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body positivity

MIgander posted 3/25/2020 11:52 AM

More for wayward wives than wayward husbands, unless the guys can relate too?

Has anyone here been dealing with body issues? If so, how did you combat negative self talk? What worked for you when confronting a negative/ critical partner over the issue of your physical appearance? How much should we reasonably change in our appearance to please our partners anyways (besides basic hygiene/health concerns)??

I'm going to vent here a bit, feel free to skip it if you've got something to say about the above questions. Been cooped up with only my own thoughts for company!!

One of the problems I tried to "solve" with the affair was a negative image I held of my body. It's been tough lately, I've had some health issues that make it hard for me to exercise, and I'm definitely feeling the effects of eating away the day with the corona virus confinement (was hospitalized over the weekend for the health problem, don't think I have the illness, but who knows- son has asthma, so I'm quarantining in my room)! In reality, I'm in good shape for my age and am a reasonably attractive woman with a tidy figure and pleasant features. Not Karadashian, but not homely either.

I have trouble in my own mind with constant internal criticism for the "flaws" I do have (gotta love the negative self talk and FOO issues!) and the lovely culture we live in with media bombardment of "flawless" women we are supposed to be like (because if we're not, we're unworthy...). We also live in a wealthy area where cosmetic surgery is rampant and image is VERY important (even within our own parish!!!). This was bearable up to a point in my marriage, as my spouse was usually enthusiastic with our lovemaking, which I took for his acceptance of my body as "attractive" or "worthy" of him. He was never verbal with his praise though, which for me made it VERY difficult to process. It usually ended up looking like he wanted sex (any one would do?) and not ME.

The year our marriage hit the rocks before the affair though, he began comparing me to other, more slender/highlighted/larger chested/better dressed (w/ better budgets to maintain said look) women, making comments on the size of my calves (I run, and in general get pretty jacked for a woman when I work out- my body doesn't lose weight- just turns fat into muscle!) and was encouraging me to get a boob job (I nursed our 2 kids- you know how that goes!). On top of that, he was asking me to get blonde highlights to the point where my hair wouldn't be brown, but blonde (I like my hair color! Why do I have to "fix" that for him to like me??) I felt rejected, unsexy and unloved and looked to fill the hole with attention from the affair partner.

Looking back now, I could have instead got counseling to fix my inner negative dialogue and called my husband out for being an insensitive prick about nitpicking his otherwise attractive, healthy size 4 wife! The affair fixed nothing- just added more gasoline to the dumpster fire of my mind. Things are coming around now, he's starting to realize that it's not enough for him to just stop comparing me to other women, "stop nitpicking" and criticizing my appearance, but to actually make some positive comments on it. He's realizing (I think) that it's not enough to stop hacking away at the self image of your loved one with a razor (that's what it felt like when he'd try to "correct my appearance"). You have to help heal the wound with positive reinforcement. (Something I'm just beginning to do for him on my end w/ the affair!)

On my end, I've worked to dress in more attractive ways and gotten my hair highlighted. We've also reworked our budget to the point where I can maintain all that as well (nice clothes are hard to find in the bargain bin at Target, and blonde highlights on dark brown hair take hours in a salon chair and hundreds of dollars to maintain). I've also taken to wearing more makeup he likes (again, budget was adjusted to accommodate costs). He's since been better and more attentive in giving me positive feedback about my appearance. It's starting to heal the resentment I had toward him and his views on my body.

I'm still struggling though- there's been so much damage growing up from abuse handed down from my sister (who got it from my mom- I mean, where does an 8 year old get the idea to torment a 6 year old over being "fat"????), from the damage to my own self esteem in middle school when I got to listen to other boys my age talk endlessly about how hot my sisters were (and not me?? what about me?? you're talking to ME!). I learned in high school, once the braces were off, the hair somewhat tamed and the figure less scrawny, that I was attractive to boys. It was the first time I felt seen by anybody, and from then on always had to date someone to make up for the voices in my head telling me I'm ugly fat and stupid (how could I be ugly fat and stupid when X wants me around?).

Looking back, this body negativity and insecurity in my own self worth was definitely a vulnerability of mine. It didn't help too that my coping mechanism was getting the attention of men so I could justify my worth by being "attractive" to them.

One of the lies told in the affair by my affair partner was that I was just fine the way I was (with cheap ill fitting clothes, limited make up and no highlights and flat chest and muscular body). I needed to hear that so badly at that point, had given up on my husband ever appreciating me as I was, that I thought I had to secure the line of compliments by getting physical with AP. All lies. He only told me what I needed to hear so he could sleep with me .

Did any other waywards out there get deeper into the affair to "fix" their own feelings about themselves?

Darkness Falls posted 3/25/2020 17:41 PM

1.) Why was your affair partner saying that to you deemed a ďlieĒ? Isnít that what you would like to believe; that you WERE just fine the way you naturally are?

2.) I believe in accommodating a partnerís tastes if a.) itís within reason and b.) YOU are OK with said accommodations. Plastic surgery would be a hard ďnoĒ for me, as would coloring my hair. Makeup/no makeup/less makeup would be a ďsometimesĒ for me, as would certain styles of clothing.

3.) I think your H sounds kind of like an ass. No, the affair wasnít the answer, but your H married you as a brunette with an athletic figure and smaller bustóif he wanted a big-breasted blonde, maybe he should have chosen oneóor, choose one for his next spouse, if YOU arenít good enough the way you are.

[This message edited by Darkness Falls at 5:42 PM, March 25th (Wednesday)]

MIgander posted 3/25/2020 19:06 PM

Thanks DF. I've been reading through your story and I'm really sorry for the tough shit you've been going through. I'd comment more to encourage/advise you, but I really am in a similar place right now time wise (Our DDays are around the same time I think? Last summer?). I really don't have insights to share since I'm still in early stages with this. I'm also afraid that I wouldn't be trying to feel better about myself by "fixing" someone else's problems if I did weigh in much, you know?

1. I don't think what AP said to me was a lie, per say. (I think I am just fine- so long as I can be healthy, hygienic and tidy in my appearance). It's more that he said it not from a place of benign motives, more because he saw he could further the affair with it and get what he wanted (sex) out of it by keeping the attention coming.

2. I liked your formula. I kinda worked that out in my own way- what was "surgically correctable" he could not reasonably expect- my boobs and impending wrinkles are my own! The hair, I gave that to him (with much reluctance) as gift to improve our relationship. I don't really care for highlights- they make my ends split and my hair texture even wonkier (some strands in my natural hair are coarse and curly, some are fine and wavy- I have WEIRD hair). I'm willing to put up with it though since it means so much to him. FYI, I didn't do highlights when we got married... thought he knew what he was getting?

Long story, highlights are tied up with my sister and the abuse I got from her (she always had perfect hair/clothes/highlights and was skinny from anorexia, so of course all the boys wanted HER). I had associated highlights on women as a sign of them being fake bitches who only cared about themselves and were willing to step on those around them to feel better about themselves.

I've since worked out through counseling that highlights are just highlights and that I was the one with the problem, not the women with the highlights. Sigh. Got them again more to prove to myself that I could have highlights and not be the kind of person my sister was in high school. So, since I'm not, and it means so much to him and now doesn't have the emotional baggage it once did (being tied up with my abuser), I'm indifferent to the highlights and only mildly annoyed by the fuss it takes to maintain them. Things you do in marriage.

3. His douchy-ness is his own in regards to physical appearance comments (I mean, who says to their SO that they should stop lifting weights because they're getting too muscular?? WTF! ). My problems, which stemmed from low self esteem and not learning proper self assertion techniques (I either yell and rage or stuff and resent) came when he would first make comments about boob jobs or hair or musculature and not say to him firmly, "That's interesting, but I'm not seeing the necessity of that." I would handle it by either raging at him or going along with it and stuffing my rage that he didn't see me as attractive or enough for him.

His problems stem from insecurities. He wasn't really popular in high school, had braces and acne when we dated my freshman year, and in general wasn't part of the "in" crowd my sisters were (he went to the same school as my sisters- I opted for private school as I had a rotten middle school getting bullied and wanted OUT). Our town is wealthy and full of people with the cash to indulge materialistic interests. The schools are great and his family is close by and really, the woods are lovely around here- it's why we've stayed. There's also several non-shallow good family friends we've made over the years, but on the surface, the town is YUPPIE. Growing up, the only way to keep from being picked on (and I had dog food in my lunches and rulers thrown at me- this is not the usual teasing kids do), was to keep your mouth shut and your clothes brand name. His family could do that on their budget, not so much me and my sisters. He blended in and survived. I got mouthy and got bullied.

Anyhow, I think his whole desire for me to be a beautiful, trendily dressed blonde trophy wife is so he can justify to himself the sacrifices he's made over the years in coming back here. He went to a flashy high school his senior year in London (his dad got a job transfer at Ford), and made friends with a lot of good people. Only, he was exposed to the rich kids and their REAL money, real partying and famous parents. Kinda got a taste for champagne but on a craft brew budget. Either way, he came home from London and went to Boston for school where it was more of the same (REALLY wealthy kids, big cosmopolitan town). He got used to being surrounded by all that flashiness and found coming home to MI a bit dull and perhaps wanted me to be a certain way as a consolation prize in all that?

Also, he's an engineer with some MBA coursework done, but his golden child younger sister has a law degree and a lawyer husband. He's always been competitive and resentful against her for the way his parents EXPECT his assistance (which he readily gives- he's very dedicated son). They do return it with their assistance and gratitude (my in-laws are really good people- I'm upset with myself for all the pain this will bring to them once they get the full story). We have a healthy mutual-aid relationship with them.

His sister however, has their assistance without ever being expected to give any of her time since she is a lawyer and her work hours are so hard and she has to do all she can for her important work. Meanwhile, my husband has the less fancy job because he likes being able to come and go as he pleases to serve the needs of his children and wife.

Basically, my husband is a good man who sacrifices himself for his family, but has a major problem with envy and needing to have himself validated with flashy possessions (enormous fancy house, fancy watches, fancy sports car, fancy WIFE) to make up for his old insecurities and feeling like he was never "enough" himself. If he's not enough, at least he can surround himself with the flashy things in life and thus blend in to this wealthy flashy town we live in and get the social kudos he's always craved. He's felt like an outsider, has always been afraid of standing out (fitting in is very important to him) and also craves the kind of attention the "popular" kids and golden child sister got, but he never had.

I think the highlights are about him wanting me to fit in more with the other highlighted moms at our parish (and in part because he likes blonde women too).

I've got my own issues, but those are his.

leavingorbit posted 3/25/2020 19:26 PM

I cheated as an escape, a distraction, an inability/unwillingness to cope. In my head, everything was wrong with me and my body image was a symptom of that. Just another piece of garbage on the fire. I struggled with insecurities and sometimes still do, everyoneís got them. The hole inside of me was bottomless so maybe a surface why would be for the kibbles? I knew that shit wouldnít fix anything though, itís just a distraction to not have to face the monster under the bed.

Physical appearance is just window dressing. I may get my nails done or dye my hair. I do it because I like how it looks making pointy witch fingers, scratching my husbandís back, or different color effects. Itís not for anyone else. Itís not for my husband. If he likes it, thatís a bonus.

I dunno, the following is JMO. I get holding onto external validation after healing starts. We still have the same habits. I also get the bolstering of compliments, because being the recipient of your spouseís insecurity is shitty and erodes at our reliance on external confidence. Iím sorry you experienced that from your husband. But what Iím taking from your post is that yíall are now building a house on quicksand. RuPaulís mama said, ďwhat other people think of me is none of my business,Ē and thatís probably the best advice Iíve heard. Whatís important IMO is how you feel about yourself and your appearance. Any comments from your husband are about him, not you. Itís good that you see that.

Why are you changing your appearance? Any negative perception about your body is something you have attached to it, positive too, for that matter. Your body is just your body, you know? You can appreciate it or denigrate it. For me, Iím not gonna spend another minute denigrating myself or wasting time in shame.

SO, to answer your questions:

Re: dealing with body issues, yes, itís a process. Some days I am accepting of myself and some days Iím self absorbed/PMSing. I think seeking to be fixed/bolstered is a surface why, or was for me. Why did I need to be fixed? What was wrong with me? Why did I think other people could fix it? Etc.

Critical partner = your partnerís issue, not yours, and you decide for yourself what youíre willing to put up with. Communicate your position without judgment. Hold your boundaries and be authentic. Have you told him how this stuff feels? What does he say?

Changing appearance- BTDT and itís just going to make shit worse down the line. JMO, that approach built huge resentment for me. Wearing a dress he likes or something, maybe, but hereís the thing, my husband doesnít rely on external validation anymore. We both played the comparison game at points in our marriage and it came from a place of deep insecurity. You getting highlights isnít going to resolve that for your husband.

YMMV.

Justsomelady posted 3/25/2020 19:41 PM

Eff that - no. I wouldnít dye my hair or change any thing. Plus that shit will give you cancer one day anyway. Go natural! But I digress. I certainly criticize myself all the time for my extra little bit of weight or my belly bloat or how I look washed out (to me) w/o makeup. However - only I get to criticize me. No way in hell does my partner. Iíve been there and got the t shirt and am never going back to that kind of man.

And Iím working on stopping myself from criticizing myself but as you know it is a process. I counter that every day with self love and positive affirmations. I look at people I think look great and donít appear to have any work done. I meditate. I appreciate myself and my features and try to see the beauty in my lines. It is a constant - and I mean every day multiple times a day - process. And it helps that I have a supportive partner. Youíve got to shoot that shit down, the world wants women to feel insecure and ugly so that weíll buy all their shit and make them rich. I am fully aware I do this by buying makeup but it does feel like war paint and makes me feel prepared and ready for the day.

Re changes to your body -If my H felt I was unhealthy or my clothes were not in good repair, or somehow inappropriate to the occasion, I would accept gently worded comments. Anything else would have me breathing fire - and heís be on the couch for sure until he apologized. That said, my h is very encouraging and positive and complementary w me. He likes my greying hair (Iím in my thirties but itís coming and never says otherwise) and he likes that I enjoy putting on makeup but does not expect it. He constantly tells me I donít need it - but he does NOT tell me not to wear it. Why are you w such a controlling, demeaning jerk?

I will get facials but all they expensive filler stuff, no. if it makes you feel better go for it but it is just an anxiety ridden arms race with the rich and people like me - like us I assume by your comments - canít possibly win that Botox filler boob job for arms race on a budget. Plus even the rich donít always get it done well - and some have allergic reactions to the fillers or the silicone - or worse.

As for your muscles- I think thatís awesome and he is ridiculous for not appreciating your healthy and strong body. Iím sure his body changes too and would appreciate acceptance and love. Why canít he offer it?

I get it though, I feel it from society. It is in my head too and I am my own worst critic. But I am working on living myself in all of my stages. Havenít you seen regal and beautiful looking women with lived-in faces? Donít they look good? Beauty and the beauty of serenity and kindness shines from the inside out.

Your H needs to stay in his lane. Leavingorbit is right, he is insecure (and mean too). But being insecure isnít license to be mean. Comparison is the thief of joy. And learn some empathy and finesse with his words if heís wanting something specific.

And as to external validation - practice mindfulness meditation and self compassion. I do the same thing and crave those kibbles. I am aware of it though and it makes a diffeeence over time.

[This message edited by Justsomelady at 8:44 PM, March 25th (Wednesday)]

Darkness Falls posted 3/25/2020 20:00 PM

Migander, Iíll reply more in a bit but real quick: my D-day was 10 years ago this month.

MIgander posted 3/26/2020 09:22 AM

Hi DF, I got your profile conflated with LD's (her signature line has "falling into the darkness"- somehow tied that to you). I am sorry about that, but reading yours, wow, sending you hugs.

I'm sorry about everything I did in my affair. I can't believe how many good people I've hurt with it.

Comparison is the thief of joy

This is so true. I think in this situation I'm the worst comparative. I compare myself to everyone else all the time.

Just to clarify a few things- hubby reads my posts- the boob job was started by me as way to "dangle vulnerabilities" his way to have him validate me. I was hoping for a response, when I complained of the inevitable decline of breasts post nursing, along the lines of affirmation, "Oh, don't worry about that- I'm just glad you could nurse at all." Anyway, hubby is not vocal with words of affirmation (which have definitely been my love language), so I really should have known better at that point and not set him up like that. Instead, his reaction was one of enthusiasm, which hurt me all the more, since I have always felt insecure about the size of my chest. My problem, not his. Also he doesn't have the hangups I do over cosmetic surgery and would like to have a few things done to himself, budget permitting. (WHY are we women expected to do invasive procedures just to maintain "beauty" when HEALTH should be the only reason to risk a surgery??)

Another good question for me- why do I set my self up to be vulnerable to other people in the first place???

Critical partner = your partnerís issue, not yours, and you decide for yourself what youíre willing to put up with. Communicate your position without judgment. Hold your boundaries and be authentic. Have you told him how this stuff feels? What does he say?

I'm working on this more, setting up healthy boundaries- see the "vulnerability dangling" above. It's not fair for me to set up hubby to be in a place where his response has to be only what I want to hear or I will attack him. I've brought up how I feel in the past- with yelling or anger- and he doesn't process that well with the emotion I'm hitting him with. I haven't brought it up lately as he's still very hurt by the affair and I'm trying to do what I can for him by not making demands on him for affirmation and affection- don't feel I'm worth it (another issue I have, "hustling for worth"). We basically have crap communication skills. In the past though, I have set up the no surgery boundary. He doesn't care really- he has no problem with surgery and most the people we know don't have problem with it, and since I was the one originally bringing it up, he sees it as my problem and not his. I feel very alone in this. I shouldn't need his good opinion of me to feel good about me, but I feel very hurt and abandoned and rejected that my husband doesn't see me as attractive. Maybe he does, but from my previous posts, stopping the negative comments does not fill the basic need of a person to hear good things about themselves from the person who is supposed to most care for their well being.

Another question: how much affirmation/ positivity is a spouse to reasonably expect from a partner in the first place? I've read a ratio of 5+ to 1- is a healthy marriage, but I've yet to see it in my own. I'm not expecting it either at this point- asking my husband to praise the person whose actions have most harmed him is a bit rich! I want to get there some day though.

It's not fair to him either that I am essentially a bottomless pit for praise- and when I'm not satisfied by his comments, I get angry and lash out. There's little to praise about me in the first place with the way I've been behaving lately.

In his defense, I've done the wearing dresses and makeup and hair and going out to look at expensive watches we can't afford right now thing on date nights, only to be resentful the whole evening and make it unpleasant for him. He needs a companion that will do things cheerfully for him and share his interests and hobbies and serve his needs. I'm a selfish person with a strong personality and have difficulty doing that for him.

Just having a really tough time lately. Can't be around my kids since I'm isolating the next week or so from my hospital visit (ruptured ovarian cyst- lost a bit of blood), can't exercise and now can't see my IC going on 2 weeks. It's like looking at what my life would be post divorce if we go that route and it's empty. I miss my family so much and hate myself for what I've allowed myself to become and am so scared that I will lose my family over what I did. I no longer have any means to "hustle for my worth" as I can't get skinnier w/ exercise (and stay attractive and worthy), can't cook and clean and do homeschooling for my kids (and stay valuable as domestic help) and can't hardly focus on my work at home (and prove a worthy teammate).

I've even hurt my husband with sharing his shit online and exposing him to the opinion of strangers which is his kind of nightmare.

I'm trying to reach out to some group somewhere that can relate and validate my worth for me, but in the end, all I end up doing is sitting in my own shit and hurting the one I'm supposed to be healing again.

Also, at what point are your needs important too? What are healthy needs in a relationship anyway?

Justsomelady posted 3/26/2020 09:36 AM

I think words of affirmation are a valid love language and it doesnít make you a bottomless pit of neediness to want someone to use them. It is arguably waaay more needy to get surgery and do all the hair dye and fillers and whole nine yards. That is spending resources in a bottomless pit of seeking external validation. You should both be loving and grateful for the positive qualities in each other as partners and celebrate those. That is not neediness.The world is harsh enough, wby have a partner criticize and tell you all the things about your body that must be changed? That is mean. He needs to wake up.

Yeah the affair stuff is another issue to own and work through, and he needs a lot to heal from that too (I donít know much about your story). but this lack of affirmation and critical ness predated your affair and is its own separate issue. Sounds like you had valid complaints with him and it led to resentment. Resentment breeds entitlement and that led you to choose an affair, in addition to the need for vidation escape etc. etc. but as to the topic of thIs post, it shows your H had a long history of insecurity and controlling behavior towards your perfectly wonderful body. Body positivity is so important.

That said - now is not the time for this conversation with him. It is time for you owning things and learning more about yourself. This issue is important but needs to be addressed later when he is calmer.

Also on a related note - I donít see how having you read each otherís posts helps. There are so many messy aspects to this process he doesnít necessarily need to see yet.

[This message edited by Justsomelady at 9:42 AM, March 26th (Thursday)]

MIgander posted 3/26/2020 16:53 PM

Hi JSL,

Him choosing to read these posts is his own choice. I am sorry that the words I write hurt him.

I still have a need to sift this out in my own head though, and seeing as how I'm not going to see my IC and am dealing with anxiety/depression/processing abuse and shit from my childhood to shore up the vulnerabilities and poor coping mechanisms that lead to me choosing an affair... I think this will have to continue to do for now.

Not a perfect solution. Part of the affair was conducted on text/snapchat, so he has reasonable wishes to monitor my postings... I guess?

I'm not writing to hurt him with my words or make him look bad. I'm writing to sort out in my head what are the frames of mind I have that are not reality based (like negative self talk about being fat/ugly/stupid) and what are legit concerns of mine in the marriage going forward.

You're right,

That said - now is not the time for this conversation with him. It is time for you owning things and learning more about yourself. This issue is important but needs to be addressed later when he is calmer.

This is probably not the best time to be addressing this. We just had a long conversation on this, and while progress was made in understanding each other, he still left hurt over things I don't really have in my personality to give. I am capable of learning. I am not naturally a motherly person, but I have learned a lot of skills in that department for the sake of my children. Just as over the past months I have been making more effort to learn what he likes fashion wise and pay more attention to my appearance- for his sake. He wishes he wouldn't have to be so involved in fashion choices (he asks if any of his friends' wives have their husbands shop online with them), but I point out that he married ME. That since this is important and a gift I can give to him, and it doesn't come naturally to me, that it is going to take work on both our parts. If it's not worth the work on his end to partner with me on shopping to make it happen, then it is on him to accept that it's not a natural part of my character to care much about my appearance beyond the concerns of health, tidiness and appropriateness.

As for his other concerns, the deeper issue of resentment he used to get from me, I'm digging down now into my past to sort out what is from him (lack of acceptance of my appearance and natural inclination to not spend time on it for my own sake) and what is from my FOO (body shaming from my sister, rejection from other boys, fear of being left from displeasing husband- father left 1st wife because he was displeased with her). I'm working so I don't bring resentment from past traumas into present pickles. So, in terms of him working out his issues of why he thinks it's his business to have a say in my appearance at all, yeah, now is likely not the time with his burden of pain.

For me though, I am digging into why I would display so much anger and resentment towards him on this. I hope going forward I don't have the same issues and can calmly work toward speaking his love language in this way with out resentment. I think for that reason, it's a good time to work on that in me. This work is mainly supposed to be on my end so I can strengthen myself and our marriage.

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