I haven't participated in the BW threads before, but I'd like to, and I have a topic that I'm not sure could find a better home than this thread.
So, I've really hyperfocused on "living in reality" ever since I learned what I believe is the full truth about my marriage and relationship on what I consider Final D-Day (last fall). This included some lies he told me from Day One (ish) of our relationship, including some secrets he kept from every other person in the entire world but the other involved party. That's why, though FDD was devastating, it also made my whole world make sense, and made me feel less crazy.
I've always been an open and sincere person-- but also have lied about misc stuff out of shame (mostly covering for academic and professional struggles and addictive behavior and so on-- I have ADHD that wasn't diagnosed until I was an adult, 'nuff said). Since FDD, I will barely even tell a white lie-- and I have better boundaries as well, so I'm not giving away the farm.
But I just love love love living in the REAL TRUE WORLD even when it's painful. I am so much freer.
And now I have another reality to confront: I am attractive.
This is such a confounding topic for so many reasons, but how do you deal with the reality of your attractiveness to other people? This is not attractiveness on any particular scale-- just that none of us is repellant to everyone in the world, which is kinda-sorta what I'd convinced myself I was, and I'm only moderately exaggerating.
Ugh, so awkward to even try and articulate this. I do plan to bring it up w/my therapist tomorrow (and for a while, I'd imagine).
Because I got together w/WH when I was a teenager (and he was older), and because I'm a (codependent) monogamist at heart ANYWAY...
I think I used this fiction-- that no one else was ever REALLY attracted to me after I started dating WH-- as a blunt instrument to keep myself faithful, or safe, or...??? But it's a lie, and I want to live in reality.
I mean, I never had to deal with being a single adult woman, navigating any of that. I never had to fully own my sexuality (WH is the only person I've had intercourse with). I protected myself from SOME of the creepy male attention I got starting at 9-10-11 years old by marrying young and never taking off my wedding ring. By believing/pretending no one would be or was truly interested in me, I could just... not really deal with (mostly) male attention, weirdness, complications to male-female hetero friendships or even just honest feelings... and not develop healthy, confident responses.
I actually think the pendulum may be swinging somewhat towards reconciliation with WH now (of course, we'll be in a very different relationship, if we do get back together). But our marriage is still very much an open question, and it's at least as important for me to deal with it if I stay with him than if I divorce him and put myself on the market.
I don't know how to relate to the world as someone who understands I'm attractive to some, even many, others-- even though I intellectually know it's true, and I've also always WANTED it to be true. Does that make sense? I don't mean I need to learn to act with entitlement or arrogance. But my entire adult life, I've been acting, well-- not even with false modesty, but sort of with denial. And I think that's also dangerous in a way. Not physically dangerous-- I refuse to victim blame. But... it's just not real. It can't be solid, it doesn't make the world make sense, it's like I've been gaslighting myself... IDK. I want to understand when, and how, and what it means if people are treating me a certain way because I have an appealing personality, or because I'm someone that a lot of people would want to be around, or even just in a usually harmless way, because they think I'm physically attractive.
I think fully integrating this knowledge-- that I'm not secretly (or not-so-secretly) an off-putting troll-- will also help me better understand past events, whether they involved WH or not. I just want to live in the truth.
Anyone go through anything like this? Or how did you come to this understanding in your life, even at 22 years old-- I'll take any anecdote or advice you have. I feel like a bit of a freak in this.