other..
I wish all of us were fully, totally healed from our childhood trauma. We're not there, BUT we're inching forward, aren't we?
Cecil, thank you so much for your blog. Even though I don't feel comfortable sharing who I am. It helps so much to talk to others on the blog. I don't feel alone. I don't feel crazy. Thank you again and Happy Thanksgiving.
Hi Anonymous. Don't feel you ever need to use your name. Giving your name is for YOU and not for us. I hope you understand that. At some point, I hope you'll begin to use your first name or a middle name--anything to help YOU gain ease in opening up about yourself to allow healing to take place. .
We're men from all over the USA and a number of other countries. We're also men who are healing. And as we heal, we want to open our arms to others and say, Come and join us."
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