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cmego posted 6/20/2013 07:03 AM

I've been going a bit deeper into different things recently. My therapist asked me what my internal voice says to me, and I've been taking the time to listen.

It isn't good.

It is mostly how unattractive I am, how fat I am, how this lump or that lump looks.

IRL, people tell me I'm beautiful, but I have never thought it. My parents were focused on intellect, I was never told I was cute or pretty. I am an introvert, so dating started "late". I wasn't kissed until 17, no sex til college at 19. I had several boyfriends in college, but they are pursued hard. Then ex pursued the hardest and I married him.

Ex is gay. He never told me I was attractive that I can remember. I know he liked my eyes because they are green. That is the only compliment I remember , "Pretty green eyes". (all his boyfriends have/had green eyes is his "thing". )But, he told me various things I took to heart, I was too heavy, or smelled or I was a nympho because I wanted sex. That voice is still running around in my head.

I have had one SO in the past 3 years, and he told me I was beautiful, plus 2 of the guys I've dated have told me I'm beautiful...but I still hear the ex. The negativity.

My IC said, "Surely you know men look at you, you are so striking". So, I've tried to notice now, and I do see men glance at me...but I don't know why. Are they looking because I'm short? Blond? Looking at my friend? I'm afraid to look or smile back, so I generally just look down and keep walking. I have to try really hard to keep my head up, and look at men and TRY to converse. It is a huge effort on my part. Trying to become more comfortable with innocent conversations.

I'm wondering about the negative voice in my head. I'm trying to focus on all the good physical parts, but I know that eventually, the physical stuff is going to go it really shouldn't matter to me.

My BFF tells me I "date down" in the looks department. But really in shape, or really good looking men intimidate the hell out of me.

I'm trying to figure out how to change my image of myself. IRL, I'm a size 6, 128 pounds, 5"3, pushing 43, short blond hair with green eyes. People tell me I look 5-10 years younger than I am, that I'm beautiful...but I don't really see it. I don't think people believe me. BFF thinks that I got so used to hearing ex, it is almost ingrained in me. Intellectually I can now understand that he said those things because he is gay, I get it. But it isn't changing how I feel about my looks.

How do you go about changing that internal voice??

newnormal posted 6/20/2013 07:20 AM

Wow. That is a tough issue to work through because youve been negatively affected (what I call programed to believe) since you were a child. I is easy for someone like me to tell you that I wish I was your size and age, but that is a mere drop in a bucket of negative image reinforcement. I'm glad your ic is working on this with you, be patient, as this might take a few months of mental work to get past it. I found the book Reinventing your life by Young and Klosko to be helpful.


cayc posted 6/20/2013 07:23 AM

Hello cmego! Who knew when I was looking in the mirror, you were staring back at me. I could have written your post word for word. My SO TG tells me that when we walk through a room together, every man turns his head & watches me walk by. Things like that, that I just don't believe. So I completely hear what you are saying. That severe disconnect between your perception of yourself & what others see (both inside & out).

I don't really know how to change the negative tapes that play constantly in my head. They always seem to be there, cued up, ready to play when I get scared.

Ive stopped trying to force it though. I'm focusing a little more on letting go of my perfectionist streak, letting myself be a little sloppy & messy. I've started recognizing how much my attitude becomes a self fulling prophecy. This hasn't stopped my tendency to beat up on myself, or give more credence to the shit my xWH said to me than it deserves (which in truth is a big fat nothing bc he's a lying sack of shit) but it is giving me an avenue to pursue for relief when the negative drumbeat starts up.

So I haven't yet found a way to stop it, but I have at least arrived at: negative self talk? Oh fuck it, I'm good enough today.

You'll get there. Even I can see how awesome you are purely based upon what you post on SI.


spareparts posted 6/20/2013 07:40 AM

This is something I struggle with too. Since a child I was told that I was unattractive (my mum used to say it was ok as she was the ugly one out of all of her friends too), and would tell me I needed to go to the gym and get in better shape else i'd never attract anyone... Thanks Mum...

Add on top of that a whole host of other issues growing up, and an XWW who left me for a man 15 years older than me, my little voice has a field day these days.

So i'm trying to change what the little voice says too.

What I am attempting is to actually listen to what the voice says, and either challenge that and then reassure it, and getting in better touch with myself and becoming comfortable with myself rather than worrying about what everyone else says.

I think its the getting validation from yourself, rather than the negative self talk that we need to work on. But I could be wrong as I'm only recently realising this about myself..

So if you do find anything that seems to work I'm all ears!

Williesmom posted 6/20/2013 07:45 AM

Self worth. Sign me up for the group.

I don't feel that I'm worthy of a good man, because I'm heavy and unattractive. My family tells me that I sell myself short, but it's hard to change what you see of yourself.

But, I know that I do have some very good qualities. We need to demand that we be treated as we deserve, and accept no less. Easy for me to say.

Amazonia posted 6/20/2013 08:17 AM

I struggled with this a lot. It wasn't my exhusband who instilled it in me, but my mom. A little bit after dday, it just kind of ... changed. I'm not sure why, although I wish I could tell you!

I lost a little weight, I started dressing better, I focused on the things that I like about myself. I spent a lot of time in IC. I told my inner voice to shut the hell up a time or two. And one day, I actually have this really distinct memory, I was walking across a street, coming home from target, and I saw my shadow stretched out on the pavement in front of me, and something clicked into place - I saw the silhouette of my figure and really liked how it looked.

A few months later, I looked in the mirror one day and the person looking back at me was someone I'd never seen before. Instead of seeing blemishes, I saw bright skin; instead of seeing bags under my eyes, I saw gold flecks in my irises; instead of seeing fat under my chin, I saw a feminine jawline. Something really just clicked. I have no idea what or why. I just know that one day that voice was overpowered with my own, positive voice. (That's not to say there aren't still times that I hear my mother's criticisms in the back of my head; they just don't have nearly as much power over me anymore.)

I hope it clicks for you (and everyone else on this thread) soon. I wish there were something I could do to help it get there.

NaiveAgain posted 6/20/2013 08:26 AM

You need to challenge those negative self-thoughts. When you catch yourself thinking things such as:

I'm not worth it. He is too attractive for me. I'm not good enough. I'm fat. I'm too short...etc....

Stop that thought immediately and replace it with something positive such as...

I have a beautiful smile. I have lovely expressive eyes. I am a beautiful person inside and out.

We are who we think we are. If you think you are worthless, you will expect to be treated as such and make it a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I know it sounds simplistic, but the reality is we are and we become who we believe we are. Changing who we believe we are takes a lot of hard work. It takes constant monitoring of our thoughts, and constant changing that soundtrack.

Also, the reality is, that a woman with a perfect body and a beautiful face but a negative personality is not going to get noticed and get as much positive attention as an average woman who exudes positive energy, holds her head up high and walks with purpose, and has some self-confidence. There is more to beauty than the shape of our bodies and the fullness of our hair.

[This message edited by NaiveAgain at 8:27 AM, June 20th (Thursday)]

cmego posted 6/20/2013 09:54 AM

I guess the thing is I am pretty confident about my insides. I KNOW I am a good person, making the right moral choices is easy for me. I am an ISFJ, so I am very in-tune to other people and a natural nurture. Which means I do great with things I kids, pets, garden, volunteer, etc.

I do tell both of my kids they are cute, handsome, pretty, beautiful hair, eyes, freckles, whatever along with smart, sensitive, they get the message they are beautiful inside and out. I cannot ever remember my parents saying those didn't matter to them. Great parents, but both intellectuals. They weren't negative....they just weren't positive either. I remember in college, when I was asked to model for something...and my Mom said, "Yes, you should wear that dress on stage while you can."

So, I went from parents who said nothing physically kind to a husband who did the same. My IC says I was used to it, therefore I didn't notice it was "missing".

So, yeah. Now I'm aware of how I talk to myself and it needs to change. I am secure with my insides, just not as secure with my outsides as I should be. I don't want to change my exterior, I just want to like it more...does that make sense? I know I have pretty eyes, complete strangers compliment my eyes and hair. I am trying to focus on those good parts and...ignore?? the rest?

In the long run, I want someone who loves me for my insides, not my out...but I have to attract them first, right??

I saw a really pretty lady out shopping today, she had on full makeup, hair looked like she took hours on it, fake boobs and a skin tight dress. We were at Target...and I felt sorry for her. If she had just stripped off the armor, she was beautiful. So, I think my armor is physical boundaries. My head is down and I don't make eye contact or talk. I think that is my armor. So, now I just have to change it to allow people...IN.

I know a lot of people seek validation in others for their self worth, I have never done that. Same "issue", just handled differently. I try to figure out my issue then tackle it. I think I may have finally found my core problem. It has taken me a long time to get here. I used to think that I tried to R with ex because of the kids...but who the hell am I kidding? I was scared that I was so unattractive that no one else would ever want me.

I can look at photos and know I am pretty, but the disconnect of believing that is ME is somehow broken.

better4me posted 6/20/2013 14:23 PM

Check out some self help books on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Learning and practicing that type of therapy been a wonderful journey for me, it has been really life changing. I now know that I can't stop the internal voices and I don't need to stop them. I can see them as just "unhelpful" thoughts that really don't mean what they say they mean.
They aren't good or bad, they just are. I can detach from those thoughts and let them go by like a parade going by in front of my house...I can watch without joining in the parade. seriously. life. changing.

Feel free to PM me if you want some book titles.

Amazonia posted 6/20/2013 14:38 PM

In the long run, I want someone who loves me for my insides, not my out...but I have to attract them first, right??

I think it might help if you leave men out of the equation. Focus on you (yes, the "outside" stuff, not who you are on the inside, because you're already set there) for you. Not for attracting a guy. Just because cmego deserves to feel damn good about herself.

OnceInALifetime posted 6/20/2013 16:21 PM

In the world of dating, looks matter, for both men and women, but maybe not as much as we tend to think. I've seen ridiculously handsome men with very average women, and vice-versa.

I have my own set of body-image issues. If I'm with a date I find attractive, my looks (and intelligence, grace, and wit, for that matter) diminish to something troll-like. In the company of a woman I'm not attracted to, I'm Mr. Everything. Depending on the angle I view myself in the mirror, the time of day, my mood, etc., I'll range from being fairly handsome to an aging freak-o-nature.

I think most all of us have body-image issues, the beautiful people no exception. It's got to be much harder for women, with this society's fixation on the youthful female body.

I work out regularly so I can tell myself on my troll days that at least I'm an in-shape troll. That helps body-image a lot, and if you're not into exercise, it's the single best thing you can do to help start admiring your own body.

I saw your dating profile when you asked for advice. Yes, you're attractive. But if you're like me, you'll have trouble believing I'm giving you anything more than polite bullshit.

ETA: you know, of course, that because your XH is (and was) gay, that he simply is not attracted to the female body, period. His lack of attraction and/or compliments on your beauty means absolutely nothing.

[This message edited by OnceInALifetime at 4:32 PM, June 20th (Thursday)]

Compartmented posted 6/20/2013 16:59 PM

I also said SHUT UP at the voice in my head, once I listened and realized it was X's voice!

I had a change in how I viewed myself in the mirror one day, right after a guided meditation. Maybe some deep acceptance?

Good luck and know that becoming aware of this is a big step!

cmego posted 6/20/2013 18:50 PM

You guys are the bomb-diggity.

Thanks, OIAL. The problem is the damage was done before I knew ex was/is gay. 17 years of damage that doesn't just *poof* when the puzzle pieces came together. It is slowly unwinding.

I've done some more thinking today. Processing through KNOWING this is the issue. A little teary, another layer of the farce of my marriage, how he tore me down to make himself feel better. He stripped everything from me so he could cheat without guilt.

But, I let him.

I've begun to tell people things he said/did to me. Not sure why I didn't before...I just didn't. They are floored. A lot about what he said to me about my...err....girl bits. I was a nympho because I wanted sex more than twice a month. How I always had to initiate and was turned down for a variety of reasons, over and over and over. Mostly because of my appearance. Rinse,lather,repeat. I hear his voice. That underlying negativity is that I am not pretty enough, thin enough, never...enough. I guess it has been there all along, and I have just now stopped and...listened to myself.

Now my job is to learn to love the outside. I will never have my 19 year old body back, waaaay too much damage that exercise won't fix. I might step the exercise up and see if I can tone a bit more, but I already exercise a fair amount ( I lost 70 pounds in the last 5 years). I really think most of the problems are in my head, and I recognize that voice that needs to...leave.

I've slowed down my IC appointments. Once a month now at most. I want to do the work on my own, with her guidance...but I want to learn to listen to myself.

[This message edited by cmego at 6:51 PM, June 20th (Thursday)]

OnceInALifetime posted 6/20/2013 19:27 PM

17 years of damage that doesn't just *poof* when the puzzle pieces came together.


He stripped everything from me so he could cheat without guilt.

But, I let him.

Yup again. I let my XW abuse me as well. Not an easy thing to acknowledge.

NaiveAgain posted 6/21/2013 05:35 AM

I was a nympho because I wanted sex more than twice a month.
Yup, been WS was a SA and he did some damage also. He used every excuse under the sun to avoid sex with me, but since I had been married before, I knew it wasn't me (although after 5 years, it did leave me very touch-deprived and confused....)And he actually called me a nympho once because I was trying to see if he was in the had been over a month for us!

I know he put a lot of crap in your head but you have to remember, he isn't going to want sex with ANY female, including super model so and so...he is gay. He would have said the same thing to any other woman he would have been with. It's HIM, not you...

Now my job is to learn to love the outside. I will never have my 19 year old body back, waaaay too much damage that exercise won't fix.
I really think most of the problems are in my head,
Yeah, well, here are the facts.....a great body and a perfect smile doesn't guarantee love, attraction, or sex. Since we mostly want to look good because it helps us feel attractive to the opposite sex (I know, I know, we are supposed to be doing it for ourselves, and we are, but we do it for ourselves so we have the confidence to smile and feel attractive to others) but again, when we feel attractive ourselves, we ARE attractive to others.

I don't have a 19 year old body either. At 50, with 4 babies, my body will never be the same either. My weakest spot (and I am embarrassed by it) is my stomach. 4 babies have left some marks that will never go away without surgery. You know what? No guy I have ever been with cares. I have no worries about being able to "turn on my guy" at this I am learning to accept my body as is, and actually be proud of it. Tummy is a mess, but it is a mess because I brought life into the world. It is "my" battle scar and I am learning to be proud of it.

The more I accept myself, the more others do. And again, the confidence is extremely attractive to others. It is a slow process, learning acceptance, but SO worth it!

[This message edited by NaiveAgain at 5:37 AM, June 21st (Friday)]

cmego posted 6/21/2013 06:08 AM

I am already trying to make that voice leave.

Last night, I was getting ready for bed and thought, "Look at those bags under your eyes!" But, I caught myself and then said, "....and look at those mile long eyelashes too."

I think, like any self discovery process, it is a matter of retraining my brain. It is going to take some time.

I woke up...lighter...this morning.

ninebark posted 6/21/2013 06:45 AM

We all have self worth/image issues I

I feel like the fat girl, always have. I know I have lost lots of weight and have become quite 'athletic' in my own right. I run many 5 ks over the summer, training for a 10, doing martial arts, swimming..etc.

I get hit on regularly and I have been told by several men that if I ever become single again they would be first in But there is still always that voice that says I am the fat girl.

My ex never said anything postive or negative about me, so his voice is not in my head, my own is. I just try to replace negative with positive whenever i can. That and I no longer worry about appearnce like I did when I was in my 20's. I am a mom I have streach marks, I can't go without a bra as gravity has been working on my for 40, but the girls still look good. I have big hips, but so what, curvy is better than no curves.

So I do my best to accept myself and move on. It isn't easy though is it.

woundedwidow posted 6/21/2013 10:04 AM

cmego, I've had self-image issues since childhood because I was born with a cleft lip (harelip). But my late H did the REAL number on my body issues: on our second date, he stated that he liked women with long hair and big boobs. (Just like his ex, btw.) I have short reddish hair and small boobs. I remember asking him, "Then what the hell are you doing with me? and him saying, "Well, you have a great personality". Wow - thanks so much for the image diss. I always felt like I didn't "measure up" to his standard of what a woman should look like. It also didn't help in later years of our marriage when he would suggest that I buy long wigs to wear "just for him". At one point I even considered getting a boob job, until I found out about OW#2, when all bets were off. And yet I still "hear" that statement in my head and, like you, tend to try and efface myself in social situations.

tryingagain74 posted 6/22/2013 09:38 AM

I know how you feel. I'm working on myself as well.


gma56 posted 6/22/2013 12:11 PM

Mmmmm.I know that voice well.
I am a very natural blond. Fair skin and blue eyes. With a weight problem (slowly getting the weight under control)I haven't been exactly any man's fantasy.

On many occasions during the marriage, FT told me he never has been attracted to blondes. I thought I was the exception for 27 yrs. Before and after dday he he said it with such disgust it still makes me shudder thinking about it. I was shattered knowing my husband was never attracted to me physically or any other way. He made sure I understood that no man would ever want me because, well just look at me. I filled his NPD need to have a wife, nurse, housekeeper, and mom to his young son. When he no longer needed me, he found a replacement.

Because of his subtle comments during the marriage and then bold statements after his affairs started, my self confidence and self worth took a major hit.
It's a process to find it again.
There also has been two men that have rejected me in the last year, each for different reasons but both rejections did more damage on my self image, worth, and confidence.

Since my NB finally started last summer, I've improved with each victory I have experienced . Professionally I'm new in my field but work with mostly men. The new respect from them has been the best therapy. I'm doing it and doing it pretty well.

I don't know if I will have another love in my life but I know it won't because of not being smart, pretty, or young enough.
I'm still blond but maybe not so dumb and finding a new self confidence, even at 57 years old.
How to change that voice has been constant reinforcement from myself. It is programming the negative to postive thoughts.

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