I have spent most of my life with a low self esteem in regards to my appearance. It wasn’t always about the way I looked. As a teenager my low self esteem was because I was incredibly shy. Then as the years went on and I started to gain some more social skills, my body also started to change and acquired more curves and weight as it tried to morph into the obese gene that I carried from my mother’s side of the family. So my self esteem issues transitioned from being painfully shy to then being uncomfortable in my own skin. In my early 20s I went on a strict eating plan and started running 5 times a week and I lost a bunch of weight. I looked great. Best I had in my life. But like most things, if you don’t keep consistent with them, the weight crept back on. I then had a bad “injury” in both of my legs that took more than 4 months to diagnose and almost a year to get surgery on. Because of this, I couldn’t exercise. I dove into a dark place and the weight crept back up. I dated a lot while trying to find my “Mr. Right” and every time I didn’t get a second date with someone I assumed it was because I didn’t fit this image that every guy seems to want in a girlfriend. My thighs rub together, my arms are not slim and will never be slim no matter how much weight I lose, I’m tall, and I have large hips and a big butt. I’m not a cute little package that a guy can just swoop up into his arms and carry off into the land of happiness. I set my sights on finding a tall man, because then at least when around him I would feel small, for once in my life. I remember going on a date with a guy who was 6’5 and I absolutely LOVED how tiny I felt walking beside him. It was a shame he had the sense of humour of a rock though. So this has been my life. Dealing with the fact that I am taller than average, but not one of those tall, slim women that often seems to go hand in hand with each other. Tall and society’s idea of plus sized isn’t a great confidence booster.
I then met my now ex-husband. He was nothing I had imagined myself falling for. He’s only 6 feet tall, a more burly barrel chested man. But he made me feel beautiful despite almost being able to look him directly in the eye when standing face to face. He complimented me, loved hugging and cuddling me, loved holding my hand when we walked around, like he was proud to show the world that I was his. Because of this love boost, I had an easier time maintaining my weight and getting to the gym. And for quite awhile I looked the best I had in my entire adult life. But as comfort in the relationship crept in, so did eating and alcohol consumption and weight came back on. But nowhere near what it had before. But I never felt any less attractive because of it as he still seemed to love the way I looked. But then came pregnancy. This is when everything changed. It was the time of my life where I lost complete control of my body because it was no longer mine. You can’t lose weight while pregnant. And even though I ate incredibly well (thanks to awesome healthy cravings) I still packed on a lot of weight. It was during pregnancy that despite my husband loving touching my belly so he could “feel” his son, I started to feel unattractive to him. He stopped complimenting me. He stopped hugging me unless I asked. Then our son was born and I was thrown into the life of the post-baby body. My body went into a direction I had never seen before or even heard was possible (even though I know it is common now) and I would shield myself away from being seen without clothes covering every inch of myself. I felt ashamed of what my body chose to leave me with after having a child. Stretchmarks and a bit of loose skin I could handle. But it isn’t what I got. My husband stopped compliments all together at this stage. I had to seek them out and even then I would get sort of a brush off type of compliment. I no longer felt like the person he was attracted to in our first two years of being together. I was just the vessel that carried his child into the world. Since our separation, in one of our many lengthy text conversations about where we both failed in our marriage, I pointed this out to him. He said that not once was he ever not attracted to me. He said that he always thought I was beautiful. I told him that it is fine that he thought this, but his actions did not connect to that as he stopped actually verbalizing it and showing it. He recognizes now that he failed at that. But it doesn’t make me feel any better as we still are where we are. And he is now already dating another woman who is prettier and has a much, much better body than me. He didn’t waste any time at all.
But now I am stalled out. I am in a position where for the last four years I have felt unattractive even to my own husband who is now with someone else. My self esteem is at its lowest point it has ever been. And this time it is in regards to both my social skills as well as my feelings on my appearance. I am left with the “war wounds” of my pregnancy, a metabolism that has stalled out and I’m going to have to go see a doctor about, a hormone imbalance that causes migraines as well as the inability to lose weight despite best efforts, and a brain that is telling me that I’m not someone that any future man is going to find attractive. Because the man who was supposed to love me forever no matter how I look left me. The one man who appreciated the state of my stomach, my most vulnerable area, because it grew his child in it, is gone. There won’t be another man out there who will appreciate it or be able to look beyond it in the same way he did. And it kills me inside that I sit here and compare myself to the woman he is now dating. How she has the confidence to wear a string bikini, and look good in it, despite having a 5 year old daughter. How she is stylish and bubbly personality and I am not. How she is everything, in at least looks, that I felt he wished I was…despite him not being anywhere near perfect in his own weight and appearance himself. But I sit here and compare and end up in this pit of despair as I look down at my own body which I cannot, for the life of me, learn to love.
And in the future I am going to have to dive into the dating world, despite feeling skeptical that any man in the small town we live in will find me attractive. I know that I shouldn’t be worrying about this right now as everything is fresh and new. But it’s really hard to settle down my brain from jumping from two different views. First one being me wanting to really take the time to focus on myself and finding my own happiness, including with fitness and diet as well as mental health. But the second one being wanting to show my ex that I too can meet an attractive man who is everything he isn’t and to shove it in his face. I know the latter one is not remotely healthy whatsoever, and that if history has any say in anything, me just meeting someone right off the bat never happens. It just goes to show how much of a jumble my head is in right now. But what I hate the most about this all is how much power my ex holds over me when it comes to my self esteem and ability to feel attractive. He doesn’t even know how much power he holds because he has taken what little self esteem I had left out the door with him when he left me. And I hate that. And I don’t know how I’m supposed to work through that and take it back from him. It is mine. He shouldn’t have any hold of it. But I’m somehow letting him.
I am doing a couple things for myself. Because I have been able to recognize that I need to take back complete control of my mind and body, I also know that I need to start doing the slow slog to make it happen. The first thing I’m doing is incredibly vain, but I don’t care. I’m getting coolsculpting on the saggy fat that has been left right at the front of my stomach, surrounding my belly button and hanging down. I went for a consultation the other week and she said I have the perfect stomach and skin for it and she says she knows that she can shrink it down nicely. If it is successful then it is going to go a LONG way to my body discomfort and self esteem issues. It isn’t a weight loss thing. It is just reducing the stubborn fat cells that have accumulated there and, as she said, will likely forever stay there in that exact way no matter how much weight I lose down the road. I don’t care if I’m left with some loose skin or even if a little bit of sag is left. As long as it is an improvement to what is there now that is causing me so much embarrassment, then that’s all I care about. The second thing I’m doing is meeting with a woman who is sort of a life coach in a way. But not in the “let me help you achieve your dreams” kind of person. But more so in helping people find their inner power, connect to themselves, learn to find happiness within themselves, that kind of stuff. When I reached out to her I was fully up front and said that I am at the lowest point in my life in regards to my self esteem and self worth and that I want to gain control over that for the first time in my life. She isn’t a counsellor per se. She won’t necessarily talk about my failed marriage. She will help me learn to better connect to myself. I will be talking with her on Monday and I’m hoping she can help me move into a more positive, self love direction.
Time will tell. That is all I can hope for. That time will be on my side and help me through this.